A NORTH Yorkshire charity which supports people with dementia and their carers has pulled out all the stops to keep services going during the coronavirus outbreak.

Dementia Forward has always provided regular social opportunities through wellbeing cafés, singing groups and more.

And whilst face-to-face activities have been suspended for the time being, the charity still wants its clients to feel that connection to their communities.

Chief executive Jill Quinn said: “I am very pleased to say that we have transferred our helpline so that we can safely work from home and you can still call us for support whenever you need it.

“Our team are based all over North Yorkshire, meaning that we can tell people what is available in their local community, as well as providing specialist dementia support.

"We are also taking new referrals, ensuring that anyone in the county who is diagnosed with dementia or a memory problem can access our services.”

In addition to this, the Dementia Forward support team are making daily care calls, working through their list of more than 4,000 people.

The charity is also calling those who regularly attend services, so that their routine is continued as much as possible.

Ms Quinn said: “This is developing all the time as we settle into this new situation.

"We have started using online tools, such as Zoom, so that we can connect with our clients virtually to chat, play games and stay connected.

"This has been a real hit with our young onset group, who get so much out of each other’s company.”

Along with providing important advice and support, the team are trying to bring a smile to everyone’s faces with photos and videos throughout this difficult time.

They are sharing the pictures via email to as many clients as possible and also posting them on social media, with the hashtag #bringmesunshine which is in-line with North Yorkshire County Council’s ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ dementia strategy.

The title was chosen to symbolise that although living with dementia brings many challenges, it does not automatically have to stop people enjoying life, and Dementia Forward is hoping that the same mindset can be applied to the current situation.

Volunteer Coordinator Debby Lennox said: “We have asked staff and volunteers to share videos and pictures, and have been bowled over by the response.

"We have received photographs of pets, gardens, holidays and families, plus drawings and paintings.

"Our musicians have also sent in songs of support, which have certainly lifted the spirits. People have been wonderful.”

Ms Quinn added: “Of course we are concerned that we have had to cancel fundraising, because as a local charity, we rely heavily on this income, but for now we will just continue to do what we do and hope that once this is over, people will come back and support us as they always have."