New campaign urges people in Norfolk to become Dementia Friends
06:30 07 May 2014
A rallying call has been issued for people in Norfolk to step up and play a crucial role in making the county one of the best places for people with dementia to live well.
Celebrities back campaign
Author Sir Terry Pratchett, who has Alzheimer’s disease, is heading up a host of celebrities who are backing the Dementia Friends campaign.
Musicians Chris Martin, Lily Allen and Alesha Dixon are teaming up with stars from the worlds of sport, comedy and television to highlight the plight of dementia sufferers.
The celebrities have created a new advert to encourage people to become “dementia friends” to help boost volunteering, education and support for the growing number of people with the condition. In a new advert, the pop stars will be seen performing The Beatles’ track I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends. Other celebrities involved in the ad include comedian Simon Pegg, actor Ray Winstone, footballer Leighton Baines and presenter Paul O’Grady.
With predictions that one in three people over the age of 65 will develop dementia, health, government and charitable organisations are warning that this is one of the biggest health crises facing the UK and that it cannot be tackled without the help of the wider public.
Now Norfolk County Council is backing the Dementia Friends campaign and has organised a series of short information sessions for members of the public so they can develop a better understanding of the illness and support people with the disease to live well for longer.
Harold Bodmer, director of community services at Norfolk County Council, said: “One in three of us over the age of 65 will develop dementia – which is an incredibly high statistic. But people with dementia can live well, and the community can play a big part in helping them to do so.
“It is only by personally understanding the issues that people living with dementia face that we can we fully appreciate the challenges they have to overcome on a day-to-day basis. By participating in the short information session to become a Dementia Friend, you are playing crucial role in helping us take one step closer to creating a dementia-friendly society.”
There are currently 665,065 people in England who have dementia and an estimated 21 million people in England have a close friend or family member with the condition.
In Norfolk and Waveney there are an estimated 16,400 people with the condition.
Dan Roper, chairman of Norfolk’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “Dementia is one of the Norfolk Health and Wellbeing Board’s top three priorities so anything we can do to raise community awareness and understanding about it can only be a good thing.
“We hope that Norfolk will become a champion in developing dementia-friendly communities and encouraging as many people as possible to become Dementia Friends is a very positive and practical step towards achieving this aim.”
The campaign, launched by Public Health England and the Alzheimer’s Society, aims to create a network of one million Dementia Friends by 2015.
People can become a Dementia Friend by watching an interactive video online to increase their understanding of the disease, or they can attend one of the Dementia Friends information sessions being planned across the county.
Many of these sessions are being hosted by Norfolk County Council’s Healthy Communities team.
Norfolk County Council will also be encouraging as many of its staff as possible to become a Dementia Friend by hosting 10 information sessions for staff at County Hall.
Lucy Macleod, Norfolk’s interim director of public health, said: “Dementia has a life changing impact on individuals, their families, friends and wider community and it is vital that we support people living with the condition and recognise their needs.
“Becoming a Dementia Friend aims to help people understand more about what it’s like to live with dementia and then turning that understanding into action. Anyone can be a Dementia Friend – it’s all about making the difference to someone living with the condition and making people more aware of it.”
For further information on the campaign, how to become a Dementia Friend or to find an information session near you, visit www.dementiafriends.org.uk
More information about dementia, and what is being done in Norfolk and Suffolk to help those with the condition, will feature in a special EDP supplement later this month, to coincide with Dementia Awareness Week.