Author Archives: Dementia Friends

Ask your DFO – What is National Inclusion Week and how can i get involved?


Ask your DFO

Question: What is National Inclusion Week and how can I get involved?

Answer: National Inclusion Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of the importance of inclusion in all activities and projects.

Inclusion is about making sure that people feel valued, respected, listened to and able to challenge. It’s about recognising and valuing the differences we each bring and creating an environment where everyone has equal access to opportunities and resources and can contribute.

You can help make Dementia Friends as inclusive as possible by running an information session using the BAME, learning disability or children’s resources that can be found on your Champions dashboard. Your DFO will be able to help you if you have any questions about these resources. If you think there is an area of work or group that the Dementia Friends team should be working with then please get in touch with your DFO.

Don’t forget to take photos of any session and use the hashtags #DementiaFriends and #NIW2017 


How people living with dementia and children have helped to create the first global youth animation

At Alzheimer’s Society we believe in working with other national Alzheimer’s Associations and global partners to collaborate and share learning towards the global dementia challenge.

In doing so we must regularly ask ourselves, how can we make our resources more universally applicable and culturally appropriate? How can we make a difference to people living with dementia globally? And of course, how can we learn from this and improve our efforts nationally?

We have been asking these questions daily during the development of our new global youth animation. Luckily, we have gained a lot of insight from people living with dementia, young children and Alzheimer Associations from different countries.

Why educate young people in dementia?

Nearly a third of young people in the UK know someone with dementia. As the population ages and the number of people living with dementia increases, more and more young people are likely to be affected through family and friends. It is universally recognised that by educating people about dementia we can help reduce stigma and increase understanding. If we start this education with children, we can help to create a dementia-friendly generation; a generation of young people who are not afraid to speak about dementia, who understand how they can help and make people affected by dementia feel involved in their communities.

Alzheimer’s Society has already made great strides in creating dementia resources for children such as adapting our Dementia Friends programme and creating dementia resources for schools.

However there is still a lot more to be done. How can we create a resource which can help raise understanding of dementia globally?

Why a global animation?

To kick start this project, we held a consultation with the 16 Alzheimer Associations around the world that are currently involved with the global Dementia Friends programme. We wanted to find out what resource would work best for all. We therefore asked what resource they felt would be most engaging for the youth of their country, and from their experience, what would have the biggest impact. The answer was unanimous: they wanted an animation.

With this feedback we set out to create a global youth animation which would:

1)  Complement Alzheimer’s Society’s existing Key Stage 2 youth materials for 7-11 year olds in the UK.

2)  To engage young people with Dementia Friends programmes globally.

3)  We’re also hoping that it will be an invaluable resource for anyone living in low and middle income countries where the level of stigma surrounding dementia is particularly high.

People living with dementia driving the project forward

If creating an animation wasn’t exciting enough, the level of involvement and feedback from people living with and affected by dementia with this project has been exhilarating! We want to ensure that the animation represents dementia in a considerate and accurate way. Not only will the Dementia Friends key messages feature throughout the animation, but we also wanted to know what people living with dementia would want to tell young people about.

During the development of the script, we visited three focus groups made up of people living with dementia. In total, 19 people living with dementia contributed to the script’s content, with each focus group informing the changes to the succeeding script. The feedback they offered was invaluable in ensuring that dementia was portrayed suitably and realistically in the animation. The participants were so enthusiastic and excited about the project and it was great to be able to incorporate the views of so many people living with dementia!

Young people have their say

Alongside the focus groups of people living with dementia, the Holy Family Catholic Primary School in Liverpool, which is already really engaged with Dementia Friends and dementia-friendly initiatives, held a session with a group with 20 children between the ages of 7 and 11 (our target audience!). They first reviewed the script, offering comments for improvement which were really insightful and mature. For example, some of the children perceived the original script to be slightly upsetting, which is something we certainly don’t want to do! We took their feedback on board and edited the script so that it created a true depiction of dementia, but was done in a way which was softer to address these concerns.

I visited the school a few weeks later for a second session to discuss the final script and the first designs of our characters. The script was received positively and the children really engaged with the underlying messages. They even suggested adding in content about how people’s perception can change when living with dementia, something they were aware of from their previous school work. We thought that this was a great idea and added it to the script.

We then reviewed the three initial character concept designs that had been provided by our animators. The discussion that followed focused on the animation style, the colours used and the likeability of the characters. I fed this back to the animators who incorporated the feedback into the future character design. All in all the day was really valuable and I was impressed with the children’s engagement with the project and with the topic of dementia in general.

Having input from so many relevant parties during the development of the animation has really helped us work towards creating a universal, informative and engaging animation that can be used worldwide. We look forward to sharing the completed animation with you soon – keep your eyes peeled!

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!


Ask your DFO – How do I get more people to come to my public Dementia Friends Information Session?

Each month, one of our DFOs (Dementia Friends Officers) answer one of your Dementia Friends Champions questions. Chella Borde, DFO for Wales, answers this month’s question: 

How do I get more people to come to my public Dementia Friends Information Session?

We’ve all heard people say ‘It’s all in the planning’ and this applies here. Give yourself plenty of time to plan and promote your Information Session and announce the date well in advance. Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth! The more people you tell about the Session and your role of Dementia Friends Champion, the more people will hear about it. There are lots of resources and ideas you can use to successfully promote your Session and we will look at some of them here:

Dementia Friends website

Adding your Session to your account in advance and selecting ‘yes’ to ‘visible on site’ when you’re creating the Session will mean anyone looking for an open Information Session will be able to see your Session is scheduled to happen. People may not check regularly though, so give people as much notice as possible

URL link

Once you’ve created your Information Session on the website, a URL link will be created. You can send this to people in your networks to let them know about the Session, asking them to send it on to potentially interested groups.


The postermaker is a great tool for creating a branded poster to advertise your Session. This can be found on your dashboard under Resources and then Planning and Promoting. It’s a really easy to use template and all you need to do is enter the details and click finished! You’re free to use the poster wherever you’d like to let people know about your Session. Posters could be placed in the venue of the info session, the notice boards of local supermarkets, churches, schools, community centres, libraries and cafes.

Social Media

Social Media, such as Facebook and Twitter are great ways to share information quickly. You could create a post including the URL link and ask your friends or followers to share the post. You might want to use a picture of your poster from the Postermaker to catch people’s eye and include actions people have made at your previous Sessions.

Email signature

If appropriate, you could add an email signature advertising your Information Session, again, including the URL.

Press Release

There may be local media channels including free papers, online news website, regional radio and community newsletters for your local area that would be perfect routes to advertise your Information Sessions. There are templates on your dashboard that you can use and send to local media before and after your Information Session.

Find out what’s happening in your area

Lots of communities have groups that meet regularly or hold events. You could find out what’s planned in your area and offer to hold Dementia Friends Information Sessions as part of their plans. Does your area have a ‘What’s On’ website or noticeboard? You could get your Session listed there. If there is a Dementia Friendly Community in your area, they could support with the promotion of your Session. Think about your potential audiences and the communication channels open to them, such as parish newsletters, free magazines or newspapers.

Opening a private Session up to the public

If these ideas don’t work for you, you could open planned or requested Information Sessions to the public. This would ensure your Session went ahead and it wasn’t time wasted, but that anyone interested could come along, reaching people who may not otherwise get the chance.

Extra things to remember

Don’t forget, if you’re delivering a public Information Session, to check the Venue Selection checklist to make sure your venue is safe for everyone.

Remember to make it easy for people to find the correct venue or room for your Session. If you’re using a room in a large building, use the Information Session sign available on your dashboard so that people can be led to the right place.

Thank you for your support in helping Dementia Friends to reach as many people as possible! I hope this help, and as ever if you would like to talk about this further do please get in contact with your DFO.

Meet your Dementia Friends Officers

We caught up with our team of Dementia Friends Officers to find out a bit more about them…

Aimee Packwood – I cover the East of England.

My favourite Session was last year during Dementia Awareness week- I ran an open Session in Swindon high street which was broadcast on the big screen and out of loudspeakers. It was terrifying but was really interesting to see people’s ears pricking up as they walked past- even if they didn’t stay for the full Session they got some useful nuggets of information!

Favourite hobby: I’m a big bibliophile (I love reading!)- I’ll read anything but I especially love the Harry Potter books and Jane Austen.

Camilla Alfred – I cover South West England.

Camilla wasn’t here at the time of writing to tell us her favourite Session but she has been with the team three and a half years and has made an amazing 1073 Friends over 123 Sessions- well done Camilla!


Charlotte Adams – I cover the North West.

My favourite Session was during Dementia Awareness Week last year- I wanted to take the opportunity to deliver the Information Session to a new audience. For the Session, I worked with an interpreter for the first time and delivered the BAME resources. I had a mixed group with some attendees speaking English as a first language while others required an interpreter to translate the information into Polish. It was a great opportunity to raise awareness and people joined in throughout the Session. I made sure I gave time for the interpreter to pass on the information and feedback the responses to keep the Session interactive. At the end, the group got a picture holding the I’m a Dementia Friend placards which I shared on social media to raise awareness further. It was fantastic to deliver a Session to a new audience.

Favourite food: Roast dinner with lots of gravy!

Chella Borde – I cover Wales 

My favourite Session was for the Royal College of Nursing on a dementia training day as I was worried people would be bored and know it all already, but the feedback was amazing and had attendees commenting that it had made them see dementia in a different way.

Favourite film: I’m a shameless Disney fan – Aladdin, Little Mermaid, but Beauty and the Beast is the best.

Christine Sherringham – I cover the South East region.

My favourite Session was at   Al-Sadiq boys school and Al-zahra girls. I ran two Sessions in one day, for 18  year 7’s. The group were very enthusiastic, but it took a while for me to get used to hands going up first rather than just calling their answers out.

About me: I enjoy wild swimming!

Emily Fisher – I cover the South Central Region.

My favourite Session was in my Grandma’s church- she was a member for over 50 years! 

Favourite hobby: My favourite hobby is rock climbing.


Hannah Piekarski – I cover London.

My favourite Session was to Chelsea Football Club. I delivered a Session for some of the stewarding and stadium management team. It was very popular and everyone wanted to learn more about dementia to support their supporters and staff affected. It was inspiring to see the commitment from the sports and leisure sector of the community to improve the lives of people affected by dementia. Many of them opted for actions such as ‘offer support to customers perhaps by showing them to their seat if they are struggling’ and ‘take my time to be supportive and polite to supporters if they need a little extra help’. 

About me: in my spare time I play for Alzheimer’s Society netball team!

Ian Hind – I cover the East Midlands region.

My favourite Session: – I held an open session during Dementia Awareness Week for other organisations in our building, and got a really good turn out and not only did I make some Dementia Friends in the building but also found out a bit more about our neighbours!

About me: I have done a few things to raise money for charities in the past – my yukkiest experience was sitting in a bath of baked beans and ice-cubes in the middle of a packed pub!

Joe Kirwin – I cover the North East and Cumbria.

My favourite Session was with the The Weardale Labour Party – A really engaged group with loads of questions and comments, they also had a very interesting conversation about how Governments & Councils of any colour need to take Dementia and social care much more seriously.

About me: When I was 13 I started training to become a Professional Wrestler. My plan to be the next Giant Haystacks or Hulk Hogan didn’t really work out!

Keeley Waldron – I cover the West Midlands.

My favourite Session was to a group of 25 beavers aged 6-8. It was a high energy Session that definitely kept me on my toes! The children’s resources worked really well though, they kept the group engaged and their actions were really inspirational. One of the boys said he learnt that it didn’t matter that his grandad couldn’t always remember his name as long as they had happy times together. 

Favourite food: Has to be Chinese but I can’t name one single item of food that I dislike!

Tess Dawson – I cover Pennines Lancashire.

My favourite Session  was the one I delivered to 45 16-18 year olds. I was nervous to begin but with a lot of enthusiasm, engagement and aided by chocolate ‘prizes’ the Session went really well and ended with many of them being interested in where they can find out more information from the website for their Health and Social Care course.

Favourite music:  My favourite band is The Beatles-my mum is from Liverpool so I was brought up with The Beatles songs as a backdrop to my childhood.

Trudi Jackson – I cover Yorkshire and Humber.

My favourite Session was the one I ran for my family. They loved the bookcase analogy and the discussion around the black mat in front of a shop door. They commented that the simplicity and everyday examples made it clear and relatable.

About me: I used to be a model in photo stories in magazines.

Children and young people – updates to the Information Session resources

Since the Dementia Friends team launched the resources for delivering the Information Session to children and young people in 2014, over 100,000 young people have become Dementia Friends!

Thank you to everyone who has used these resources to create Dementia Friends. By involving children and young people in the initiative, you are helping to create a generation of young people who are not afraid to speak about dementia and make people affected by dementia feel involved in their communities.

We want to make it even easier for you to use the resources and deliver the Information Session to children and young people, so we’ve made some changes to the resources.

Now you can access separate handbooks of Information Session resources for delivering to 6-8 year olds (Key Stage 1), 9-11 year olds (Key Stage 2), 11-13 year olds (Key Stage 3) and 14 to 16 year olds (Key Stage 4).  You can access these handbooks and accompanying resources on your Champions dashboard under “Session resources” and “Children and young people”.

The activities in the Information Session for 6-8 year olds and 9-11 year olds include:

  • “My brain” activity
  • “Getting dressed” or “Making the connections”
  • Bookcase analogy


The guidance for these activities varies slightly for each age group.

For 11-13 year olds the activities include:

  • “Broken sentences” activity or “Missing words” activity
  • Making a nice sandwich
  • Bookcase analogy



If you are delivering the Information Session to 14-16 year olds, you can use standard Information Session resources from your handbook, with the top tips available on your dashboard.

These resources should be delivered to a group who are under the supervision of a group leader who has DBS clearance. We always suggest that you always speak to the teacher or group leader before the Information Session, to work out which resources are most suitable for the group.

Alongside these resources you will also find some frequently asked young people’s questions, further reading and resources for children and young people and 15 minute pitch for secondary school assemblies.

If you would like to find out more about delivering the Information Session to children and young people you can attend a webinar on the resources. Please visit your Champion dashboard or speak to your Dementia Friends Officer to sign up.

To speak to like-minded Champions who are interested in delivering to children and young people, why not visit the Champions Exchange?

Please get in touch with your Dementia Friends Officer if you have any questions about the resources or delivering to children and young people.

Dementia Friends & The Guinness Partnership

Staff at housing and care organisation The Guinness Partnership have been working hard to raise awareness of dementia across the organisation and encourage staff to take action to help people affected by dementia. We spoke to Wendy Wells to find out what impact Dementia Friends has had.

Dementia Friends & The Guinness Partnership

What’s it like to deliver your first Information Session?

Natalie Hicks recently became a Dementia Friends Champion and, after initially feeling nervous, is now confidently planning and delivering Information Sessions in her community. Here Natalie tells us what it was like to deliver her first Session:

Travelling from York to Bradford for the DF champion training I didn’t know what to expect.. But it didn’t disappoint!

Since returning home I have practiced on whoever would listen…

Then, once I had realised my puppies knew the script better than me, I decided to take the next step. I booked my venue and started advertising. I spoke with local businesses, put up numerous posters and advertised on the local community websites and social media pages.

As time went on and it became more real, I became more nervous and the doubts in my ability to do public speaking went through the roof. I thought about cancelling, postponing, emigrating… But I was spurred on by family, friends and kind comments from fellow Dementia Friends Champions

January 2017

The day arrived… Laminated games, badges and action cards in hand, I made my way to my destination.

A close friend had been roped in to help me set up, carry leaflets/brochures and be a familiar face in the crowd.

Then one by one people started to arrive.. 7 in total. From the local community, other areas of York and 2 from further a field! All with a different story; losing a loved one, volunteering in the local community, wanting to help work towards making their business dementia-friendly!

After the introduction I started forgetting I was stood in front of strangers,worrying I was rushing, forgetting my words or trying to control the nervous shaking.. And began to ENJOY!

The session went really well and whilst giving them ideas of ways they could volunteer and suggesting becoming a Dementia Friends Champion – I let slip it was my first Session and everyone in front of me looked truly shocked! And I can genuinely say at that moment I felt so proud of myself for working through my fears.

I have since been asked to carry out two more sessions; the local community committee all want to become dementia friends and a local community cafe have booked a session in the coming months!

I am now filled with a new found confidence and I have pledged to continue to help people living with dementia in my community. I am now working with the local community group to help them work towards becoming dementia friendly, pledging to assist with setting up a memory cafe in the local area and introducing side by side.

I really hope my experience is helpful to you all and I hope we can all continue to share ideas/experiences!

I do believe we can do great things to promote and create dementia friendly communities!

What’s it like to be a member of the Champions forum?

The Champions forum is an opportunity for a group of Dementia Friends Champions to work together and with the Dementia Friends team throughout the year to share their feedback on the programme and to help us develop the resources and support you need to run your Information Sessions.

Here two of our forum members tell us what it’s been like for them to be on the Champions forum:

Michelle Kipling is a member of the North West Champions forum and recently attended the forum meeting in Leeds:

Just spent a productive afternoon as part of the NW Champions Forum.  While we were a small group today that didn’t stop us from generating some good ideas and providing feedback to Charlotte on the issues currently facing the initiative. Of great excitement was the sharing of the new brand for the Alzheimer’s Society and what this might look like for Dementia Friends. There was a good consensus in the group on the options available so it will be interesting to learn of the final decision. Other items on the agenda were about potential advantages in technology to allow Champions to learn about their areas and the launch of the Champion Exchange on the website. It was another great opportunity to feedback what might be useful to Champions on this platform. A lot of discussion took place around how Champions need better links with each other and the sharing of local knowledge would be key, especially for those that are just starting out. So the Exchange will hopefully support some of the ideas we provided.  And we all learnt something when Dementia Connect was highlighted as an excellent resource. Well worth looking into!

Alan Richardson is a member of the South and Champions Champions forum and attended the most recent South meeting in January/l

I first made the decision to become a Dementia Friends Champion and undergo the Champions induction in August 2014. Being a former carer for my late mother who had dementia – I saw it as a way of giving back for the support and advice that we had received. If anyone had said to me that just over a year later the opportunity would arise to be part of a Regional and National Champions Forum I would have expressed surprise. But this is exactly what has happened to me, and what an experience this has been from the start.  I have become one of the Members of the Southern Champions Forum, and we have met five times now. Many of us strangers to one another at the first meeting, but how quickly we have became friends.  Right from the start we have been involved in discussing developments for Dementia Friends and have also been able to share our thoughts on how the programme could look in the future. These Regional Forums also show a really good way of involving Champions, able to share our experiences of what has worked in our communities and how different they can be. They are also an excellent way of showing the appreciation of all the efforts that Friends make. I feel privileged to be part of this example of real partnership working, and to have the opportunity to share my  thoughts with you.

There are spaces currently available in many of the regional Champions forums. Interested? Email your Dementia Friends Office for details or email the team at with the subject line ‘Champions forum’.

Ask your DFO – What is a webinar and how do I get involved?

Ask your DFO - What is a webinar and how do I get involved?Each month, one of our DFOs (Dementia Friends Officers) answer one of your Dementia Friends Champions questions. Ian Hind, DFO for the East Midlands, answers this month’s question: Dementia Friends

What is a webinar and how do I get involved?


Our team of Dementia Friends Officers (DFOs) run regular webinars on a range of topics to assist Dementia Friends Champions in their role. To see a list of upcoming webinars click here.

Continue reading