Leeds set to pioneer plans for UK’s first ‘dementia friendly garden’ in a public park

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A health campaigner from south Leeds has launched a plan to create the UK’s first “dementia friendly garden” in a public park.

The ambitious £35,000 scheme to transform an area of Rothwell’s Springhead Park is hoped to provide the template for safe, secure open spaces that can help people with dementia become more active.

Peter Smith, who launched the Dementia Friendly Rothwell campaign in 2011, and the Rothwell Live At Home Scheme are behind the plan which has already secured £5,000 of funding through grants and donations.

Leeds City Council and researchers at the University of Stirling are helping to devise plans that could feature guard rails, new paths, designated parking, specialist park furniture and specially designed floral displays.

Mr Smith, a former Alzheimer’s Society carer, told the YEP: “It’s about supporting what’s happening for people with dementia as more and more people are diagnosed.

“This is an opportunity for people who might otherwise become withdrawn and isolated to come out somewhere that is safe and secure. It is the simple things that will make a different to a lot of people.”

He said work is hoped to start on the garden, which will be the first to open outside of a care facility, soon with the aim of it opening in Dementia Awareness Week in May 2017.

More than 20 businesses and various groups including West Yorkshire Police have taken part in training as part of Dementia Friendly Rothwell.

The project also features several regular dementia cafes and has seen Mr Smith awarded a British Empire Medal by the Queen for his efforts.

To donate to the garden visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/petersmith.

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