We run dance groups for people with dementia and their carers.
These are my parents, Robbie and Marjorie. My Mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011 and my Dad with mixed dementia in 2016. Our consultant told us to keep mum stimulated but there wasn’t much mum could do - she also has chronic arthritis in her hands so she can’t do arty things or arrange flowers, knit or embroider - the things she used to love. But she loves to dance - and I am a dance teacher so I decided to start a dance group for my mum and me and people like us. I set up a small not-for-profit and named it after her - The Marjorie May Dance Trust - to fund the group. (We are recognised as a charity by HMRC.)
Once we got going, dad decided to come along, too. He's pretty frail and pretty much confined to his chair but he still sees it as his job to chat to people and make them feel included.
We’ve been running for three years now and we’ve danced with many wonderful people with dementia and with their amazing carers. Our sessions tend to be joyful and pretty anarchic! Sometimes we’ve waltzed around the room, sometimes we’ve done seated tap dances, rock and roll or circle dances, we’ve moved with ribbon sticks and worn fancy gloves to improvise hand dances. We’ve had a snowball fight with indoor snow balls and kicked giant beach balls around the room. Some of our dancers are fairly able bodied and some are confined to wheelchairs and have very little movement - we’ve had the miracles - the times when someone who is in an advanced stage of disease gets up and dances round the room with one of the team - I wish that happened all the time but it doesn’t. What does happen all the time is that people move and laugh and connect with each other. People have a way of communicating with their loved one when language has become difficult; people with dementia have a space to enjoy themselves, express themselves, be creative and be free of the anxiety that can often accompany dementia, to be okay just as they are; we all leave the sessions feeling better.
I didn’t do this alone, I got lucky and found some great people to help me. At first friends and colleagues came all the way from London to help me get going (Thank you Jason Rowe, Sue Rickards, Becca and Bea) until I found wonderful women locally. We have a great team to run the sessions: Krisztina Dufala, Lynette Duxford, Annette Cave and me, Nina Robertson(and previously, Stacey, Jasmin and Grace). Sue Rickards, Kristina Dufala and Sharon Massey joined me as trustees. We all do the groups, and all the work to run the trust, on a voluntary basis. We pay for our own transport (Though if we had a volunteer who was perfect for us but couldn't afford the bus fair, we'd pay that). We now have two regular monthly groups as well as doing one-off sessions for other dementia organisations such as dementia cafes or day centres in and around Leicestershire. We are now starting to go a little further. We've been to Kettering and are returning in summer 2020. If people invite us, we try and say yes!
The money we are asking for is to run the groups for two years. It would cover the cost of hiring the venue; buying equipment such as percussion instruments, ribbon sticks and dance canes; refreshments; new music; and maintenance costs such as ensuring the electrical equipment is safe, updating our first aid training and insurance. I am a full time carer for Mum and Dad and I have very little time and energy left to fund raise so I need your help!
How you can help 1. Donating to our Givey project - any amount at all will help. 2. Spreading the word: share this on your Facebook Timeline, or email this page, or any other way you have.