We will never walk alone

Just over a year ago from a train journey to a conference in Birmingham came the start of the Milton Keynes Memory Café. We never imagined from those early conversations that a year on the café would have gone from strength to strength. We were worried initially whether people would come; we wanted to make it accessible to all and be a safe, fun and caring environment, all of which we have succeeded in.

We run the café with a fantastic group of volunteers who are invaluable and bring such individual strengths to the sessions.

During the time the café has been running we have seen the number of people attend grow. We have a real mix of people who attend all with their own unique stories; people we support and friends from local services and staff from across MacIntyre and people from our local communities.

One gentleman’s story, who attended from the start, really emphasises what the café is about. He was worried initially about attending; worried that he would not remember people’s names and he would be embarrassed that he wouldn’t remember things. We took the time to make him feel welcome and to find out what interests he had. He likes racing and the horses so we promised that the next time he came we would have a copy of the Racing Post so he could pick us a horse to have a bet on. We carried out our promise and each month there’s always a copy of this for him to enjoy. We always give him time to chat and his wife the opportunity to have a cup of tea and meet with friends. His wife said that the café is the highlight in their month and looks forward to seeing us all.

The café has had great sessions. They have ranged from a performance from Bucks male voice choir, times to create and get arty, animal therapy, supporting other charities with cake mornings and always making time for a game of our very popular bingo.
We spend time finding out what people’s interests are and do our best to include these throughout the year.

When we have music at the Memory Café it has such a positive impact and seems to bring everyone together and there’s a sudden feeling of energy throughout the group. This month we were joined by MacIntyre’s music group who came with a great selection of songs which included everyone’s tastes and we hoped people would join in for a sing-a-long, which we are happy to tell you they did. Before long everyone was singing, swaying and dancing with some great moves.

The song “You will never walk alone” came on and instantly without prompting, people were holding hands, arms around each other. The sense of togetherness was so strong and witnessing this was very emotional.

The most noticeable thing is how the café has encouraged friendships; people who were once strangers but are now friends.

The Memory Café has no barriers and welcomes everyone that turns up with a smile and warmest welcome. We hope that we continue to grow and provide this support for people and who knows maybe one day we will need a bigger venue.

Sadie Scott – Area Manager, Milton Keynes
and
Nicola Payne – Dementia Project Officer

Comments

  • Barrie Ellis says:

    This is brilliant. To have someone tell you that you are the highlight of their month is a really powerful thing. And what is it about “You’ll never walk alone” that has that effect on people? This is great to hear about, just goes to show what an important and much-needed service the Memory Café is.

  • Leander McFadden says:

    What a lovely reflection – so many people engaging and benefiting from this monthly get together – Have any winners been picked? …

  • Wendy Cook says:

    Lovely blog ladies. Everyone loves music which brings an instant smile. 🙂

  • Emma Killick says:

    It is really amazing to think how much has been achieved in a year – just goes to show that if someone has an idea and is willing to take a leap of faith to create an opportunity then people will respond positively.
    Well done to everyone involved in this fabulous example of bringing local people together to build networks and relationships.

  • This is a wonderful blog, that had me bursting with pride. Such powerful stories shared and a true benefit to the local community. It is great that all are welcome, and having visiting a Memory Café, it is really so inviting and extremely warm and welcoming. The cakes are fabulous too!

    Thank you to Sadie and Nicola for sharing this blog post!

  • Tina Murray says:

    The memory café is a brilliant social occasion – thank you for sharing this blog with us

  • Fay Walker says:

    Really lovely to read about the journey of the MK Memory Café so far. Having visited myself, I can attest to the wonderful atmosphere that you have all worked so hard to create. A fantastic café full of great interactions and moments of loveliness. Keep up the good work!

  • Lynn Kennedy says:

    Whilst I have never attended one of the sessions, I have been incredibly lucky to be at the same venue on the some of the days the memory café is hosted. I popped in and the atmosphere and vibe is amazing, the Bucks choir delightful, amazing to watch the happiness and enjoyment of those attending. Well done Sadie, Nikki and all of the volunteers you do an amazing job to support and enable people with dementia to be part of their community, amazing 🙂

  • Andrea Parr says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us! The ‘Memory Cafe’ has created so many positive outcomes which is amazing to hear about. You cannot but a price on friendship, laughter and of course a ‘sing-a-long’. Brilliant!!! A wonderful creation!

  • Tess Marshall says:

    Such a great development, these Memory Cafes, and a wonderful community resource. Can’t believe it’s been a year!

  • Darren Bowen says:

    I saw the title and had to read : ) –

    I love reading these blogs, they make me feel all warm inside. Thanks for sharing and look forward to seeing you all one day.

    Darren
    (down south)

  • kerry says:

    That is truly heartwarming,really made me smile
    Youre doing an absolutely brilliant job

  • Jeremy Bugden says:

    Nicola and Sadie – and all your volunteer helpers in the Memory Cafe, well done. What a brilliant service to the Community and especially for those local people with the onset of dementia. Looking at the pictures it seems that you have all created such a lovely interactive non-threatening environment – inspirational! PS what a great combination of activities too; art and crafts, music sing-a-longs and animal therapy.

  • Anthony Tull says:

    I have walked through most months, doing fridge and water temperature checks, and held the animals. It always looks like fun.
    One day, I will attend on my Annual Leave.

  • Jackie Alexander says:

    Thank you for sharing this, I haven’t been to the Mk memory café, only the Warrington one. The atmosphere when I visited the Warrington café was lovely, very welcoming and it was lovely to see people meeting up with some of the regular visitors and enjoying the cake!

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