Making a difference with Dementia

By Sarah Goodyear, Dementia Friendly Leeds Campaign Manager

‘See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination’.
– Ralph Marston

Dementia can bring stereotypes. Many people have preconceptions about what a person with dementia can and can’t do. You can’t work, you can’t go out alone, you can’t do new things. Yet I know a group of people who might surprise you.

In Leeds we have a ‘DEEP group’. No, it’s not about discussing really deep topics. It stands for ‘Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project’. It aims to empower people with dementia to increase awareness and services locally.

Our local Leeds group is called ‘Up and Go’. Our group members live with dementia and give guidance to businesses and services in Leeds. They also raise more positive awareness about living with dementia.

“I will forget today, but that doesn’t mean that today doesn’t matter”
– Lisa Genova, Still Alice

On 16th October 2017, four members of ‘Up and Go’ DEEP group and our Dementia Friendly Volunteer, Rebecca, took part in the student ‘Tech Challenge’. This challenge is run by Premier Farnell in partnership with Leeds Beckett University and Ahead Partnership.

It brings together students from colleges and schools across Yorkshire. They design and create innovative technology for people living with a condition.

The students are encouraged to talk to a group of people living with the condition chosen for that challenge. This year, the condition was dementia.

“I’ve got lots of ideas for the students. I’ve been writing them down”
– Marlene (DEEP member)

We arrived at Leeds Beckett at 10am and were led into a lovely, grand room and given a lovely, grand cuppa. We then split into two groups to talk to students about dementia throughout the day.

The students asked our member’s for their own experiences of dementia. The students also received feedback on their technology ideas. Below are some of the insightful questions and answers we had throughout the day.

How does dementia affect you?
  • Marlene: I forget to put oven gloves and burn myself. I also can’t judge how full liquid is in a regular cup – coloured cups are easier. Black mats are also difficult, they look like holes.
  • Bob: Me too, black mats are difficult. I poke them with my stick to check sometimes! I can get lost too. I know Leeds like the back of my hand, but sometimes it just goes and I don’t know the name of where I’m going. Have to keep calm when it happens, as stress makes it worse.
Do you have any coping strategies?
  • Marlene: I have a memory dog, she helps me a lot. I also leave things together. So a warm coat is always with the dog lead to help me remember it.
  • Bob: I leave notes for myself in doorways so I know I’ll look at them. I write them the night before and I write the date. Even though I won’t remember the date later on, I feel better if I know the date first thing in the morning.
What do you think to the idea of a light sensor for the oven Marlene? Or an app on your phone to track where you’ve come from Bob?
  • Marlene: Yes that sounds useful. Something to get my attention – I only have a small sticker on there at the moment and it’s easy to miss.
  • Bob: Yes that would be helpful to get back to a place, or for a regular trip.
How has your life changed since diagnosis?
  • Bob: When I was first diagnosed many years ago I thought that was it. But then I joined the dementia peer support network and it was the best thing I could have done. I’ve got good friendships with people I would never have met otherwise. I’ve started painting which I really enjoy. I lead a happy life.
  • Marlene: I don’t feel that different really, I’ve just carried on as normal. Stayed independent. I deliver dementia friends sessions, I go to talks and meetings. I go out with the dog. Just normal things. Because I’m still me.
 “We’ve really enjoyed today. Nice to think you might make a difference”

Peter and Nancy (DEEP members): It was wonderful to see the two generations working together to create new technology. But it was also wonderful to see the new understanding the students left with.

I saw the look of surprise on some students faces when they realised how active, independent and tech-savvy people with dementia can be. Of course, not all people with dementia do use technology, but some do. Avoiding any assumptions about dementia is vital.

“Thank you very much for your time”

Student: One of my favourite moments of the day was when a student group were leaving for lunch, and Bob reached out to shake a student’s hand. The student thanked him for his time. It was a lovely moment of connection and mutual respect.

I left even more aware of how dementia affects each person very differently. One person might have challenges with how they see things. Others may have challenges with navigating, or with language use.

Dementia can be very challenging. But it is a condition. It is part of a person, that’s all. People with dementia are still unique people. And all people, whether old, young, and living with dementia or not, have the ability to do remarkable things.

We are all really looking forward to seeing the technology the students come up with in the final competition next week.

 Useful Links

Language Use – A handy guide on what language to use when describing dementia

Environment Guide – Giving tips on how to make a building or space more accessible

Dementia Diaries – Hear people with dementia’s voices and opinions from across the UK website with more resources and support in becoming more dementia friendly in Leeds

Stay Well This Winter With Winter Friends

By Jenna Robinson, Graduate Local Government Officer, Older people and Long Term Conditions Team, Adults and Health Directorate

Winter is coming! That’s right, our Winter Friend’s campaign is back and we are armed with shiny new owl badges!

What is Winter Friends?

Winter Friends is a growing city wide network of organisations and professionals in Leeds who can join together to tackle the effects of cold weather on vulnerable older people as part of the national Stay Well This Winter campaign.  On the whole, Winter Friends carry on with their normal day to day work.

But as a Winter Friend they will make their contact with vulnerable residents count by  focusing on completing a simple Winter Wellbeing Checklist with support from a visual prompt card.

Winter Friends help vulnerable residents live independently by informing them about social activities and important services that will help them over winter.

What can I get from being a Winter Friend?

Joining Winter Friends means FREE ACCESS to information and promotional material from the Public Health Resource Centre.

FREE online training in promoting the high impact interventions or dependent on need a FREE 30 minute delivery of the Winter friends workshop which will talk you through the different partner organisations and what it means to part of a growing network.

The FREE promotional material including a winter wellbeing checklist, prompt cards and thermometer cards act as a reminder to people to get their flu vaccinations, take their medication, keep their homes warm and increase physical activity.

What issues  does Winter Friends Tackle?

Winter friends tackles CITY WIDE issues such as social isolation (we can refer people on to neighbourhood networks and social groups in their areas) and fuel poverty (our collaboration with the warmth for wellbeing service provides information and advice on how to heat your home affordably).

What Impact Does Winter Friends Have?

Becoming a winter friend could save someone’s life. For many, the winter blues might mean someone doesn’t go out as often during the week but for some, this could mean going months without any form of meaningful contact.

In targeting the Winter Friends campaign towards vulnerable people we are opening the avenues up for promoting advice and support which are available. This could be the first time in months which anyone has took an interest to ask about someone’s wellbeing.

What Do I Need To Do To Become A Winter Friend?

All it takes is registering your interest by emailing and completing the free online training to gain access to a growing network of Winter Friends.

As soon as this is done, you can contact the public health resource centre in Chapel Allerton at to receive your registration pack containing all the vital resources which is a must as a Winter Friend.

Find a local Winter Friend

If you know someone who may need a bit of extra help over the winter such as an older neighbour, family members or friend then contact the Helpline Leeds Directory 0113 3918333 or visit to find your local Winter Friend.

We look forward to you joining us – Lets ALL Stay Well this Winter!!!

State Pension Age (SPA) threshold to rise to 68

By Peter Dale, chair of South East England Forum on Ageing (SEEFA)

We perhaps ought not to be surprised by proposals to increase the age at which people become eligible for state pension in the future.  Arguably it’s more of a surprise that it will have shifted so little by the time it is due to be implemented between 2037 and 2039, almost a century since the publication of the Beveridge Report in 1942.

In spite of recent reports that the increase in life expectancy is beginning to stall, there is surely no doubt that there have been vast improvements in the health and well-being of retired people since the immediate post war years and that today’s sixty something year olds bear little resemblance to their predecessors.

It might not seem unreasonable, therefore, that there should be a delay in being labelled as an ‘old age pensioner’.  Shouldn’t a more positive approach to ageing encompass the belief that people are ‘written off’ as old far too early?

There are of course questions to be asked.  The motivation for the proposal is likely to be the £74 billion saving that will accrue as a result of the early implementation of the increase.

The cost to the public purse of the state pension is never far away as an issue; always seen as a burden grudgingly to be borne, it provokes headlines about the ‘demographic time bomb’ and suggestions about the country not being able to afford supporting so many older people – forgetting of course that older people have contributed throughout their lives, and continue to do so, as taxpayers and consumers.

According to the Royal Voluntary Service’s Gold Age Pensioners report, 2011, older people make an annual net contribution of £40 billion to the UK economy (i.e., net of the costs of pension, welfare and health support) and by 2030 this is forecast to rise to an estimated £77 billion.

Rather than being concerned about the so called state pension ‘bill’, we should perhaps be drawing more attention to the fact that the UK state pension is one of the lowest in Europe.

An increase in the SPA will of course create a financial pressure for many people to carry on working and hence there will be significant implications for the labour market.

First, recruitment and retention practices will need to be fit for purpose to enable work opportunities to be available.  Secondly, employers will need to adopt new approaches that maximise the value of an older workforce; this could involve creating new roles that draw on experience and expertise.

There are questions about the increased risk of ill health or lack of capacity that may prevent people from working for longer.  There are also question about extending the length of time that people will have worked throughout their lives.  These questions of course can be posed whether the SPA is 68 or 65.

How does the risk that faced manual workers approaching 65 in past decades compare with the risk their counterparts will face in twenty tears time as they approach 68?

And will the pensioners of 2037 have worked any longer when they reach SPA than many of today’s pensioners who started work at age 16 or in some cases 14?

Whatever the SPA there should be a clear recognition within the benefits system of the needs of those people who are unable to work but just short of the qualifying age to claim their state pension.  As the NPC suggests, five years seems a reasonable period.

The main concern about the pension age announcement is the way in which it has been reported.  The media again have seized on the opportunity to create inter-generational tension.

The message has been that while current pensioners were able to retire at 65 (earlier for many women), today’s younger people are once again being ‘short changed’.

Moreover, it has been reported that while pensioners have seen an increase in their income, younger people have experienced a fall in income in real terms.  In general, the implication is that older people are very comfortably off at the expense of the younger generation.

The facts tell a different story.  Most pensioners are on low incomes in spite of the triple lock and other benefits.  Government figures for 2015/16 (Pensioner Income Series) show that their average weekly income is £296.

Although the state pension has more recently seen year on year increases, two and a half percent of a low figure is still a low figure, and it bears repetition that the UK state pension is one of the lowest in Europe.

It also bears repetition that older people are net contributors to the economy, not a drain on its resources.  Furthermore they have contributed all their lives through taxation and national insurance contributions to the public purse from which their benefits are paid.

The narrative that the burden is being carried by the younger generation who are now going to suffer as a result of the proposed SPA increase is highly misleading and divisive.

Age is an issue for us all.  It is to be hoped that older people in the future will benefit from changing social attitudes and a more positive view of ageing. The 68 year olds of 2037 may wonder what all the fuss was about.

Leeds Osteoporosis Support Group needs new Committee members…

By Val Kay

The Leeds Osteoporosis Support group is looking for new people to join the Committee (all volunteers) for the purpose of planning local meetings & events.

In particular we are in urgent need of a Secretary for the group who would take notes at Committee meetings (usually held quarterly) and contact speakers.

Full induction to the role would be given and support offered.

Leeds Osteoporosis Support Group is part of but independent from The National Osteoporosis Society. The Leeds group has an exciting programme of speakers for 2017.

Download the programme leaflet or poster for details.

When and Where

The group meets on the 1st Wednesday of the month (except January & August) 2 – 4pm at Oxford Place Centre, The Headrow, near Leeds Town Hall, LS1 3AU.  All welcome.

Contact details

If you are interested in any of the above or would like more information, please contact:

Angela Appleyard, Chairperson 0113 2752368

Jill Beaumont, National Osteoporosis Society Regional Manager for Northern England tel: 01423 779662 email: or

Val Kay, volunteer tel: 0113 2669666 email:

Help Needed: Can you spare 5 minutes to help Leeds University student design revolutionary new plant watering device?

University of Leeds student Annalise Hughes is developing the first watering can reminder system, which prompts the user to water their plants when the soil becomes too dry.

There are numerous apps and small indicators on the market to remind people to water their plants but these reminder alerts can easily be ignored.

The product is primarily designed to help people with dementia but is suitable for a much larger audience, reminding users to water their plants regularly, encouraging them to get outside and interact with their plants which research proves can be extremely therapeutic.

How it works

This product idea comes in 2 parts, a plant pot which monitors the moisture of the soil, a watering can and a stand for the watering can, which plugs into a household socket.

When the soil is getting too dry the user is reminded to water the plants, and both the pot and watering can will light up to show the user which pot needs watering.

Once the soil is less dry the lights turn off and the watering can, can be places back on its stand.

How you can help

Annalise would love to hear your thoughts and feedback about her design, complete her very short online survey at:

Or to receive an email version of the survey you can email her at

Urban Impact Programme

By Gill Crawshaw, Development Worker, PSI Network & Volition

Forum Central is a participant in the Urban Impact Programme, a new collaboration between Sociology in Action at the University of Leeds, Leeds City Council’s Graduate Programme and third sector organisations.

Leanna Hills-Joyce is the sociology student carrying out research for Forum Central about using digital tools.

We would be grateful if you would fill in the survey and indicate whether you would be interested in taking part in a focus group. And please pass this on to other members of your team.

Research overview

As part of the Urban Impact Programme, working with Forum Central, this research aims to find out the digital capabilities amongst health and social care third sector workers in Leeds.

The digital world is expanding and this survey is trying to find out how confident workers are with using online facilities at work. This will enable them to support people they work with to make the most of digital and online tools.

The survey will be used to see how confident workers currently are in using online facilities, and from this what recommendations could be made to improve the current status.

We would appreciate if the survey was returned by Monday 13th March. We will also be holding focus groups so we would be very grateful if you could let us know if you are willing to take part.

Please take part using the link:


For more information about this project, please contact:

Leanna Hills -Joyce at or

Gill at

Bramley Elderly Action to manage Bramley Community Centre

By Rob Cook, Communications Co-ordinator, Bramley Elderly Action

Leeds City Council has formally agreed the asset transfer of Bramley Community Centre to Bramley Elderly Action , who will manage the centre as a resource for the whole community to use. BEA hopes to make the move to the community centre in 2017.

The heart of Bramley

The centre, on Waterloo Lane (near Bramley Shopping Centre in the heart of Bramley) was facing an uncertain future. It is currently used by local older people for regular activities such as:

It also hosts a number of community groups, including Bramley Historical Society and Bramley Luncheon Club.

BEA is very keen that those groups continue to use the centre, and for others to do so too, as well as it being used for more one-off family and community events.

BEA will also move their staff to the building.  BEA will continue to run activities for the whole community from Bramley Lawn (which they took on as an asset transfer in 2014).

Easier access for local people

Together, the two centres will give much easier access for local older people to BEA staff and activities. BEA will continue to run activities and services for older people across the Bramley, Swinnow and Stanningley areas.

Overwhelming local support

Visitors to an open day BEA held at the Centre in October 2016 showed overwhelming support for the change, and the initiative also has the full support of the three Bramley & Stanningley Councillors: Caroline Gruen, Julie Heselwood and Kevin Ritchie.

The Council’s decision invites BEA to take on a 25 year lease with a peppercorn rent. The Council will carry out essential repair work identified in a recent condition survey before the lease begins.


CINAGE Filmmaking for Active Ageing – New Course Announced

“It’s been absolutely amazing because I’ve done things that I didn’t realise I could do… It’s been a journey. I’ve never, ever done anything like this before. I’ve been so hands-on in it… it’s broadened my horizons”
CINAGE participant 2016

Filmmaking for Active Ageing is a course for people of 60 years and over who want the opportunity to make films that tell their story. From April to November 2017, you will attend regular Tuesday evening workshops – and some weekend workshops – at Leeds Beckett University’s Northern Film School, on screenwriting, directing, producing and editing, you will watch and discuss films, and you will talk about your experience of ageing.

In mid July you will take part in a two week long production period, where you will collaborate with professionals and Northern Film School students, with state of the art equipment, in the making of a short film. Then, from

September through November you will be working on editing the picture, music and sound until you reach a final version which will be screened at the Hyde Park Picture House in early December.

Contact Dave Turner on 0113 812 3330 or email for more information.

‘It has opened up a new page in the book of my life really, a new page’
CINAGE Participant 2016

Additionally we are hosting a FREE CINAGE screening/participant Q&A at the idyllic Ilkley Cinema on 27.02.2017. Information about that free event can be found via following URL booking link

If you need any further information please contact David Turner


The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness

By Cherril Cliff, Vice-Chair Leeds Older People’s Forum.                  

I was pleased to accept an invitation from Rachel Reeves MP, to attend the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness Round Table Event in Bramley on 2nd February 2017.

The meeting was very well attended, with representatives from around Leeds who are working to support lonely people of all ages.

Rachel Reeves MP talked about the tragic death of Jo Cox in 2016 and her passion to try and address the scourge of loneliness in modern times. Rachel has been honoured to pick up the mantel and take this important issue forward.

All the lonely people

According to the Red Cross, there are 9 million lonely older people in the UK and this is a shocking statistic. The plan is to talk to groups and individuals that work with lonely people and produce a working manifesto for Government.

The Commission will also mobilise the public to help themselves – educating people on how they can become the remedy – whether it be talking to a neighbour, visiting an old friend, or just making time for the people they meet.

The Commission will also target businesses and employer organisations and look at what action Local and National Government can take, to combat loneliness.

The next speaker was Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Executive Member (Leeds City Council) for Adult Social Care, Health and Well-Being.  She explained that there are approximately 37,000 lonely older people in Leeds and the reasons can be personal, private and bereavement.

What’s being done in Leeds?

However, Leeds is lucky to have 37 Neighbourhood Networks and they currently support 21,000 older people and cover the entire city. Councillor Charlwood also spoke about the excellent work being undertaken by Leeds Older People’s Forum ‘Time to Shine’ work, funded by The Big Lottery Fund.

In addition work is taking place in schools, to support younger people.  Leeds City Council is pleased to be working with Jo Cox’s Loneliness Commission.

The meeting then received 3 short presentations.

Lee Ingham, Bramley Elderly Action, talked about different aspects of loneliness and including emotional loneliness.  He gave a bitter sweet case study, of a very lonely older lady that his charity has reached out to, with practical support.

Emily Georghiou, Age UK, explained her organisation’s work with lonely older people and the links with Leeds and the Time to Talk initiative, with the ‘No one should have no One’ ethos.

Her colleague, Heather O’Donnell, from Age UK Leeds, told the meeting about a very good hospital initiative they are involved with and, with Time to Shine funding, they can offer support at home, to people recently discharged from hospital.

Emily Axel, Time to Shine, gave a short, engaging presentation, explaining that 33 projects in Leeds are receiving funding, with the express intention of tackling loneliness and social isolation.  They are learning what is effective, via  thorough evaluation and working with small local groups.

Questions & Answers

The final part of the meeting was opened up for questions and answers and some very interesting contributions, highlighting innovative work with lonely people in Leeds and some of the challenges of identifying those who are in need of support and the perennial problem of funding.

Next steps

Rachel Reeves MP closed the meeting with thanks to those in attendance and that this is just the start of this important ‘call to action.’ She said that 13 partner organisations have already signed up to the Loneliness Commission and other groups can affiliate and have imput in the future.

Over the coming months ‘spotlights’ will highlight different issues nationally and the Loneliness Commission Manifesto will ‘knock on the door of Government.’ She concluded, by urging people to keep the conversation going and once again praised some of the excellent work taking place in Leeds.


Welcome In Community Centre 

By Ailsa Rhodes, Project Co-ordinator, OPAL

OPAL is very proud to announce that we have moved into Welcome In Community Centre and that we have reached the stage where we will soon open the doors of our community space.

Our new address is: Welcome In Community Centre, 55 Bedford Dr, Leeds, LS16 6DJ

Open Day

An Open Day is planned on Saturday 25th Feb 11am – 3pm.

We have raffles, tombola, stalls, children’s activities, Rhino’s rugby players and Ronnie the Rhino, the café will be open, the police will be putting on a ‘crime scene’ for children and young at heart to investigate and much more. Come along and join us!


Back in 2014 we identified that OPAL needed secure premises for our staff, volunteers, members and activities.

The Bedford Arms was vacant and the challenge was whether we could find enough funding to purchase it and make it our new home. In January 2015 fund raising started and by June 2015, through donations, buy a brick, extra fund raising activities and grants we had enough money to buy the building. But that was only the start!

Since then renovation work has included land clearance, roof repair, repointing, removal of asbestos, installation of a fire alarm, kitchen renovation for the Community Space, plastering, redecorating and a new Café space, to name but a few.

The renovation project is set to continue as OPAL still raise more money to cover two large activity rooms, a therapy room and a meeting room which will further enhance the offering of this Community Space.

Open to the wider community

The Welcome In is to be a Community Centre which will be open to the wider community to provide a safe, accessible and affordable community space.

Initially we will open the Community Café on 2 days a week from March. Our aims are to bring together members of the community, particularly older people and those at risk of isolation or disadvantage, be a central location for community events and provide volunteering and work experience opportunities for all sectors of the community.

More information

Tel: (0113) 261 9103