Birmingham Irish Association Dementia Centre
The Birmingham Irish Association (BIA) has unveiled a free service for first, second and third-generation Irish people suffering from dementia at the St Anne’s Parish Centre in Digbeth.
Funded by some of the £197,000 awarded to the BIA through the Irish Government’s Emigrant Support Fund in November, the centre is currently open weekly on Thursdays and Fridays, with a view to running additionally on Mondays and Tuesdays in the coming months.
The centre provides social activities including cooking, dancing, singing and board games, but Volunteer Coordinator at the centre, Yvonne Price, said that the focus on Irish culture is the most important aspect of the service:
“This centre is culturally sensitive. If people have originally come here from Ireland, then the dementia may have meant that they’ve gone back in time in their minds, so it’s important the place is soaked in Irishness, with music and food.”
Following successful events, including pancake making on Shrove Tuesday and soda bread cooking classes, Ms Price said that the centre is preparing to hold a St Patrick’s Day event. “Many of them know each other from the past, from when they visited the dance halls in their younger days, which is amazing,” she added. “This is why this centre is so important, it reconnects people.”
The Dementia Centre is focused on giving individual clients sufficient attention; there is one volunteer to every three people at the centre. It also opens its doors to family and friends who want to attend and support their loved ones, and for those who travel to the centre alone, the BIA, which celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2017, provides transport.
For more information, visit the BIA website or call Yvonne Price on 07948 379 049 or 0121 604 6111.