Creating connections in a new world for people with dementia 

Living with dementia brings challenges at any time but during the pandemic life has been made even harder for many. Thanks to the generosity of the public who donate to the Black Santa Sit-Out, Dementia NI is committed to ensuring the people it supports remain connected over Christmas and beyond - in a very different world.


‘Dementia NI was set up in 2015 by five people with the condition in 2015 and I was brought on as their first fundraiser two years later” says Fionnuala Henry. “That’s when we started to get involved with the Black Santa Sit-Out fund. We’ve been so fortunate to receive funds every year since, and get an invite to attend the annual Good Samaritans service at the Cathedral along with the other charities that receive money from the Black Santa.’’ 

Empowerment Groups 

Fionnuala says the Sit-Out Appeal gives respect and dignity to the people it helps. “The funding is directed to our Empowerment Groups which provide a safe and secure environment for those living with dementia to come together with the support of staff and volunteers. It allows them to get really important emotional and psychological support from one another.”


Businesses, organisations, researchers and medical professionals are also invited along to these groups to help improve services and support for those living with dementia and listen to their issues. ”It’s because of this funding that we can run these groups each month, and it means that our members benefit from improved mental health and a reduction in isolation and loneliness.”


Black Santa funds working in a Covid world 

“This year we’ve had to change our plans to bring people together in the way we’ve been able to before but we can still make sure everyone stays connected. People with dementia really benefit from a wide range of activities to improve self-sufficiency, self-confidence and cognition. So for now, we’re reaching out to them in their homes and sending care packages containing books, poems, newsletters, puzzles, seeds and much much more.”


Christmas Traditions 

For many of us, a visit to the Black Santa has become something of a tradition. Fionnuala says she hopes to be able to keep hers, and visit the Dean outside the Cathedral.


‘The Black Santa each year is always very well supported and it brings a wonderful sense of community to this season. I pick a day each year to do my Christmas shopping and make a point of going round to the Black Santa and making a donation.The inclusive nature of the campaign means that no charity is too new or small to benefit from the money that is raised.”

To find out more about Dementia NI, visit their website here.

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