AS the Alzheimer’s Society helps mark Dementia Awareness Week, until Saturday, 21st May, a Warwickshire charity which supports people on a dementia journey, is expanding its services in Stratford.
Warwickshire Reminiscence Action Project — better known as WRAP — was initially set up 20 years ago to support and train people caring for older people in the community.
It started under the control of Warwickshire’s Community Education Service, but is now a registered charity in its own right.
Over the years, more and more people have started looking after a loved one living with dementia, and WRAP’s support services have grown and adapted to their needs.
It has been estimated that around 670,000 people in the UK care for a loved one living with a form of dementia, which WRAP understands can be a lonely and overwhelming role.
Mike Strophair, who founded WRAP, told the Herald: “People can live very positively with dementia and at WRAP we are here to support those people and their loved ones.
“It’s very emotional work. I get upset when I find out about some people’s situations, and one in 14 of us will get dementia. We’re also trying to stop prejudices of what living with dementia is like.”
Mike added: “People can go out and have a fantastic conversation with someone living with dementia and have a really positive and fun time.
“It’s about finding a level with that person and to talk about something they know about and can remember.”
The charity carries out reminiscence therapy, usually described as the use of triggers, which promotes the recollection of life histories.
The therapy stimulates people’s minds, which WRAP has found has a positive impact on their overall health, comfort and sense of security.
There are also more than 40 themed resource boxes available through a resource centre, with a series of objects that stimulate the five senses and trigger memories.
Additionally, people can complete a life review, capturing precious memories before they are lost forever. WRAP has found that talking to someone about their life brings their history alive.
The charity organises various free activities, including Café WRAP, which is held at Bishopton Community Centre every Friday, from 2pm until 4pm and at Wellesbourne Village Hall every Wednesday between 2pm and 4pm.
The cafés are places for people living with dementia and their carers to share experiences, find support and relax.
The charity says on its website: “We are very keen in turning these two hours into fun, interactive moments and therefore we endeavour to have a varied event programme, whether through arts and crafts activities, or guest speakers addressing topics that are related to our interests.”
The first anniversary of Café WRAP at Bishopton Community Centre was celebrated on Friday, 1st April, with opening a pilot day centre.
Every Friday, the trained team can look after people living with dementia at the day centre from 11am until 1pm.
It will then reopen at 2pm, for Café WRAP, so all carers and their loved ones are welcome to return and engage in their planned activities.
Other activities organised include free training, a free eight-week information programme for carers in Stratford called Looking After A Loved One (Laalo), as well as intergenerational projects working with schools and the community.
WRAP has also applied for a grant of £5,000 from the Stratford District Digital Improvement Inclusion Fund, to enable Bishopton Community Centre to be able to offer Wi-Fi.
The funds will enable equipment to be purchased, such as laptops, a projector, a screen and security equipment for use in the community centre.
WRAP aims to work with Bishopton Primary School and the Friends of Bishopton Primary School, together with other groups at the community centre, to research family trees and involve families caring for those living with dementia.
Mike added: “We hope that in the long term, all the groups who use the community centre will benefit from a dementia-friendly digital environment.”
Meanwhile, WRAP will be organising Showcase 16, for organisations in Stratford to exhibit their services and network. The show will be held during Carers’ Week on Wednesday, 8th June, at the Stratford ArtsHouse, from 10am until 4pm.
Anyone interested in volunteering at the café in Bishopton has been asked to call 01789 778431, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the charity visit www.reminiscence.org.uk