Dedicated Sunderland campaigners are launching a new dementia unit after 'lifeline' centre axed

A group of devoted Sunderland people who vowed not to be beaten by the closure of a city dementia unit are opening a new facility.

By Sue Kirby
Tuesday, 14 May, 2019, 15:26
Sandra Falkner (front) and some of the dedicated volunteers who are saving dementia services for Sunderland.

Users of the Alzheimer's Society day unit in the city were left devastated when it was announced in February that it would shut this summer.

Sandra Falkner led the campaign to save the much-needed services and launched a new charity North East Dementia Care.

Sandra Falkner outside the axed Alzheimer's Society premises in Hylton Road.

Now, the group has set up base inside the retirement centre, Springtide Cove in Roker, and looking forward to starting up day care facilities and activities next week.

On Thursday, May 18, they will be holding an open afternoon there for anyone who would like to go along and find out more about the service.

The Alzheimer's Society blamed funding shortages for the closure of the centre this summer.

But, Sandra and the other supporters, said the services are a lifeline to dementia sufferers and their families and were determined not to stand by and see them lost.

Sandra Falkner with her late husband Bill.

Sandra first became involved with the centre when her late husband, Billy, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in his early 50s.

She said the Hylton Road unit became a lifeline for her and Billy, who sadly lost his battle with the disease four years ago at the age of 67.

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Sandra, who remained a regular user of the centre where she supported others going through similar battles, said starting a new charity has been hard work, but worth it.

She said: "I just knew I had to do something, too many people rely on the facilities.

"The thousands of people in the city who have dementia, or will get it, need somewhere to go.

"When the lady at Springtide Cove said we could use their premises, I just broke down and cried my eyes out."

Sandra, 70, said North East Dementia Care will have use of a few rooms for activities as well as access to a beautiful garden area.

She said by setting up in the retirement centre means they can ensure they have some services in place before the Alzheimer's Society premises in Hylton Road close.

And, it is hoped that once more funding comes through they will be able to look for some dedicated premises of their own.

Sandra said she has had a huge amount of support from people in the community who are doing charity fundraising, as well as Sunderland City Council.

She said former and current centre users and their families are on board, as well as a number of health care professionals and businesses who are giving their support.

Anyone interested in finding out more can go along to the open afternoon tomorrow. You can also visit the group's Facebook page, North East Dementia Care - Sunderland Branch.