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29 September 2017

Building memories: the Holmfield Dementia Village takes shape

Cambridge & Counties Bank volunteers varnishing the Holmfield Sweet Shop

Cambridge & Counties Bank volunteers varnishing the sweet shop

The village signs were designed with input from Service Users

The signs were designed with input from Service Users

Christian Cowie outside the Holmfield Post Office

Christian Cowie outside the Holmfield Post Office

Kellie Lee (left) with Holmfield manager Anne Byrne

Kellie Lee (left) with Holmfield manager Anne Byrne

An army of volunteers from Cambridge & Counties Bank set to work last week transforming the gardens of Holmfield Dementia Day Care Centre into a unique 1940s styled “Dementia Village”.

This ambitious project, undertaken during World Alzheimer’s Month, has created an environment which takes people with dementia back to a time they can more easily remember, as well as encouraging them to spend more time being active and outdoors.

The village includes a sweet shop, along with the shop fronts of Holmfield Butchers, Holmfield Bakery and Holmfield Post Office. A second phase of work, currently being planned, will add a pub with pub games, a café with outside patio area, an old post box, a bus stop and shelter, and a small putting green.

The volunteers spent two days clearing the ground and varnishing and painting the sheds which serve as the buildings and shop frontages. Cambridge & Counties Bank also provided the shop fronts and the sweet shop shed, as well as the signage.

“It’s been really hard physical work, but worth the bruises and blisters to see the end result” said purchase ledger clerk Kellie Lee, who led the two teams of 13 over the two days. “It was a real pleasure to talk to the service users and see their excitement as work progressed.”

Christian Cowie, head of marketing said “We strongly believe in making a positive impact on the communities we’re part of, not just financially but with practical help and time. We wanted to support this project as dementia is something we can all relate to, and Holmfield is close to where many of us live and work.”

Holmfield’s Service Users have been involved in the project from the outset, and their input helped to ensure that the colours and font used for the signage was authentic for the period.

Up to 25 people with dementia visit Holmfield daily. They will be able to walk along the village path, passing each of the shops and once completed, finishing with a cup of tea in the café - like a day out, but provided in a low risk, wheelchair friendly environment.

The project was made possible thanks to a £5,000 pledge from Friends of George Hythe House and Holmfield, and generous donations from a trust and the partner of a former resident.

Holmfield Manager Anne Byrne said “We’re really grateful to everyone who’s helped to make this possible. What the Cambridge & Counties volunteers achieved is fantastic, and the village will be a real benefit to our Service Users. Reminiscence is often used to help people with dementia, but we don’t know of another initiative quite like this one.”

We’re now looking for Volunteer Befrienders, who are able to spend time at the day centre taking part in activities with the Service Users, including helping them to enjoy the Dementia Village. If you are interested in becoming a valued Volunteer Befriender at Holmfield, please contact Anne Byrne on 0116 2368115.