Q&A with Age UK Sheffield

In this spotlight on the community, we talk to Elsie from Age UK Sheffield about promoting Sheffield as a 'dementia friendly' city.

Age UK Sheffield are a local charity working in Sheffield to support older people, their families and carers. Their mission is that they want everyone to be able to love later life, offering vital services for older people and their carers.

Elsie Ledger, Community Development Worker at Age UK Sheffield, spoke to us about her role, sharing insight into the valuable work the charity does and how people can get involved.

Please introduce yourself…

My name is Elsie Ledger and I am the Community Development Worker for Age UK Sheffield. I have just had my one-year work anniversary after joining Age UK Sheffield in June 2022! I am 23 years young and moved to Sheffield in 2021 to complete my masters in Psychology, after finishing my undergraduate Medical Science degree at the University of Leeds. Born in Huddersfield, I am a true northerner and I have been thoroughly enjoying getting to know the beautiful city that is Sheffield. I am passionate about supporting older people to live independently, and to assist those living with dementia to have a fulfilled life. 

Can you talk us through your career to date?

I have never really known what I wanted to do. I think there is too much choice! I completed my undergraduate degree in Medical Science, with a keen interest neuroscience and psychology. I recently graduated from my masters in Psychology and landed my first ‘proper’ job working for Age UK Sheffield – and I couldn’t be more grateful.

My primary role is to run our Rosemary Cafés in Dore and Bents Green, but I am involved in a large variety of our dementia services. I am lucky to have a lot of variety in my work. I get to work in our wellbeing centres, help with our dementia advice Sheffield team (and they help me!), co-ordinate activities on the ward at the northern general, and so much more.

What/Who is your biggest motivator for work?

My biggest motivator for work is getting to know so many different people, and seeing the difference that Age UK Sheffield makes. My role is endlessly rewarding and I look forward to every single day at work. 

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

This is a tough one! I would have to say the most rewarding part of my job is seeing people having a good time. Twice a year we run a Big Band event at Bents Green, there is music and food, and seeing so many of our customers up dancing and it is so incredible knowing I have been able to put on an event to create such special moments for people living with dementia and their family to enjoy. 

Talk us through SDAA and why would you encourage people to get involved?

A project I have recently started working on is the Sheffield Dementia Action Alliance (SDAA). The SDAAis an alliance of organisations/individuals working to make Sheffield a truly dementia-friendly city. We work with all kinds of people – everybody is able to make a difference. Small changes can have a large impact on a person’s experience; images on signage to help somebody find the toilet, having staff trained on supporting somebody living with dementia. It all makes a difference.

I love chatting with the alliance members at our workshops; it is a great community of passionate people who are all working to make a difference in Sheffield. Being part of the SDAA is so rewarding – you know the impact you are having and you have that support system around you. The SDAA also offers individual memberships so anyone can join. We ask individuals to support the SDAA by actively reviewing organisations, encouraging local businesses to sign up to the alliance and encouraging your own workplace to be dementia-friendly. If you would like to join please have a look at the Age UK Sheffield website or send an email to[email protected].

If you or somebody you know is living with dementia, get in touch with Age UK Sheffield or Home Instead. There is so much support out there, the hard part is finding it!