News   >   Handling Covid19 – Memory Matters

Handling Covid19 – Memory Matters

07 May 2024   /   Natalie Kay

During these unprecedented times we are shining the spotlight on grant holders who are still able to continue their service delivery. 

We approached Memory Matters, an organisation that enriches the lives of people affected by dementia. The Rank Foundation awarded the first grant to Memory Matters back in Summer 2018 as part of Plymouth Place Based funding

They have a team of 20 people, including 1 part-time Rank employee, who works as the Plymouth Project Officer, as well as 1 Time to Shine Leader and Kate Smith and Laura Walker, the CEO’s of Memory Matters. Last year, they welcomed 75,076 people through their doors, including organisations hiring their rooms for conferences, meetings and activity sessions, as well as customers enjoying food in the Café and people looking for advice and guidance in our Memory Matters Hub (dementia advice centre). In 2019, The Hub supported 278 families that have been affected by dementia.

“There’s no such thing as ‘normal’ in the Memory Matters world. No two days are ever the same. We run many different projects – Memory Matters Workshops  (these run every day all over Cornwall), we provide Training all over the UK (as well as regularly training nurses in large local hospitals – sometimes every week), Moments Café – an innovative social enterprise Café open to the public, Memory Matters Hub (our dementia advice centre) which is open 6 days a week above Moments Café, Memory Matters Inside (a weekly project that teaches prisoners how to provide dementia therapy to other prisoners), as well as scoping out new projects on the horizon; like the Memory Matters Fellowship  (enabling local communities to run dementia groups with our support every week). It’s usually pretty busy!

Since the 21st March, the world has changed a bit. Moments Café has closed, but not before the staff spent the week asking all our customers whether they would like us to keep in touch with them, which was tough to do and a financial worry. We have furloughed 10 staff members that worked in the Café. The team, however, are spending time supporting each other with weekly film nights, P.E with Joe Wicks exercises and daily zoom catch ups – a few of the team live alone so this contact is so vital for them and also very beneficial in keeping their spirits up. 

The rest of the team are busier than ever. The whole team are very creative, and our organisation is built on looking for the positives in everything we do. I guess when we work with people living with a life limiting disease, it’s important to make the best of every opportunity. The Memory Matters Workshop teams run 10 different dementia workshops a week, so they have approx. 70 people living with dementia to support. They are doing this by weekly phone calls and sending out weekly activity sheets to take part in at home. For those that can get online, we are running zoom sessions – these have been amazing, not only are they seeing their peers and gaining some activity to keep their brains exercised but they are learning new digital skills that means they can also connect with family members easier too. 

Our Dementia Advice Centre (Memory Matters Hub) – sees many people coming in off the street for advice – this provision hasn’t changed; it’s just not face to face anymore. We are also spending time catching up with those that came to see us in the last 6 months, to ensure they are well connected and have a weekly chat and signposting as required. We also run a Young Onset Group (YOG) and a Football Memory Café with Plymouth Argyle so there are a few more people to try and get online. This is no mean feat, trying to ensure that the systems are the easy to use, as there usually isn’t anyone else to help. Also, trying to access technology is difficult too. So, in total we are supporting approximately 130 people living with dementia and their carers. 

We are sending out a daily newsletter, which has been very well received and ensures that despite physical distance, we are still connected to those that are interested in what we do. We have received a great response from our service users and they really appreciate our daily contact. We have recently put together a quick 15-minute video to share with anyone who is going to volunteer for local councils. Many will not have training and a few hints and tips on how to communicate effectively with someone with memory loss may be helpful. 

This period is going to be tough for everyone, people running services, furloughed staff worried about how this will affect their lives and also those we support, locked at home when you don’t remember why. There will be some very difficult moments coming, we know that. All we can do is the best we can right now, with the information we’ve got. Social Entrepreneurs are agile beings, they shapeshift, are resilient and the team at Memory Matters are no different. With the amazing support from funders and friends in the business community we can only press forward, positively.”

Contact Emma Ridley – Communications Officer (also found on RankNet) for more information emma@memorymatterssw.co.uk.

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