Leeds art group paints picture of life with dementia

Peer Support Service, from left: Tony Myers, creative art facilitator Sharon Marsden, Marjorie Myers, peer support co-ordinator Deborah Marshall, Margaret Walker, Jane Briggs and Tony Walker with some of the art created by the group
Peer Support Service, from left: Tony Myers, creative art facilitator Sharon Marsden, Marjorie Myers, peer support co-ordinator Deborah Marshall, Margaret Walker, Jane Briggs and Tony Walker with some of the art created by the group
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An award-winning support service has been painting a picture of life with dementia for a new exhibition.

Working over five weeks, members of the Peer Support Service’s art group created a series of stunning images that have gone on show at Age UK’s Arch Café on Dortmund Square.

The ‘Soul Journey’ creative art sessions have also seen group members, who have all been diagnosed with dementia, produce their own poetry.

Deborah Marshall, a peer support co-ordinator who works with the group, said: “This is a beautiful exhibition and members of the group have been proud and amazed at what they have accomplished over the five weeks.

“The project has not only given participants an opportunity to express themselves and get creative, it’s also seen people share their experiences and work together with friends who are living in a similar situation.

“It’s important that people living with dementia know that they can continue to do the things they enjoy, continue to learn new things, meet new people, share interests and have fun.

“That in turn helps to boost a person’s wellbeing, self-esteem and confidence.”

During the sessions, the group worked with Verd de Gris, a not-for-profit company based in Hebden Bridge, which develops stimulating and meaningful projects for older people.

Sharon Marsden, a creative art facilitator with Verd de Gris added: “Very often there is a perception that dementia is filled only with anxiety and confusion, devoid of joy or fulfilment.

“However, what we have experienced during our creative sessions is quite the opposite. It is a space where fear and anxiety can be transformed and where the present becomes new and fulfilling.”

A second exhibition of the artists’ work has also recently been on show at the Art Space in Leeds Central Library, and was created during their time with Swarthmore Art Group.

Part of Leeds City Council’s adult social care, the Peer Support Service runs activities for people living with dementia in Leeds, including arts and culture, heritage and sports.

Coun Adam Ogilvie, executive member for adult social care, said the service is going from strength to strength, finding with new ways to support people with dementia. He said: “A dementia diagnosis can leave many people feeling worried, isolated and unsure what the future holds. That’s why projects like the Peer Support Service are so vital in reassuring them that they don’t have to cope alone by letting them know they can still live a full and active social life.”

Visit www.leeds.gov.uk/residents/Pages/Dementia-care.aspx

PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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