Serving the Community

This story was written in 2019, before the pandemic.

Older coupleChurches across the region are considering how to help those who suffer with dementia, and their carers – and Parkgate & Neston URC are leading the way with CAMEO.

Jen Cash, church elder and Cameo coordinator, reports…

As a church we wanted to serve the community in a meaningful way and after some research it was found there was a great need to support those with a diagnosis of dementia. And so we started CAMEO – Come and Meet Each Other.

We meet each Thursday and regularly support 17 clients, all with a dementia diagnosis, and their carers. Our referrals come from health professionals and word of mouth. Carers often appear at the hall desperate for help - and there’s always someone to offer a hot drink, to take details, to listen and to ensure that they are aware of the pathway to get a referral and they can then make arrangements to come back to us. We are a club not a drop in centre - this allows us to limit our numbers and if clients settle well with us then the carer is encouraged to leave their loved one with us and have a time of respite.

It’s interesting to hear how carers use the time – one elderly gentleman carer said, “It was wonderful to go to a barbers and get a proper haircut.” He’d also treated himself to a proper shave - it had taken years off him! One lady said she’d had coffee with friends and then returned home and sat in a chair and read the paper in the peace and quiet - something she’d not done for some years.

Team of volunteers

We have a qualified leader, contracted by the church to run the Club, supported by a team of volunteers who are invaluable. Volunteers include those from our own church and the local and wider community. 

Activities include singing and dancing, chair exercise, craft games (both table and more adventurous – skittles, snooker and table football). We are knitting squares which will be made into blankets and will go to an old people’s home in Romania and purses for our four shoe boxes that we’ve made up for Christmas to add to the church donation.

There have been two spin offs. Our clients and their carers do lunch - they meet up at the various church lunch clubs in the area and have a regular meeting at one of the local pubs. The carers have also formed an informal support group and this has proved very useful.