Digging for Dementia

Growing with people with dementia

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Lights, camera, action!

Last year, I was interviewed by one of my former colleagues at Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale, where I worked as a VPA in late 2012. I happened across the video yesterday, so I thought I’d share it here. The Groundwork VPA scheme is a three-month voluntary graduate scheme which enables graduates to gain invaluable experience in community, environmental, and social initiatives in the third sector. My time at Groundwork changed my life – without it, there’d be no Digging for Dementia!


In the video, I talk a lot about Digging for Dementia and how the Groundwork VPA scheme gave me the skills to start the project, and I hope it helps people to better understand my background, and why I started Digging for Dementia. Enjoy!



If you’re interested in finding out more about Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale and their VPA scheme, visit their website here, or follow them on Twitter

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Digging for Dementia needs YOU (again)!

The next few weeks will hold some exciting developments for Digging for Dementia – the Ordsall Community Allotments are finished (and looking brilliant!), the construction of the big Digging for Dementia raised bed will shortly be underway, and we’re almost ready to launch at the new site. The garden is ready to go, and now we need participants to join in the fun!


I’m recruiting participants to join the new group, which is provisionally scheduled to launch on Saturday 31st May, 10.30am – 12pm. For details of how to get to the new site, see here. Ideally, I’d like a group of 8 – 10 people with dementia and their carers, and all are welcome, not just Ordsall residents. If you can get to the allotments, you’re welcome to join! 


The start date may change, depending on the construction of the raised beds, so if you would like to come along, please contact me on 07970 877 084 and let me know, so that I can keep you updated of any changes. Things are looking good for the scheduled launch date, and I really hope to see some of you there! If you know anyone who’d like to come along, please share this information with them, including the leaflet below. Thank you!






A winter’s tale, and a dream of spring

Now that the frost has begun to thaw and the sunshine has made a triumphant return, Digging for Dementia is springing back into action. Although there have been no gardening sessions during the winter, I’ve been busy behind the scenes, preparing for DfD’s upcoming expansion to Ordsall Community Allotments, securing funding which will ensure the future of the project for a long time to come, and generally preparing for an exciting year ahead. With all that in mind, I wanted to share a quick update about all the recent goings-on.


On New Year’s Eve, I reported that Digging for Dementia had been offered two additional allotment plots at the brand new Ordsall Community Allotment site. I’ve been working closely with Salford City Council and Ordsall Community Allotment Society to prepare to launch DfD at the site, and I’m so excited to be working alongside such a lovely bunch of people. The development of a strong sense of community is one of the key aspects of Digging for Dementia’s vision, and the wonderful group who run Ordsall Community Allotments will provide the perfect community-centred environment for the project.


The new allotments are approximately three weeks away from completion, so I’ll soon be rolling up my sleeves to prepare the space for the new Digging for Dementia group. There are raised beds to build, tools to buy, and perhaps most importantly, the stash of teabags will need to be replenished! I’m hoping to begin recruiting participants in April, ready to launch the new site towards the end of May, but there’s a lot of work to be done, and I might need to call upon some of the ever-lovely Digging for Dementia supporters for assistance. If you’d like to volunteer in any way, please feel free to contact me.


Over the coming weeks, I’ll be session planning, risk assessing, recruiting and marketing the hours away, so expect lots of updates regarding the development of the new site. It’s been a long time since our last practial session, and I’m very excited to stop planning and start digging again! Digging for Dementia is expanding by the day, and I can’t wait to get stuck in and watch the project continue to grow. I hope to see some of you at our brand new garden this year!



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Happy International Women’s Day!

Today is International Women’s Day, and I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about one of my favourite women- my Grandma, the inspiration behind my crusade against dementia, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease several years ago. Here she is, in all her loveliness:



My Grandma is one of my favourite people – her intelligence, independence and caring nature inspired me so much as a child, and now, as an adult, she continues to inspire me, albeit in a slightly different way. Alzheimer’s disease has all but robbed my family of the woman I grew up with, who took me to second-hand bookshops to fuel my love of reading, taught me how to do wordsearches, and knitted my baby clothes, but in spite of her illness, my Grandma remains intelligent, strong, and hilarious, and she never gives up. I started Digging for Dementia to make the world a better place for people like my Grandma, and to show society that people living with dementia are still entitled to, and capable of, living a full and happy life. Happy International Women’s Day to my Grandma and all the women like her, who lead by example and inspire those around them every single day.

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Welcome to Digging for Dementia’s new trustee!

A huge, warm welcome to Digging for Dementia’s new trustee, Jemma Armytage! In addition to being a longtime personal friend, Jemma has been incredibly supportive of Digging for Dementia from the very beginning, baking yummy cakes for fundraisers, attending events, and offering lots of help and advice along the way. I’m thrilled to have Jemma on board, and I know she’ll be a great addition to the project. This news also represents a rather significant step in the development of Digging for Dementia – until now, it’s been something of a one-woman operation, albeit with some fantastic support from others along the way, and I’m so excited that the project has now reached a point at which I find myself in need of extra help. Welcome aboard, Jemma, and thank you so much for all your support so far!


If you’d like to see some of Jemma’s wonderful cakes and treats, pay her a visit her over at Jam Jar Bakes. Warning: may cause hunger!

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Meanwhile, down in Ordsall…

This week, I attended a meeting of the Ordsall Community Allotment Society for the first time. The group have very kindly permitted me to have two of the community allotment plots on their new site, which is due to be completed by early April. It’s a very rare thing to meet such supportive and enthusiastic people- they were so welcoming of Digging for Dementia, and have even discussed DFD with their local GP, who would also like to support the project. The group have worked so hard to build the community allotment project from the ground up, and their dedication is really inspiring. I think that my little project will be very much at home among such lovely people, and I can’t wait to get started!


The expansion of Digging for Dementia will lead to many more exciting developments over the coming months, not to mention much more work! I plan to launch the Ordsall site in May, so I’ll be recruiting participants and volunteers from March onwards. If you know anyone who would like to attend the sessions, or volunteer their services, please contact me at diggingfordementia@hotmail.co.uk. I look forward to sharing more exciting news with you as Digging for Dementia continues to grow!



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DFD awarded a Health Innovation Fund grant!

Hello, lovely Digging for Dementia fans!


As some of you may know, I recently submitted a Health Innovation Fund bid, with the assistance of the ever-supportive Salford City Council. Yesterday, I received some monumental news- Digging for Dementia has been awarded £4000 of funding!!! I’m delighted, and still a little bit in shock! When I launched Digging for Dementia, I knew that I had a good and much-needed idea, but to have received such public, governmental, and financial support is more than I could ever have hoped for. I’d like to take this opportunity to say yet another huge thank you to everyone who’s supported DFD so far – the exponential growth of the project would not have been possible without the help of everyone who believed in my little idea!


The money will be used to create raised beds at our new Ordsall allotment sites; to purchase equipment for the new sites; to assist with participants’ transport costs; to advertise the project to new participants and volunteers; and to cover the costs of insurance, refreshments and other miscellany. This funding will secure the future of Digging for Dementia for a long time to come, and will enable me to develop the project far more than I ever could on my own. I can’t wait until Winter is over, and Digging for Dementia sessions can begin again! Stay tuned for more exciting developments!




New year, big news!

Hi, lovely Digging for Dementia supporters! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and that you’re all set for 2014. 2013 was historic for me as I launched Digging for Dementia from nothing but a little idea and whatever resources I could scrape together, and thanks to the support and encouragement of everyone who’s backed my little adventure, it’s growing into the thriving community project I always wanted it to be. It started small, and there were a couple of false starts along the way, but all things considered, Digging for Dementia started strong this year, and I can’t wait to see what 2014 has to offer. Which brings me to my big announcement…


I’ve been communicating with Salford City Council for several months regarding the possibility of expanding Digging for Dementia to two further plots on a new community allotment site in Ordsall, and I’m thrilled to announce that once the site is completed in Spring 2014, I’ll be taking on two additional plots for Digging for Dementia! I’m absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to broaden the reach of Digging for Dementia, and the new location at the heart of the Ordsall community will provide a fantastic environment in which to facilitate better community inclusion for people with dementia. If luck is on my side, I will also have a considerable chunk of funding, which will enable me to provide new equipment, facilities and transport for the project. I’m still slightly in shock over the speed at which the project has grown, but I’m so excited about this opportunity! I’ll be recruiting participants and volunteers for the Ordsall site in early 2014, so watch this space!


Thank you again for all of your support and kindness throughout 2013 – I’m so proud of Digging for Dementia, and its success would not have been possible without all of you. I look forward to sharing more good news with you in 2014, when Digging for Dementia returns from its Winter break!

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It is with regret that I announce the cancellation of the Digging for Dementia Hallowe’en Harvest event, which was due to take place this Sunday, 27th October. This is due in part to the weather forecast for Sunday, which predicts heavy rain and strong winds all afternoon. However, the primary reason for the cancellation of the event is the lack of respondents. On the event poster, I asked attendees to contact me to inform me that they would be attending, but I have received no responses, and it seems a poor use of the money donated to Digging for Dementia in good faith to fund an event which nobody is planning to attend. With the exception of a possible Christmas event, Digging for Dementia will be taking a break over the Winter and will return in the Spring, potentially with two further sites located across Salford. Thank you for your continued support, and I hope to see more of you at next year’s sessions.