New befriending service is praised

Doreen Davison with daughter Marilyn Ableson and son-in-law Geoff.
Doreen Davison with daughter Marilyn Ableson and son-in-law Geoff.

A new innovative service supporting people with dementia to make friends has been highly praised by users.

Doreen Davison and her family have praised the new Northumberland Befriending Service, which is run by the Ashington-based Alzheimer’s Society team.

Under the scheme, a team of Northumberland Befriending Service volunteers spend time with people living with dementia or memory issues to keep them active.

They aim to provide personalised companionship for people to support them to maintain interests or keep participating in activities they enjoy - either in their own home or out and about. 

Activities could range from playing board games to gardening or from just having a coffee and a chat to getting out and about for a stroll on the promenade in Blyth, as Doreen does with her ‘buddy’.

Doreen, an 88-year-old former teacher, has been diagnosed as having a mild cognitive impairment, which is one step down from dementia or can be interpreted as early stages of dementia.

A psychiatric nurse came to do an assessment at the instigation of her GP and even though dementia has not been diagnosed, the networks of help still apply.

And that is why she has become involved with the Alzheimer’s Society staff – much to the delight of Doreen, who is a widow, and her family.

“I’ve always been independent and determined and I don’t want to change my ways now so this is right up my street,” said Doreen who used to teach at the old Ashington Tech.

“I want to stay in my own house and this service is helping me to do that. They have been exceptionally nice. I’ve now got a buddy who comes to see me. It’s once a week but that’s great,”

“She’s lovely. We’ll have a little chat about where we’re going.

“Sometimes I don’t want to go very far. She’ll always listen. She is a lovely girl.

They’re all so nice but I feel as though we’re becoming good friends.

“For example, just the other day she took the car down to the beach and we had a nice little stroll down along the promenade from one end to the other and then we went into the café and had a cup of tea and a sandwich which was lovely and then she brought me home.”

Her husband, Geoff, added: “What the Alzheimer’s Society have gathered in for Doreen in terms of support services and support people and the comfort that has given to Marilyn has been astonishing.

“We talk about this service back in Leeds and they are amazed because they’ve not heard of anything like it. It’s brilliant.

“They’re not just supporting my mother-in-law; they’re supporting the whole family.

“We’re so unbelievably grateful.

“It relieves Doreen because it relieves us.”

For further information about the Northumberland Befriending Service contact the Alzheimer’s Society Ashington-based team on (01670) 813255.