What’s it like to be a member of the Champions forum?

The Champions forum is an opportunity for a group of Dementia Friends Champions to work together and with the Dementia Friends team throughout the year to share their feedback on the programme and to help us develop the resources and support you need to run your Information Sessions.

Here two of our forum members tell us what it’s been like for them to be on the Champions forum:

Michelle Kipling is a member of the North West Champions forum and recently attended the forum meeting in Leeds:

Just spent a productive afternoon as part of the NW Champions Forum.  While we were a small group today that didn’t stop us from generating some good ideas and providing feedback to Charlotte on the issues currently facing the initiative. Of great excitement was the sharing of the new brand for the Alzheimer’s Society and what this might look like for Dementia Friends. There was a good consensus in the group on the options available so it will be interesting to learn of the final decision. Other items on the agenda were about potential advantages in technology to allow Champions to learn about their areas and the launch of the Champion Exchange on the website. It was another great opportunity to feedback what might be useful to Champions on this platform. A lot of discussion took place around how Champions need better links with each other and the sharing of local knowledge would be key, especially for those that are just starting out. So the Exchange will hopefully support some of the ideas we provided.  And we all learnt something when Dementia Connect was highlighted as an excellent resource. Well worth looking into!

Alan Richardson is a member of the South and Champions Champions forum and attended the most recent South meeting in January/l

I first made the decision to become a Dementia Friends Champion and undergo the Champions induction in August 2014. Being a former carer for my late mother who had dementia – I saw it as a way of giving back for the support and advice that we had received. If anyone had said to me that just over a year later the opportunity would arise to be part of a Regional and National Champions Forum I would have expressed surprise. But this is exactly what has happened to me, and what an experience this has been from the start.  I have become one of the Members of the Southern Champions Forum, and we have met five times now. Many of us strangers to one another at the first meeting, but how quickly we have became friends.  Right from the start we have been involved in discussing developments for Dementia Friends and have also been able to share our thoughts on how the programme could look in the future. These Regional Forums also show a really good way of involving Champions, able to share our experiences of what has worked in our communities and how different they can be. They are also an excellent way of showing the appreciation of all the efforts that Friends make. I feel privileged to be part of this example of real partnership working, and to have the opportunity to share my  thoughts with you.

There are spaces currently available in many of the regional Champions forums. Interested? Email your Dementia Friends Office for details or email the team at dementiafriends@alzheimers.org.uk with the subject line ‘Champions forum’.

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