Somerset Chamber

Talk to the team 01823 444924


Tell us your business news

Learn more


Member news

Charity secures National Lottery grant to continue helping people with dementia

AWARD-winning Wellington-based charity, Reminiscence Learning, is celebrating after securing a £51,306 National Lottery community fund to ensure it can keep supporting carers and those with dementia in the coming months.

The charity provides vital lifeline services for people with dementia and their families and the COVID-19 lockdown and restrictions has seen a demand for support increase, while fundraising activities have been severely curtailed.

Fiona Mahoney, Chief Executive of Reminiscence Learning and a qualified Occupational Therapist, said the National Lottery would make a huge difference for the charity: “This grant will ensure we can continue to provide services and help us to remain sustainable over the next six months.

“We’re now in our 17th year and we’re proud to have our home in Wellington. We’re extremely grateful to the National Lottery, the Government and the National Lottery players in Somerset for their support.”

Reminiscence Learning provides a range of specialist services including respite sessions, activity days, events and activities as well as care training, focusing on dementia, reminiscence and the provision of dementia-friendly activities, including twice-weekly carers groups. Clients include individual carers, volunteers, NHS professionals, nursing homes and business owners who want to make their staff dementia-aware.

Pre-lockdown, the charity also ran schemes to bridge the gap between old and young, working with local schoolchildren to help them understand dementia through the Archie Project. The charity also ran a weekly forest school session at Otterhead, which linked people with memory impairments with children with social and emotional needs, helping boost self-esteem, confidence and independence. But even lockdown has not stopped the charity providing its much-needed dementia care and support.

Gill Beesley’s husband has dementia and used to attend the charity’s respite activity sessions twice a week: “The sudden arrival of this dreadful Coronavirus changed all that and we were suddenly not allowed to leave our home. 

“Reminiscence Learning immediately reinvented the wheel and came up trumps with twice daily online live videos made by various members of the team to keep us in touch. There have been cooking demonstrations, quizzes, exercises, craft, laughing yoga and singing.

“We have also enjoyed weekly video calls from the one of the team. It’s so good to talk and Michael knows he is not forgotten. We are so grateful for the hard work the team have put in and really hope they will be able to continue with their wonderful support.”

The McSweeney family firmly believe the charity has helped to give their mother her continued independence: “Mum is with them every day of the working week and this has enabled us to keep her at home and independent longer than we imagined. 

“The current COVID-19 situation has been incredibly difficult with restrictions on family support and the lack of access to outside activities. It is not unexpected that she is struggling more than usual as her routine is lost.

“However, Reminiscence Learning continue to support us through this time and are, in part, how we have been able to ensure mum does not need to enter a care home at this time. Reminiscence learning are our only lifeline in navigating the advancing dementia our mum is experiencing.”

More information about Reminiscence Learning and the services the charity provides is available online at or by emailing or telephoning 01823 668676.

Connect. Influence. Grow.

Join Somerset Chamber of Commerce to give your business a stronger voice both locally, regionally and nationally. Combined with local town chambers, we represent over 2,000 businesses across Somerset with a direct line to policy-makers at all levels.

Discover the benefitsJoin now