Salford dementia

A Salford ice cream man made some extra stops on his round to surprise people living with dementia and carers and treat them to a cone.

Peter Schiavo, whose 84-year-old dad, also called Peter, is living with dementia, is well known for running Vincents ice cream van – which has been in the family for three generations.

He teamed up with Empowered Conversations, a project of Six Degrees Social Enterprise, who support people with dementia and carers, to make surprise ice cream deliveries to mark national Ice Cream Day on July 19, and got other ice cream vans on board to do the same across the city.

The 46-year-old said: “Myself, my brother and sister are carers for my dad, who has vascular dementia, so I was really happy to help do something nice for other people in a similar situation.

“It has been a difficult few months for us all and it is nice to put a smile on people’s faces.”

One of Peter’s stops was to Tony and Joy Watson, who he regularly sees on his usual round.

salford dementia
Peter Schiavo with Joy & Tony Watson

Tony said: “We both love ice creams so this was a great surprise and it was lovely to chat with Peter.”

Peter, a dad-of-two, took over Vincents from his dad, who had run the business with two of his brothers.

It was started by his grandad Vincent, who moved from Naples in the 1890s to New York and then went from there to Manchester.

Peter added: “He was quite an unsavoury character and had links to the Mafia. I am pleased to say that I don’t take after him.

“My dad didn’t want me to take over the van at first, but I had always helped out from being little. It is just in my blood. I like bringing joy to people and chatting to everyone.”

Since lockdown started in March, the Empowered Conversations team have been delivering online groups and session in Salford to support family carers and people living with dementia. From Escape to the Disco through to Come and Sing, Pause to Draw to Storybox Creative, as well as four weekly group chats for family carers and a weekly online seminar.

Emma Smith, project leader from Empowered Conversations, said: “We asked Peter if he could help us out and he bowled us over with his enthusiasm and generosity. He’s been knocking on doors and surprising people with a ’99’ and everyone has really enjoyed it!

“It has been really important to us to maintain contact with the people with dementia and carers that we support during this strange time and it has worked really well. The ice cream deliveries have made it even sweeter.”

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