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Immanuel Church in Southbourne, Bournemouth, is pioneering work with dementia. Many churches employ youth workers and children & families workers but Immanuel also employs a worker dedicated to working with the older members of the community with a special emphasis on those living with dementia. Recognising the importance of spirituality for those with dementia, Immanuel has planted a church in one of the larger care homes in Southbourne with weekly Bible studies and fortnightly services, one specifically for residents with dementia.

In addition to supporting residents in five other care homes, Immanuel provides a variety of activities to support those with dementia and their families. Carers meetings, supported activities and a monthly traditional service with Communion are on offer, in addition to one-to-one support where needed. Support is also provided to past carers who have been bereaved, with regular meetings and evenings out to the theatre, cinema and for meals.

Life Tapestry is a new way of reaching out to those with an early diagnosis of dementia. We will be recording life stories and producing a DVD, a book, a memory box and CD containing these precious memories, which will enable family and carers to interact with their loved one as their memory declines. We will be using a professional cinematographer and writer to ensure a high quality to the finished media.

The church is involved with the dementia-friendly community programme and also runs Dementia Friends sessions in the area as well as for other local churches. It also supports the Dementia Friends programme, providing free rooms to run sessions - altogether, this has resulted in 117 new Dementia Friends being created so far by the older person's worker.

Immanuel Church is currently embarking on a fundraising programme to link the church and the halls, and to improve the facilities to meet the needs of the local community. The vision is that once the building work is complete, the church will run a daily programme for those with dementia, filling the gap left by cuts in Day Centre provision.

Under the name FACE (Family and Community Enrichment), and thanks to a team of dedicated volunteers, other events run to support older people include a beginner's computer club, a whole day drop-in with lunch, and speakers and social events. We believe that God values all of humanity and we are called to love and service in his name.

To find out more, contact Sally Nevitt.