'Support us or risk losing us' - Dementia Forward's urgent plea for support in the Harrogate district

Celebrating six years of the charity, but raising awareness for a secure future.
Celebrating six years of the charity, but raising awareness for a secure future.

In a climate of increasing pressures and demands being placed on our local charities, has come a simple and dignified plea from Dementia Forward this week - support us, or risk losing us.

The charity is a lifeline to more than 2,500 families across the district and North Yorkshire, and yet it doesn’t have all of the financial support it needs - competing with national charities for funding, GDPR, and lacking a marketing budget are just some of the barriers that Dementia Forward is grappling with on a daily basis.

To raise awareness of their difficulties, volunteers and trustees are inviting residents to join them in walking from Knaresborough Castle to Ripley Castle on September 23, in a special fundraiser fronted by Emmerdale star John Middleton.

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Trustee Stuart Rhodes, said: “There are people who have lived in Harrogate for many years who have still never heard of us.

“For some reason people can sometimes think that all dementia charities are the same and that they’re giving to us when actually it’s going to a national charity. We need to encourage people to support their local charities.

“Part of the reason for doing the walk is to raise awareness of Dementia Forward, and that we exist, but also to raise awareness of the fact that we need the financial support as well as the physical support to survive, and to continue what we are doing.

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“This is a call to arms for us, saying to residents of Harrogate, Ripon, Knaresborough and across North Yorkshire, we need your help.”

Stuart said a backdrop of scandal around some national charities has not helped to build people’s confidence when considering charitable giving.

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He said: “People are more sceptical of where they are giving money to. And companies might say, we can give you a small amount of money but it needs to be for a specific project.

“But it’s the day to day running costs of our services that we need support for - things like gas, electric, IT equipment, and the general wear and tear and maintenance of the charity.

“We don’t have the marketing budget that national charities do, so we’re not always at the front of people’s minds. Eighty per cent of people’s regular donations go to national charities and the money doesn’t always go back into the local community in the same way.

“If people support Dementia Forward, their whole pound stays within North Yorkshire, and their money employs local people to provide services that we need to provide for families.”

Dementia Forward celebrated their sixth birthday this year - marking six years of providing a telephone helpline, wellbeing activities, advice and support, and much, much more.

Stuart said: “We have had some great support from supermarkets, businesses and families, so there has been lots of positive things going on and we can’t thank people enough for their support, but it’s still nowhere near enough to continue providing the level of services that we do.

“We may have to look at reviewing the level of services we provide, and we don’t want to have to do that.”

To take part in the castle walk and to show your support for Dementia Forward, join the charity’s team at Knaresborough Castle on September 23 at 10am.