A Salford charity that aims to help people with dementia through dance has set up a ‘Secret Santa for Seniors’ to try and lift their spirits throughout the second lockdown.
Dancing with Dementia hosts live music and offers a non-clinical setting for people with the condition and their carers.
They usually meet at the Swinton Palais Dance Centre and enjoy an afternoon of dancing, eating, and socialising.
As the group is no longer able to meet due to coronavirus restrictions, the charity has appealed for donations as a way of ensuring their usual guests still feel a part of the community.
Founder of Dancing with Dementia Lesley Fisher, 69, set up the group after she felt unsure of where to go to find support when her sister was diagnosed with the condition.
Speaking about the weekly event she said: “Our afternoon sessions have been phenomenal in rekindling relationships.
“Husbands and wives come together and they put a record on that was from their courting days and they sing to one another.
“They get up and they dance whereas at home or in the home they wouldn’t.”
The guests suffering from depression, which is a common part of the condition, will often not want to eat at their care home.
Lesley said: “Some people will reach out for the cake and you’re amazed that this person who doesn’t want to eat at all back at the home will eat.
“It just simple things that because you’ve changed the venue, it becomes a stepping stone into who they were.”
With over 100 people usually attending the group every month, she was concerned about the lack of interaction the guests were now receiving.
Staff at local care homes told Lesley they are desperate to lift the spirits of their patients this Christmas period as they often find them crying in their chairs as they miss their family.
She said: “We thought we would do the Secret Santa because little things mean a lot and if they know someone has sent them a card or written them a letter or even sent them a tube of toothpaste then someone has thought about them.
“We want them to share in what is going on in the community and be a part of the community still, and we are amazed at the support that is coming in for that.”
Lesley initially hoped to send out donations to the 5-6 care homes that regularly attend the afternoon socials but after the big response to the appeal, she is now in a position to reach out to even more care homes.
If you want to be a Secret Santa for a Senior then you can drop your gifts at Salford CVS in Eccles, Lloyds Bank in Swinton or Walkden, or the Pink Butterfly Boutique in Wilmslow.