“The whole day was very enjoyable but the most enjoyable moment was listening to Alan Mills. Totally inspirational and underlines why we Dementia Friends Champions are so committed to do everything we can to eradicate the stigma of dementia.” – Vivienne Edgar
Champions from all over the country gathered to be United against Dementia at our very first Champion Conferences. Across both events over 150 enthusiastic volunteers attended workshops to enhance skills and to hear more about the future for Dementia Friends and Alzheimer’s Society. We find out how Dementia Friends Champions are dedicating their time to creating more dementia-friendly communities.
A summary of the day’s events included key presentations on ending isolation through the Side by Side service, reaching different audiences, making businesses more dementia-friendly and exploring fundraising ideas as a volunteer. Workshops were split between an inspirational talk from Alan Mills, who is living with dementia, and presentations discussing Alzheimer’s Society new brand.
Vivienne Edgar, Dementia Friend Champion, provides us with great insight into how she has used her newly gained knowledge on reaching business audiences to engage with local supermarkets:
“As a result of the Business Audience Focus workshop I made an appointment to meet the manager of my local Co-op this morning and he has agreed for us to do a running programme of Sessions for his 75 staff members in their working time, which is fab. He is going to contact other local Co-op managers to see if we can all work together. The business focus workshop gave me the courage to take that direct step.”
Vivienne’s bold and empowering decision to connect with local businesses helps all of us take that one step closer to making communities more dementia-friendly. Similarly, Dementia Friend Champion Alan Richardson has perfectly demonstrated how by sharing each other’s experiences we can inspire action:
“Following the conference I have already engaged with a local shopping centre and arranged a meeting. I have been running evening Sessions once a week for 12 weeks at a GP practise. Some of us have been able to engage with different areas of health and social care including GP Practices – others have not been able to make the same inroads. Being able to share how this has been done can hopefully help others.”
As we all continue to create more Dementia Friends it is important that we continue to understand how Dementia Friends and Alzheimer’s Society are working together. Both conferences provided the perfect opportunity to communicate across how both Dementia Friends and Dementia Friends Champions are an integral part in helping us transform the landscape of dementia forever. Dementia Friend Champion Wendy Ferguson describes just how important this is:
“It was good to feel a part of the Dementia Friends movement and hear more about the Alzheimer’s Society. I was encouraged to hear about some of the strands of work the society is involved with nationally.”
We all find ways of engaging with our communities and it is dependent upon on what works well for your community. It is important that we continue to be United against Dementia. It is fair to say our first conferences were a success!