Dementia & Community Rail
An estimated 850,000 people live with dementia in the UK today (1.3 per cent).
This figure is predicted to exceed 1 million by 2025, and 2 million by 2050. There are currently 700,000 informal carers supporting those with dementia, and this is expected to rise to 1.7 million by 2050. This means that currently an estimated 1,550,000 lives are currently affected in some way by dementia, and it is estimated 3,700,000 lives will be affected by dementia in some way by 2050.
The individuals directly affected by dementia are still the independent, proud people they always have been, they just need some additional help to carry out their daily activities. These individuals most likely still want to travel, enjoy day trips and go to the shops etc., and the social and cognitive benefits of these individuals still participating in society have been well documented, along with the economic benefits for the local community. This means working towards creating inclusive travel for all has become a priority throughout the transportation industry.
That said, in collaboration with Alzheimer’s Research UK, the train operating company, Arriva Rail North Ltd, the CRP aim to make the Bentham Line a centre of excellence in terms of understanding how community rail can assist in helping those with dementia to still lead an active life and continue to be part of society. We aim to do this through training our customer facing staff and volunteers including dementia friends training and dementia champions alongside producing a series of materials (including walk leaflets and other activities) with the aim of encouraging safe, tourism and group travel. Our eventual aim is to offer similar packages to other disadvantaged groups in communities around the UK.
We feel that The Bentham Line is well placed to host such as initiative as the line’s history as the means of getting to a seaside holiday in Morecambe in times gone by can provide the nostalgia of long term memories (e.g. childhood holidays) that enables those affected by dementia to feel good about themselves.
During the project, the CRP will also liaise with the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the Forest of Bowland AONB, local councils, businesses and interested individuals – all invaluable in supporting our award winning ‘Rail to Trail’ project for walkers and cyclists and our recent ‘Bowland Rail Gateways’ project at Wennington, Bentham, Clapham and Giggleswick. We will build on all we have learned from these collaborations to further develop the project.