Freshers Young Onset Cafés offer a relaxed and welcoming setting for people living with early/young onset neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and other dementias, Parkinson’s, MND, MS and Huntington’s. People can stop by for a drink, peer support and information, and family and friends are also welcome.
'Freshers' was the brain child of Peter Lyttle, who lives near Blackpool. Peter was diagnosed with vascular dementia at the age of 58, and quickly came to the conclusion that the usual dementia cafes did not cater for younger people like him, who are of working age at diagnosis. Peter set up the first Freshers Young Onset Café in St Annes, and he is supported by a team of people, including Alzheimer’s researcher Dr Penny Foulds from MAC Clinical research, and founder of Lancaster University’s ‘Defying Dementia’ campaign and several ‘Dementia Hubs’ in North Lancashire. You can read more about Peter's story here. Peter and Penny are pictured left.
Great opportunity to learn about dementia from the people who are experiencing it in a safe comfortable environment. So helpful to be able to mix with like-minded folk and make new friends and have a happy social life.
Why do we need Freshers?
There is a big gap in service provision for people with neurological conditions that develop disorders at a younger age than ‘normal’. In general, services are designed to meet the needs of older people and as a result, may not be appropriate to the needs of people of working age. Currently, Community Mental Health Teams and charities such as the Alzheimer’s Society and Parkinson’s UK are often not able to signpost people to age-appropriate support services. Therefore, the Freshers initiative is being very well received.
Setting up a Freshers Young Onset Café
Establishing a Freshers is surprisingly easy. The main consideration is the venue – and anything goes! Freshers St Annes is in a café, supported by the owners who stay open later than usual once a fortnight to cater for the get-together. Freshers Blackpool is situated at Beaverbrooks House which is home of the Blackpool Carers Centre, an independent, local charity and network partner of The Carers Trust. Freshers Lancaster is held at The Dukes Café Bar, which is part of a vibrant arts and theatre scene in the centre of town. Ultimately, the people who want to start a new Freshers venture are free to set up at whichever venue they think appropriate, decide on the time it is to be held and the frequency of meetings, and take it from there.
Who is setting up Freshers?
People who are living with young onset neurological conditions such as dementia, are establishing new Freshers with the support of the Freshers network. Freshers has links with the Alzheimer’s Society, Parkinson’s UK and Community Mental Health Teams, and is able to spread the word through existing support mechanisms. Freshers has a strong presence on social media, has it’s own website, and is frequently included in the Dementia e-Hub Newsletter, all of which help to advertise the cafes.
Are there any costs involved?
Because the person/people who are hosting Freshers work with the venue, there are no costs involved in this respect. Publicity can be achieved through Freshers social media, and the website. If the host wants flyers/posters printing, then they would have to pursue funding streams independently or find a willing partner to support this. And so, the main cost involved is the time it takes setting up the venture. However, when it is up and running, it is just a case of ensuring someone is at each session to welcome new guests and make them feel comfortable.
I don’t feel on my own any more. A good place to socialise for people who are still working. Come along, meet new people and enjoy being part of a great group of new friends.
Would you like to set up another Freshers in the North?
If you would like a find out more about a ‘Freshers’ in your area, please contact us through the website.
- Dr Penny Foulds, MAC Clinical Research and Defying Dementia, Lancaster University