An innovative project has been launched on the Leeds-Morecambe line – also known as the Bentham line – to make it the country’s first dementia-friendly community railway.
Jools Townsend, CEO of the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP), said the project demonstrates 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.”
With funding from ACoRP, Northern and CrossCountry, the scheme was launched by the Leeds-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership on May 25.
To make the line’s stations more welcoming for those with dementia, the project has four main focuses:
- To raise staff, volunteer and passenger awareness of dementia;
- To support journeys for those living with dementia and their carers;
- To create dementia-friendly stations and services
- To establish a range of supporting activities, including dementia-friendly walks, from stations on the line.
Volunteers and staff on the Bentham line have already undergone dementia awareness training and have been issued badges to let passengers with dementia know they are happy to assist them.
The community rail partnership has also carried out an audit of the line’s stations and has advised line operator Northern on how it could improve its facilities for those with hidden disabilities.
Jools Townsend added: “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.
“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.
“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.”
Dementia is not a specific disease but a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or thinking skills that are severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s is, for example, a type of dementia.