Category Archives: Inspiring Stories

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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Exeter City FC supporting people affected by dementia

 

As part of Exeter City Football Club’s commitment to the Exeter Dementia Action Alliance (EDAA) the One Game One Community match event was held at St James Park. The event enabled over 40 people living with dementia and their families to enjoy complimentary tickets to the Exeter v Luton Town game.

Gina Awad who leads EDAA delivered two Dementia Friends sessions to staff at the Club, one in the Soring and the second as part of #TeamDementiaFriends campaign. The Club were inspired to go the extra mile recognising the need for further dementia awareness in the community.

A summary of the event included; all the players sporting t-shirts for their warm up illustrating “working towards a dementia friendly city’, EDAA had a stand in Red Square raising awareness, use of the community Hospitality box for specially invited guests, a feature in the programme and a bucket collection.

In addition at half time Exeter City Council officially joined as the latest members of the alliance, honouring their commitment and action towards a dementia friendly city.

One attendee bought her 90 year old father to the match and encapsulated her feelings, she said

“It was such a lovely day yesterday. My father cannot remember how long it is since he last saw a football match, but he thinks it is at least 60 years. It is the only time my father and my son have had ‘man time’ together as well. For me, the day is a memory that I will always want to retain, along with the photos and the Exeter City FC hat I bought my father. He simply loved it every moment of the day, the hot dog, the hot chocolate, the game and spending time with family. My son, the football fan, is now trying to get the rest of the family along to a game to enjoy the atmosphere, so maybe Exeter City FC will have some new fans as well. Thank you for making a magical day for us all”.

Gina said “we have received some truly heartfelt responses as a result of the event and this illustrates how meaningful our work really is for people living with dementia in the community and their families. What was wonderful to see was the uptake from local care homes and their residents a focus that felt important to pursue”.

All that was needed for a perfect end to the day was a goal from Exeter City but it wasn’t meant to be!

Dementia Friendly Awards 2016: Meet the finalists for Dementia Friends Champion of the Year

This award celebrates the action taken by Dementia Friends Champions to raise awareness, challenge misconceptions and inspire change through running Information Sessions.

The nominations for this award demonstrated the passion and motivation of Dementia Friends Champions across England and Wales. Champions are not only running Information Sessions and helping others to learn more about dementia; they are then going on to inspire change in all areas of their communities. Here are the three finalists:

Gina Awad

Gina’s work in the Exeter area to help support and empower people affected by dementia has had a real impact on the community. Since becoming a Champion back in 2014, Gina has reached over 1200 Dementia friends by delivering nearly 100 Sessions, both public and private.

Gina’s passionate style has inspired a cross section of organisations to not only hold Dementia Friends Sessions but to go on and take further actions that are making a big difference for those affected by dementia.  For example, Gina has formed and developed partnerships with the local football club, cinema and a number of GP health centres in addition to many others. The results have seen dementia friendly cinema screenings, signage adjustments and a dementia awareness day booked for later this year at Exeter City Football Club.

Gina believes the Dementia Friends initiative has been the fundamental resource in creating local changes and inspiring so many in Exeter.

As one carer said to Gina:

“You are a true advocate for people living with dementia and their families. Thank you for all your work to improve matters for us”.

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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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A story of being a Dementia Friend

I was travelling to Nantwich (Wrenbury) with a group of friends for a boating holiday when I was flagged down by an older lady carrying her small dog, she was distressed…

Cadet Leader Jay Vernon recently became a Dementia Friend at a Session delivered by Champion Steve Bousfield. It didn’t take long for Jay to put his new understanding into practice. Dementia Friend

Here’s Jay’s story…

Understanding what is a Dementia Friend

 

A story: The first good weekend in a long time

Dementia Friends Champion Kayleigh Beresford shared this great story about the impact her Dementia Friends Session had on someone whose family is directly affected by dementia. She talks about how her new Dementia Friend was able to make living well with dementia a possibility for his mother.

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Dementia Friends goes global – having an impact in Nigeria

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…..”!

That was a month ago, and this is her story:

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Amplifying the voices of people with dementia

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.

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