Our story so far
In February 2022, we celebrated 5 years of Made in Haslingden.
On 12th April 2017 we held the launch of the very first monthly craft group at Haslingden Fire station. Our aim was to provide a place where people could meet, increase awareness of dementia, give people a purpose to make meaningful items for people living with dementia and those who may have felt lonely and isolated, and share skills. Most importantly, it was about `feeling connected’ and bringing people together to chat, make friends and give or offer support. `Community Supporting Community’ was and still is our mantra.
Within a couple of months we very quickly outgrew the Fire Station and moved to a bigger community space at Haslingden Community Link on Bury Road, Haslingden. During the next two and half years we grew even more with a 6-month pilot of a `Men’s Shed’. Craft wasn’t for everyone, and we diversified to include and support more people. The Shed was a great success, welcoming more men and making things from wood. It was during this time that we recognized there was a need to provide knitting/crocheting groups in between the monthly sessions. With the support from our trustee Janet O Driscoll, our sister groups were created. `Knits at Fitz’ and `The Big Crochet’. These groups meet regularly, to meet other people, learn & share skills and work on community projects. They have successfully supported neo natal babies nationally with traffic light hats, the homeless with hats and scarves, hospitals supporting people with dementia with twiddle muffs and blankets and taken part in the `purple link chains’ dementia awareness in setting a World record for the longest knitted/crochet chain – all done in shades of purple which is the colour for Alzheimer’s.
Naturally through the monthly sessions at Haslingden Community Link, Carers, who came with their loved ones who were living with dementia, began to informally gather and chat about the ups and downs of being a Carer. We recognised that there was a need for a Carers’ and with the support of funding from East Lancashire CCG, piloted dementia Carers’ group. However, 4 months into the pilot, Covid lockdown came and we were forced to think and work in a different way. From the start of the Pandemic, the Carers’ group began to meet more regularly on zoom and the group started to grow. We also recognised the need for a different way of delivering support to our members. Online and telephone Storybox sessions were provided as a fun and creative place to meet up and enjoy activities. Two years on, we have continued to offer this as a way of keeping our clients engaged and contributing to their happiness and wellbeing.
The Carers’ group has grown in numbers and strength. They support each other and have developed a step-by-step Rossendale Carers’ strategy and resource to support other family Carers in similar situations.
During the pandemic we successfully had our application to the Charity Commission approved and became a Registered Charity. We continued to strengthen our community connections and a partnership was formed with the Whitaker Museum & Art Gallery. When restrictions started to relax in September 2021, we started to meet in our new home at the Whitaker. This started a 4-month consultation period with our members where we asked, “what do people want?” This provided an opportunity for us to grow, strengthen and use the feedback from our groups to help meet the needs of the Rossendale community.
Great plans are in place to create a community shed, develop the Carers’ group further and create more opportunities for activities with the `Nature for you’ partnership we have at the Whitaker.
Our journey so far has led us to develop our work and reach more people in a variety of ways. We agreed that our current work and future plans was more accurately represented by our new name - Beacon- Dementia and Wellbeing. We intend to continue to support our members and to connect with other groups and agencies across East Lancashire to promote and develop services particularly for people affected by dementia, or who are isolated or lonely.