Carole Goulding, who runs the not-for-profit Grandma’s Pudding Co (GPC Specialist Tearoom C.I.C) in Howgarth Lane, Friskney, is offering volunteer work to those with early onset dementia after her husband Mark was diagnosed with the condition at the age of 53 which had spanned back to indications when he was 49.
The aim of the scheme is to give those with dementia some independence, helps with isolation issues and helps give confidence and self-esteem and offers respite to carers.
Carole offers a range of volunteer work to suit the disability, this ranges from serving in the tearooms, to working in the outside grounds gardening or painting.
The first dementia volunteer, a man in his 50s, has begun volunteering at the tearooms by taking up a painting and DIY role. This was the volunteer’s choice to work outside.
Carole opted into the joint scheme after coming across PCSO Nigel Grant, who launched the initiative earlier this year after his dad was diagnosed with dementia.
Carole said: “Mark was diagnosed with early onset dementia so I had been looking for ideas for a while on how can assist and help him and those with this condition.
“It all began when Mark was around the age of 49 and suffered a series of tragic events, including the loss of our parents within weeks of each other and an attack at work. He appeared to be suffering from depression and was diagnosed with PTSD. I noticed a lot of changes in him, he was repetitive, not responding to things and becoming forgetful. We went to the GP and after a number of tests were carried out, he was diagnosed with vascular dementia. It is devastating to watch the changes happen. Further referrals have now been made to look into diagnosing other difficulties.
“Mark began to help out in the tearoom, which had always been our dream and he still comes in and talks to customers.
“The idea to help those with early onset dementia also came about after I noticed changes in one of volunteers who was left with brain injury following an accident. I noticed his memory getting better as he continued to attend and became involved with other activities. This made me think that if positive changes can happen to others, then it could help those with dementia.
“Please get in contact with us if you know someone who would benefit from this project.”
The tearoom was initially set up by Carole and Mark, to offer volunteer work to those with learning disabilities due to the couple’s daughter Samantha, aged 38, being diagnosed with global learning disabilities and autism when she was little. After college there was nothing, she could get involved with at her level, so the tearoom was born in May 2021 to support her, and others gain independence, self-worth, self-esteem and social skills. It has developed into a community hub and encourages some of the adults with learning difficulties into work. They have 36 volunteers in total.
The dementia volunteer project was launched earlier this year by PCSO Nigel Grant who worked alongside Boston Neighbourhood Policing Team with other organisations to offer volunteer work. These included Boston Dementia Action Alliance and other organisations including, St Botolph’s Church, Restore Church, Centenary Church, Cafe Noglish, Boston United Football Club and The University of Lincoln.
PCSO Grant said: “I met Carole, who had a pop-up stand, in Spilsby, a few months back. It is amazing that we can work together on helping those with dementia.
“This is a great opportunity, particularly for those who feel isolated or lonely, to have the chance to maintain their independence and return to the workplace, be part of a team of dedicated and enthusiastic individuals and continue to make valuable contributions to the community.
“My father was diagnosed with dementia several years ago. As a result of this, I have first-hand experience of the impact the diagnosis has had on him and our family. I guess the feeling of isolation, despite having a loving family around him 24/7 is perhaps uppermost in my father’s thoughts with constant requests for me or family members to take him out for a coffee and to meet other people”.
“I know this is not a unique situation and the feeling of isolation features highly amongst those living with dementia. Hopefully this initiative will give those living with dementia and feeling in a similar situation to my father, the opportunity to be included once more and make a valuable contribution within the community of Boston”.
The initiative is in response to an appeal made following the airing in 2019 of the Channel 4 programme, “The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes.”; a programme about individuals diagnosed with dementia, many of whom felt isolated as a result of being diagnosed and giving up their job. The creation of the restaurant gave them the opportunity to return to the workplace and contribute once again. During the programme, an appeal was made for more businesses/organisations to get involved by providing workplace opportunities and our initiative is a direct response to the appeal. For more information about the Channel 4 programme please see below.