Memory loss charity innovates to respond to members’ needs during coronavirus shutdown

Butterflies Memory Loss Support Group Hull
Butterflies Memory Loss Support Group Hull are innovating to help keep their members feeling connected.

Hull charity, Butterflies Memory Loss Support Group, has responded to the needs of its now isolated membership by tailoring a range of telephone, email, social media, and internet activities, all designed to help its members feel connected.

This month the Butterflies charity celebrates 10 years of supporting people and families impacted by dementia. A calendar of celebratory events had been planned to mark the charity’s 10th anniversary. Sadly, the celebrations have been put on hold as the staff and volunteers respond to members’ needs during the coronavirus crisis.

Founder and manager of Butterflies Memory Loss Support Group, June Cooke, explained how the charity has adapted rapidly to provide support to its members during unexpected circumstances.

June said: “Each member of staff now has about a dozen members and families on their pastoral lists to call each day on the telephone, others are also being contacted daily via email and social media.

“It’s been quite challenging helping people to download social media apps to their phones, it’s something we’ve been encouraging them to do for a long time but they’ve said they wouldn’t need that.”

The charity has also set up a WhatsApp group for all members who have been happy to share their contact details in this way.

“It’s been really lovely,” said June. “Everyone can see the whole group’s comments. People are sharing pictures of spring flowers in their gardens. One member of staff is doing a daily video, ‘At home with the Cookedashians’, keeping members entertained. Another member of staff is uploading daily games and quizzes to our facebook page.

“It’s proving to be really nice. Everyone is really chatting to one another. They’re checking-in every morning to say they’re OK. At this stage everyone is feeling really optimistic, and really grateful for the support they’re getting. Everyone is feeling quite supported, which is amazing.”

Many of the Butterflies members, and their partners and carers, are elderly and particularly at risk from the coronavirus. They have been expressing some anger, however, that others have not being following the Government’s advice to people to stay at home, and to avoid gatherings.

“Do they not realise that the longer they stay out, the longer our imprisonment is going to be?” members have been saying to June.

Small local charities, like Butterflies, are being impacted financially. They don’t have huge reserves to fall back on during unprecedented times such as these. It’s always a battle to generate the funds needed to provide activities and services.

Butterflies usually operates on ‘subs’ and small donations taken at its regular face-to-face meetings. This charity’s income will now be down by hundreds of pounds each month, at a time when it has increased its activities day by day.

Members of the charity have responded gratefully, though. One family is inviting people to sponsor the growth of Bill’s beard, as Bill isolates for 12 weeks. Another family is selling unwanted items, and donating all funds to support Butterflies.

Everyone is innovating, and finding solutions to the issues the coronavirus is causing.

“It’s a very emotional time,” said June. “We’re realising how this crisis is going to affect our cared-for, and our carers. Some of our members will be in a state where their emotional memory is really heightened because they know something is going on, but they don’t really understand what’s making them anxious.”

Butterflies staff and volunteers are determined to continue their care for as long as it takes.

Find out more, and support Butterflies, here:

Website: Butterflies Memory Loss Support Group

Facebook: @ButterfliesHull

[Jerome Whittingham – editor HULL IS THIS]

HULL IS THIS WELLBEING category is sponsored by NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group

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