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An new befriending service that offers support to people living with dementia is being launched by Alzheimer’s Society in Wrexham.

Trained befrienders will be matched to people with dementia to help them live well with their condition and share their sporting interest. The group befriending service will meet on the last Friday of each month at the Racecourse Stadium.

The service, which is supported by Wrexham FC and Wrexham Supporters’ Trust and is aimed at people with dementia who have a passion for football.

81-year-old Eddie Stuart from Wrexham was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2010. Eddie played for Wolves in the 1950’s when they were at the top of the first division.

Talking about the new group befriending service Eddie said: “I think it’s wonderful to have this group starting. It’s nice to come together and meet other people who are living with dementia and support one another, as well as reminiscing about the glorious game. That’s a passion that we all have in common.

‘When you are in your eighties like me, you can look back and appreciate what you’ve done and how lucky you were. I look back at how football was when I played and how different it is now – the ball was so heavy – it’s light as a balloon now. I had some wonderful times because of the football. It’s nice to be able to share those memories.”

The new group befriending service is part of ‘Side by Side’, an all Wales befriending service funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s AdvantAGE programme. Through a team of trained volunteers the new group will provide help to reduce the social isolation experienced by many living with a diagnosis of dementia.

Liz Wilks, Befriending Manager for Alzheimer’s Society said: ‘It is estimated that there are 12,444 people living with dementia in north Wales. Life doesn’t stop when a person is diagnosed with dementia. People often still want to do the things they enjoyed doing before but they might need some extra support. This service offers the perfect opportunity for volunteers to help people with dementia to continue to feel a part of their community and to do the things they enjoy, such as discussing a football match or debating the offside rule.’

85 per cent of people with dementia say that they struggle with isolation, loneliness and depression. Befrienders provide companionship and are matched with people depending on their personality and common interests.

Terry Stott, of Wrexham Supporters’ Trust, said: ‘Wrexham FC is a community-owned club, with nearly 3,000 fans as owners. Because of that we’re more active with community events than many clubs and this was why the club was keen to support this pioneering project. It’s evident that people’s memories can be jogged by recollections about special footballing occasions and events. We want to play our part in making sure that people with dementia can play a full and active part in the community and are very pleased to work with Alzheimer’s Society to make sure this project develops.’

David Mainwaring a befriending volunteer from Wrexham Supporters’ Trust said: ‘I got involved with this group as my late Mother had Alzheimer’s disease. I saw first-hand the problems that both she and our family had, so I am glad I am trying to do something positive for people living with dementia. You never know, I might need the same assistance in the future.’

To find out more about accessing or volunteering for the befriending service please contact Liz Wilks on 07703886129 or email liz.wilks@alzheimers.org.uk

As well as this new befriending group Alzheimer’s Society in Wrexham has a number of services including a dementia support worker, “Singing for the Brain”® and Dementia Cafés in Penley and Wrexham. To find out more visit alzheimers.org.uk/localinformation or Alzheimer’s Society Wrexham on 01978 364 859 or at wrexham@alzheimers.org.uk.

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