DEMENTIA-friendly swimming sessions have been welcomed at the West Craven Sports Centre in Barnoldswick.

The joint initiative between Pendle Leisure Trust and Dementia Positive Pendle aims to help people living with dementia continue to do things they enjoy.

Special clear and simple signage has also been introduced to help visitors find their way around the facility easily.

Julia O’Neill, Pendleside Hospice’s day services and outpatients manager and member of Dementia Positive Pendle, said: “We know people living with dementia start to disengage with the outside world and doing something they have always enjoyed becomes a lot harder.”

She added: “We do not want to isolate these people, we want to offer some therapeutic respite and West Craven Sports Centre is the perfect environment, so when they get in the water they remember how they used to enjoy swimming.”

Stuart Cracknell, from Skipton, tried out the new swimming session – and thoroughly enjoyed himself. He said: “I really enjoyed it – I feel really refreshed and relaxed now – I will definitely come again.”

The 59-year-old was diagnosed with dementia six years ago. When he was working, he swam a mile a day, three days a week; but has not swum for seven years.

He added: “The café, which I helped to set up, is also a great way to meet other people living with dementia and their carers, to exchange experiences, information and generally chat with like-minded people.”

West Craven Sports Centre manager, Sam Bowden, added: “We have had a fantastic response to these sessions – and the idea behind them – so we are now looking at introducing other sporting activities to enable people who are affected to lead a fuller life and at the same time look after their health and well-being.”

The swimming sessions are held every Tuesday between 11.30am and 12.30pm. The dementia coffee morning is on every Tuesday between 11am and 12.30pm, which gives anyone living with dementia - and their carers - the opportunity to meet for a chat and a cuppa.