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Residents of Stevenage living with dementia and those who care for them can now learn about a range of local activities for physical and mental well-being with the launch of a new booklet.

The booklet is the result of a research project at the University of Hertfordshire, a partnership with Stevenage Borough Council and the support of NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) East of England.

Work to start the booklet began with a National Institute for Health and Care Research Applied Research Collaboration East of England (NIHR ARC EoE) affiliated study. Funding came from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)/the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, Healthy Longevity Global Competition and Healthy Ageing Catalyst Award.

The project examined the ways physical activity can improve the quality of life for people living with dementia. Stevenage was one of the three case study sites.

The university and council spoke to physical activity providers, people living with dementia and their family supporters about the activities on offer in their community in the town.

The work found that whilst there are many suitable activities being run in Stevenage, people living with dementia and their carers repeatedly said it was hard to find information about local dementia-friendly physical activities and services. They requested all the information about physical activities in one source.

This guide was developed as the solution. It brings all the information about the available activities into a booklet that is publicly and freely available, either as printed copy or online. To make sure it is accessible the booklet was designed and formatted with the input of people living with dementia in Stevenage.

Dr Elspeth Mathie, Reader in Health and Social Care Inclusion, of the Centre for Research in Public Health and Community Care at the University of Hertfordshire said:

“Physical activity has many benefits – it improves health and wellbeing, reduces social isolation, and may also reduce the risk of developing dementia.

“We carried out our research with Alzheimer’s Society to find out whether people in different parts of the country living with dementia knew about the physical activities available locally. People in Stevenage reported a lack of awareness, which inspired the creation of this booklet. We worked closely with people living with dementia to create a resource that was accessible and user-friendly, and it was a pleasure helping Stevenage Borough Council put it together.”

Councillor Jackie Hollywell, Executive member for Community Safety, Equalities, Health and Older People at Stevenage Borough Council said:

“This booklet offers a constructive series of activities that are readily accessible for local people with dementia and is informed by the rigorous science and medical research of our leading academic professionals in Hertfordshire. I encourage all those affected by this disease to get this booklet and take full advantage of the therapeutic support on offer in Stevenage.”

The booklet is available in printed format at general practices, independent living centres, the Stevenage Red Shed Project and community centres.

It can be downloaded at:

www.stevenage.gov.uk/leisure-culture-and-wellbeing/making-stevenage-a-dementia-friendly-community

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For political comment:

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The information contained in this press release was correct on the date of issue.

Dr Elspeth Mathie and Prof Claire Goodman, University of Hertfordshire are supported by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration East of England (NIHR ARC EoE) at Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

About Stevenage Borough Council

Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) is the local authority for the town of Stevenage, in Hertfordshire. Located approximately 28 miles from London, it was designated as the UK’s first New Town in 1946, to provide much-needed housing as part of the country’s ambitious post-war reconstruction process and achieved a number of notable firsts including the country’s first pedestrianised town centre and further innovations in its approach to layout, green spaces and other local facilities.

The council provides services, support and information to 87,700 residents on all areas of housing, benefits, waste, recycling, business, leisure, planning and regeneration. It consists of 39 elected members, representing thirteen electoral wards; each with three elected councillors. The council is currently controlled by the Labour Party, who hold 24 of the 39 seats. The Leader of the Labour Group and the council is Councillor Sharon Taylor.