Leeds now part of Britain's first '˜dementia friendly' railway line

A new project is now underway in Leeds that aims to create Britain's first dementia-friendly railway line.

Led by the Leeds-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership, the Dementia and Community Rail Project has been launched to raise awareness of the condition for those travelling on the region’s trains.

Rail bosses, including representatives from the Northern franchise, Department for Transport and Transport for the North, travelled on the first dementia-friendly train this month as the project is being rolled out.

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The train, stopping at Shipley Keighley and Skipton, also took on a group passengers living with dementia, and supporters, who helped develop the initiative.

During summer and autumn, the Community Rail Partnership will be organising a series of dementia awareness sessions for frontline rail staff working along Bentham railway line route.

Jools Townsend, chief executive of the Association of Community Rail Partnerships, said: “We feel very proud to be supporting this crucial project, which is already making such a difference to people’s lives.

“We, and our members across Britain, feel passionately that our railways should be accessible and welcoming to all, and that everyone should be able to benefit from our railways - and this project is taking important steps to ensure that’s the case among people living with dementia.”

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She said the project was ensuring needs of commuters on the route were being met.

“Railways are often the lifeblood of communities, providing access to all sorts of opportunities, and connections with other people and places, and that should not stop if you are affected by dementia personally or within your family,” he said.

“The Bentham Line is demonstrating exactly what community rail is all about – reaching out to local people, drawing on their perspectives, and helping to ensure their needs are understood and met at stations and through train travel.

“It’s an exemplary project, and the first of its kind, and we will be working to encourage other community rail partnerships and groups across the country to consider adapting it for their areas.”

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The Community Rail Partnership will soon begin hosting groups of people living with dementia, and their carers, in the region on journeys along the Bentham Line.

Plans are also underway to take the project to the South In September. They will visit the Department for Transport in London, where the project will form part of a social inclusion event, giving civil servants, train operators and community rail partnerships a chance to learn more about what is being developed for those with dementia or disabilities.