Sheffield community organisation battles adversity to become dementia services hub after securing major lottery grant   Sheffield community organisation battles adversity to become dementia services hub after securing major lottery grant

A Sheffield community forum is celebrating Christmas early after securing a major lottery grant that will allow it to further develop its innovative dementia services.

Thursday, 20th December 2018, 2:04 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th December 2018, 2:08 pm

Parson Cross Community Development Forum has just been awarded a £402,716 Reaching Communities grant '“ the second largest in this round across Yorkshire and the Humber '“ from the Big Lottery Fund to deliver its Unforgettable Me project over the next five years.

The funding will allow the forum to increase the range of services it offers, including its extremely popular dementia café, which will be expanded to two days a week.

Celebrating their success, Louise Ashmore said: 'I'd say it feels like we have just won the lottery '“ but we actually have!!! Just to have some security to grow and deliver our services without worrying about our vulnerable users and what happens to them if we aren't here next month, as well as our own personal future, is an enormous relief.

'This feels like a huge vindication of everything we have been trying to do over recent years.

'With NHS budgets under huge pressure and cuts to local authority funding, there is an enormous demand for our services from people and their families who can feel isolated and alone trying to cope with dementia. We are trying to add a bit of colour and support to people's lives and really make a difference and I'm hugely proud of what we do and what we have achieved.

'I'm looking forward to taking our service further so that more people can benefit.'

With its base in St Thomas More's Church in Parson Cross, the forum has had to run on just two staff managing and hiring out a community hall hosting vital community services and providing a focal point for an area of the city where many people struggle on low incomes or with unemployment.

It has fought to keep operating through income it has generated on venue hire, and small grants from charitable bodies and funds distributed from a small fund allocated by local ward councillors.

Despite this challenging environment, giving staff little in terms of long-term security, the forum has developed a key specialism in community-based dementia services, developing a much-valued offer both for those living with dementia and their family and friends.