The University of Worcester has been awarded a major grant from the National Lottery to support people and families living with dementia across the UK. The University’s Association for Dementia Studies has been awarded a £587,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK towards its Meeting Centres Support Programme. Over the next three years, the funding will support communities across the UK to establish Meeting Centres for people and families affected by dementia.
Professor Dawn Brooker, Director of the Association for Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester who is leading the project, said: “This National Lottery funding will have a significant impact on many people’s lives. The numbers of people affected by dementia continues to rise with little hope of an early cure. The aim is to help communities across the UK to establish Meeting Centres by providing people with a ready means of learning about the model, getting practical advice on how to establish a Meeting Centre, training staff and supporters, finding funding and sustaining help and support for the longer term.”
Meeting Centres originated in the Netherlands. They are a local resource, operating out of ordinary community buildings, offering warm and friendly expert support to people living at home with dementia. At the heart of the Meeting Centre is a social club where people can meet to have fun, talk to others, and get great help that focusses on what they need.
The University of Worcester, in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society, completed research to learn about Meeting Centres from the Netherlands and evaluate pilot projects in the UK, Italy and Poland. Two pilot projects were set up in the UK, one in Droitwich Spa in Worcestershire and another in Leominster in Herefordshire. This has inspired others to establish Meeting Centres in a number of locations across the UK, with other communities keen to get started. A proposal was submitted to the Big Lottery Fund to help more communities across the UK to establish Meeting Centres for people and families affected by dementia.
The grant will help to establish a National Reference Group, with representatives from across the four nations, which will have the voice of people affected by dementia at its heart. At tide we are delighted to be part of this programme, our role will be to support carers in being involved in the reference group, including being trained through our Development Programme to be able to contribute on an equal basis.
The reference group will be linked closely to a new Community of Learning and Practice, comprising representatives from the existing sites and other interested parties. Existing resources and training approaches will be developed and workshops will be held for those interested in starting Meeting Centres in their communities. A help-desk will be in place early on for existing, new and pre start-up centres. Organisations will be encouraged and facilitated to link up and share practice.
Joe Ferns, UK Funding Director at the Big Lottery Fund, said: “We’re proud to be using National Lottery funding to help increase support for people living with dementia, their families and their friends. It will be great to see communities coming together to set up more and more meeting centres across the UK, helping people to access the support they need.”