Fairland URC hosts Pabulum Cafe

Trevor Brown, a member of Fairland URC and Chair of the Wymondham Dementia Support Group, reports.

In November, 2008, following a public meeting to consider the needs of those locally diagnosed with dementia and their carers a committee representing local organisations and churches was established called The Wymondham Pabulum Cafe Committee.
The objective was to establish a Pabulum Cafe in Wymondham modelled upon those recently established by AgeUK Norfolk in Norwich and Diss. The Pabulum Cafe concept being based upon 'Alzheimer Cafes' established in Holland by Dr Biere Miesen, a Clinical Psychologist.
Our first Café was held in March 2009 with six persons with dementia and their carers attending, following a period of fund raising with support from Norfolk Community Foundation, The Geoffrey Watling Charity and Wymondham Town Council. This was also linked to free use of Fairland Church Centre for the first six months of service.

The style of the Café provides a friendly meeting place where those with dementia, their carers, family members and other interested parties (e.g. health and social care professionals) can come together and receive support, guidance and information in a relaxed atmosphere whilst enjoying refreshments and light lunches. When necessary we provide advocacy for members who may be having difficulty regarding access to services and various benefits.

Activities include reminiscence sessions, various games, craft work, a poetry table and quizzes. We have a resources library and have 20 books on dementia available for our members. A carers group lasting 45 minutes is held at each Café in a separate lounge and during this time those with dementia are supported by trained volunteers. This time is highly valued by carers who provide support to each other and share experiences which help others devise coping strategies. Our carers regularly tell us how important this time is and explain that it has helped them overcome feelings of isolation and powerlessness.

We are an open access organisation and there is no complex referral system. People who learn of our service can just turn up or they may have been referred by a friend, GP or health or social care worker or noticed our local publicity. Since our beginning we have provided a service for 40 people with dementia and their carers and currently have a membership of 20 people with dementia and their carers.

Each Café is under the direction of our a team of  volunteers who are vetted, CRB checked and receive a three day dementia awareness training programme.


As numbers increased we have consulted members and carers about how we might improve our response to their needs. One consistent theme was to have an opportunity for singing and musical activities.

In February 2012, we began a further venture called ‘The Singing Café’ which is held on the third Friday of each month where members sing to live keyboard music and play a wide range of musical instruments.
From the 5th April, 2013 we opened our Café every Friday which will mean in a full year a further 17 opening days. There will be a Café’ every 1st, 2nd, 4th & 5th Friday, a ‘Singing Café’ on each 3rd Friday.

In March 2014, The Singing Cafe made a record with a professional recording company and we will give a CD to all of our members.

We have worked with  working with AgeUK Norfolk, Wymondham Town Council, Wymondham Library and other partners to enable Wymondham to become a Dementia Friendly Town.


In the five years since our formation we have learned and continue to learn much about the needs of  those with dementia and their carers. Our services have evolved and changed in relation to the observed and expressed needs of those who visit us.

In 2011 we became a registered Charity The Wymondham Dementia Support Group with the objective To promote the well being and quality of life of people with dementia and their carers in the County of Norfolk.


Our Dementia Friendly monthly Cinema Club will meet on Wednesday afternoons from 17 June, showing films chosen by members .

For more information, please contact Trevor Brown or visit the Dementia Support Group website.
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