Honiton Memory Café keeps people connected

Honiton Memory Café co-ordinator Min Rennolds with her ‘Florence Nightingale’ lamp

Honiton Memory Café co-ordinator Min Rennolds with her ‘Florence Nightingale’ lamp - Credit: Honiton Memory Café

Honiton’s Memory Café co-ordinator Min Rennolds has been busy keeping people connected during lockdown.
Min spends nearly six hours every Thursday making phone calls to group members to, as she puts it: “Let them know they are not forgotten.”
She explained that the idea was born last March when lockdown loomed. Min and fellow retired nurse Heather Penwarden, a leading light of the memory café, realised everything was about to change.
Min said: “We knew we couldn’t put our members at risk and we realised we would have to suspend all our activities in order to keep everyone safe.
“We are a big family and many of us have been together since the memory café began nearly 11 years ago. Our priority at the start of lockdown was to keep connected. I asked our members if they would like to be called each week and with their permission, that’s what I did.”
For some, Min’s call is the highlight of their week and hugely appreciated. One café member dubbed her “the lady with the lamp”, likening her compassionate approach to Florence Nightingale.
Min said: “He will say, ‘is that Florence?’ when he answers my call. And at Christmas he bought me a Florence Nightingale lamp.”
She makes around 25 calls between 9am and 1.30pm every Thursday – but that isn’t all. The group has also made good use of Zoom technology to enjoy a sing-song together.
“We call it our zing-along,” Min explained. “We have been doing it since last June. We have a trained singing-for-the- brain leader called Victoria who guides us and puts the words to the songs on the screen.”
Totnes Memory Café members have joined in with the Honiton zing-along and members of Sidmouth Memory Café have also dialled in to see how it works.
Min paid tribute to Honiton’s Admiral Nurse Fay Valentine, whose work supporting people living with dementia has been made possible by generous public fundraising.
“Fay is wonderful. She helps so many people and refers them to us. We are very glad to have her.”
Min, who worked in the NHS for 43 years, said: “It is a lovely thing to be able to help people.”

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