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:
How did your Sessions with Scouts come about?
The Run Director of our local parkrun agreed to circulate my offer of a Dementia Friends Session to the runners. Hugh, the Treasurer of the 49th Greenwich Scouts, put me in touch with Rachel (cub scouts) and Lucy (explorer scouts).
Why do you think it’s important Scouts get involved with Dementia Friends?
As the video says: they made a promise to help others, now it is time to put that promise into action as part of the Million Hands Initiative.
What was the response like from the Scouts at the Sessions?
Very positive. I left the cubs almost 50 years ago – but they are still a great example of the positive influence young people can have. They were very keen to receive the badges – and wear them. Fionnuala (Hugh’s daughter) was proudly wearing her Dementia Friends badge to school every day and at our latest parkrun.
How does it feel to have made the 1000th Scout Dementia Friend?
Brilliant! I’ve only played a small part in a great success story – there is lots more to come.
Any memorable moments or particularly interesting questions in the Session?
A young cub explained the plot of Still Alice to me in an insightful and sympathetic way. I was very touched by her empathy with Alice. Following feedback I bought a copy of Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams – the group were right, there is lots of good stuff in it about enjoying life with dementia. An explorer scout gave me a quick explanation of how our reflexes work as I am less than an expert. The clinical psychologist in the group was good enough to give me some helpful feedback too.
If you are a Scout leader and would like a Dementia Friends Champion to visit your group to deliver a Dementia Friends Session, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are a Champion and you’re interested in running Sessions for young people, let your RSO know!