The launch of the Talk to Me Café
To set up a friendly, helpful meeting place for local people with dementia, and the people who care for them. Many people who find themselves in these positions do not know where to turn for advice and support, especially when a loved one can no longer recognise friends and relatives.
The idea to create a supportive space for people in need came from local Prestwich resident, Kate Walker, who made the original bid for funding. She launched the cafe in memory of her husband Colin, who had died of vascular dementia.
Its aim is to help other local people with dementia and those who care for them. Many have a fear of what will happen and a lot of questions of what to do in challenging situations, such as how to deal with when a loved one can no longer remember them or others.
As his carer, Kate had often felt very isolated and did not know who to talk to about his illness. She knew she needed to do something to help other people in the community facing similar situations.
Kate already volunteered at the Clarks Hill Retirement Living Scheme run by Six Town Housing in central Prestwich. She thought the size and set up of the building’s communal area would make an ideal location for her new social scheme.
Following a successful bid for funding, Kate opened her first session of the Talk to Me Café on 11 May 2017. It has continued to run monthly ever since on the second Thursday of every month between 2pm and 4pm.
Kate is delighted with the way the Talk to Me Café has taken off and how popular it has proved to be with local dementia sufferers and their carers. Supported by volunteers, the initiative provides a warm and supportive place to go for a chat, a change of scene, and a friendly listening ear. Other information and advice about community groups and organisations is also made available and a variety of activities and entertainments are put on, on request, such as special parties at Easter and Christmas, and barbeques in the summer.
As well as free refreshments, Kate provides quizzes and games at the sessions to help people talk to others from their area that they may never have met before.
“I would not have been able to do as much as I have done without the backing of Ambition for Ageing. I can get just that little bit extra for my clients. The money has provided the refreshments and decorations for the cafe and helped with its successful launch. I hope that it will continue to help a lot of people going forward."
Kate’s personal experience has helped her to understand the challenges and fears that people caring for dementia sufferers have to face every day. It has also ensured that she has created a service that exactly meets the needs of the audiences she is looking to reach. As she says, ‘Having experienced what these people are going through, I know it can be isolating, so I want the cafe to provide a friendly, welcoming place where they can meet other people who are in the same situation and find out any information they need.”
Ongoing publicity and promotion has also helped to spread the word and keep the café visible in the local community. Flyers and posters, featuring Kate’s smiling face, are widely distributed, with the strapline ‘Run by the community for the community, supporting and promoting community services!’
Kate runs regular updates for her customers on Facebook here
A video about the Talk to Me Café is here
Kate and her café are well established as a vital support service in Prestwich. She has become a well known popular local figure and news of her work is spreading fast. Her plan is to continue to alleviate social isolation among the ill and elderly in the community.
“I like the elderly to come out from the four walls of their houses and talk to people and make friends. While I can’t do anything to help them medically, I can continue to give them
peace of mind.”
A shot of Kate taken with one of her regular customers was featured at the Celebrating Community Champions photography exhibition in Birmingham in May 2018.