Making a dementia-friendly Bentham Line

This story was published 8 January 2018

The Bentham Line is well known as one of Britain’s most scenic railway lines.

Dementia friendly

It is now also playing an important part in helping to make North Yorkshire a dementia-friendly place to be.

North Yorkshire County Council and its partners in the Leeds-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership are working with organisations involved in dementia support projects to make this historic line even more special. A key element to this is the work it is piloting at Bentham and other railway stations, which has been audited by people with experience of living with dementia who made suggestions for making it a more friendly experience.

Walks and area guides are being developed to provide a range of railway-based dementia-friendly activities along the line. The partnership is also developing two dementia-friendly information kits that will be available to the rail industry and also offered elsewhere. 

One kit will focus on staff and volunteer understanding and raising awareness of dementia, and about how to respond to people living with dementia. The other kit centres on creating dementia-friendly railway environments and supporting services.

The kits will eventually be shared with communities along the Bentham line, other community rail partnerships and train operators, so they can develop their own approaches to being dementia-friendly.

County Councillor Michael Harrison, Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health Integration, said: “North Yorkshire is home to 10,000 people living with dementia and we have just launched our dementia strategy, called ‘Bring Me Sunshine’. It’s an important document because it sets out the improvements we want to make over the next five years for people who are affected by dementia.

“An important part of this is to spread the message that it is possible to live well with dementia, and that people living with dementia have a valuable role to play in their communities. Initiatives such as the work by the Leeds-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership play such a vital part in making that aspiration a reality.”

Gerald Townson, chairman of the Leeds-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership, said: “The partnership’s dementia-friendly initiative is being funded by the Northern Seed Corn Fund along with additional funding from Northern (Arriva Rail North) and the partnership itself. Support in kind is being offered by all the project partners, including North Yorkshire County Council and, very importantly, from community organisations along the route.”

County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Highways, said: “We know that we are playing a very important role in helping to develop services and facilities that will help people living with dementia and their carers to enjoy getting out and about by rail again and find it a safe and secure experience.”