Earlier this Summer a special party of people took the train from Bentham on Monday 30th July destined for the seaside at Morecambe, where they enjoyed tea, scones and cakes at the iconic art-deco Midland Hotel whilst taking in the sea views over to the Lakes and spending time together with friends.
The party was made up of a group of people living with dementia, who meet each Monday for a Making Art session at the Looking Studios in Bentham. They were accompanied by their carers and supporters from the art group, which is run by Pioneer Projects, who provide a range of activities to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals by using creative arts.
In recent weeks the art group have been working enthusiastically on ideas for a ’Window on the Dales and Bowland’ project which is being developed by the Bentham Line for its stations.
The day out was organised by the Bentham Line (Leeds-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership) as part of its Dementia and Community Rail project who invited the Pioneer Projects group to visit Morecambe with the support of the local train operator, Northern.
It proved to be a reminder of yesteryear for many; being able to sit, relax, and rekindle pleasant memories. One of the guests said, “It was really nice to go out on a trip”. Another participant from the Making Art session added, “I really enjoyed it. I wish these trips happened more often. It was so good being together with everyone. The staff did look after us well”.
Philippa Troutman, Training and Creative Arts Manager at Pioneer Projects said, “Everyone attending the Making Art session held at Bentham each week were delighted to be asked. The trip was an enormous success with everyone taking pleasure in the journey, the afternoon tea at the Midland Hotel and each other’s company. The staff and volunteers of the railway could not have been more helpful. Thank you to everyone for making it possible.”
Gerald Townson, Chairman of the Bentham Line, added, “this was a great example of Community Rail at its best; working with various agencies, including the train operator, to enhance the lives of those living with dementia and others who need extra time and support. It is vital that the railway develops an inclusive and caring approach to all those with ‘hidden’ illnesses such as dementia”.
Richard Isaac, Regional Community and Sustainability Manager at Northern. who accompanied the visit, commented: “Northern are pleased to be supporting this important initiative by the Community Rail Partnership, as the railway looks for ways to become more inclusive for those living with disabilities. It is pleasing to see that this project is attracting interest from rail partnerships and train operating companies across the United Kingdom.”
There are a number of other such trips planned over the next few weeks including one supported by Dementia Friendly Keighley and another which will visit the Forest of Bowland AONB and sample a new dementia-friendly walk established there. If any group is interested in being involved the CRP would like to hear from them: the Partnership can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or 015242 98940.