If you’re worried about your memory, or that of a friend or family member, pop into Metronome café between 9am and 11am on the first Tuesday of the month to talk to the experts – or just enjoy a free cup of tea or coffee and a chat. You’ll find it a couple of minutes from Morden tube station.
According to Bill Gibbons of Alzheimer’s Society Merton, many people have concerns about their memory, but aren’t sure where to turn – which is the idea behind the cafe. Says Bill: “Our aim is to get people to drop in for a coffee, so they can chat about anything that’s bothering them.”
He adds that few people know much about memory loss. “People have a myriad of concerns – maybe their grandma is very forgetful, or their dad goes out and sometimes gets lost. People have questions about dementia – what exactly is it, how you get it, what you should do if you’re worried?”
Our aim is to get people to drop in for a coffee, so they can chat about anything that’s bothering them.
Bill explains that memory loss can have lots of causes. “Being forgetful doesn’t mean you’ve got dementia. The brain is a bit like a filing cabinet, where, over time, information gets stored away and lost, and getting forgetful can happen to lots of people as they get older. Memory loss could be caused by a whole range of things – it could be an infection, or anxiety, even poor sleep, so it’s important to talk to your doctor.”
According to Bill, the café sessions are about having that conversation in a relaxed atmosphere and helping people who don’t know much about dementia to feel more confident explaining their worries to a GP.
People can also get more information about the services offered by Merton’s Dementia Hub, which has been supporting people in the borough for the past eight years. The hub hosts café sessions for people with dementia and their carers.
The brain is a bit like a filing cabinet, where, over time, information gets stored away and lost.
As hub coordinator Sandra Willans explains: “We invite people in, offer them refreshments and introduce them to activities, help them stretch their memories with creative outlets including quizzes, puzzles, even discussions about local history.
“External facilitators come in and our members love that. We’ve tried pottery, made bird feeders, learned braille – one chap was excited to be able to use it to write secret letters to his grandchildren. Plus, we offer reminiscence work, singing for the brain and different exercise groups. At half term we welcomed grandchildren in for Halloween activities – that multigeneration aspect was lovely.”
Merton Dementia Hub has also launched monthly sessions at Raynes Park Library on the first Saturday of the month. People with dementia and their families can come along for a chat and take part in activities, similar to those offered by the hub.
We decided to make Metronome Morden a dementia friendly space right back at the planning stage
Metronome’s co-director John Merriman explained why the café was keen to get involved. “We are truly passionate about creating a space that the community feels welcome in. We decided to make Metronome Morden a dementia friendly space right back at the planning stage.
“This meant we had to consider signage, floor colours, staff training – and establishing relationships with those already working tirelessly to create a more accessible community for those living with or supporting those with whatever stage of dementia they may have.”
“It is only when we work together that communities can truly be accessible to all. It is always our joy to form and maintain these partnerships for the benefit of the whole community.”
The project is part of the Health on the High Street initiative, jointly funded by NHS South West London and Merton Council, which seeks to bring wellbeing services into communities by working with businesses, libraries and other facilities.
The memory café sessions take place from 9am to 11am on the first Tuesday of the month at Metronome – just drop in for a chat and that free tea or coffee.
If local organisations are interested in getting involved in health on the high street – by offering their premises or suggesting a service – please contact Mark Connor at NHS South West London.