Dementia Friends campaign launches
Published on 13 February 2013 11:30 AM
A new campaign aiming to sign up a million people as 'dementia friends' has officially launched.
The initiative, which was announced by David Cameron last year, is designed to improve volunteering, education and support networks for the growing number of people with dementia.
Free information sessions will be held in church halls and workplaces for volunteers to learn about the signs of the condition and how to support people with it.
The campaign has already received celebrity support in the shape of comedians Jo Brand and Meera Syal, who took part in one of the first sessions.
'Being a Dementia Friend is about being that little bit more aware because it's the small things that make a big difference,' said Jo Brand.
'I trained as a psychiatric nurse so know all too well how dementia affects people.'
The comedian, who is an ambassador for the Alzheimer's Society, said the session she attended gave her a 'real insight' into what life is like for an individual living with dementia.
She said it was a highly effective way of demonstrating how just a little more understanding on the part of carers can actually make a 'huge difference'.
Meera Syal also revealed that she has personal reasons for getting involved with the initiative, as she has a close family member with the condition as well as many friends with parents and grandparents who suffer.
She said that for her taking part in the session was about wanting to get more involved in her local community.
'I am particularly keen to raise awareness of dementia within the Asian community, indeed in all communities where people may not know what support is available,' she added.
Boosting understanding of dementia
Alzheimer's Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes expressed excitement about the chance to invite everyone in the country to sign up as a Dementia Friend given that so many people feel they do not know enough about the condition.
The aim is not for everyone to be an expert but rather to just gain some more understanding about what it is like for someone to live with dementia - and in turn, to spur action, Mr Hughes added.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said everyone is able to play some part, no matter how small, in addressing the feelings of isolation that many people with dementia experience.
He said the Dementia Friends scheme represents a great chance for people to take just an hour out from their day to learn about how to identify the signs and to improve their understanding.
People are able to register their interest in getting involved in local sessions at the dementiafriends.org.uk website.
Copyright Press Association 2013