Town Hall View: Caring in a new and positive way

Peterborough City Council leader, Marco Cereste in 2013. Photo: Alan Storer/Peterborough Telegraph
Peterborough City Council leader, Marco Cereste in 2013. Photo: Alan Storer/Peterborough Telegraph
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It’s always heart-warming to hear of the good work of the council, especially when it involves having a positive impact on people’s lives.

Over the past couple of weeks I have had the pleasure of reading two letters we received praising the life-changing work of our recently opened Dementia Resource Centre, on Lincoln Road.

In each, children of parents that suffer with dementia write of the difference the service has made.

One describes how she “no longer felt alone and bewildered” whilst another called the centre “an oasis of calm and comfort”. Reading such personal testament reminds me why we support these services, but also makes me realise there is still so much we can do, as a council, but also individually.

Peterborough has some fantastic facilities that offer valuable support to those affected by dementia.

Just this week the Dementia Resource Centre, run in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society and Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Trust, featured on BBC Look East. The centre supports those affected by dementia with memory clinics, singing therapy and café drop-in sessions.

But it also hosts a number of social or micro-enterprises. These give those that have learning disabilities the opportunity to meet people, get out the house and, perhaps most importantly, earn a bit of money.

Two of the examples highlighted by the BBC, Royce Rolls, caterers (http://goo.gl/sFGK6t) and Westcombe Wash, a mobile car-wash (http://goo.gl/ob4WC5) have successful business models that could prove hits across the city. Now I’ve given the two companies a good healthy plug in this week’s column (thanks Editor!) I do hope you will get in touch on 747474 to see if they can help you or your business.

Dementia already affects about 800,000 in the UK, and that number is only going to increase. To help tackle the problem, we’ve just launched a new campaign to recruit dementia friends here at thecouncil. For those that aren’t familiar with the scheme, it provides a much-needed lifeline for many in Peterborough. Anybody can be a dementia friend. You just need to spare a little time to learn a bit more about the condition and then agree to help people with day-to-day activities. These could be helping someone catch the right bus, helping pack shopping at the till in the supermarket or even spending an hour with someone having a chat over a cup of tea. It isn’t about a dramatic or grand gesture, it is about supporting people with the little things, making life easier or more enjoyable.

The Dementia Resource Centre and our micro-enterprises demonstrate the potential future of our adult and day services. We want to invest in opportunities for those that want to get out, meet people, and do something constructive and inspiring.

Providing these kind of opportunities, rather than traditional day centre-based support, will mean we will be able to continue to help those with the most specific needs. Watching caterers prepare buffets and teams washing cars on the local news and reading letters from those that benefit from the services only reassures me that we are moving in the right direction.

As Christmas draws ever closer, there is still much you can do in Peterborough, taking in a carol service or catching up with friends in the Christmas market, so do please continue to take advantage of everything we have put on in the city centre.

But please also take a moment to think of those that could benefit from a bit of extra company or support at this time of year, every day of the year in fact.

If you are looking for the perfect New Year’s resolution visit https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk to find out how you can support this most worthy of causes.

Merry Christmas.