A trip down memory lane, plus a range of activities and a decent cuppa are all on offer for visitors to a new dementia-friendly café.

Memory Lane Activity Café, hosted by The Salvation Army in Darlington and home care providers Home Instead, will provide a safe and friendly environment for people with memory loss issues, along with their carers.

The sessions, to be launched this week, feature activities such as singing, armchair exercises, crafts and games.

They will take place every third Thursday each month, between 10.30am and 12.30pm.

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Special guest at Thursday’s (April 18) official launch will be the Mayor of Darlington, councillor Jan Cossins, with music to be provided by Reid Street Primary School Dementia Friendly Choir.

There will also be an information stand provided by the Alzheimer’s Society.

Major Shirley McKenzie, who leads Darlington Citadel Salvation Army, said: “The aim of the Memory Lane Activity Café is to offer a safe environment for folk with dementia or memory loss issues, a chance for them to relax, enjoy themselves, feel supported and encouraged.

“Research shows activities like singing can help reduce anxiety and depression, enhance quality of life and help with memory.

“We want people to have fun and join in with as much or as little as they wish, but we hope they leave with a smile on their faces.

“We also want to provide an environment for carers to relax, have a break and meet other carers.

“Dementia can be a very isolating condition, so we hope that bringing people together will help those who are living with it themselves or because they are caring for someone who is.

“We have a good relationship with Home Instead, they are a wonderful organisation, so we’re really pleased to be teaming up with them for Memory Lane Activity Café.

“Between us we have lots of ideas for future sessions, so we are very much looking forward to seeing the café develop.”

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Joanne Hendry, Community Engagement Officer for Home Instead, said “Our dedicated team provide specialist support for many people living with dementia.

“We wanted to provide the local community with a regular event where those living with dementia, and their loved ones, can relax and socialise and take part in some stimulating activities.

“It’s such an important part of helping make Darlington dementia inclusive.

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with The Salvation Army and hope that people will attend the activity café again and again.

“We will have a range of games, arts, crafts and activities like armchair exercise, nostalgic movies, pet therapy, hand massage, and singing.

“We will also have memory boxes, provided by Darlington Library, containing newspaper clippings and reminders of things from decades past to help prompt memories.”

The initiative is also being supported by Darlington Borough Council’s Move More Scheme, which is providing armchair exercises.

There are plans to work with more groups in the community, including local colleges, to help raise awareness of dementia.

The grand opening takes between 10.30am and 12.30pm at The Salvation Army citadel in Thompson Street East on Thursday, April 18,, and the café will then run every third Thursday per month.

Sessions cost £3 and are free for carers.

For more information about the Memory Lane Activity Café and other events at the citadel, including a Connect group, bible study, community choir, lunch club, foodbank and coffee morning, are available via www.salvationarmy.org.uk/darlington or on Facebook.

More information on Memory Lane Activity Café is available via (07513) 723302.

Home Instead is a private home care provider offering minimum one-hour visits, ensuring support is not rushed.

Clients and care professionals are matched so they can get to know each other and always know who is visiting.

Further information is available by visiting www.homeinstead.co.uk/darlington, or by calling (01325) 467833.