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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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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Digging for Dementia is GO!!!

Yesterday I teased a potentially huge announcement, and I’m thrilled beyond words to finally be able to share it: Digging for Dementia has a plot of land!!! We’ll be based at the Valley Community Gardens in Swinton, a beautiful space with raised allotment beds, communal spaces and even a community orchard! It’s the perfect setting for a community-centred project like Digging for Dementia, and I’m incredibly grateful and proud to be able to launch the project in such a fantastic location. Keep an eye on the website for details of the launch date and event, and if you’d like to register your interest in joining the sessions, please email diggingfordementia@hotmail.co.uk. Once again, I’d like to say a huge thank-you to everyone who’s supported Digging for Dementia so far and helped me to get the project to this point. Onwards and upwards!

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Digging for Dementia’s First Adventure

Last weekend, I took Digging for Dementia on its first public outing, to the Society for Abandoned Animals‘ All-Trophy Dog Show. The SAA were lovely enough to offer me a stall at the event in order to further promote Digging for Dementia, and I had such a fantastic day! My stall was rather a mish-mash of fun things; sunflower planting, colouring, and cupcakes for sale, donated by a lovely family friend who needed some voluntary work experience to strengthen a job application. I’m happy to report that she got the job, and her awesome cakes raised £25 for Digging for Dementia! I chatted to lots of people about Digging for Dementia, and everyone was so responsive and supportive. It was really lovely to experience the public response to my little project for the first time, and it was so heartwarming to see so many positive reactions to the project. I also met some staff members and volunteers from a fantastic befriending service for older people, and I’m really excited about the possibility of working with them in the future. The Society for Abandoned Animals delivered such an enjoyable event, and I was really proud to be a part of it. I can’t wait to take Digging for Dementia out on the road again in the near future! Please follow Digging for Dementia on Twitter for updates regarding future events.


And now, some photos of the day’s festivities for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!



A big announcement!

Hello, lovely readers! Firstly, I apologise for the recent silence; the cogs have been turning over at Digging for Dementia HQ, but the day job has been keeping me rather busy. I do, however, have some fantastic news about the future of the project!


Digging for Dementia has been gathering an incredible amount of momentum since I first established the project in March, and although I’ve been able to successfully lay the foundations for the project, plan its development and raise funds to purchase equipment, the struggles I’ve experienced when trying to obtain land have highlighted that Digging for Dementia has expanded too much for the project to remain a one-woman operation. Last week, I had a very exciting meeting with Action for Sustainable Living, a South Manchester-based environmental charity, and I’m going to be working with them on a voluntary basis as a Local Project Manager, delivering Digging for Dementia with the support of AfSL’s wonderful staff and extensive resources. Finding land for the project has proven to be immensely difficult, and Action for Sustainable Living have offered to use their contacts to help me to obtain a plot of land, which is fantastic. I’ll also be given training to build on the skills I developed at Groundwork, which will help me to run the project even more successfully, and I’ll be able to work with other members of the AfSL team to offer additional activities and enrichment for the people participating in my project. 


I’m so excited to have found a new home for Digging for Dementia within such a supportive environment, and I can’t wait to work alongside a team of smart, creative, like-minded people to take the project to the next level. Digging for Dementia will still be my baby, but by working with such a lovely group of people, I’ll be able to develop the project to a level beyond anything I could have achieved on my own. I have a feeling that this will be huge for Digging for Dementia, so stay tuned for updates. Onwards and upwards!