The UK’s first dementia-friendly community rail line has been launched near Leeds in a bid to raise awareness and support those who travel and live with dementia.
Led by the Leeds-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership, the ‘Bentham Line’ was inaugurated last week. Representatives from the Northern franchise, the Department for Transport and Transport for the North got on board the new train, together with a group of passengers living with dementia and their supporters.
The Community Rail Partnership has also announced plans to organise a series of dementia awareness sessions for frontline staff working at the Bentham railway route later this year.
The Association of Community Rail Partnerships CEO Jools Townsend said: “We feel very proud to be supporting this crucial project, which is already making such a difference to people’s lives.
“We, and our members across Britain, feel passionately that our railways should be accessible and welcoming to all, and that everyone should be able to benefit from our railways – and this project is taking important steps to ensure that’s the case among people living with dementia.”
The community partnership will soon start hosting groups of people affected by dementia in the regions served by the Bentham Line. It intends to extend the project to the UK’s southern areas in September.
Townsend added: “Railways are often the lifeblood of communities, providing access to all sorts of opportunities, and connections with other people and places, and that should not stop if you are affected by dementia personally or within your family.
“The Bentham Line is demonstrating exactly what community rail is all about – reaching out to local people, drawing on their perspectives, and helping to ensure their needs are understood and met at stations and through train travel. “It’s an exemplary project, and the first of its kind, and we will be working to encourage other community rail partnerships and groups across the country to consider adapting it for their areas.”