For many of us life has has been very different since March 2020. It’s changed a lot for DFEL too. It seems very strange that this time last year we had 6 Friendship Groups round the county, we were working with the Memory Rehab Team supporting people with dementia and carers to stay connected to the community and preparing for our Autumn Gathering. When Covid arrived we were right on the brink of a second workshop to set up a Meeting Centre in Musselburgh, something people with dementia and carers have been working on for over a year and were just about to launch Community Matters at the new East Lothian Community Hospital – a monthly talk, concert or coffee morning that would bring us all together. Then Covid arrived and suddenly being together was dangerous and risky.
Life for many of us became local as we looked after our families and neighbours and looked forward to our daily walk, a phone call from family, a potter in the garden. Communities, friends and families pulled together to shop and pick up prescriptions and make scrubs. Across East Lothian, hundreds of volunteers supported NHS and Council services to get us all through. What a wonderful community we live in. We have many people to thank.
But sadness too. For friends lost – not everyone made it and there are too many people who will be sorely missed and never forgotten. And exhaustion, despair and distress – from the trauma of being cut off from the people and places we love, the loss of routines and essential support. Feeling alone, disconnected and scared. The heartbreak of not being able to be with each other when we need it most and witnessing the confusion of living with dementia in a world where all the rules have suddenly changed and not understanding why. The tragedy of the impatience of others who don’t understand dementia and how it works. The Life Changes Trust has written a report about the impact of Covid for people with dementia and carers across Scotland, sadly much of this will be familiar. You can read it HERE. We’re working with our colleagues in the East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership, Carers of East Lothian and Alzheimers Scotland to assess the impact of Covid. It’s not too late to give us your views – either contact Sue@dfel.org.uk or you can use this survey HERE.
But if you live with dementia you get used to somehow keeping going. DFEL went online, to try and find a way to keep us connected and keep friendships going when getting together in the real world is just not possible for many of us. We decided that if we can’t get out on our trips or have a friendly chat or get-together to change the world then we’d bring the world to your screen and we hopped onto Zoom. Maya joined us and she’s developed a fantastic programme of events every week. Watch out for Maya doing us a blog and notice the difference!!
We had our first online Friendship Group on 12th May, when 4 of us got together online. Since then we’ve met weekly and done a lot – been round Scotland accompanied by Bruce Davies and Alasdair Northrop (and yes he is related!), visited the Bass Rock with the Scottish Seabird Centre, had a talk from Andrew Crummy about his great arts projects. Peter Nurick came from the V&A in Dundee and Professor Alan Gow told us how to stay sharp. And more East Lothian Countryside with Roger Powell, East Lothian Rangers Service, Kirsteen from Carers of East Lothian, Parvine from Ageing Well and Michael from Alzheimers Scotland. We make recordings and share them with people on the mailing list to enjoy if you can’t make it along. Bet I’ve missed someone!!
Friendship Groups are open to people with dementia, family and friends and anyone who fancies coming along. To stay safe, it’s invitation only.
You can find the programme at the top of the webpage and on our Facebook Page
If you’d like to join us on a Tuesday, get in touch and we’ll send an invitation.
Take care, stay safe
Sue and Maya