Over the past few months, Boston Neighbourhood Policing Team, in collaboration with Boston Dementia Action Alliance (Multi Agency), St Botolph’s Church, Restore Church, Centenary Church, Cafe Noglish, Boston United Football Club, Lincoln University and Alzheimer’s Society have been working on a new and exciting initiative; the aim of which is to provide volunteer workplace opportunities, for individuals living with dementia, in the cafes and shops operated by partner organisations.
The initiative is in response to an appeal made following the airing in 2019 of the Channel 4 programme, “The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes.”; a programme about individuals diagnosed with dementia, many of whom felt isolated as a result of being diagnosed and giving up their job. The creation of the restaurant gave them the opportunity to return to the workplace and contribute once again. During the programme, an appeal was made for more businesses/organisations to get involved by providing workplace opportunities and our initiative is a direct response to the appeal . For more information about the Channel 4 programme please see below.
Initially, we are offering five individuals living in the Borough of Boston and living with dementia, the opportunity to work as volunteers for a 24-week period, with participating organisations. This will be a great opportunity, particularly for those who feel isolated or lonely, to have the chance to maintain their independence and return to the workplace, be part of a team of dedicated and enthusiastic individuals and continue to make valuable contributions to the community.
Of course, we are keen to assess the impact this opportunity will have on our volunteers, local businesses and the wider community and with the help of Lincoln University, we will carry out a meaningful assessment of the initiative from the initial phase and throughout the 24-week period until it’s conclusion. The results of the evaluation we hope, will mirror those of the Channel 4 experiment and will enable us to hopefully extend the scheme to other organisations within the Borough of Boston.
To find out more about the placements, please read the attached job roles for each location. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or care for someone living with dementia who you feel would benefit from working as a volunteer, please register your/their interest by completing the attached form and return it to the address provided on the application form. If you are interested in more than one venue, please complete an application for each of the organisations you are interested in. You can send your application form by email, post or in person.
NB: Commencement dates will be agreed with host organisations during the application process.
Here’s what some of the participating organisations have to say about the initiative: –
Adam Kelk – Head Verger – St Botolph’s Church
“We are delighted to be working with partners in welcoming those living with dementia to St Botolph’s (Boston Stump) to volunteer with us. St Botolph’s prides itself in welcoming all who live in Boston to work with us and offer hospitality to all those who visit. Our ambition is to include all those who make up the community of Boston and this is another way in which we can achieve this.”
Rev Dr Val Ogden – Minister – Centenary Church
“Centenary Church on Red Lion Street has a huge heart to see everyone’s talents appreciated and celebrated, including those who may be living with dementia. Being involved in this initiative through providing volunteering opportunities, space to meet, activities and friendship will be a blessing all round as we give and receive from one another. Thanks for the opportunity to take part.”
Debbie Broadley – Boston Dementia Action Alliance
I am excited to see Nigel’s (PCSO) hard work nearing its launch. The Channel 4 programme highlighted some of the many challenges faced by those living with dementia but also how opportunities to overcome some of those challenges could be provided.
The Boston Dementia Initiative will now offer opportunities to those living with dementia, in and around Boston, thanks to the kind co-operation of 5 local partner organisations.
The partners of the DAA work constantly towards creating a Dementia Friendly Boston. This initiative is an amazing example of what can be achieved when someone has a vision and we work together to realise this.
I would like to wish everyone involved good luck. There will be challenges ahead but I can’t wait to hear some great success stories. Well done Nigel.
Inspector Harrod – Neighbourhood Policing Inspector – Boston
Dementia brings huge changes to very many lives and in the Police, we are often called to help families in the most difficult and dangerous of situations, for example when those living with dementia go missing or are in crisis. This project hopes to increase wellbeing, guard against loneliness and to protect against vulnerability whilst giving those living with dementia in our community the opportunity to get involved in something incredibly worthwhile for themselves and others.
It is typical of Boston that PCSO Nigel Grant’s idea and hard work has drawn a hugely positive response from everyone that has been approached and that so many wonderful organisations are involved. I have no doubt that in working together on this initiative, we can change many lives for the better.
Mark Pearce and Anne-Britt Pearce – Café Owners – Cafe Noglish
“Our focus is on engaging with the community and this initiative gives us the opportunity to help and support people with dementia. We are very pleased to be able to play our part.”
Emma Fawcett Restore Homes Key Worker Manager – Restore Church
“Restore Church seeks to provide a welcoming and inclusive space which people are happy to call home. It is our heart that everyone, including those living with dementia have the opportunity to volunteer in a safe and welcoming environment where their contribution is meaningful and valued.”
Rebecca Barker – General Manager – Boston United Football Club
“There was no doubt that we wanted to take part in this fantastic initiative, and we would like to thank Boston Dementia Initiative for giving us the opportunity to play our part in helping those living with dementia. One of our main focus’ at the football club is to help and support people in our local community and give them opportunities to be involved. Dementia is something that could affect everyone at some point in their life, so to be able to give someone the chance to volunteer at the stadium in a safe and welcoming environment, a space to meet new people and have their talents appreciated and valued is just fantastic”.
Dr Stephanie Armstrong – Senior Lecturer in Health Quality Improvement/ Programme Leader – Lincoln University
“The University of Lincoln are delighted to be supporting the Boston Dementia Initiative. Our Health and Social Care students will have the opportunity to be involved with this initiative supporting the organisations involved to evaluate the impact it will have on the individuals, businesses, and wider community. Supporting the local community is a vital aspect of the University ethos and helping students to understand how initiatives such as this one can positively impact on everyone involved is an important lesson both as part of their studies and for their future practice in the workplace.”
Josh Horne – Senior Partnerships Account Executive – Alzheimer’s Society
“Alzheimer’s Society is committed to helping people with dementia to live well and maintain a good quality of life. We are proud to work alongside Boston Police to enable people living with dementia to have the opportunity to volunteer within the community and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness whilst bringing routine and a sense of belonging. We hope that this initiative can be a starting point to empowering more people with dementia to stay involved in their community and live well with the condition.”
The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes
In 2019 Channel 4 television aired a programme entitled ‘The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes’. The programme featured a restaurant, the first of its kind in the UK, staffed by people living with dementia. This was a ground-breaking experiment in which 14 volunteers were given the opportunity to return to work and demonstrate, with the right support and a few small adjustments, their ability to remain independent and continue to contribute in the workplace.
Interestingly, over 42,000 people with dementia in the UK are under the age of 65, yet only 18 per cent of them have continued to work after diagnosis.
Four out of five people diagnosed with this terminal illness lose their jobs. They can also lose everything.
Individuals diagnosed with dementia feel that they are ‘written off’ and are ready to be swept under the carpet.
Channel 4’s experiment was a mirror of an experiment carried out in Japan (which was not assessed) and designed to enable those diagnosed with dementia to re-enter the workplace.
Object of the experiment: –
- Undertake a 5-week trial
- Carry out an initial assessment (wellbeing/severity) for each participant
- To improve the lives of participants living with dementia
- Improve participants self-confidence
- Restore participants faith in their own abilities
- Determine if it was possible to change attitudes within our society
- Complete a final wellbeing assessment for each participant
It was established from the outset that the experiment was not a cure for dementia. However, it was hoped that by providing a work placement, it would give back a sense of purpose, enhanced wellbeing and a better understanding for participants, so that the diagnosis for dementia did not mean that they were consigned to the scrap heap.
It was widely acknowledged that the restaurant environment is a complex workplace with differing issues being presented daily i.e., loud noises, carrying drinks, fatigue, mood swings etc. which might affect a participant’s wellbeing. Extreme patience and understanding were therefore always called for.
14 volunteers, all with different stages of dementia and from differing backgrounds were chosen to participate in the experiment. Most of the volunteers felt that they had to leave their job because of the diagnosis. They also felt that if employers had made reasonable adjustments in the workplace, they might have been able to work for longer.
All volunteers felt abandoned, useless and had felt that they had become a ‘nobody’. They felt that they needed to be valued, not placed at the end of their life, as they had so much more to give. Some stated that they did not mind what they did but just wanted to do something.
Some of the comments made by participants prior to the commencement of the experiment included –
“People do not see me at home, the anxiety, the struggling, the not being able to find the right words, the frustration, the anger. Presenting a good face to the public puts pressure on.”
“I don’t work no more; you can’t get the support. Your stuck in the house. You’re finished. That’s your life, finished. So, I’d love to go out to work.”
“People forget we lose our jobs and are more or less retired and it’s nice to have something to look forward to.”
“I felt abandoned and useless when diagnosed.”
“Makes me feel I’m not worthy, makes me feel I’m not good enough.”
At the end of the experiment, there was clear evidence, from the wellbeing assessments and general demeanour of participants, that it had been hugely beneficial. All the participants general wellbeing had increased significantly, and all felt that they had a sense of belonging and purpose once more.
Some of the comments made by participants at the end of the experiment included-
“I was forced to give up my job when I couldn’t look after my clients properly. My job was my life. But I still want to be valued, and a useful part of society.” “The project that I have been part of over the last few weeks has given me value and a new sense of purpose. All that I ask is that people see me before they see the dementia.”
“I feel so different from the first time I did it. Before doing this, dementia to me was fear, fear of the future, now, the present, fear of living. From doing this it now gives me hope.” (Volunteers self-esteem value rose from a 9 to 30 points)
“I am so happy to be where I am now compared with how I was”.
Participants felt that they had been ‘let out’.
Unpredictability was identified as a problem for people living with dementia. The experiment established that participants liked having a system and liked having a routine. The experiment provided an opportunity for participants to once again feel really valued human beings and to live that life. The experiment also acknowledged the incredible changes that had taken place in relation to the wellbeing of all participants; some showing a 6-point increase in self-esteem.
The experiment identified that work could be possible if companies make reasonable adjustments to/in the workplace. The consensus appeared to be that individuals living with dementia, who wanted to return to the workplace, were looking for part-time, as opposed to fulltime employment, which makes it a little bit easier to be able to give people the work. There are so many roles within a business that could be adapted to employ individuals living with dementia.
It was also widely recognised that working as part of a group, seeing that they are valued, seeing that they have skills they can bring to the workplace and seeing the attitude of other people towards them helped boost participants general wellbeing.
- Role Description Centenary Church
- Role Description Restore Pantry
- Role Description St Botolphs Church
- Role Title Boston United Football Club
- Role Title Cafe Noglish