Last month, Emily-Jane Stapley contacted the magazine to tell us about a ‘dementia café’ that she is planning to open in Thorpe. We thought this sounded like a great cause and one that our readers might like to hear more about, so we caught up with Emily to find out more.
Hi Emily, perhaps you could start by telling our readers about your plans. What is the concept behind the dementia café and are you working on behalf of a particular charity at all?
The Dementia Cafe in Thorpe-Le-Soken is it’s own charity.
Dementia Cafe’s already exist. They offer support to those with dementia and their families.
The concept we have is to set one up that:
*Is in Thorpe-Le-Soken *Runs for free *Is a purpose built cafe (currently cafes hire spaces such as churches)
Dementia cafes run at an annual cost to The Alzheimer’s Society of up to twelve thousand pounds each. With around sixty nationwide this costs the charity close to a million pounds annually. Ours will be free.
What kind of challenges do people with dementia and their loved ones face on a daily basis and how will the cafe benefit them?
The main challenge is letting people know that dementia is Not “just one of those things we get as we age”. All forms of dementia, for example Alzheimer’s Disease are in fact brain diseases.
One in three people will suffer with dementia which is as many as are likely to suffer cancer, yet there is little knowledge about it.
People not ‘in the know’ are often dismissive and become angry towards sufferers. Sometimes people think those with dementia are stupid.
Loved ones can also find it difficult to comprehend. When I was told by the local GP that my Mother had Alzheimers disease I was relatively un-phased & thought, ok she’s a bit forgetful but so what. When I queried ‘What actually Is Alzheimers?’
It was then that the GP said the words: This disease will kill her.
I think that makes it more real. That’s when people start to listen and consider the severity.
As the brain slowly shuts down for sufferers, they feel isolated, they struggle to communicate what they feel and comprehend what’s happening to them. Relatives feel angry at them for acting out of character, not remembering or for spilling their food or doing odd things like putting car keys in the fridge.
The cafe unites sufferers and families in this struggle and together offers a safe place to be yourself and share stories. A place where you don’t feel judged.
Do you already have all the funding in place for the initial start-up and how will you continue to fund the café?
We have very little funding in place for the cafe. We are at the very beginning of our journey.
We intend to launch an Indiegogo Campaign.
We have a Just Giving Page: https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/emilyjane-stapley
We will be running events.
Tony Stapley of No.3 Station Road is selling plants to raise money for the cafe and welcomes people to knock on the door if they wish to buy some.
The cafe has staff volunteers to run it and donations of tea and coffee. Once built it will have paid for itself within five years.
What will happen to the money raised in the cafe?
As the cafe will run free of charge, we hope any donations will go to research to find a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. We have the full support of the national charity:
Alzheimer’s Research UK. Together we can fight dementia.
How can local people or businesses support the café and will it be open to the general public as well?
The dementia cafe in TLS already has much support from people all over the world who back our idea. From Australia to America & large national charities.
We are asking local people to join us on this journey in whatever way they can. If they can donate, we welcome that. If they’d like to help with the build, we welcome that. If they’d like to help with fundraising, we welcome that. We will be updating everybody as we progress.
The cafe will be multi-purpose and we are in talks regarding offering something for the younger generation of TLS as well.
I’ve heard of other dementia cafés in the country that are themed, often in the 1940s or 1950s style, in order to make the users feel more comfortable in their surroundings. Is this something you have planned for the café?
There are sufferers as young as twenty that have been diagnosed with dementia, many in their fifties, not all are elderly. We will be consulting experts in the field on how best to approach the interior. We do want the cafe to have a sensory element.
What made you embark on this project? Do you have a professional background in dementia care or a personal involvement with that condition at all?
My Mother, Joan Ivy Stapley has Alzheimer’s Disease.
(My Mother & I in the photograph)
You have mentioned that the café will be built on private land, do you have a site in mind and why did you choose Thorpe?
I moved to Thorpe-Le-Soken with my parents as I turned 3. I have just turned 33. TLS has been the family home for thirty years and it is on family land that I wish to build the cafe to give something back to the community.
Though based in London for the last fifteen years, I am in the village every week.
When do you envisage that the café will be up and running?
We hope the cafe will open in 2016.
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