WITH over £6,000 raised by their Tree of Light Appeal 2016, a recent meeting of the Rotary Club of Oswestry confirmed the donations to be distributed to a dozen local charities over the next few months starting with the first payment presented at the end of the meeting.

Established in Autumn 2016, the Oswestry charity Connect For Life provides a support service for mainly older people, in particular those with memory difficulties or dementia. Between 10.30 and 14.30 each Wednesday, up to a dozen people take part in the activities provided by the group at the Gatacre Pavilion. Providing respite for carers, stimulating activities for those with cognitive difficulties and a lunch supplied by Woodside School’s caterers, this shared time gives an opportunity for a person to feel they are contributing to the group activity and not just being the one who is receiving or listening.

Donations to the Tree of Light have bought specialist reminiscence resources including jigsaws, books, films and DVDs on familiar themes such as The Beach, The Garden and Sporting Fun. “Talking about the past can recall happy memories and good feelings”, said Alison Humphreys one of the two women behind Connect For Life as she received their cheque. “A person with dementia can usually recall things from many years ago rather than recent memories. Reminiscence can give them a sense of competence and confidence,” added Carolyn Lewis co-founder of the group, “These materials will be very useful for our users. We are very grateful to the Tree of Light sponsors.”

Charging only £10 for each session including lunch, the number of people using the group has doubled in the five months since it started. “More volunteers to help would be welcome and would allow more people to access the sessions,” commented Alison.

If you would like to know more about Connect For Life they can be contacted using connectforlife@hotmail.com or 07582 207972 or find them on Facebook www.facebook.com/connectforlifeoswestry/.

Oswestry Rotary Club will give further support to people living with memory difficulties when Oswestry Library launches its Shared Memory Bags scheme at 1.00pm on Saturday 4th March at the library. Largely funded by a grant from the Mary Hignett Bequest (administered by the Rotary Club), the five themed bags (each based around a Pictures to Share book featuring words and images designed to trigger memories) will be available for use and, importantly, loan by those living with dementia and their carers.

“We will then open the library meeting room for a free afternoon tea for those attending with the aim of introducing some chat and reminiscence using the new bags,” said Heather Rodenhurst, Team Librarian, Shropshire Libraries, “We are so grateful to Oswestry Rotary Club’s Mary Hignett Fund for helping to fund this and enabling the library service to complete this beneficial project.”

(Pictured) Carolyn Lewis, volunteer Ruth Watkin, Tree of Light organiser Mike Jones, Alison Humphreys and Oswestry Rotary President Ian Haigh