Publish date: 16 May 2024

Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP) are supporting Mental Health Awareness Week and shining a spotlight on the great work done by the Forget Me Not Centre in Swindon helping those with early onset dementia.

The team support clients who have progressive memory problems earlier than expected to make the most of their skills and abilities while continuing to lead a full life as is possible.

This includes taking an active part in the success and running of the centre deciding on the activities based on what they enjoy doing and what they would like to try out.

These activities range from hiking, sailing and gardening to DIY, cooking and art.

We recently joined the team and clients for their weekly hike to discover the benefits of moving more for your mental health.

The benefits include physical exercise and boosting emotional wellbeing, but also, with this group walk, it allows them meet others who really understand the challenges of, and triumphs, over the symptoms of dementia.

Darren Davies, Occupational Therapist said: Each hike comes with its different difficulties and problem solving. A really simple activity such as going through a kiss gate can be very difficult and to actually problem solve that is very good for people with dementia.

Sam Cullen, Care Officer also added: Ian who’s on the walk today has been coming for a few weeks but you could tell by his very first walk how much he enjoys it. He’s taken the part in the walk, carrying the bags and always open the gates for us and it’s just really nice to see.

Throughout the walk they automatically go from person to person so they can have conversations with different people and it enables easier communication. Sometimes there’s harder walks like really muddy fields and parts we can’t get through, everyone helps each other and is a really good bonding experience.