This week (March 7) saw the first session of the newly re-instated Okey Memory Cafe at the Pavilion in the Park, hosted by community groups Community Links, the Okehampton Community Recreation Association (OCRA) and Lynn Roddy from Home Instead, a Tavistock-based home care service for the elderly and those with dementia.

In December last year, members of the Okehampton community and health professionals gathered in order to discuss re-opening Okehampton’s memory cafe which was discontinued during the covid pandemic.

This week’s event sees the culmination of those discussions after community interest organisations argued that the ‘cafe’ should be re-instated as it was essential to provide support to dementia patients and their carers.

Dozens attended the event which started off with a simple getting-to-know-one-another activities but organisers hope that in the future they be able to hold more specific activities to help with memory problems which will include some physical activities and social activities, such as cake baking.

Ian Blythe, general manager of OCRA, who has also been involved in the work, said: ‘Mr Blythe added: ‘We hope to achieve a weekly regular place for people problems and their carers and their families to meet each week to support those who are caring for and are living with those issues, but it’s also a place for community and social time and all that kind of stuff.’

According to British charity Dementia UK, dementia is an umbrella term for a progressive neurological disease which attacks the brain cells preventing them from working properly and resulting in symptoms such as memory loss, confusion and trouble with speech and understanding. One of the most well-known forms of the disease is Alzheimers.

Currently, there is no known cure for dementia but certain lifestyle choices can reduce the risk of developing the disease or delay its onset including reducing alcohol consumption, stopping smoking and taking regular exercise, according to Dementia UK.

For more information contact Vicky Hopkins, befriending co-ordinator at Community Links, at [email protected].