Tracy Brabin MP and Flint the Dog go Side by Side to Combat Loneliness

Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin has visited a local family to see first-hand how the Alzheimer’s Society Side by Side can benefit people living with dementia to avoid social isolation

Tracy visited Margaret Grace, who will be 92 this month, alongside Alzheimer’s Society Side by Side volunteer, Julie Taylor-Radcliffe and her Pets as Therapy (PAT) dog, Flint.

Margaret has vascular dementia and is supported by her daughter, Helen, on a daily basis with preparing meals, personal care and trips out.

Helen said:

“Mums dementia has left her with very little short-term memory and needs help with things like getting washed, dressed and making food and drinks.

“I am retired so can devote a lot of my time to looking after, but I also enjoy a lot of activities myself and mum can get anxious when I am not around.

“Having a Side by Side volunteer like Julie visit would be ideal for her, especially as she has Flint, because my mother absolutely adores dogs!”

Side by Side is a pioneering new service from Alzheimer’s Society which matches people living with dementia with volunteers who support them to continue to take part in activities that they enjoyed before their diagnosis, such as going to the theatre, to the football or simply taking a dog for a walk.

Member of Parliament for Batley and Spen, Tracy Brabin said:

“I am delighted to support Alzheimer’s Society’s Side by Side service which will make a huge difference to the lives of people living with dementia and their careers.

“One to one contact, where a volunteer focuses on the needs of the individual and supports them to take part in activities that they may otherwise not be able to enjoy, is so important to avoid both the person with dementia or their carer becoming isolated.

“As a passionate supporter of the Jo Cox commission to combat loneliness, I know that people in Batley and Spen are wonderful and warm – we can make our community a place where we all work together to support one another and to combat loneliness. We have the potential become an example to the rest of the UK”.

Retired nurse, Julie Taylor-Radcliffe has recently become a Side by Side volunteer alongside her trained PAT dog Flint.

Julie says:

“People absolutely love meeting Flint, it is lovely to see how their faces light up when we arrive and he is great for getting a conversation going about past memories”.