Dementia-friendly Alton is looking forward to offering more services for longer now it has received a £230,000 grant from The National Lottery Community Fund.

The charity, a winner of The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, is launching the social club-based Alton Meeting Centre to help people with dementia and their families.

Its activities will be extended from three days per week to five across two venues – Alton Community Centre and Edgar Hall in Anstey Lane, the recently vacated St John Ambulance building.

It will also provide home-based activities for those unable to attend centres, a first for dementia support organisations in Hampshire.

This extension of services allows Dementia-friendly Alton to provide recreational activities designed to appeal to people with young onset dementia, currently an under-served but growing group.

It is an important step because early diagnosis is crucial in improving the outlook for people living with dementia.

Activities will be developed in consultation with members and other health and social care agencies and include music (pictured), singing, arts, crafts, puzzles, games, exercise, dance, horticulture and wildlife appreciation.

Dutch and UK research has found that attendees experience increased self-esteem, greater feelings of happiness and sense of belonging. Family carers, who attend alongside their loved ones, report an increased sense of support and feel better able to cope.

Dementia-friendly Alton co-founder and co-ordinator Karen Murrell said: “This significant grant from The National Lottery Community Fund enables us to secure a significant step-change in amenities for the people of Alton and it will serve as a pilot for Hampshire and beyond.”

There is a chance to meet the Dementia-friendly Alton team at Edgar Hall on April 7 from 10.30am to 4pm. This includes a dementia choir session from 11am to 12.30pm.