Alzheimer's Society has launched a new service that aims to tackle the isolation that too often results from a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or one of the other forms of dementia.
Side by Side is a new service that links a volunteer to someone living with dementia to help them get out and about and continue enjoying the activities they love.
Regular social contact has a huge impact on well-being so the scheme is important, particularly for those living alone. The aim is to tackle the loss of confidence that often leads people with dementia to give up their hobbies and gradually lose contact with the local community.
Visits are often weekly and the agenda is set entirely by the participant. It could simply be a chat over a cup of tea, a friendly phone call, a trip to the garden centre, a football match, or visit to the pub.
Joan Evans, who manages one of the pilot projects currently being trialled in Somerset, comments that even small things can make a big difference. People often just need a little support to resume their hobbies or even try something new.
'People aren't asking for the earth but if you don't go anywhere then getting out once a week can make all the difference.'
'Walking is popular, as is going to garden centres and cafés. Volunteers take people to Singing for the Brain sessions, and one younger person has said he would like to go to a music festival.
Both volunteer and participants have a lot to gain, suggests Lisa Beck who oversees the national Side by Side service.
'It is about identifying the talents and interests of people with dementia, giving them the opportunity to do what they want to do.
'It's also rewarding for volunteers as they are helping people to achieve their goals.'
The Side by Side service is currently being trialled in 17 areas, but the aim is for everyone with dementia in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to be able to access it by April 2017.
For more information, about volunteering or accessing the service, in the 17 pilot areas, click on the link button below to visit the Side by Side page on the Alzheimer's Society website: