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Seeing one another face to face in workshops after so long

Our member of team Richard reflects on the return of our group workshops during June for our people with young onset dementia.

The clouds melted as the Sun shone through – well, for some of the time! This was the first month back for our lost but not forgotten group workshops for people with young onset dementia. Zoom kept us connected, provided support, maintained friendships and kept the inclusion ship afloat, but it is the face to face group workshops that we have all yearned to be doing again.

Everyone that I’d spoken to had been looking forward to getting back to the workshops again,  with quotes including:  “I am really looking forward to seeing my friends.”, “Can’t wait to see everyone again.”,  “It’s been far too long.”.  

Transitioning from online workshops back to face to face ones after 15 months was always going to be a challenge. Sitting in front of a computer and enjoying each other’s company has been great, and something that we had never ever done before. This service will continue to be used as we move forwards, as so many have said how much they enjoy them. Plus, if we get rained off we can always move online.

In returning to the face to face workshops the challenge has been implementing social distancing rules, taking temperatures, regularly wiping down tools and of course getting used to travelling there and back while hoping to avoid roadworks and other hold ups. It is very different from walking from the kitchen to the living room and logging into Zoom, however that being said I think that everyone involved is in agreement that the first couple of weeks have gone very well indeed as the workshops have been cheerful, lively and engaging as they were back in March 2020!

In June we have four separate gardening workshops per week. These are split between the The Old Rectory in Padworth and Jealott’s Hill near Bracknell. They are familiar settings that our attendees have become familiar with over the years, and new people that have recently joined us have settled in very quickly too.  

We’re also offering three walking workshops per week at Dinton Pastures, Swinley Forest and one at the Old Rectory in Padworth and an art workshop too. Again, quotes since we have been back have included:  “It’s good to be back.”,  “It’s good to see people again.”,  “It’s a really good thing that you all do.”, “Thank you very much, I really enjoyed myself today.”

Our groups are made up of four people with dementia, along with two members of the YPWD team. This has proved to be a manageable number for our return (and to get used to running face to face workshops again). This capacity will grow in the coming months as restrictions are relaxed. We are confident that we will be back to 6 -8 people with dementia per workshop in no time! 


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