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”.

Alan Richardson

After being a carer for his late mother who had dementia, Alan took the step of becoming a Dementia Friends Champion in August 2014 and hasn’t looked back.

As well as regularly running Information Sessions (495 Friends so far and counting!), Alan is a respected voice in the Dementia Friends Champions community. As Alan’s Regional Support Officer Aimee says:

‘Alan goes above and beyond his Champions role, gets involved in every aspect of the programme, and is a great example to other Champions. He is one of our hardest working Champions, and loves being part of the programme.’

As a member of both the Regional and National Champions forums, he encourages and inspires other Champions and feeds in lots of ideas on how the programme can develop and improve. Alan has even represented Dementia Friends at an evening reception at 10 Downing Street!

Chris Riley

Chris has been committed to reaching out to the Northallerton area and beyond with a determination to make the area more dementia-friendly.

He has inspired a whole range of people – from children right through to those who are retired. He has achieved this through a variety of locations including the WI, banks, supermarkets, social housing providers, District/County Councils, Scouting groups, health settings, community forums and the Freemasons.

Chris’s work has had a clear and real impact leading to identifiable actions being taken as a result of his work. In addition to inspiring the local library service to include dementia awareness in all staff training, his work has also led to the local District Council putting in policy changes to take into account people with dementia.

With over 1800 Dementia Friends made, Chris has used his personal experience, energy and infectious enthusiasm to help everyone with whom he comes into contact to realise that no matter who they are or what their role is, there is something they can do to help people with dementia and their carers.

Read more about other Dementia Friendly Awards nominees.

The Dementia Friendly Awards 2016 take place on 30 November 2016 at Church House, London.

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