Launch of the Brighton & Hove Dementia Action Alliance

Over 3,500 people in Brighton & Hove are living with Dementia. These people might be our friends, colleagues or family members – individuals in our city who wish to continue to live and take part in their community but who may face difficulties going about their daily lives.

On Thursday 9th March, 100 delegates attended the launch of the Dementia Action Alliance Brighton & Hove. Organised by Age UK Brighton & Hove with its partners TDC, the Carers Centre and Engage and Create, the movement is asking groups across the city for their pledge to become dementia aware and help support people with dementia along with their carers and families.

The Mayor of Brighton & Hove Councillor Pete West opened Thursday’s event and welcomed the launch of this important alliance, which will work to create a dementia friendly city and support people living with dementia to continue to live their lives well.

The Alliance is encouraging people to become Dementia Friends. An initiative of the Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia Friends aims to change people’s perceptions of dementia and to help more communities and businesses to become dementia-friendly. A session to become a Dementia Friend can take as little as an hour and can drastically help in knowing how to respond to people with the condition. Sessions are run by Dementia Friends Champions – volunteers, like TDC’s Sue Sayers, who tell people about dementia, how it affects people’s day-to-day lives, and how individuals and groups can make a positive difference to people living with dementia in their community.

TDC supports over 500 older people in Brighton & Hove, developing groups and activities based on their needs. From the sessions run by TDC staff at New Larchwood, Sloane Court and Leach Court, to the tea dance we held for Brighton & Hove Older People’s Festival last year, our work helps give residents a chance to socialise and stay active; improving their health and wellbeing. TDC are proud to be a part of the Dementia Action Alliance – delivering community work such as developing a Dementia Friendly Toolkit and working with groups to share information.

TDC's Sue Sayers with her Dementia Friends Champion Handbook
TDC’s Sue Sayers with her Dementia Friends Champion Handbook

Speaking at the launch were Julie Kalsi (Partnerships Support Officer from Crawley Borough Council), Dr Naji Tabet (Reader and Honorary Consultant, Centre for Dementia Studies), Martin Harris (Managing Director Brighton & Hove Bus Company), Jo Foster (Project Manager My Life Films) and Ellen Jones (Carer of a person living with dementia).

Sue tells us “Between these key-note speakers we saw clips from a film about Joyce, a woman living with dementia, going about her daily life, and her encounters with friends and workers. These encounters were mostly with people who had become Dementia Friends through the Alzheimer’s Society initiative and illustrated how these supportive interventions helped Joyce to maintain her independence and cope with the challenges presented when living with dementia.”

After the speakers we were treated to a Dementia Friends awareness session by Lyn Hopkins who took us through an imaginative illustration of how dementia affects a person through an analogy of two bookcases, one holding a lifelong set of memories relating to facts and information and a second one storing our memories of emotional connections. If you would like to see this illustration in detail you can watch the Dementia Friends bookcase analogy on Youtube.

All delegates were then invited to become a Dementia friend themselves by identifying one simple action they could take and filling this in on an action card to be sent to the Alzheimer’s society. These delegates each then received a forget-me-knot badge and will be added to the 2 million total of Dementia Friends throughout the UK.

Julie Kalsi explained that Crawley had been amongst the first 12 areas to be recognised as Dementia friendly and in 2014 won the ‘Local Initiative’ category at the National Dementia Friendly Awards – beating Liverpool and Bradford. She shared some great advice for the Alliance:

* What’s good for dementia is good for all

* Enthusiasts build enthusiasm

* Nothing is new

* It takes time

Measuring the enthusiasm in the hall at the Brighthelm on the day the Brighton and Hove Dementia Action Alliance is on its way to great things!”

As Sue tells us above, there are already over 2 million Dementia Friends across the country, and in a bid to help more communities and businesses become dementia-friendly, the Alzheimer’s Society are aiming to get four million Dementia Friends on board by 2020.

Please become a Dementia Friend, join the Dementia Action Alliance, and help make Brighton & Hove a Dementia Friendly City. If you want to know more please contact Sue at [email protected]

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