Lyrics and Lunch

A Lancashire church is leading the way in developing strategies for welcoming and supporting people with dementia; their carers’ and families into church life.

St Thomas’s, Lancaster has been developing its ministry to people living with dementia and their carers for the last five and a half years, since the appointment of Third Age Coordinator Jeanette Main to work with older people in the church and community.

Music Teacher Jeanette began a ‘Lyrics and Lunch’ group, for people with dementia and their carers in 2013.

“At Lyrics and Lunch we sing a wide variety of songs, play instruments and laugh a lot,” says Jeanette. ‘Our members become like family to us and to each other. It is a really happy time.’

A carer who attended the group with her husband for more than four years said: “This is the best practical help we received while I was looking after my husband. It made a real difference to us.”

Lyrics and Lunch became so popular that Jeanette and her team now run two groups; morning and afternoon, and both groups come together for lunch, which is home-made soup and sandwiches, cakes and fresh fruit washed down with tea or coffee and a lot of laughter and companionship.

“Carers can share with others in the same boat, and the warmth and friendship we share means that we all go out feeling happier,” says Jeanette.

In 2016, the Lyrics and Lunch initiative won first prize in the Premier Radio Love Britain and Ireland Awards in the category of Working with Older People. That same year the scheme made the finals of The Cinnamon Network Incubator Project Competition.

As part of the prize Jeanette received training and advice from Cinnamon, an organisation that helps churches turn their good ideas into a model other churches can follow.

Rev. Jon Scamman, Vicar of St Thomas’, added: ‘The beauty of Lyrics and Lunch is that it is such a simple and practical way to reach out to people in our communities. 

“If a church has someone who can make soup and sandwiches, and someone who can lead singing, then the raw ingredients are already there. 

“But what makes a Lyrics and Lunch group such a delight is that intangible extra – the way that the team really care about the group members, and in so doing, show God’s love in word and action.”

The Lyrics and Lunch group is a joint venture with St Chad’s Church Skerton. 

Click below to listen to Premier Northern Correspondent Ian Britton in conversation with Jeanette Main at Lyrics and Lunch.

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