In 2016 a despairing husband brought his wife to Christ Church in Ross-on-Wye, looking for help – she had dementia, and he didn’t know where to turn.
That moving encounter led to the creation of Ross Meeting Centre – a volunteer-run project which provides support to people living with this terrible disease, and their carers. It’s run by sixteen helpers who all give of their time freely.
Church member Anne Parsons, who runs the Centre, said, ‘The gentleman was an atheist, but his wife was Christian and he was bringing her to services to help her. He suggested we might look at the Dutch Meeting Centre model of dementia care.
‘The ethos is to help both the person with dementia and their carer socialise together, via mental and physical exercises, remembering old times, and taking part in singing, music, and arts and crafts.
‘I’d worked with students with learning difficulties, so had transferable skills. We also have retired carers, a former GP whose medical knowledge is very helpful, and two people who came with their mothers, and who decided they would like to help when their mothers sadly died.’
The Meeting Centre – which is self-funded, but receives support from local charities – currently helps eight people and their carers.
One lady said, ‘It has been a great benefit to my mother and me. Anne’s vision, commitment, drive, and determination are admirable.’
Christ Church secretary Anne Downing, who nominated Mrs Parsons, said, ‘Anne’s the sort of person who is hardly noticed but is absolutely indispensable. She sees her role as sharing the kingdom with volunteers and members in a practical way.’
Anne herself said, ‘It’s a great honour to be nominated, but it’s really about the Meeting Centre and what we all do there to express God’s love and reach out into the community.’