Guest blog: Champion Annette Hallas on her Sessions for young people

Dementia Friends Champion Annette Hallas tells us about the impact her Dementia Friends Sessions have had on students at a local school.

‘I attended a Dementia Friends Information Session as part of my induction into the Elderly Care Helpline at Bupa in December 2013, so that we could have a greater understanding and provide greater help to our enquirers. I was then supported through Bupa to become a Dementia Friends Champion and carry out regular Information Sessions to both new and existing employees. Bupa has pledged to ensure that every one of our 32,000 employees has the opportunity to become a Dementia Friend.

‘I carried out an Information Session at my son’s primary school for years 5 and 6, and their response really amazed me. At the start of the Session I asked if they knew of anybody who was living with dementia and it surprised me how many of the children put their hands up.

‘By helping children to understand how we can support people who are living with dementia we can remove the fear and stigma. They are so open and accepting of things that it is at this level we can truly make our societies more dementia-friendly.’

‘My manager, Sheryl Rylance, approached Alder Grange Community and Technology School in Lancashire, with the proposition of the Information Sessions and they were very enthusiastic and supportive. The students on the day were really excited to be involved, and very interested in the Sessions, they were keen to join in, with plenty of volunteers for the activities and the day was made all the more exciting for them with the presence of local TV and newspaper!

‘At the end of the Sessions, the students pledged some brilliant actions, including:

  • Help my mum make memory boxes to help people with dementia
  • Encourage my family to understand dementia
  • Be kind and treat them the same as others so they don’t be sad and unhappy
  • Go to my grandma’s care home because she has dementia
  • Visit my great grandma more often and spread the word of dementia and how to help

‘If you are thinking about becoming a Dementia Friend, or a Dementia Friends Champion, my advice would be to go for it!’

‘For the Alder Grange session we had three Dementia Friends Champions and three facilitators in attendance. It really helped me, as a Dementia Friend Champion, to have support and help on the day, and our interaction made it a much more enjoyable Session for the students. It was a busy and intense day but worth every second of the planning and work that went into it.

‘There were so many amazing memories from the day, from the interaction of the students, to seeing the staff being affected by what we were saying, through to seeing the actions pledged by the students. The feedback we received from the school in the days following the sessions reaffirmed that we had made a huge difference as to how the students felt about dementia and that the Rossendale community as a whole would now be a more dementia-friendly place.’

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