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Watchet & the Quantocks Dementia Action Alliance

Achievements

Registered as a Dementia Friendly Community

Background

Watchet & the Quantocks Local Alliance is focussed on Watchet, a small Somerset town on the Bristol Channel coast, near its larger neighbour, Minehead. Williton, just to the south, and other nearby villages across the Quantock and Brendon Hills are also involved in the Alliance. The Lord Lieutenant of Somerset is our Patron.

West Somerset has one of the highest proportions of elderly residents in the country and, inevitably, this means a relatively high number of people who are living with dementia or who are caring for someone living with dementia and other memory problems.

Like many tourist destinations, the town of Watchet is almost two different places in summer and winter. There is a strong sense of community with many clubs and interest groups as well as the major force, the Carnival Club, from which has grown the Watchet Live summer music festival.  The presence of the West Somerset steam railway brings tourists for short visits. There are many b+bs, as well as pubs and cafés which cater for both locals and the tourist trade.  They also act as venues for charity events. There is also a variety of sports and special interest clubs and groups. Most of the Quantock villages are quite small, but all have strong communities offering neighbourly support to all residents.

Watchet & the Quantocks Dementia Action Alliance supports 'Forget-me-not Cafes' held every Wednesday morning alternately in Watchet and Stogursey for those in the town and nearby villages who are living with dementia and other memory problems, and their carers.

Other services in Watchet include the Phoenix Centre, originally the Red Cross Centre, which has long led care for older people in the town with many functions such as daily lunches provided by volunteer teams. Similar services, albeit on a smaller scale, operate in several of the Quantock villages, usually based on the village hall. Further afield, there is a Singing for the Brain Group with Memory Café in Alcombe, near Minehead,  and our neighbouring Local Alliance, Minehead DAA, also has a regular drop-in, but the distance and poor public transport makes it difficult to get there.

The different churches in the town and in Williton are all members of the Alliance, and other churches across the Quantocks area are also becoming involved.  The Baptist Church in Watchet also runs ‘The Sanctuary’, on the main street. This is a centre for all sorts of community ventures including the 'Forget-me-not Cafe', a befriending group and an employment hub. 

There is support among young people for the Alzheimer's Society with fundraising events for the Society. There is a First School in the town, First and Middle Schools in Williton, and First Schools in several of the Quantock villages. These offer good opportunities for intergenerational activities, including the Archie Project. Knights Templar First School in Watchet has developed links with the nearby Magna sheltered housing schemes.

Aims

  • To encourage all the shops, businesses and other organisations, including local government, community and emergency services in Watchet and nearby villages to become dementia friendly, with at least one member of staff becoming a Dementia Friend
  • To encourage all the Anglican churches in the Quantock Deanery and other churches in the area to become dementia friendly, with a group of Dementia Friends who can support any attender, or would be attender/worshipper.
  • To encourage the many clubs and hobby groups to become dementia friendly.

Achievements

  • The Lord Lieutenant has graciously agreed to be our Patron.
  • Most of the larger local bodies have joined the Steering Group, including West Somerset Council, Watchet Town Council, Wacet (the local traders group) and  Watchet Festival.
  • Watchet Town Council has agreed use of the community marquee for  events on the quay during the summer Wednesday markets and in Dementia Action Week each year.
  • The weekly 'Forget-me-not' Café, held in alternate weeks in Watchet and Stogursey, provides a valuable service to people with memory problems and their carers.
  • The local paper, the West Somerset Free Press, has been very supportive, frequently printing articles and pictures about the Alliance and its activities. The paper has itself become a member of the Alliance.
  • A website (www.WatchetDementia.org.uk) and a Facebook page (Watchet and the Quantocks Dementia Action Alliance) have been created.
  • Support from local churches.  All the churches in the town and several in the nearby villages have become members of the Alliance and are working on becoming dementia friendly churches. Watchet Baptist Church provides free use of its premises for the 'Forget-me-not' Café in Watchet, while St Andrew's Church in Stogursey provides free use of the Church Rooms for the 'Forget-me-not' Cafe there.
  • St Audries House, a retirement complex in Watchet, has also offered free use of its premises.
  • The Town of Watchet was a runner-up in the 2016 national Dementia Friendly Community Awards - a well-deserved accolade for the way in which the town and its nearby villages have really embraced the concept and risen to the challenges.

Meetings

The Steering Group meets quarterly. Dementia Friends information meetings are run as necessary. 

How to join

Members or Supporters should contact the Chair, Margaret Tatham.

Contact

Margaret Tatham (a Dementia Friends Champion) 

on watchetdementia@gmail.com or  07973638030.

Website : WatchetDementia.org.uk

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