Community Links, the Okehampton Community Recreation Asssociation (OCRA) and Home Instead revealed last week that they had agreed on a start date for Okehampton’s new Memory Cafe.

The three organisations, which are heading the initiative, announced that the first meeting would be held at the Pavilion in the Park in Okehampton on March 7 between 1-3pm and will be held on a weekly basis from then on.

Ian Blythe, general manager for OCRA, said:‘We wanted it launched and there’s obviously appetite for it. There’s certainly a call within the community to get it going. Rather than wait and wait and wait to try and decide how it was going to be and what it was going to be called, we just thought, “well, actually, there’s three partners here that just want to get going”.’

The Memory Cafe will hold specific activities to help with memory problems, which will also include some physical activities. However, organisers are also aiming to hold more social activities, such as offering the chance to bake cakes.

Mr Blythe added: ‘We hoped 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.’

Okehampton used to run a memory cafe before the pandemic which was never renewed, but in November last year, community groups suggested the possibility of opening a new memory group as awareness of the difficulties faced by carers and sufferers began to grow.

In December, members of the Okehampton community along with health professionals gathered at the Pavilion in the Park in order to discuss visions for the proposed cafe.

Last week’s announcement now sees the culmination of all the discussions.

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.

Currently, there is no known cure for dementia but certain lifestyle choices can reduce the risk of developing the disease.

Reducing alcohol consumption, stopping smoking, taking up regular exercise and eating healthily are just some of the ways that people can reduce the chances of developing dementia or delay its onset, according to Dementia UK.