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Bishop's Stortford dementia support group launches appeal to ensure survival




Hub Church, Portland Road, Bishops Stortford. Debbie Baker runs CST.Today an activity and social group for people living with mild to moderate Dementia. Debbie and volunteers doing an excercise and music session with group members. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (10913106)
Hub Church, Portland Road, Bishops Stortford. Debbie Baker runs CST.Today an activity and social group for people living with mild to moderate Dementia. Debbie and volunteers doing an excercise and music session with group members. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (10913106)

A dementia support group in Bishop's Stortford has launched a £1,500 crowdfunding appeal to ensure its survival.

CST.Today is a social enterprise providing weekly activity and social groups in The Hub Church hall in Portland Road for people living with mild to moderate forms of the disease.

Sessions are each Wednesday from 10am until 3pm with a fish and chip lunch. There are also half-days available.

Debbie Baker opened the group in 2015 after running dementia cafes and activity groups in Essex for the Alzheimer's Society and realising that there were no similar services in Stortford.

Trained in cognitive stimulation therapy (CST), Debbie uses its principles during the sessions. The evidence-based treatment has been shown to be as beneficial as some dementia drugs and can be used in conjunction with them to achieve improved memory, communication, wellbeing, social interaction and overall improved quality of life.

Guidance from both the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Social Care Institute for Excellence recommends the use of CST for people living with mild to moderate dementia.

"The group aims to help maintain independence for the person living with dementia as well as their family or carer," said Debbie. "During the groups, we have a lot of fun and new friendships have been made."

Activities include singing, dancing, indoor bowls and skittles, crosswords, quizzes, jigsaws, arts and crafts. There are also short walks and regular entertainment, including musical workshops such as African drumming, live bands, choirs, tea dances and roulette sessions.

Debbie, who offers free taster sessions, said: "We try to have an outing at least once a year too. In the past we've had lunch on a boat down the River Lea, a tea dance at the Hunters Meet hotel [in Hatfield Heath] and a trip to Bishop's Stortford Museum."

She explained why she had set up the Just Giving crowdfunding page.

"We're a small, self-funded organisation and I've been worrying about how we can keep the group open. Our numbers are low at the moment and I didn't want to have to close it. I've been told our group is a lifesaver to the carers, and the members look forward to coming each week.

"Due to the progressive nature of this disease, the number of attendees is never certain and this makes it very difficult for us to meet our running costs, especially when numbers are low, but if we knew that some of the running costs, such as the hall hire and insurance, were covered, we could continue to provide this essential service."

To support the group go to https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/cst-today?utm_term=wm5EMzgjR



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