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:
Dementia Friends Nigeria recently launched with the help and support of Alzheimer’s Society in the UK. Here Kiki, founder of Dementia Friends Nigeria and Rossetti Care Ltd, tells us more about the impact the programme is having in Nigeria and how Alzheimer’s Society is helping countries around the world to launch Dementia Friends.
She knelt down, sobbing uncontrollably and muttering, “Please, God forgive me! Baba, please forgive me, please help me, I did not know, I did not understand…..”!
A Million Hands, Alzheimer’s Society’s partnership with the Scout Association, launched back in October 2015. Since the launch, Scouts across the country have been choosing dementia as the issue they want to tackle and have been going on to learn more about the condition and the actions they can take to support people living with dementia. One of the ways they have been doing this is by taking part in a Dementia Friends Information Session, run by our volunteer Dementia Friends Champions.
In January, Champion Peter Ley ran a couple of Sessions for Cub Scouts and Explorer Scouts and, in the process, made the 1000th Scout Dementia Friend! We spoke to Peter to find out a bit more about the Sessions:
Paul Myles at On The Radar tells us how they are giving people living with dementia a voice with the Dementia Diaries project.
This wasn’t a typical social media campaign, or a typical advent calendar for that matter. In December 2015 we teamed up with Dementia Friends to bring you Door Into Dementia, a digital advent calendar featuring 24 stories from our Dementia Diaries project. Each day throughout the advent period, we featured stories from our Dementia Diarists who opened a door into their worlds and gave us a unique insight into day-to-day life for people living with the condition.
A group of students from Teesside University in Middlesbrough were inspired to take action to support people living with dementia in the run up to Christmas.
Dementia Friends Champion Jackie Simms ran a Session for a group of students who then decided to plan and host a Christmas party for people affected by dementia in their community. Jackie said it was a ‘fantastic day’ with over 100 people attending:
‘We had a Christmas Buffet, Bingo, a raffle with lots of prizes, entertainment with songs and dance by the students of the university followed by dancing (for those who had their dancing shoes on – which were quite a few). I can only hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did!’
Dementia Friends Champion Gina Awad tells us about the incredible amount of work she has been doing in the past year to make her area more dementia-friendly.
What a difference a year makes !
This time last year I was a Dementia Friends Champion, I still am, although things have progressed beyond belief. I had a vision in November 2014 to create a local Dementia Action Alliance, that vision is now a reality. Over 30 local organisations have committed to an action plan to implement change, support, and generally raise awareness working towards a Dementia Friendly Exeter.
People ask me “how have you achieved what you have?” My response is passion, determination, drive, oh and a dash of persistence, well a little more than a dash maybe!