It started with a letter written from ourselves to RailwaySleepers.com in April 2018:
'Hello we are setting up a rural daycentre for people with Dementia. We are operating as a not for profit social enterprise. We are reliant upon donations of materials. We need a substantial quantity of railway sleepers to clad our raised patio area and also to form raised planting beds. Is this something you would be able to assist us with? Our centre will utilise a green care approach that enables our users to get in touch with small animal livestock and also activities associated with farming and nature based activities. There is UK and EU research that has proven the benefits of this type of approach in Dementia Care. I have copied one such report for you here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/connecting-with-nature-offers-a-new-approach-to-mental-health-care'. and a Norwegian project: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=z0lSVeHO9Kk
Several weeks later you generously agreed to sponsor us with railway sleepers, and the construction of the project started in August, with 96 railway sleepers arriving by lorry at the end of October, and a further batch in July 2019.
We are now not far off completion. Our aim is to have approx 6-10 users a day. It’s not our intention to exceed this as we want a good ratio of users to staff and ultimately by its very nature we are a small rural day centre. "We wish to enable people with Dementia to live happy, active, purposeful lives that enable them to remain recognised contributors across the rural communities in which they reside."
Stoke on Trent
RAILWAY SLEEPERS USED
120 Used Grade 1 Dutch oak railway sleepers
We feel really positive about supporting this project. What a world of difference between what this type of scheme seems to offer in terms of outdoor life and energy, and socialising and self worth, rather than the reality of certain uninspiring day centres that seem to offer little more than containment and drowsy basket making. When we were first approached by Wonderdale Care a year ago, we discussed the project with a friend whose husband had dementia. She felt it was an excellent idea:
'I know that physical activity, being outside in the fresh air with nature and animals, socialising with others and a feeling of worth would be perfect and would help tremendously. Definitely beats the fuzzy felt, jigsaws and quizzes in the overheated day centres currently on offer.'
Wonderdale is now progressing with great energy and inspiration, and the railway sleeper addtitions add to the overall uniqueness and design of the landscaping and construction.