The milestone UK-wide achievement was recently revealed by the Alzheimer’s Society, which set up the concept of Dementia Friends in 2013 to transform the way people think, act and talk about the condition.
At the last count, there were 2,772 official Dementia Friends listed in Tamworth, which includes people of all ages, even children, and from all walks of life. While their number has risen significantly since the town was granted Dementia Friendly Community status in May this year, the goal is now to reach the 3,000 mark.
Anyone can become a Dementia Friend by watching a short online video or attending an information session. Training takes less than an hour and in that time people learn a bit more about what it’s like to live with dementia. They then turn that understanding into action, whether that’s simply spreading awareness further, fundraising or visiting someone with dementia.
Much of the training in Tamworth has been delivered by the area’s 10 Dementia Friends Champions, who have hosted 85 information sessions to date at Tamworth Borough Council, businesses, community groups and schools across the area.
As a Dementia Friendly Community, Tamworth is going all out to become a town focused on ensuring people with dementia and their carers feel safe, supported and involved in all aspects of community life and Dementia Friends are a key part of that.
Activities are led locally by the Tamworth Dementia Action Alliance (TDAA) – a partnership of stakeholders working together to improve the lives of local people with dementia. The TDAA now has 18 member organisations including Tamworth Borough Council, the police, fire service, health care services and providers, community groups and businesses.
The TDAA continues to recruit new members, including businesses, GPs, banks and retailers, and train more people to become Dementia Friends.
Cllr Andrew James, Tamworth Borough Council’s Lead Member for dementia, said, “We want Tamworth to become a place where people with dementia feel supported and included and where they can access services that help make their lives that little bit easier.
“Dementia Friends are a key part of that. The more people there are around the town who understand the issues and challenges faced by those living with dementia, the better. The UK wide two million milestone is fantastic news and in Tamworth we are striving to reach our own next target of 3,000, and hopefully beyond.
“The training doesn’t take long and it’s well worth doing. We would encourage businesses, retailers, customer service assistants, schools, community groups and just anyone who has an elderly relative to take part and help extend our community of Dementia Friends.”
Becoming a Dementia Friend takes less than an hour and can be done online or by contacting Tamworth Borough Council’s Lead Officer for Dementia Friendly Communities, Karen Clancy, on 01827 709565.
Becoming a Dementia Friends Champion involves a day of training. Champions are then able to deliver Dementia Friends awareness sessions in the community.
More information is available on the Tamworth Dementia Action Alliance website.