A dementia café with open arms for people affected by the condition

Dianne Campbell, who lives in west London with memory problems, tells us about the dementia café she runs. 

We started our café after we saw dementia affecting the elders in our church. I thought what is it that we, as church members, are going to do about it?

I got a team together and we talked to our pastor, who said the space is there, do what you have to do! 

The City Mission Dementia Café runs every Monday. We’ve had setbacks, but we’ve always started back. We’re now at St Mark’s Kensal Rise, in the south of the borough of Brent. 

Dianne Campbell

Greatest pleasure 

I’m really happy to have this group, because it benefits so many people and they look forward to coming out. They tell others, ‘Oh I go to that club there on a Monday and it’s good, so come!’ It’s word of mouth. 

It helps people’s families too. One lady, whose husband recently started coming, said she hadn’t taken time off since he first had dementia. She had nobody to help, not even for a day. 

When I told her, ‘This is where you’ve got a safe space – you can drop him off on Monday morning, come back and pick him up later in the afternoon. It’s our greatest pleasure to have him,’ she was so happy. 

I’m sure that when she got back home, she thought, ‘Ah, I can put my feet up, have a hot drink, go to the supermarket, do whatever I want.’ 

Everyone’s different 

People like different things, so we do all kinds of things at the café like dominoes, cards and ludi (Jamaican ludo), while some people do knitting – things people remember doing. Everyone’s different. 

What the volunteers are trying to do all the time is to engage people. If someone seems quiet, they speak with them and encourage them.

Often we’re surprised when we finish that day and think, ‘Oh that person did this, this person did that.’ It’s just how we encourage them. 

People trust us, and we’ve got to make sure that all the volunteers are trained, checked, stick by the rules and treat everybody with respect, which they do. We make sure everyone is well looked after, well-fed and happy going home. 

Mix again 

We work closely with Community Action on Dementia and Ashford Place, which helped to put in place other dementia cafés around Brent.

We don’t only welcome people with dementia, other elders come too. Some just sit at home, but we give them the chance to mix with society again. 

We have somebody from Ashford Place who gives people advice, to help them get a Blue Badge or any other support that they need.

She comes in a couple of times a month to the café and speaks to people individually. If she doesn’t finish completely, she’ll maybe visit them or ring them up afterwards to follow up. 

It gives me a sense of pride to say we give people the support they need, whether they’ve got dementia, memory problems or whatever. 

A couple of weeks ago I couldn’t go, and when I went back everyone asked where I was – I had missed them, and they welcomed me back with open arms. 

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1 comment

Hi Dianne, good to hear about your Dementia Cafe. Denham Parish Council have also set up a Dementia Cafe after finding residents were having too far to go to access this sort of facility. We have been running ours now for around 2 years and wondered whether we could meet up and exchange ideas. I would love to come and see how you do yours