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MEA Council secures funding for dementia friendly pilot project

Project participants on the railway platform at Whitehead Railway Museum - one of the project sites - with Mr Mukesh Sharma, Chairman of the Northern Ireland Committee of the National Lottery Fund.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has been awarded £14,140 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for a dementia friendly tourism pilot project with local heritage attractions – Made for Memories.

Made for Memories is a dementia friendly tourism pilot being led by Council with two industrial heritage sites: Whitehead Railway Museum and The Heritage Hub at Carnlough Town Hall.

Two other tourism businesses are also involved as partners - Twilight Coffee and Bunkhouse in Carnlough, and Lighthouse Yarns Craft Studio in Whitehead.

Four groups will be participating, including Prom Friendship Group, Larne; Karingmore Residential Home, Carnlough; Wilson House Day Care, Broughshane; and Victoria Court (sheltered accommodation) Whitehead.    

The project aims to raise awareness through training of volunteers and bespoke storytelling sessions by local storytellers of simple adaptions that can be made to create a safe, welcoming and managed space at visitor attractions in Mid and East Antrim for visitors living with early stages of dementia and their carers.

A downloadable online pre-visit guide for visitors to both The Heritage Hub at Carnlough Town Hall and Whitehead Railway Museum, specifically designed for use by families and carers of people living with early stage dementia, will be created as part of the project.

At the official launch at the Whitehead Railway Museum, Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Noel Williams said:

“The ‘Made of Memories’ project is very much aligned to Council’s long-term commitment to the Mid and East Antrim Borough being an accessible and attractive tourist destination for as wide a range of visitors as possible.

“We want to encourage our partners and other local tourism businesses through this pilot to make simple adaptions, and to raise their general awareness of how they can meet the needs of people living with the early stages of dementia and their carers.

“This project is of course very relevant to the quality of life of our local residents as well.

“We are delighted that The National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery Players are supporting us to deliver this timely pilot project.”

Also attending the launch was Mukesh Sharma from The National Lottery Heritage Fund Northern Ireland Committee, project partners and representatives from participating groups. The High Sheriff of County Antrim, Mr John Lockett, who is also a founding member of the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland attended.

Mukesh Sharma, Chair of The National Lottery Heritage Fund Northern Ireland Committee, commented:

“We are really happy to support this dementia friendly tourism project, which thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, will mean that more people will be able to get involved with and benefit from the exciting heritage on their doorstep. Heritage activities bring people and communities together in so many brilliant ways, this mix of industry training, and experiences for people with dementia and their carers will enhance the visitor experience and act as a catalyst for better provision and increased inclusiveness in heritage and tourism.”

A showcasing event developed with Carrickfergus Enterprise, and endorsed by the chairs of the two Causeway Coastal Route Cluster Groups within Mid and East Antrim, is planned to take place in March 2023 to share the pilot and its outcomes with other tourism businesses.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has provided grant funding of £14,140 representing 88% of project costs, with residual funding for the project being provided by Council.


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