Lights Up Project

Rural areas of the UK present challenges for the delivery of dementia services and creative arts to people with dementia. However a partnership group led by Hannah Cervenka, it was set up by me as Arts & Leisure Development Manager at West Oxfordshire District Council, has set up a pilot creative arts service model that brings together health, social care and housing resources and a key local cultural institution. Guideposts Trust, Age UK, Cottsway Housing, and Young Dementia UK, already work with people with dementia living in and around the West Oxfordshire market town of Chipping Norton. All were enthusiastic in running an arts and memory club with local artists offering workshops for individuals and their carers.

The group are fortunate to have the support of the Chipping Norton Theatre, and Anne Gill (Take Part Community and Education Director) who was a prime mover in suggesting that the club adopt the inspirational name of Lights Up.

Led by Val McKay (also Co-ordinator of North Cotswolds Memory Clubs for Cotswold District Council) and supported by volunteers, the curtain lifted on Lights Up, sessions are run twice a month since early October. Maria Parsons and Danielle Battigelli of Creative Dementia Arts Network have evaluated the pilot and we shall be sharing our research design, methods and results with you.

The success of the pilot in promoting well-being, learning, communication and agency has lead to its extension for the forseeable, attracting yet more funding. The successful retunring community it has built up provides a model the group hopes to extend to other Oxfordshire daycentres in the near future.