A NEW service is being launched across the district to help people with dementia continue taking part in activities they enjoy.

Side by Side will provide free one-to-one support, so sufferers remain active and to combat feelings of loneliness.

The Alzheimer's Society – which is behind the initiative – is seeking volunteers to help with the scheme across Airedale, Craven and Wharfedale.

Kate Woodfield, who is co-ordinating the service locally, said: "The focus is on enabling people with dementia to lead more fulfilling lives and to continue to take part in the activities they have always enjoyed – and try new ones.

"We need more volunteers in Airedale, Craven and Wharfedale to help people with dementia to stay connected and reduce the loneliness that may be felt after a diagnosis.

"By doing things like going for a walk, attending a football match or joining a local class together, our volunteers support people to take up hobbies and get out and about.

"What they do together is entirely based on what the person with dementia wants."

She added: "Volunteers are crucial to the success of this service. It could range from providing support once a week to once a fortnight, at a time that works for the volunteer and the person with dementia.

"Volunteering also provides a great opportunity to learn new skills, enjoy your hobby with others and enhance your CV, in addition to supporting a person to live more independently."

A survey by the Alzheimer's Society found that 40 per cent of people with dementia in Wales, England and Northern Ireland had felt lonely recently.

And there was strong evidence that life satisfaction in general for older people was positively correlated with levels of activity.

Social activity and support was thought to be directly related to better physical and cognitive function, helping slow down decline.

Side by Side also aims to reach a greater number of people with dementia from groups currently under-represented in the society's services, including those from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds and people with learning disabilities.

All volunteers will receive full training.

For more details, e-mail sidebysideacw@alzheimers.org.uk or call 01274 586008.