A Birmingham restaurant joined nine others across England and Wales this weekend for an innovative new campaign to kickstart Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Action Week, which runs until 26th May.
The scheme, called Dining4Dementia, saw 84 year old Teresa Mulgrew from Sheldon, who is living with dementia, buddied up with staff at Boston Tea Party in Edgbaston to volunteer on 18 May. The campaign aims to show that with the right support and some small adjustments, many people with dementia can still contribute to the workplace and learn new skills, even in fast-paced environments.
Teresa was diagnosed with dementia when she was in her late 70s. Teresa worked front of house at the restaurant over a busy Saturday lunchtime as part of the campaign alongside restaurant manager Vicky Jinks from Boston Tea Party. Teresa’s daughter, Christine Mulgrew, came along for support on the day. Christine, also from Sheldon, said:
“Mom was always a social person. She had lots of friends and being Irish she was involved with the Irish community in Birmingham and she loved dancing. But when she was diagnosed with dementia a few years ago, that all seemed to stop. She doesn’t see friends anymore and she won’t leave the house on her own.
“It’s been really emotional seeing Mom speaking with customers and serving customers as part of Dining4Dementia. She thrives on meeting new people and it’s what she really enjoys.
“The campaign is such a great idea, helping to get people with dementia out of the house and meeting people in the community. I’m really grateful to Alzheimer’s Society for offering my Mom this opportunity and the team at Boston Tea Party have been incredible with supporting her.”
Dining4Dementia was inspired by the upcoming Channel 4 TV series ‘The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes’, supported by Alzheimer’s Society. The show saw 14 volunteers, all living with a dementia diagnosis, staff a restaurant in Bristol under the guidance of TV chef Josh Eggleton. The programme will air in June.
Dementia Action Week aims to help include people with dementia in society by tackling the stigma and ending the awkwardness around dementia. Everyone is encouraged to reach out and start talking about dementia and to people with dementia throughout the week.
Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Action Week comes just after the charity released statistics highlighting the prevalence of loneliness and isolation among people living with dementia. Currently, there are up to an estimated 120,000 people living alone with dementia in the UK and this number is predicted to double to around 240,000 by 2039.