TV star Angela Rippon visited an award-winning Wearside school to see its work with dementia sufferers.
A year ago, Bernard Gilpin Primary School in Houghton opened the revolutionary Living Room, a home from home within the school to offer weekly dementia-friendly activities.
Presenter and journalist, Angela, who is an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society, went along to the school to see for herself the work going on there.
The Hall Lane school was one of 21 schools nationwide that initially took part in Prime Minister David Cameron’s Challenge on Dementia, which aims to revolutionise the way people think about the condition.
In May, staff from the school travelled to London to be awarded a prize from the Alzheimer’s Society and met Angela.
Fiona Bridle, dementia project lead at Bernard Gilpin, said: “She was really interested and supportive of the work we are doing here, and said she would like to visit when she was in the region.”
Angela said schools like Bernard Gilpin are proving that inter-generational projects really work when it comes to breaking down the barriers surrounding dementia, including the loneliness, isolation and stigma. She said: “There are a lot of stages of dementia and people who are affected can live well with the right help and support.”
Fiona said when they first launched The Living Room, staff thought they would get a handful of members, but word of the centre soon grew and about 30 people attend each week.
She said: “It has been fantastic. Some of them have made firm friends since coming here and even gone on holiday together.”
Activities at The Living Room include Singing for the Brain sessions, which uses music as a form of therapy, and there is also a Dementia Cafe, providing a relaxed environment for sufferers and carers to get together with others.