Category Archives: Why A Champion

Our Very First Dementia Friends Champion Conferences

“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!

 

Encouraging healthcare students to engage with dementia

‘It’s good for students to start with a community perspective as most people with health conditions are community based’ – Professor Lesley Baillie, Dementia Friends Champion

Healthcare professionals at universities across England and Wales are encouraging their students to become Dementia Friends as part of their studies. We chat to the Dementia Friends Champions who are delivering the Sessions, to find out what kind of impact they are having.

Dementia Friends for healthcare professionals

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‘The unexpected outcome of working on dementia with my Scouts’

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.

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Q&A with Iain Wade, Dementia Friends Champion at RBS

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.

Iain Wade Dementia Friends Champion Session RBS

Iain Wade Dementia Friends Champion Session RBS

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.

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Phil from ‘The Island’ tells us why he volunteers as a Dementia Friends Champion

I decided to become a Dementia Friends Champion because my mother died while dealing with dementia, and I feel all of my family would have had more comfortable lives if I had known then what I know now.

Champions deliver Sessions to the public, how did your first one go?

My very first session went very well. I gave it to 50 people I had never met before and the groups feedback was very positive. My biggest challenge was my lack of experience, but by following the Session plan given to me at the training day, I got through it successfully. The only unexpected moment was when the organiser ran over and the presentation time was cut by 10 minutes.

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Q&A with Anne Devrell, Dementia Friends Champion

Anne Devrell is a Dementia Friends Champion who frequently carries out Information Sessions. Below she talks about her experiences as a Champion, and offers advice to others in a similar position – working hard give people an increased understanding of dementia.

How did you get into being a Dementia Friends Champion? What inspired you to do so?

Having been a carer for my Mum I wanted to find some way of helping others avoid the lack of information, understanding and support that we had experienced. While surfing the internet I stumbled upon the Dementia Friends site where I found the details of local Information Sessions.

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Why I volunteer for Dementia Friends

Zahra - Dementia Friend VolunteerI had been volunteering for Alzheimer’s Society – working on Dementia Action Alliance’s website – for a while, when a new volunteering position with Dementia Friends came up. This was an initiative I had heard about and after talking with the Marketing Manager I realised what important work Dementia Friends does and I wanted to be part of it!

My involvement began when I started with the team as the Marketing and Communications volunteer. I attended Dementia Friends Champions training and was highly motivated to run Information Sessions. It was a while before I ran my first Session, and that was just for family to practice my presentation skills! The Session went well and we all ended up talking about Dementia Friends and dementia for about two hours and I was given great (maybe somewhat biased) feedback by my family on my presentation skills.

I have gone on to run more Sessions (see picture to the left) and I find I thoroughly enjoy talking to people about a topic that I think is very important, and it will affect all of us at some point. 40% of people living with dementia have reported feeling lonely, so by making our communities more dementia friendly, hopefully we can lower these numbers and help people to live longer in their own homes.

My work in the office has been around communicating with the many supporters of Dementia Friends. Whether that’s through our newsletters (if you’re not subscribed, sign up on our website now for great updates about Dementia Friends!), Facebook, Twitter or this wonderful blog.

Lots of exciting things have been happening in the world of Dementia Friends lately, one of the most recent is the launch of brand new t-shirts, mugs and tote bags. I’ve had the privilege of being involved with the launch of these products and every time I leave the house, I find myself scanning the crowd to spot one of our t-shirts or bags!

So, why DO I volunteer with Dementia Friends…

Dementia Friends is about raising awareness about dementia. The part that I think is great is that you don’t have to be a healthcare professional, or even have a personal experience of dementia to understand the message and the knowledge imparted to you in one of the Dementia Friends Information Sessions. It’s about reaching as many people as possible, so they know a little bit more about the condition and small things that anyone can do to help people affected by dementia. Like I said earlier, at some point in all our lives we will most likely be directly or indirectly affected by dementia, and knowing about it can remove some of the stigma and fear that often accompanies the word ‘dementia’.

So visit our website, get involved and spread the word about this important cause.

Zahra
Marketing and Communications volunteer – Dementia Friends, Dementia Friends Champion