By Karen Harris
On the 19th of November 2019, my husband David, and I opened the first regional Umbrella Dementia Café at Seawinds Community Hub in Rosebud, Victoria
How did this come about you may well ask?
As an ex-nurse, I was working as a Clinical Trial Project Manager in the pharmaceutical industry and made the decision to retire in September 2018. I’d recently discovered the Umbrella Dementia Cafés founded by Kirsty Porter. My interest in dementia stems from having relatives who had developed Alzheimer’s disease, namely my Nan, two aunties and one uncle, all from my father’s side of the family. The UDC website had a statement along the lines of “if you’re wishing to start up a café in your area please contact Kirsty Porter”. So, knowing that I’d need some kind of activity / hobby to keep myself occupied in retirement, that’s exactly what I did. I first contacted Kirsty to have a chat about starting up such a café in the Mornington Peninsula area in August 2018. After more than an hour on the phone with Kirsty my head was buzzing, but Kirsty is known to have that effect on people. My decision was made, and David and I started down the path towards creating a café! What an exciting proposition!
David and I began attending many of the cafés in Blackburn and Koonung Cottage to get a feel for the cafés and gain some insight as to what was going to be needed. How lovely to see everyone enjoying the social get togethers for some fun.
Next step, funding!
In mid-December 2018 I was advised that the RACV’s Community Foundation had a grants program available for community groups such as our so, with little over 2 weeks to submission, Kirsty and I worked together to draft and submit our proposal. Just as well Kirsty did not really need that well-earned Christmas break as I was harassing her to get the details needed in order to complete the submission.
Around the same time David and I were out and about visiting potential venues in which to host the cafés and found Seawinds Community Hub in Rosebud which was to later become the ‘home’ of the café. David and I also set about increasing our knowledge of dementia and attended online and face-to-face trainings wherever possible. Many of these trainings were provided by Dementia Australia and well worth attending.
In March 2019 we were contacted by the Grants Manager from the Yulgilbar Foundation as they were keen to provide financial support to a charity which supports families living with dementia.
We were extremely privileged and fortunate to receive both a grant from the RACV Community Foundation and 3 years of funding from the Yulgilbar Foundation. What a great start this was to be for our café. These funds have enabled us to purchase necessary equipment, contract a qualified counsellor for our care and share program and establish the café at the hub.
Our information day on 10th September 2019 was well attended by members of the community and health care professionals interested in hearing about our cafés. At this meeting we were able to ‘recruit’ the special people who would become our volunteers. Within September and October Kirsty worked with us to train our volunteer team so that by the time the 19th November arrived everyone was trained and raring to go!
Welcome new members
Our very first café was attended by 15 members and 7 volunteers. We were off and running. On the day there was some brainstorming within the group we named our café – the ‘Friendship Café’ was born!
Our lovely volunteer Naomi, created the ‘Rose Garden’ mural, where all our members and the café team add their finger print ‘roses’, which will be filled with more roses as our membership grows over time.
From the 19th of November until mid-March we met on the second Tuesday of each month for two hours in the morning. Our activities over this time included a Christmas celebration, sausage sizzle and a music café. Then COVID19 put a stop to us meeting face to face! After discussion with our members some of our group were keen to continue catching up but this meant we needed to transition to virtual cafés. After some initial challenges with learning zoom, we now meet on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month to catch up and enjoy some quizzes, games or chair exercises. Virtual cafés are not for everyone though, so the café team and members also keep in touch with regular phone calls.
You can connect with us via our facebook page ‘Friendship Café, Rosebud, or reach out to me directly via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 0432 963 339.
Due to COVID-19, The Friendship Café now enjoy fortnightly ZOOM social catch-ups.
We are planning to resume our face to face cafés in 2021 at the Seawinds Community Hub, 11a Allambi Ave, Capel Sounds, Mornington Peninsula. Friendship Café is now accepting registrations ready for 2021.
To register for any of our cafés in 2021, please go to our Membership page on our website and a café coordinator will contact you directly.