Arts charity launches £100,000 appeal for Living Room dementia space

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Mark Drury hopes the new building will be ready by spring 2021

A SWAY-based arts and education charity has launched a £100,000 fundraising campaign to transform a disused water tower in the village into a creative space for people with dementia.

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Spud, which is based at the former ArtSway building on Station Road, hopes to meet its target this year, enabling the transformation of the building on its site by spring 2021.

The facility, set in the grounds of what is now known as SpudWorks, will be called The Living Room, and will offer people with dementia the opportunity to work with artists on projects and workshops.

Spud director Mark Drury said: “The Living Room will be a workshop space, purpose designed and equipped to offer people living with dementia, and their families, the opportunity to work creatively with artists.”

The concept will offer a positive and safe environment for people to take part in activities with artists using a variety of materials.

The old water tower will become a special space for people with dementia and their careers

Mark said: “We want to offer a source of happiness and enjoyment for those living with dementia. We want them to feel valued, part of something bigger and to enrich their world. We will place an emphasis on the pleasure and benefits of sharing experiences in the moment and creating positive memories for family members.”

The SpudWorks site currently features gallery space, artist studios, craft workshops, creative office spaces and community areas. The disused brick water tower is the last building to be redeveloped on the site.

Mark said: “This deceptively large building sits among beautifully landscaped gardens and adjacent to the new artist studios.

“The proposal is to retain the brick skin of the water tower and add a lightweight timber structure to the centre, with a viewing deck above.”

The new structure will be designed specifically to be accessible and feel safe and welcoming for those living with dementia.  Consideration will be given to sound, colour, textures and features to ensure the space works for a wide range of people and is flexible to accommodate a variety of activities.

Mark said: “As a charity, Spud has an enviable track record in developing award-winning, small buildings. Through collaboration with our team of partners we are confident of creating something valuable and special for local people.”

Mark continued: “Many of us have been affected by dementia, my own family included. We want to help make a difference for the families as much as for their loved one living with dementia.

“If The Living Room project helps create a moment of happiness and positive new memories for them then the project will have achieved its goal.

“We recognise the potential for memory and reminiscence to be stressful for people in the later stages of this disease, so there will be an emphasis on the pleasure and benefits of sharing experiences ‘in the moment’ in providing opportunities for connection and insight.”

The facility will also be available for other local groups to use.

Spud is asking local people to support The Living Room project through fundraising or donations. Sway Painters will host an exhibition of work by local artists at SpudWorks at the end of May with all money raised going towards the fundraising campaign.

Donations can be made via paypal.me/SPUDGB. For more information on The Living Room project visit www.spud.org.uk/the-living-room or contact Mark on 01590 682260.

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