A Rotary inspired club which is providing a lifeline for the carers of elderly people in West Wales is going from strength to strength.
The Living Memory Group is a socialisation group within Pembrokeshire which is sponsored by Rotary Narberth and Whitland, supporting people with long-term health concerns.
Rotary member Mary Adams developed the scheme during her presidential year in 2016/17.
It coincided with the then Southern Wales District Governor, Maggie Hughes, visiting the Narberth and Whitland club asking them to become Dementia Friends and set up initiatives locally.
“The Living Memory Group is a group which encourages people who have become lonely because of a health Issue.
“This has caused them to be isolated within their own homes and have lost confidence to socialise locally,” explained Mary.
“We are very lucky to have the use of Narberth Museum which provides an excellent place to reminisce and enjoy the artefacts of yesteryear in a central location within Narberth.
“It has also proved to be a lifeline for carers, who get a chance to talk to other people, and have some time to unwind and relax.”
Initially, the project started out as a dementia café, but the members soon discovered this excluded lots of people with long-term health issues.
So, the focus was broadened to help isolated people who may have had a stroke or suffer with illnesses such as Parkinson’s Disease.
It has also proved to be a lifeline for carers, who get a chance to talk to other people, and have some time to unwind and relax.”
Mary explained: “It was a catch 22 situation. We needed to contact the people in rural communities who have become isolated, but how could we get the message about our group to them for them to access us?
“We contacted local organisations such as the local Women’s Institute who have a befriending scheme and whose theme for the year was loneliness.
“We also contacted health centres, churches, the local media and also used social media to reach out.”
Within a month, they had up to 35 people attending the two-hour sessions at Narberth Museum.
A RotaKids club has been set up at the local primary school where the children have also become involved.
They have decorated fairy cakes for Valentine’s Day, played board games with the visitors, decorated pebbles and entertained with singing.
Mary added: “The stars of the show are the wonderful children who have proved to be a popular attraction.
“They are brilliant at integrating within the group.
“It has been so refreshing to see the contribution these young people make.
“They do research in school for activities to engage with the group and then just come along and perform their tasks.
“The first few times this happened, the helpers were reduced to tears at the brilliant ways they make friends with all members of the group. There lots of high fives and hugs.
“Parents have thanked us for introducing these activities to their children and the whole neighbourhood is extremely proud of what we’ve achieved with them.”
The laughter and joy this brings to the group is fantastic. It really has become a great community network.”
Singing Rotary member Huw Jones and some of his friends from the Whitland Male Voice Choir are also regulars at the sessions.
The ‘Elderly Brothers’, as they are affectingly known, bring their guitars to sing silly songs.
“The laughter and joy this brings to the group is fantastic. It really has become a great community network,” added Mary.
For more information contact Mary Adams