A PUB which launched weekly meetings to help those with dementia is delighted with how the concept has gone from strength to strength.

The Gerard Arms, on Dentons Green Lane, has launched a dementia café last August to offer people with dementia and their carers a space to socialise in a safe and friendly environment.

Called ‘The Loving Arms’ the free sessions take place from 10.15am to noon each Friday and include a host of activities, plus free drinks and biscuits.

The group has even enjoyed going on day trips out including to the Hope Centre and to Briars Hall.

Starting with around 20 visitors when it launched, the group now sees about 80 people filling the pub each Friday morning amid a relaxed and fun atmosphere.

The mayor Cllr Pat Ireland and mayoress Lynn Glover paid a visit last Friday (April 12) to mingle with the regulars of The Loving Arms.

St Helens Star:

Mayor and mayoress with volunteer Leanne Gauchwin

Among those who visit is Denise Kelly, who takes her husband Brian, 65.

"It is great and such a great atmosphere here," said Denise.

"We have had a few trips out with the group."

St Helens Star:

Denise and Brian Kelly

Organisers have been delighted with how the group has taken off since its launch eight months ago.

Gerard landlord Mark Hayes said: "Obviously it was high profile when Jack Platt went missing and that triggered me to get it done.

"I thought it was something that needed to be more of in the community and did an advert and it has just gone huge.

"We have got to thank the community. It's good to come up with an idea but to get volunteers to turn out and people to turn up, I'm made up with it."

St Helens Star:

Volunteers and the mayor and mayoress

Leanne Gauchwin, one of several volunteers at the dementia cafe, added: "We have people coming from residential homes and carers will bring people as well.

"We wanted it to be free and for it not to feel clinical but as homely as possible.

"I think that's what the Gerard brings, it bring the normality for them.

"People say it's a brilliant atmosphere. It's not just sitting at a desk and playing a game. They can get up and walk round and have a dance.

"It is like an afternoon tea every Friday. We have fun and it makes such a difference for them."

See the Loving Arms Facebook page for more.