On Saturday 29th July 2017, we held a Fashion Show Fundraiser for Julia’s House Children’s Hospice at Fairmile Grange.
The idea of doing a fashion show came from some of our residents’ interest in fashion. Indeed, I had noticed along the year that many people living at Fairmile, men and women included, loved to talk about what they were wearing and trying on new clothes or accessories. The suggestion of hosting a fashion show was received with enthusiasm from many residents, some of whom were very excited to be models for a day.
Together with the Home Manager, we thought that it could be a good idea to use this opportunity to fundraise for a charity. The apparent choice could have been to do it for the Alzheimer’s Society, but we quickly realised that this idea was distressing to most residents, as it reminded them of their own illness. Instead, we decided to ask the residents their opinion on the cause they would like to fundraise for and suggested several charities.
At the time, we had just ended a 3 months project with the Beavers of Hurn, and our residents love for children was more than obvious, so one of the suggestions was to help a charity working with children and young people. It did not take long for a consensus to be reached and for Julia’s House, a local hospice for children with life-limiting conditions, to be picked.
The response of Julia’s house was fantastic, and they fully supported the initiative, lending us vintage clothes and accessories from their shops for our residents to model and for us to sell during the event.
On the day of the event, the residents were invited to help the team set up the space and to give their advice and opinions on how the set should look. Some of them were very keen to get involved, telling us where the balloons and red carpet should go, or how the clothes should be presented. I think it was crucial for the residents to be part of this process and to have ownership of the space in which they live in and the way they would like to receive guests.
The excitement of the preparation extended to the event itself as our guests arrived. Guests, staff and residents were able to visit and buy from our vintage pop up shop, as well as getting their nails done professionally. Afternoon tea was also served while a cabaret singer was performing some our resident’s favorite tunes.
During this time our models were getting prepared, choosing the pieces of clothing and accessories they wished to model in. After much anticipation, our models entered the stage and walked on the red carpet accompanied by their carer. It was beautiful to see how both staff and resident ‘performed’ and were having fun together, teasing and encouraging each other.
The feedback we gathered before, during, and after the event from residents, care staff and family members highlighted the pride that people with dementia had in walking on the red carpet while everyone applauded them, but also their satisfaction in helping ill children and raising money for Julia’s House.
To quote the Alzheimer’s Society, this reminds us once again that ‘there is more to a person than dementia’ and of the active contribution of people with dementia can make to society.