A Dementia Friends group has met in Wem as part of the national campaign to tackle the stigma and lack of understanding around the condition.
The one-hour free Information Session was hosted by Wem Cricket Club and run by Dementia Friends Champion Viv Edgar who lives in the town.
The Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Dementia Action Alliance has been chosen as one of just ten ‘Accelerator Sites’ across the country, designed to encourage the growth of Dementia Friendly Communities.
Viv said: “The Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends programme is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia.
“It aims to transform the way the nation thinks, talks and acts about the condition.
“The charity wants there to be four million Dementia Friends by 2020 with the know-how to help people living with dementia feel understood and included in their community. They are currently approaching two million Dementia Friends.”
At present, there are approximately 850,000 living with the condition in England. In less than 10 years a million people will be living with dementia and this number is forecast to rise to 1.7 million people by 2051.
Wem mayor Rosemary Dodd was among those who attended the first session, and she is committed to encourage the people of Wem, along with businesses and associations, to sign up towards creating a Dementia Friendly Community.
Speaking after the session, she said: “I was pleased to see so many people showing support for people with dementia by signing up to the sessions and becoming Dementia Friends.
“We need to create more communities and businesses that are dementia friendly so that people living with dementia feel understood and valued.”
Rosemary and Viv expressed their gratitude to Geoff Stokes, President of Wem Cricket Club, and his committee in their generous support in hosting the first two Dementia Friends sessions.
Viv decided to be a Dementia Friends Champion last year and received training from the Alzheimer’s Society on how to deliver the sessions.
Viv said: “I decided to take on the role in the light of my previous experience of working as a Development Manager to support carers of people living with dementia during 15 years with West Sussex Adult Services.
“I’m extremely proud to be part of a growing network of people helping to create dementia friendly communities across England, knowing how much that support means to people living with dementia and their families.”
Viv will be offering more sessions in the coming months and will be approaching local businesses, associations and youth groups and schools to offer group sessions.
If you run, or are a member, of a local group or club (no matter how small) and would like Viv to come along to deliver a session, contact her on email@example.com or call or text on 07854 923125.