One of the great aspects of the Consortium is our diversity; our members range in size, geographical coverage, what we do and who we do it with. That’s why I was delighted to catch up with Sandra Hastings the dynamic Chief Operating Officer of our smallest member organisation, Silverline Memories. They’re looking for partners to get involved in their latest initiative, the Cecily Douglas Memory Garden in Springwell Village, Gateshead.
Tell us about your organisation?
Silverline Memories was founded in 2013, originally as a Community Interest Company, to offer activities for people with dementia living in care homes. A grant from the Comic Relief/Ballinger Trust/Northern Rock Foundation North East & Cumbria Dementia Fund proved to be a springboard for the organisation and we introduced several new services and activities. We reconstituted in September 2015 as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation to enable the organisation to grow via funding from more charitable trusts & foundations.
What does Silverline Memories do?
In a nutshell we provide “places to go and things to do” for people living with Dementia. We recognise it is not just the person with the diagnosis who is ‘living with Dementia’ and so we include family and friends in our activities. We currently provide around twenty social opportunities per calendar month and these include Dementia Cafes, Lunch Clubs, Tea Dances, Carer Support Groups, Pub Lunches, and Cinema and Theatre visits. We also manage a Community Garden in Gateshead at which we offer volunteering opportunities and Gardening Days for our own and
other service user groups.
What are your organisation’s values?
To make life nicer for people with Dementia. We believe in being present in the moment with a person, never correcting their understanding of time or circumstance. These values lie in the passion of the trustees and volunteers; we all have personal and/or professional experience of caring for someone with this condition so we have the insight into the challenges face by everyone affected by Dementia.
Give us some statistics about your organisation
We are still 100% volunteer led, with seven trustees and an additional eight volunteers who manage, plan and deliver all our services and activities. We have recently moved into our base at Great Park Community Centre but until then we have all worked from our own homes. In our first year our income was £8306 and this increased to £17,227 over 2015.
Those we support tell us that Silverline Memories has changed their lives, being a revelation, and providing a life for people who would otherwise have little by way of meaningful engagement. We are told we are the ray of sunshine in otherwise dark times. This is why we do what we do.
What successes have you had by collaborating with other organisations?
We have worked closely with Gateshead Council in developing our project at the Cecily Douglas Memory Garden in . We acquired the licence via the asset transfer process. This is by far our most challenging project to date and we are looking forward to working with other community groups across the North East in further developing the opportunities available from this wonderful asset.
Do you want other Consortium members to be involved?
Yes please! We are keen to engage with other organisations both for partnership opportunities but also to make available the Garden for groups wishing to run their own projects from the site. Currently the scale of the Garden exceeds our own capacity and we are keen to involve other organisations that can support the ongoing maintenance of the site while also benefiting their own user group at the same time.
What makes you a good partner to work with?
We are open to suggestions and welcome all feedback. As a very young organisation we are aware of our weaknesses as well as our strengths and welcome all opportunities to develop our understanding of the voluntary sector and organisational development.