Melksham Community Area

Background

The Melksham Community Area is set in 38 square miles of rural Wiltshire, which includes the parishes of Atworth, Broughton Gifford, Bulkington, Great Hinton, Keevil, Melksham, Melksham Without, Poulshot, Seend, Semington and Steeple Ashton and a population of approx 28,000 people (Melksham Community Area at mid-year 2011 - estimated total population of 28,390).

Rural villages surround the market town of Melksham, which is an important centre for people who live in the community area to access a wide range of services including health, education, leisure, shops and employment.

The community has a vibrant energy which becomes particularly evident at the local events, festivals and fairs that take place throughout the year and across the community area. The town is also the planned site of a new Community Campus incorporating a Health and Wellbeing Centre. The aim of the Campus is to deliver services which are tailored to meet the specific needs of the local community and enable people to access local facilities in one place. It will incorporate leisure facilities, flexible spaces for a variety of activities and be welcoming and accessible to the whole community.

History

In 2015 the Melksham Community Area Board (a local arm of Wiltshire Council) approached the well-established Melksham Area Community Safety Group to see if they would be prepared to form a steering group to drive forward a Dementia Friendly Melksham initiative with advice from local Wiltshire charity Alzheimer’s Support. Members of the group were quick to recognise that the group's success with the Safe Places scheme provided a good starting point and the first steering group meeting took place in January 2016.

According to the Wiltshire Dementia Strategy 2014 - 2021, there are approximately 370 people in Melksham living with dementia.

The initial aims of the group were to encourage as many people in the community as possible to attend a Dementia Friends session. In the last 6 months we have made over 150 new Dementia Friends. The group has been encouraged and supported by Wiltshire Council, Melksham Town Council and Melksham Without Parish Council and has grown to include a wide range of local people, including carers and people living with dementia, and partner agencies and organisations. They meet regularly and continue to develop their aims, actions and links to the wider community.

The second steering group meeting took place at the end of July to review progress so far and agree actions based on findings from workshops and focus groups. Three action groups were formed:

 

  • Health Pathway Action Group
  • Awareness Raising Action Group
  • Activities and Information Action Group

Aims

The overarching aim of the Melksham Community Area Dementia Action Alliance (MCA DAA) is to make sure that everyone from the Melksham Community Area living with dementia is respected and enabled to continue to participate in their own community as well as possible for as long as possible.

To do this the group will work in partnership across the community to develop practical actions to support those living with dementia and those who care for them. Organisations can undertake actions that are aimed specifically for people living with dementia and their carers or they can commit to making their services and activities generally more dementia friendly so that people living with dementia continue to feel able to participate.

The MCA DAA has been working hard over the last year to reach out to a huge range of local organisations and groups who may come into contact with someone living with dementia; the library, leisure centre, GP surgeries, Fire & Rescue and youth groups, as well as running Dementia Friends sessions for the Parish Council and residents of Melksham and Atworth.

In order to facilitate a large and growing list of Dementia Friends sessions and other events to raise community awareness and deliver actions, the group has established a network of local community champions who support each other.

This group is actively raising awareness of dementia and how it affects people, encouraging the community to help those people living with dementia in the Melksham area to remain socially active. We have also run two focus groups with people with dementia and their carers to identify their key needs.

Local groups/activities:

  • Memory Café at The Arts House Café in Melksham, 3rd Monday of the month 3.45pm
  • Singing for the Brain, Seend Village Hall, every Wednesday 2pm - 3.30pm 
  • Movement for the Mind, Bowerhill Village Hall, 2nd & 4th Wednesdays of the month 10.30am – 12noon

Meetings:

Working groups meetings bring together representatives of:

  • Wiltshire Council
  • Melksham Town Council
  • Melksham Without Parish Council
  • Alzheimer’s Support
  • Spa Medical Centre
  • Blenheim House Care Home
  • Somerset Care
  • Melksham Community Area Partnership
  • Neighbourhood Watch
  • Wiltshire Police
  • Melksham Family of Churches
  • Local businesses, including transport operators
  • Local people, including volunteers, carers and people living with dementia

Steering group meetings are held as required.

How to join

The Melksham Community Area DAA welcomes support from across the community. If you are interested in coming along to a meeting or being involved in any way please email Rhys Schell Rhys.schell@wiltshire.gov.uk