UK Meeting Centres Support Programme – National Reference Group Meeting

Thankfully the flood levels in Worcester subsided enough for us to go ahead with the latest meeting of the National Reference Group for our UK Meeting Centres Support Programme (MCSP). So, on a crisp autumn morning around 20 hardy souls gathered at The Hive for a productive day of discussions.

Following a warm welcome from Professor Dawn Brooker, Dr Shirley Evans gave an update of the project so far, highlighting progress against the project targets and the level of interest in setting up new Meeting Centres throughout the UK. It’s all looking quite promising in terms of the numbers and spread across the country. Hopefully we’ll have some new Meeting Centres joining our existing network in the near future.

Slide showing list of potential Meeting Centre locations

Our training offer has also progressed well, with a two-day programme having been developed for frontline staff and volunteers, covering the Meeting Centre ethos, essential features of a Meeting Centre, the adjusting to change model, and the physical, social and psychological effect of movement on individuals. Some training dates have been fixed for delivering courses here at Worcester, so if you are interested please contact

We then had a really useful update from several existing Meeting centres to find out what they have been up to:

We also heard from Ruth Eley who is part of a group considering developing a Meeting Centre in Liverpool, and her experience of starting the process and learning from others.

Inevitably, funding and financial sustainability arose as challenges faced by everyone, with lots of ideas being shared amongst the group – some of which will be incorporated into the Meeting Centre Guidebook. It was recognised that charges for attending a Meeting Centre will vary and cannot be agreed centrally as they depend on what works for the local community being served by each Meeting Centre.

At the risk of opening a can of worms, the feedback session was followed by discussion around our booklet defining the essential features of a Meeting Centre. Providing clarity on these features has been an ongoing process for the National Reference Group during the first year of the project, but (fingers crossed and pending a few final tweaks) it will be signed off within the next 24 hours.

Image showing the Guidebook and Booklet of essential features

This was followed by a related discussion about how to protect the UK MCSP ‘brand’ to make sure that groups calling themselves Meeting Centres actually meet the essential features. Again, lots of good ideas were raised on different ways forward.

The post-lunch session began by discussion two conferences that are planned to be delivered during the project in 2020 and 2021. Ideas around who, what, when, where and how were batted back and forth, with a few plans coming together. Watch this space for more info!

Following this, Jennifer Bray presented on the data collection and evaluation aspect of the UK MCSP, proposing what data would be useful for Meeting Centres to capture for their own benefit, and what is necessary from a project evaluation perspective. Adding to the existing evidence base is key to demonstrating the impact of Meeting Centres.

The final discussion of the day way fairly heavy, considering policies, safeguarding and DBS (disclosure and barring service) checks. Lots of useful contacts and signposting information was shared and will be added into the Guidebook as a result!

The diversity and enthusiasm on display during the day and the information shared between attendees was fantastic to see. Thank you to everyone involved.

Connect with ADS on twitter @DementiaStudies and on Facebook @adsuow

2 thoughts on “UK Meeting Centres Support Programme – National Reference Group Meeting

    1. Hi Gabby, thanks for your interest. The essential features booklet isn’t available yet as it’s still being finalised/signed off, but if you email with your details we can arrange to send you a guidebook in the post and let you know when the other booklet is available. I’m afraid the reference group was established at the start of the project so it’s not really open to new members now, but it does have good representation from many areas and organisations.
      Kind regards,
      Jen (on behalf of the ADS team)


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