The Memory Lane Café, a volunteer-led project for residents with dementia and memory problems has been nominated for a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to celebrate its life-affirming work for the Cranbrook community.
Opened in 2016, the café started in Evernden House, one of our sheltered schemes, and due to its huge success, was later extended to the scheme opposite Major Clarke House. All local people can drop in but the group specifically caters for people suffering from memory problems and their carers wanting to spend time with their loved ones.
The café provides a positive place for people to meet, share memories and reflect on bygone days. Music, community and socialising are at the centre of the project’s ethos.
Tenancy Sustainment Officer, Doug Snowden, who is responsible for supporting residents in some of our sheltered accommodation, tells us why he nominated the group for the award.
“I recognise the amazing work done by this group. Susan Newsam, the founder works very hard at providing authentic surroundings for each week’s theme, working to involve local schools, professional entertainers and memory loss specialists.”
Doug has an active role in the daily running of the project. “Town & Country provides the regular venues and I often assist with setting up some events and encourage people to take part. I occasionally take part much to the amusement of the tenants at our schemes!”
In addition to their regular meetups, the café arranges visits to nostalgic places, such as the theatre, local farms, steam railway, boat trips and more. As well as the regular themed events held at Everden House such as pantomimes and tea dances.
Their most recent event centered around spring and the host brought in memorabilia and music from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. The theme sparked an animated conversation about gardening with the residents.
“When I see the happy faces of those that are normally quite sullen and confused, it tells me that Susan is doing an amazing job for the community which is why I nominated her for this prestigious award.”
The recent Christmas pantomime was attended by two Queen’s Awards Deputy Lieutenants to oversee the event and complete a report to assess the group. Winners will be announced this April.