PEOPLE living with dementia across Richmondshire and Hambleton will no longer have access to “lifeline” day services after the closure of two centres in Richmond and Northallerton.

Garget Walker House, Richmond, and Bluebell House, Northallerton, were day support centres for people with all kinds of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, and offered therapy, support and stimulation – as well as vital respite for their carers.

Dorothy Shaw, whose husband Duncan has used Garget Walker House for the last three years, said she was shocked when she learned of the closure at the end of October.

Although Mr Shaw, who has been living with Alzheimer’s for almost 10 years following a stroke aged 58, has not been able to attend the centre since March, Mrs Shaw had hoped the service would return.

She said: “Duncan has been attending Garget Walker House for three years now, and it had done him so much good. The staff were fantastic, and there was so much mental stimulation for him that it really helped to keep his mind working.

“However, since the start of lockdown in March, he has really gone downhill. His memory and ability to do simple tasks at home has deteriorated.

“And it is very hard for me – I’m unable to leave him to even go and do my shopping so I now pay someone to sit with him while I go out. The respite was very important and now it’s gone.”

Mrs Shaw said the stimulation and support from Garget Walker House meant many of its service users did not have to go into full-time care, meaning they could stay at home with loved ones.

But now there is nowhere for people living with dementia across Richmondshire and Hambleton to go.

As well as a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities on offer at the centres, Garget Walker House provided a community transport service, available free of charge and driven by volunteer drivers.

It was made possible by Friends of Garget Walker House, a group who fundraised year round to provide this service, and also equipment, activity supplies and entertainment for the day centre.

Mrs Shaw said: “I understand that the pandemic meant we had to stay at home. But there was the hope we could return to using the centre, which is now gone. Duncan used to say he missed it and ask about his friends, but already he seems to have forgotten about it.”

"We've been told about plans to contact us via telephone as an alternative – but Duncan is unable to speak on the phone as he forgets what he wants to say and gets frustrated. I'm sure for many people, that will be of no use."

Judith King, head of region for Alzheimer’s Society in the North East, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, said: “Like all charities, the pandemic has had a very significant impact on our fundraising with Alzheimer’s Society facing a potential loss in income this year of up to £25m. We expect these challenges to continue into next year at least.

“Our day support services in Richmond and Northallerton have been suspended since March 2020. After careful consideration, we have concluded these services are no longer financially viable, so made the difficult decision to permanently close them on October 23.

"We know how valued these services are and will be supporting those affected to find appropriate support.

"We are incredibly grateful to the day support staff and volunteers who have done a wonderful job supporting people with dementia in North Yorkshire.

“There are more than 10,000 people living with dementia in North Yorkshire – and we need to be reaching more of them. As a charity, we have a duty to use our resources in the most effective way possible. Our efforts must right now be focused on helping people affected by dementia through this crisis, while ensuring we are best placed to deliver what’s needed most by people with dementia for the future.

“People affected by dementia have told us that what they need most is information, advice and one point of empathetic contact from someone who understands dementia to guide them from the point of diagnosis through to end-of-life.

"We are responding to this demand with Dementia Connect – our trained, dementia advisers provide support, information and advice and can offer regular calls to keep in touch during the pandemic and lockdown.

"The Dementia Connect support line (0333-150-3456) is open seven days a week. Our website,, and online community Talking Point are available 24/7.”