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Cricklewood charity launches ‘Conversations with..’ a celebrity for its dementia clients


Cricklewood charity launches ‘Conversations with..’ a celebrity for its dementia clients

Writer Susan Oudot joined Ashford Place's "In Conversation With.." session for dementia clients. Picture: Sally Long

A Cricklewood based social inclusion charity has come up with a “win win” solution to brighten up the lives of elderly clients with dementia who are all desperately missing social interaction.

Actor Michelle Collins. Picture: Michelle Collins

“In Conversation With...” is a bimonthly interactive event where famous people chat with Ashford Place’s clients about their life and work.

TV and stage star Michelle Collins, ambassador of the charity’s Dementia Friendly Brent project launched the ongoing series of celebrity driven events via video conferencing last month.

The clients have described the conversations as “inspirational” and “fascinating”.

Ashford Place’s chief Danny Maher, who came up with the idea, said: “We started our “In Conversation With” series due to a chance remark a colleague made recently when she was talking about someone off the telly and it got me thinking that why shouldn’t people who are shielding and socially isolated have the opportunity to meet some person they admire whether it be an actor, writer, artist or any inspirational person.

“It’s amazing how many people who consider themselves off line suddenly become interested in IT when it is part of meeting a celebrity or well known household name.

“So it’s a double benefit. They get to meet someone they admire and learn how to zoom at the same time.

“Win win.”

The second celebrity to take centre stage was novelist and writer Susan Oudot whose novel “Real Women” was adapted for BBC TV and who currently writes for ITV soap Coronation Street.

Next up will be actress, writer, musician and ex-world champion Irish dancer, Maria McAteer.

Sally Long, a Dementia Voices Brent project worker said charity staff have been delivering food, having doorstep chats and supporting members to keep in touch with their GPs and access vital services and support during the pandemic peak.

She added: “Lockdown has had a real impact on people living with dementia, the isolation has often meant their condition has deteriorated, and this highlights the benefit of social interaction.

“So the celebrity chats really help since they motivate people to use IT and take part remotely, engaging with a wider group even if they continue to self-isolate.”