Glasgow & West Scotland

Govan dementia language project launched

Jumbled words Image copyright Thinkstock

A new scheme is being launched which helps elderly and vulnerable adults battle dementia by learning foreign languages.

Lingo Flamingo was founded by Robbie Norval who was inspired by his grandmother, who had dementia.

Research has indicated that speaking several languages can delay the onset of dementia, as well as other forms of brain ageing and mental illness.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is due to help launch the project.

Lingo Flamingo, which is based in Govan in Glasgow and was set up with the help of the Jobs & Business Glasgow Social Enterprise team, provides tailored lesson plans and interactive workshops to improve memory.

Sense of worth

The launch event marks the recruitment of the first team of tutors, who will cover the west of Scotland.

Lingo Flamingo plans to expand its work to cover the whole of Scotland, with tutors based in Dundee, Edinburgh, Stirling and Ayr.

Mr Norval said: "A range of therapies to help tackle dementia currently exists but Lingo Flamingo is the first enterprise in the country to focus on foreign languages.

Image caption Robbie Norval founded Lingo Flamingo after seeing how dementia affected his grandmother

"As well as the potential mental health benefits, our workshops will help reduce isolation among older people and provide a renewed sense of worth for the country's ageing population.

"Most of all, it gives vulnerable people in our community a safe haven where they can feel welcome, enjoy themselves and learn a new skill all at the same time."

According to the World Health Organisation, dementia affects an estimated 47.5 million people worldwide.

Charlotte Smith, of Glasgow-based mental health charity Flourish House, said the work of Lingo Flamingo had already benefited its members.

She said: "Since taking the workshops, participants have been surprised by their memory retention, because they can still remember sayings and phrases.

"Overall, I can see it's had a positive effect because it's given them confidence to engage in more activities and they are more open minded about approaching new ideas.

"The tutors are really supportive of everyone in the class and workshops are shaped around the needs and requests of the participants."

Lingo Flamingo is one of more than 200 social enterprises across the city supported by charity Jobs & Business Glasgow which provides employment and training opportunities.

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