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Dragons delight dementia support group

Gina Shirley from Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin with members of the dementia respite group

Published on 26 February 2024 10:34 AM

Brightly coloured lanterns, dragon masks and fortune cookies brought Chinese New Year delight to a Shrewsbury dementia respite group run by Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin.

‘It’s really lovely, isn’t it?’ said 87-year-old Maureen who first moved to Shropshire as a wartime evacuee and has loved the county ever since.

‘I’ve been coming here to this group for two years now and there’s always something different to do. Each week has a different theme so this week is Chinese New Year. We do things for St David’s Day, for bonfire night and Christmas. The staff and volunteers are always fantastic.’

As Maureen chatted, Stanley across the table opened his fortune cookie and read out the message contained in it: ‘Too rich a diet is no good for health.’

Christine was busy colouring in a Chinese dragon mask which would later be cut out for her to wear. Philip was keeping himself entertained with a jigsaw of children paddling in a stream on a sunny spring day. Around the group there was joking and laughter and lively conversation.

Dementia respite group member and carer

Embracing the theme of Chinese New Year, the group leaders talked to members about Chinese food, culture and legends while many members had fun trying to use chopsticks to pick up small items. ‘We always try to find something a bit different for everyone to enjoy,’ said Gina Shirley, Day Services Support Officer at Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin. ‘It’s lovely to see everyone enjoying themselves.’

Gina explained how the service provides a break for carers of people living with dementia: ‘We understand how important it is for carers to have a break for themselves. We also know that peace of mind is everything: leaving the person you care for is a big decision and you’ll want reassurance that they are being well looked after.’

‘Our weekly dementia respite service provides time for carers to run errands, meet friends or simply have a few hours to themselves, safe in the knowledge that their loved one is being cared for. The service is run by qualified carers supported by experienced volunteers and our dementia support workers.’

To find out more about Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin’s dementia support service call 01743 233 123 or email

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