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Valley Park School in Maidstone awarded Dementia Friends Badge after setting up Decaf café for residents

A secondary school has been awarded a Dementia Friends Badge after setting up a pop-up café for people living with the condition.

Sixth form students at Valley Park School in Maidstone have formed a group called Decaf with the aim of providing regular tea parties for those with dementia who live nearby.

John and Chris Neal from Penenden Heath were two recipients of the Decaf care packages. Picture: Valley Park School
John and Chris Neal from Penenden Heath were two recipients of the Decaf care packages. Picture: Valley Park School

So far, the group has held two successful events, with more than 40 people and their carers attending.

When the third had to be cancelled due to Covid-19, pupils were determined to still give residents a special treat, putting together care packages and delivering them to those who previously attended.

The boxes included poems written by students, handmade felt flowers and ceramics, as well as tea, shortbread and hand cream.

The Hunstman Lane school has since been named a dementia friendly school and awarded the Dementia Friends Badge by Dementia Friendly Kent.

In addition, the Health and Social Care courses offered at key stage 4 and 5 at the school teaches students about living with dementia. They become trained as Dementia Friends through a Dementia Champion and have the opportunity to speak and have questions answered by a person living with dementia.

Students delivered care packages to people with dementia during lockdown. Picture: Valley Park School
Students delivered care packages to people with dementia during lockdown. Picture: Valley Park School

Headteacher Margaret Hutchinson said: "The community response to Decaf has been incredible, with heartfelt thanks being sent in for all our efforts and much praise for the students involved in the initiative.

"I’m very proud to say that all staff have now been trained as Dementia Friends and, as a school, we are delighted that we've awarded the Dementia Friends Badge. Well done to everyone involved."

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