This award celebrates the action taken by Dementia Friends Champions to raise awareness, challenge misconceptions and inspire change through running Information Sessions.
The nominations for this award demonstrated the passion and motivation of Dementia Friends Champions across England and Wales. Champions are not only running Information Sessions and helping others to learn more about dementia; they are then going on to inspire change in all areas of their communities. Here are the three finalists:
Gina’s work in the Exeter area to help support and empower people affected by dementia has had a real impact on the community. Since becoming a Champion back in 2014, Gina has reached over 1200 Dementia friends by delivering nearly 100 Sessions, both public and private.
Gina’s passionate style has inspired a cross section of organisations to not only hold Dementia Friends Sessions but to go on and take further actions that are making a big difference for those affected by dementia. For example, Gina has formed and developed partnerships with the local football club, cinema and a number of GP health centres in addition to many others. The results have seen dementia friendly cinema screenings, signage adjustments and a dementia awareness day booked for later this year at Exeter City Football Club.
Gina believes the Dementia Friends initiative has been the fundamental resource in creating local changes and inspiring so many in Exeter.
As one carer said to Gina:
“You are a true advocate for people living with dementia and their families. Thank you for all your work to improve matters for us”.
Dementia Friends Champion Fiona Joines saw the parallels between the aims of Dementia Friends and Girlguiding and set about getting her guiding colleagues on board with the initiative.
‘I have been aware of dementia for some time and was particularly fascinated and saddened by Terry Pratchett’s journey that he so eloquently shared with the world via his documentaries ‘Choosing to Die’ and ‘Living with Alzheimer’s’; both of these gave me a little insight and inspired me to do something. We are all likely to be impacted by Dementia in our life and so, I feel we have a responsibility to learn a little about it. That’s where Dementia Friends came in. It made sense to me that people needed to be able to talk about dementia and to feel comfortable doing so and I knew with the facilitator skills I have, I could help people to do this.
Carole Dudley, Scout leader of the Blacklands Scouts, Malling District, tells us how getting her Scout group involved with the A Million Hands project and focussing on dementia had a real impact on her own life and career:
‘As a Scout leader with the Blacklands Scouts in East Malling, I was really excited to get my group started with the A Million Hands partnership. So we took our group camping at Morfa Bay in Wales and showed the Scouts videos for each of the different issues they could choose to focus on. After some discussion, they settled on dementia as their chosen issue.
Dementia Friends Champion Kayleigh Beresford shared this great story about the impact her Dementia Friends Session had on someone whose family is directly affected by dementia. She talks about how her new Dementia Friend was able to make living well with dementia a possibility for his mother.
Dementia Awareness Week 2016 is done and what a week it was! Dementia Friends Champions across the country were running thousands of Information Sessions, organisations were encouraging their staff to get involved and thousands of people across different communities were becoming Dementia Friends and turning their understanding into action.
A guest blog from Philippa Tree – Senior International Officer
On the 21-24 April 2016, Alzheimer’s Disease International (an international federation of Alzheimer associations) held a conference in Budapest which brought together Alzheimer Associations, people living with dementia, researchers and many more people from across the world.
I was fortunate to attend this conference and to begin sharing Dementia Friends learning and best practices with countries worldwide. Continue reading →
What inspired you to become a Dementia Friends Champion?
I signed up to become a Champion the week my Gran passed away, who had dementia. I realised after attending an Information Session how little I had known about it. With both the parents of my best friend also very suddenly developing dementia at about the same time, I felt compelled to do something, and spread the word on how with the right level of support and understanding, it is possible to live well with dementia.
It has also helped me with my day job, as I work in a Learning & Development team at RBS. I help design and develop, learning which equips staff with the skills and knowledge, to enhance the overall experience of our Customers in Vulnerable Situations.
For some Champions, language is not a barrier when it comes to running Sessions. Catherine Lewis-Dobson recently ran two Sessions at the request of the Hyde Community Action, for Bengali speaking women. Given that she does not know Bengali, and the attendees spoke little English, she used the services of a Community Worker who had attended one of her English Sessions to be an interpreter. Cathy tells us more about how the it worked and gives some tips for other Champions: