YODA doing pottery

Dementia group is a ‘godsend’ for those with dementia in south east London

A dementia group is providing hope and support for people with early onset dementia and their carers in south east London.

Young Onset Dementia Activists (YODA) have operated within Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich since its founding in August 2021.

The group was formed to provide more for those with dementia under 65, by providing group activities that pull the community together.

Founder Saira Addison said: “There aren’t enough services out there for people who are under 65 with dementia.

“They’re activists they aren’t just doing activities, they’re feeding into bigger agendas to try and change the dementia picture around London.

“This whole project is shaped on what people want.”

The group have engaged in a wide range of activities including bungee jumping, making animation films and cycling in Stratford’s Olympic Park.

The activities stimulate dementia sufferers by allowing them to try new things and educate themselves on their condition.

Veronica Hackett, 79 and her son Matthew, 53 have been a part of YODA since February.

They’ve lived in limbo since Matthew was fully diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s at the age of 30.

Veronica said:  “This group is a godsend. YODA has given us a quality of life back”.

Retired English teacher Christopher Brown has been a member of YODA since March and enjoys learning something new each meeting.

Christopher said: “I get excited when I learn things because I’ve forgotten so much.

I feel like my days fulfilled, I’ve done something.”

Ann Blue, 50, was diagnosed seven years ago after she collapsed on the stairs, turning her life upside down.

Her husband and carer, Alan, 71 said: “That noise will live with me forever. When I got there I thought she was dead.”

As Ann’s ability to carry a conversation had diminished as the years have passed, the couple have relied more on YODA.

Alan added: “We ended up going to see Saira and the group and they embraced us.

“You can’t buy what this group give. Without these contacts, you’re on your own, you’re fighting against the tide”.

Andrew Mahy, 62 has been with YODA since August.

He said: “YODA gets us out and about and makes us realise we aren’t just lonely people with a problem”.

YODA reduces isolation for those with dementia as it allows them to meet other people on the same journey.

Brett Harrild, 63 has been a part of YODA for about a month since joining with his recently diagnosed friend Protap Das Gupta.

Brett said: “Regardless of whether you have Alzheimer’s or not it’s a nice opportunity to meet people that maybe you wouldn’t have met.”

YODA support Care City London which looks at different dementia services across London in order to deliver health and social care improvements.

Contact Saira Addison on 07764 967 929 or email [email protected].

Featured Image credit: Young Onset Dementia Activists

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