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Rothwell is “the place to be” say dementia carers

By Lizzy McEllan

CARERS IN Rothwell believe their town is the best in the country for dementia support.

Rothwell – the first dementia friendly community in Leeds – is bucking national loneliness trends, which suggest that eight out of 10 carers feel isolated.

With Christmas around the corner, December can be a particularly difficult time for the families of dementia sufferers.

Peter Smith, who founded Dementia Friendly Rothwell in 2011, has been holding Christmas parties for his dementia support groups. He believes community work is key to combatting loneliness.

Mr Smith spoke about the importance of these groups, along with Betty Hindley and Nancy Jervis, who both care for their husbands, and PCSO Jayne Bunting.

Mr Smith came up with the idea of Dementia Friendly Rothwell after caring for his mother with the disease. After her death, he started working full-time as a volunteer, setting up memory cafes and training local businesses.

Now there are seven groups that take place, providing a vital support network for carers. The whole community is involved – with PCSOs attending groups to get to know vulnerable people that could go missing.

This year, a report by Carers UK revealed that 81 per cent of carers have felt isolated or lonely as a result of their caring role. A third said they did not feel comfortable talking about caring to their friends.

The world shrinks: Carer loneliness. Courtesy of Carers UK.

Whilst Leeds is pioneering dementia friendly communities, support in the rest of the UK is not as advanced.

Judith Steel, 70, from East Yorkshire, is a carer for her husband John, who has dementia.

She said: “There’s very little structured help providing strategies to help, along with clinical information. Hull seems to have more specific support for carers, but in East Yorkshire, it’s a very different story.”

PCSO Bunting, who attends the Rothwell dementia support groups, feels the whole country should to be more active in helping sufferers and their carers.

She added: “People need to remember be aware that it’s the elderly generation that brought up the younger generation – and we owe it to them.”

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