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Launch Event for Dementia Friendly Sidmouth

Volunteers launch organisation to make town more ‘dementia friendly’

A team of volunteers have made it their mission to ensure people with dementia, their families and carers, in the Sid Valley, continue to live fulfilling lives with “plenty of joyful moments”.

Dementia Friendly Sidmouth has been set up with the aim of raising awareness of dementia in order to improve the lives of those living with the condition and their families/carers.

A key part of the new initiative’s approach is offering customer facing businesses free online dementia awareness training for them to be more ‘dementia friendly’.

Jo Earlam, from Tipton St John, is a carer for her husband who has dementia and said “understanding and patience” are simple ways people can make life easier and more enjoyable for people affected by it.

She added: “I’ve learnt to be very open in telling individuals and organisations I’m engaging with that I am a carer, my husband has dementia, and that things are challenging. Because, in being open, I find people are more than willing to help when they understand the situation.”

Simon Jupp, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Honiton & Sidmouth, attended the launch of the initiative at Kennaway House on Saturday 1 June, where people were invited to take part in a virtual, interactive, dementia experience, simulating what it’s like to have dementia.

He said: “Dementia Friendly Sidmouth has an inspiring mission to improve the lives of local people living with dementia and those who care for them. It’s been a privilege to support the group’s ongoing work in building an outstanding dementia friendly community right here in the Sid Valley.

“I was pleased to attend their launch event at Kennaway House which was a real success and I look forward to seeing what they continue to achieve going forward.”

David Hodge, Chairman of the Sid Valley Memory Café and founder of Dementia Friendly Sidmouth, said: “We understand that living with dementia is difficult, that the process of diagnosis can be challenging, and ongoing support can be patchy, so we are here to improve the quality of life of anyone living with dementia in our community and invite everyone to contribute to ensuring that their lives have plenty of joyful moments, no matter what. We are also here to support local businesses and community groups who play a huge part in supporting people with dementia and their carers, who face a complete change in their lives.”

Key facts:

  • Dementia refers to a set of symptoms that over time can affect memory, problem-solving, language and behaviour. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia.
  • One in two of us will be affected by dementia in our lifetime, either by caring for someone with the condition, developing it ourselves, or both.
  • One in three of us will be diagnosed with dementia.
  • In Sidmouth, over half of the town’s population is over 60 years old so the number of people living with dementia in the town is significantly above the national average.
  • There are around double the number of people in the Sid Valley living with dementia than have received a diagnosis.

Not only is there a moral case for supporting vulnerable members of our communities, but for businesses, there are economic benefits in treating customers well, too, through repeat business.

Jane Harvey, Visitor Engagement Manager at the Donkey Sanctuary, explained why it’s important for businesses and attractions to care about their more vulnerable customers: “We need to be inclusive and supportive towards those suffering with dementia to understand the challenges they may face so we can maximise their enjoyment of their visit, while ensuring their safety and wellbeing at all times.

“We should ensure that we are empathetic to those suffering from dementia and take extra time to ensure we are an inclusive charity supporting all who wish to visit. Dementia should not preclude enjoyment of visits to all organisations.”

Accredited by Alzheimer’s Society UK, the dementia awareness training gives staff an enhanced awareness about the impact on dementia, so they can better support their customers.

Dementia Friendly Sidmouth is appealing for volunteers to help grow the organisation further. People can choose from different roles and no prior experience is necessary.

Volunteering is rewarding and social so should benefit anyone looking to be involved in something purposeful and fun. To find out about volunteering opportunities please email anne@dementiafriendlysidmouth.org.uk

For more information visit www.dementiafriendlysidmouth.org.uk

3 June 2024
Last Updated
3 June 2024
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