Digging for Dementia

Growing with people with dementia

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Hi, everyone!


Apologies for the lack of recent updates. Things have been plodding along nicely at Digging for Dementia HQ; I’m still searching for another plot of land, after the original plot was lost, and I’m hoping to be able to report some developments on that front soon! The project has taken some very exciting steps in the right direction in recent weeks, so I thought I’d share what’s been happening.


The project seems to be migrating naturally towards the Trafford/South Manchester area; quite a few of the recent events surrounding Digging for Dementia have led the project quite serendipitously in that direction! As I mentioned in my last update, I’ve been invited to speak about the project at one of the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Cafe sessions, which will be held in Trafford in July, and will provide a great opportunity to spread the word about the project in that area, and learn more about what people living with dementia would like to gain from Digging for Dementia.


There is also a very strong possibility that I’ll be working with a Trafford/South Manchester-based environmental organisation to deliver the Digging for Dementia sessions, as they’ve offered to recruit me on a voluntary basis and help me use their extensive resources to find a plot of land in South Manchester. I’ll continue to report on that development as often as possible, but I’m incredibly excited about it! The organisation in question is one of my favourites; they have a fantastic community-driven, local-level approach to environmental and sustainability initiatives, and after seeing some of their projects in action, I think they’d be a brilliant fit for Digging for Dementia.


Digging for Dementia has also been offered a stall at two events held by the Trafford-based animal rescue charity, the Society for Abandoned Animals. I’m really thrilled to be taking part in two of the charity’s events; they do absolutely incredible work caring for and re-homing abandoned animals in Manchester, and I’m very grateful to them for offering me a platform to spread the word about Digging for Dementia. I have some very exciting plans for the stall, and I think it’ll be a great way to raise awareness (and hopefully a few pennies!) for Digging for Dementia, and chat to people in the local area about the project. Please take a moment to visit the Society for Abandoned Animals website, and follow them on Twitter, to learn more about their wonderful work. And if you’re based in Manchester, have a gander at their events and volunteering pages, and see how you can support the SAA. Thank you!


Finally, I’d like to give a special thank-you to my lovely workmates, who started a collection pot for Digging for Dementia in our office and have raised £13.29 just from putting their spare change into the jar. The money raised from the collection will be used to pay for new leaflets for the Society for Abandoned Animals events, as the leaflets I previously purchased have the details of the original Digging for Dementia land, and are therefore out of date. D’oh! I really am endlessly grateful to everyone who’s supported Digging for Dementia so far, whether by offering land, or a platform from which to promote the project, or by taking part in fundraising events, or by simply spreading the word online and through Twitter. I could never have anticipated that the project would develop as quickly as it has, and it’s largely due to the support and hard work of everyone who’s pitched in to help launch Digging for Dementia. I’m so excited to find a new plot of land and show you all that your support has achieved!



Let them eat cake!

It’s been a tremendously busy week at Digging for Dementia HQ! As I recently announced, the launch of the project has been postponed as the land that was offered to the project is no longer available to us, but Digging for Dementia is still going ahead, and I’m currently in talks with two different organisations regarding offers of land, so watch this space!


I completed my First Aid for Adults training course this week, which has prepared me nicely for any emergencies or gardening-related injuries that may occur during the project. You can never be too careful! My instructor was lovely, and took the time to provide some additional training related to injuries which might happen during the gardening sessions, in addition to health emergencies which might affect older people. I had a fantastic time on the course, and learnt a lot. I feel prepared to take the best possible care of the group when the practical sessions begin!


I’m also going to be delivering a presentation about the project at one of the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Cafe sessions in a couple of months, and I can’t wait to visit the cafe and chat to the people who visit the sessions. Hopefully I’ll be able to find out more about what people would hope to gain from Digging for Dementia, and the experience will help me to develop the project further, and make more people aware of how the project could help them. Very exciting!


During my recent absence from work, a colleague of mine sold slices of home-made banoffee pie at work in order to raise money for the project, which was a wonderful surprise to come back to, and a lovely precursor to the events of yesterday…


The biggest news this week is that Digging for Dementia held its first fundraiser, which was a roaring success! My wonderful friend has a brand new baking business, Jam Jar Bakes, and offered to bake some cakes to sell in order to raise funds for the project. I held a bake sale at my workplace yesterday- Digging for Dementia is a project I run in my free time, not my day job- and the sale was a huge success, raising £50 for gardening equipment for the project! Everybody loved the cakes, so much so that many of them didn’t make it to the official lunchtime bake sale, having been devoured for breakfast by my workmates earlier in the day 🙂 And because everybody loves a nice cake photo, here are a few for your enjoyment:


The bake sale in action; many of the cakes had already been devoured by this point!


Just one of Jam Jar Bakes’ lovely creations, with garden-themed decorations made from icing!

Today I’ve been shopping for gardening equipment, using some of the proceeds from yesterday’s sale. Thanks to some savvy shopping, I managed to get this lovely lot for around £22!



This equipment, added to the few bits and bobs I’ve collected for the project already, means that we’re pretty much stocked up and ready to go! I’ve also ordered a large first aid kit, and a few extra bits to add to the kit, ready to be taken to the site when the Digging for Dementia sessions begin. I still have around £20 of the bake sale money left, which will be squirrelled away to be spent on seeds when the project has another start date. In the interests of accountability, I’ve added a list of the items I bought using the proceeds from the sale, which can be found in the Gallery section of the website. Yesterday’s bake sale has been so valuable to Digging for Dementia, and has really fuelled the project. None of it would have been possible without Jam Jar Bakes, so please show your thanks by checking out her website, following her on Twitter, and sending her huge cyber-hugs of gratitude!


I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s supported the project so far, whether by fundraising, spreading the word about the project throughout dementia care networks (the project is becoming quite famous!) or simply sending kind words of support via Twitter and Facebook. It’s quite overwhelming to know that Digging for Dementia has such an incredible amount of support, and I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who’s pitched in so far. Onwards and upwards!

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Preparations and Publicity

It’s been busy, busy, busy at Digging for Dementia HQ this week! Now that the project has a plot of land, it’s all systems go, researching companion planting for our lovely organic land; ticking lots of insurance and health and safety boxes (exciting, I know); planning a fundraising cake sale with the wonderful Jam Jar Bakes, and receiving lots of snazzy Digging for Dementia goodies in the post.


Now that the land for the project has been established, I’ll be distributing leaflets and posters around the local area, in sheltered residences, care homes, GP surgeries and libraries. As a brand new project with a very limited budget, eBay has saved the day many times over the past few weeks! The project now has some beautiful leaflets, printed by RTH Printing:



As Digging for Dementia’s project leader, I have a customised hoodie, printed by T-Shirt Shack, in order to make me easily identifiable by all members of the group:



I also have a name badge, printed in large print by Print Outside the Box. As obvious as it may sound, a name badge is an important prompt when working with people with dementia, and will help the group members to communicate with me:




If you are a fellow small-scale project leader in need of promotional materials, I wholeheartedly recommend exploring eBay. I obtained promotional items for around a quarter of the prices quoted elsewhere, and every saving is significant when you’re establishing a community project like Digging for Dementia!


Everything is falling beautifully into place for Digging for Dementia, and the project has received so much support and love, both in cyberspace and in real life. I’m very excited about the future of Digging for Dementia, and I hope you’ll all stay tuned to see the project grow!



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We have land!

I’m excited to report that Digging for Dementia has a plot of land! This morning, I met with the loveliest couple, who had offered some land to the project via the Landshare scheme, and the plot is just perfect. It’s two big raised beds of organic soil, which will be fantastic for people with limited mobility; it’s in Ellesmere Park, which is a great location due to its large population of elderly people; and the couple themselves are so supportive of the project and share my outlook on organic gardening and the therapeutic value of engaging with nature. They’ve even offered a shed and some tools!


Obtaining land via the Landshare scheme was exactly how I envisioned the project; it’s so important to me to involve the community and empower people to become involved in Digging for Dementia, and the response I’ve received so far from asking people to help has made me feel overjoyed and overwhelmed in equal measure. There’s so much kindness in the world, and it’s wonderful to be reminded of that in such a beautiful, tangible way.


Now that we have land, I’ll be recruiting for the project from tomorrow onwards, and aiming to host the first session on 4th May. Feeling like the luckiest person in the world today!



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Welcome to Digging for Dementia!

Hi, and thank you for visiting the Digging for Dementia website! Your interest and support is very much appreciated.


Things are already going full steam ahead at Digging for Dementia HQ; since being established in February 2013, I’ve already had so much support from both the local and online community, and so many people are excited for the official launch of the project! I wanted Digging for Dementia to be a collaborative, community-driven project in every possible way, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive so far. Tomorrow, I’m going to be viewing a little plot of organic land, which was offered to the project by a very kind Landshare user, and I’m hopeful that it will be the perfect little plot for Digging for Dementia. I’ve also asked friends, family and supporters to donate unwanted gardening equipment and seeds, in part because I’m eager to minimise the environmental impact of the project by using second-hand equipment when possible, but mostly because I wanted to empower the community to contribute and become involved in the project. If you would like to donate equipment to the project, please feel free to contact me at diggingfordementia@hotmail.co.uk. I’ve been really moved by the generosity of everyone who’s responded so far, and Digging for Dementia is developing in exactly the community-centred direction I envisioned. I couldn’t be more excited about the future of the project, and I look forward to sharing all the developments with you!