Stray Ferret Christmas Appeal 2023: ‘Carers are losing their loved ones before their eyes’
Last updated Nov 22, 2023

This year’s Stray Ferret Christmas Appeal is to raise £30,000 for a much-needed minibus for Dementia Forward in the Harrogate district. 

The appeal is kindly sponsored by Vida Healthcare.

Please give generously to support local people and their families living with dementia. Let’s not forget those that need help this Christmas.

Today, Flora spoke to people at the wellbeing café.

“People are here for three hours of fun, no matter what stage they’re at with this horrible illness.”

This is how Gordon, a volunteer at Dementia Forward’s wellbeing café, described the weekly group.

The café takes place every Tuesday at Christ Church in Harrogate. It provides a safe space and good company for those living with dementia, as well as some much-needed respite for carers.

People enjoy a bowl of soup, coffee and cake followed by a range of activities. Some members played table tennis and curling, while others painted their nails and tackled jigsaws.

Margaret Kingston, a regular at the café, said:

“My son found out about the café for me. I come every Tuesday now.

“I like to play table tennis and draw – it’s helping people that maybe don’t have any family.”

Many people battling dementia can feel extremely lonely, even with their loved ones by their side. The café, along with Dementia Forward’s other social groups, helps to combat that isolation.

Another member said:

“I try to come every week – I like to be involved. I’ve made friends since coming here.”


The café also offers a place for carers – often a spouse or offspring – to discuss the devastating effects of this evil disease: a place to feel understood.

Sheila, who has volunteered at the café since 2018, added:

“The carers need as much care as the clients.

“The team have fun and the clients and carers all recognise that.”

Members of the wellbeing café.

The Dementia Forward team work tirelessly to improve the lives of those living with dementia and those around them.

The wellbeing café is one of many amazing services on offer. Gordon said:

“Carers are losing their loved ones before their eyes – it is the most wretched thing to see. They are the bravest people.

“That’s why they need the support.”

Thousands of families across the Harrogate district are fighting this evil disease every day. Dementia Forward eases the pain as much as it can – but can only do so with the help of charitable donations.

Every donation to our campaign will go directly to Dementia Forward, helping us hit our £30,000 target to buy the charity a new minibus and bettering the lives of those living with dementia and the people around them.

Dementia Forward’s current bus is old and urgently needs to be replaced. The charity would seriously struggle to afford a new one, which is why they need your help to keep this vital service going. Without it, many people living with dementia simply wouldn’t be able to access the help and support they need. 

Please click here to donate whatever you can – you never know when you, your family or a friend may be in need of Dementia Forward’s help too.

Thank you.

The NHS found that one in 11 people over the age of 65 in the UK are living with dementia. If you need urgent help or have a dementia-related enquiry, call 0330 057 8592 to speak to a helpline adviser.

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