New service in Retford will transport visitors back in time

A year after buying a building in Retford a new support centre for people living with dementia, anxiety, depression and mental illness is now up and running.

The Time Machine, Bassetlawâ¬"s first activity centre for elderly people opened in Retford, pictured includes Pam Bates, Jeanette Needham, Lynda Atkinson and Sally Brand
The Time Machine, Bassetlawâ¬"s first activity centre for elderly people opened in Retford, pictured includes Pam Bates, Jeanette Needham, Lynda Atkinson and Sally Brand

The Time Machine can be found at the old Churchgate Surgery and St Johns Ambulance building, opposite the Cannon in Retford.

Sally Brand, who has helped set up The Time Machine, said: “I have spent years as a trained nurse caring for people living with dementia, frailty and mental health challenges, so I decided to create a new kind of service designed to encourage cross-generational interaction and mutual support.

“In June 2017 we bought the building opposite the Cannon in Retford and since then have been lovingly transforming it into a unique and specialist activity, education and family support centre.

“Our family share a love of history and all things science fiction and so when we first looked around the building and found it to be genuinely bigger on the inside, it seemed only natural to call it The Time Machine.

“We have been surprised and delighted by the response and encouragement from the people of Retford and the patience of our neighbours has been remarkable.

“We have created a variety of activity rooms all dedicated to a different period in history; such as medieval dining, a 1940s drop-in centre, 1950s Hollywood Glamour, 1960s activity kitchen and a 1970s disco all on the ground floor with other rooms still under creation.”

The Time Machine will be running dementia friendly memory enhancing sessions and visitors will be free to wander about the unit which is secure and join in whatever activities they like.

Sally said: “We also particularly want to support those people who are lonely, elderly, anyone living with life shortening illnesses or mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression and learning difficulties.

“We offer a wide range of services and classes designed to exercise mind and body, facilitate life long learning as well as put a twinkle back into the eyes of those requiring assistance and their carers who need some looking after themselves sometimes.

“Our philosophy is that if we enjoy it then chances are, you will love it too.”

Some of the activities include art, craft, pottery, singing, makaton signing, chair based exercises and dance expression, language and music lessons, gardening, cooking and baking, flower arranging, pool, miniature railway, drama and animation as well as a range of back to school lessons including history.

Sally said: “Our hope is to provide something for everyone, regardless of age or ability. We are planning inter generational activities as, so often these days, extended families are scattered over large distances which can lead to isolation and terrible loneliness for those who are housebound, for whatever reason, whether young or older.”

In addition to the Activity Centre, The Time Machine will be providing family support services such as home and hospital visiting, grave tending, personal assistant vetting and training services, work experience and carer training as well as rolling out activity and education programmes to those living at home as well as in retirement and care homes.

Sally said: “We can offer assistance to source a care home placement and help you understand what the ratings mean and what to look out for and questions to ask.

“We are running support groups for family carers, people experiencing mental health challenges, LGBTQ social and support groups, health care worker stress busters and are happy to facilitate other groups as requested.

“We also offer private hire of our delightful Jane Austen Room for family gatherings, meetings and training sessions.

“And we are actively encouraging more applications from volunteers who have suffered/are suffering with anxiety/depression with a view to getting them back into work eventually.

“And we are planning a variety of informative talks and workshops for everyone to enjoy and we invite and welcome suggestions and requests for additional activities and events.

“Everyone has worked so hard and enthusiastically to create a fun, stimulating and diverse environment.”

For more information about The Time Machine and the services it offers visit