Teaming-up to help those living with dementia to ‘Try the Train’

SWR’s Community Ambassadors teamed up East Hampshire Community Rail Partnership (CRP) to help members of Dementia Friendly Petersfield rekindle old memories and improve their confidence in using rail services with a ‘Try the Train’ experience.

Dementia Friendly Petersfield is a charity that helps people living with the condition feel understood and more comfortable in the town, whether they’re shopping or using local services.

Nearly 20 members of the charity, who have varying degrees of dementia and have been working with the East Hampshire CRP over the past few months, decided to try a fun, nostalgic trip to Rowlands Castle from Petersfield for tea and cake at Bumblees, a dementia friendly café. One member of the group included Diane Carter, accompanied by her daughter Julie Kerrigan, whose ancestors were court seamstresses in Queen Victoria’s reign over 100 years ago.

The group was accompanied by Mark Miller, Community Rail Partnership Officer, Lucy Lomax, Community Rail Project Officer, as well as volunteer Community Ambassadors from across SWR’s business. They helped reassure members of the group by discussing the journey, offering guidance and answering their questions.

Julie Kerrigan, daughter of Diane Carter and provided support on the day, said: “My mum has been living with dementia for about four years and it has stopped her being able to do a lot of things, including sewing, so being able to-do something so seemingly normal with her was an absolute joy.

“She absolutely loved the ‘Try the Train’ experience and can still remember the journey. She regularly asks if we can go again soon.”

Mark Miller, Community Rail Partnership officer and helped organise the trip, said: “We’re delighted that members of Dementia Friendly Petersfield enjoyed their trip to Rowlands Castle and that it has helped some members to become more confident to travel independently in future.

“This is a major part of the Partnership’s outreach work and we would love to see other groups approach us for similar trips in the future.”

Jane Lee, Head of Stakeholders and Communications and Community Ambassador, added: “Over the last year our Community Ambassadors have helped a wide variety of individuals take their first trip by train, delivering over 30 unique events.

“These are open to anyone, old or young, with a disability, or general accessibility need. It’s a pleasure to work with our CRPs, and others, to help show how accessible train travel can be.

“It was so lovely to talk with the members of the group and share their stories.”

In just over twelve months, the Community Ambassadors have delivered 33 ‘Try the Train’ trips. More journeys are planned and anyone interested in the possibility of a trip for the autumn onwards should contact: andrew.harrowell@swrailway.com or Mark Miller at info@easthampshirerail.co.uk