Thanks to everyone who took time to cast a vote for our Fab Forgetful Friends in the Big Lottery Fund People’s Projects competition. Thanks to you, our group has been awarded funding to provide safe transport for local people living with dementia and carers! We are so grateful to every one who voted and spread the word, and especially to the Big Lottery for supporting the work of Together Dementia Support.
We asked Sally Ferris (Together Dementia Support Director and Co-ordinator) to tell us about Together Dementia Support’s exciting journey and involvement with the People’s Projects competition.
“It all started in October 2017 when Together Dementia Support was invited to submit a proposal to the People’s Projects. What could we do with up to £50,00! The funding had to be spent in a year and couldn’t be used for salaries or other core costs.
We quickly thought that buying an accessible minibus would be a great capital item as transport to and from our groups is a major challenge and often prevents group members from attending. We have a few volunteer drivers but in the last year we have had to use taxis. This has not only been expensive but also not entirely safe as errors with destinations have been made and taxi drivers haven’t given the necessary support to our members with dementia. We have also found that we needed to supply a volunteer escort for some of our members as they might not be able to lock the front door or might leave the house with slippers on.
We also knew that we wanted to offer a dedicated group for our younger members who are living with dementia. They were requesting more trips out and opportunities to activities that would keep them fit, so we added on to the bid a sessional worker who would plan and lead monthly trips out in the minibus.
We learned, a month or so later, that we had been shortlisted for the Granada regional final. Sally attended media training as the 5 finalists would all have to make a film about their project. The encouragement and guidance about how to promote your work was invaluable and a month later an ITV producer and cameraman descended on our ‘Games for the Brain’ and choir sessions to film us. Our volunteers enabled extra members to attend this special filming day and we had a ball! The crew stayed with us all day and were able to film the choir session in the afternoon. It was a lovely surprise to discover that the cameraman was a Moss Side lad and he had a big hug with his auntie Beth who is one of our choir members.
After that we had to get ready for the competition launch. Vicky designed special voting cards and we had 5,000 printed as we knew this was our target for votes. We alerted everyone we knew to watch Granada Reports to see our film. And so the two week campaigning period began! We tweeted and posted and delivered voting cards to all the local community groups we know. Our network extended as families took cards to their workplaces, Bingo Halls, churches and colleges. One member’s neighbours were in active competition to secure the most votes!
Our communications volunteer, Katie, worked really hard, promoting the project on-line and using social media and we know that we got great support from the dementia network nationwide thanks to that.
Finally, May 3rd arrived and Sally received a phone call from the ITV film producer asking if he could come and interview her about something or other. She did wonder….! That morning a smartly dressed reporter arrived at Didsbury Park, where a group was being run. He suddenly revealed that he had come to present the ‘Winner” notice. Sally had to keep quiet, though, until the results were revealed on Granada Reports.
Sally and Vicky (our Dementia Service Manager) shared fizzy wine and strawberries and cream with one of the groups to celebrate the win. There was such real joy that our efforts had paid off, and also that people living with dementia had been recognised and had received public support. The members told Sally to get on the phone and order the bus. They are impatient to get out and use it!
The whole TDS team are SO grateful to the Big Lottery for making this big financial gesture of support, and to all the people who voted, and to those who encouraged others to vote. This minibus is going to make a wonderful difference to our work. Thank you!”