Safest People, Safest Places

New group's bid to make Durham City ‘Dementia Friendly’

A new steer group has been formed with representatives from organisations across County Durham, coming together in a bid to make the City more accessible for those living with Dementia, along with their carers, family and friends.

Officially launching during Dementia Action Week between Monday 21 May and Sunday 27 May, the organisations working together as part of the scheme to have the area officially accredited as ‘Dementia Friendly Durham City’ include: Durham Business Improvement District (Durham BID), County Durham & Darlington Fire & Rescue, Durham Constabulary, Durham County Council, Durham Cathedral, Catholic Parish of The Durham Martyrs, and Arriva.  The group is also working closely with people living with Dementia and their carers across the County, to ensure the scheme is fit for purpose and meeting the needs of people living with the degenerative brain condition.

Nanette Tiplady, Senior Ambassador at Durham BID, said: “Research from the Alzheimer’s Society shows that 83% of people with memory problems have switched their shopping habits to places that are more accessible. In helping Durham to become more ‘Dementia Friendly’, it will enable businesses to retain customers and attract new ones too, while providing a supportive and inclusive environment in Durham for those living with Dementia.

“The purpose of the steer group is to put actions in place to make Durham City more ‘Dementia Friendly’.  It’s about raising awareness of the condition while making the City accessible to as many people as possible, so that people living with Dementia together with their family, friends and carers can experience and enjoy all that Durham has to offer in a safe, secure and welcoming environment.”

To date, 30 people working across businesses in Durham City have attended Dementia Friends Awareness Sessions, delivered in collaboration with Durham BID. The session helps people working in Durham to learn more about what it is like to live with dementia and turn that understanding into action, so they can accommodate customers in their respective businesses while making some simple and effective changes, like keeping coin charts by the tills and clearly signing posting exit and entry points to the stores.

Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for the City of Durham, said: “I’m very pleased to support the launch of the Dementia Friendly Durham City campaign, and it is great to see Durham BID bringing together so many local charities, community groups, businesses and public services for this important cause.  

“We all share a responsibility to make our community inclusive for everyone, and I hope that during Dementia Action Week we can all learn what steps we can take to ensure that Durham is a place where people with Dementia feel welcome, valued, and can come and enjoy.”

Throughout Dementia Action Week and to officially launch the Dementia Friendly Durham City initiative, there will be a number of events and activities happening across the City, including afternoon teas, talks and workshops, and a special Evensong service at Durham Cathedral.

Throughout the course of Monday 21 May, the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friendly Bus will also be parked in the Market Place, providing information packs for people to pick up, learn more about the condition and what they can do as members of the public to help support Durham City in its bid to become more Dementia Friendly, while being more aware of those around them who may me living with the condition. A team of experts from the Alzheimer’s Society will also be on hand in and around the bus to answer any questions or concerns passersby may have about living with or supporting those living with Dementia.

In addition, on Wednesday 23 May, PCSO Leesa Bennison of Durham Constabulary will be cutting a minimum of seven inches off her long hair to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society. The hair cut will be done by Wendy from Toni& Guy and the hair donated to The Little Princess Trust.  It will take place outside of Sally Salon in Prince Bishops Shopping Centre with all proceeds raised going to charity.

Mark Henderson, from County Durham and Darlington Fire & Rescue, said: Working towards making Durham City more dementia friendly is a real achievement for the area. By all of these organisations and local people coming together, it has shown a real desire to improve the provisions that are currently in the City. The fire service undertakes a lot of work around health and especially dementia, so we are very proud to be a part of this steering group.”

For more information about the Dementia Friendly Durham City initative along with the different events taking place across the City during Dementia Action Week, visit: www.durhambid.co.uk/events.

To support PC Leesa Bennison is her charity haircut and to donate, visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/leesa-hair

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