The Stray Ferret Christmas Appeal 2023: Supporting those with young onset dementia
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Last updated Dec 1, 2023

This year’s Stray Ferret Christmas Appeal is to raise money for a 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 who needs our help this Christmas.

Today, we talked about young onset dementia.


Dementia is often mistaken as a disease that only affects the elderly.

But young onset dementia is robbing people of retirement age – and younger – of their former selves every day.

It refers to those who develop symptoms of dementia under the age of 65, but the Dementia Forward team has helped people as young as 39. Karen Thomas, head of young onset, said:

“Often, GPs don’t recognise dementia in younger people. They can be tested for menopause, or anxiety, or a B12 deficiency.

“It takes some people four years to get a diagnosis – that means vital years of help and life have been cut into.”

Around 5% of those living with dementia and Alzheimer’s in the UK have young onset dementia – but how can they access the support they need if their condition is not recognised?

That’s where Time Out Together comes in.

The Time Out Together group at Castle Howard.

Time Out Together began 10 years ago when Dementia Forward took over a carers’ respite service at Harrogate Hospital. When the team heard the service would be axed, they immediately stepped in.

The group, which is now held every Wednesday in Burton Leonard, supports people living with young onset dementia. It provides a temporary escape from this awful disease and prevents people from struggling alone.

They begin by catching up over coffee and cake, before heading out on their chosen activity. The group has ventured across the district and beyond; they visit the beach, art galleries, nature reserves, they play golf, they go on walking trips, and much more.

Karen said Dementia Forward wants to connect the group with other communities and educate people on young onset along the way. She added:

“The young onset care service is based on the same model as the rest of Dementia Forward, but the advice they’re given is different – it’s much more tailored to their age.”

(L) one member, Mark, with the Nidderdale Llamas.

The team also helps people with legal aid, financial advice, employment and navigating relationships.

Whatever the needs of the person with dementia and their carer, Dementia Forward provides sensitive and specialist care to guide them through a dark time.

Dementia is a multi-faceted disease that affects everyone differently. Those living with young onset dementia can experience memory loss; a decline in co-ordination and movement; they can face complete personality changes and can even become entirely incontinent.

It’s an evil, silent disease that is taking people from their loved ones every day, and without Dementia Forward, many people would be struggling alone.

More than 50 people use the minibus service to access Time Out Together and the charity’s other social groups, which is why we need your help to keep it going.

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 improving the lives of those living with dementia and the people around them.

However, 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 wouldn’t be able to access the help and support they need.

Please give generously to those who need our help. 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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