Highworth Dementia Friends Champion helps Alzheimers Society achieve 2.5 million milestone

By Swindon Link - 26 July 2018

CharityCommunity

A Highworth man helped Alzheimer’s Society achieve a 2.5 million Dementia Friends milestone by making more than a 1,000 Dementia friends in the local area.

Kevin O'Donoghue who happened upon the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends initiative while looking into volunteering on his retirement two years ago. Became a Champion of the charity in 2017 and began running his own Public Information Sessions. He was later approached for help by Susan Lambert, Dementia Friendly Coordinator at Swindon Borough Council to run sessions for schools in the local area.

Kevin added: “I feel it’s such an important thing to do, to build a dementia-friendly generation. Children are really engaged throughout the sessions and ask some really poignant questions, such as ‘does it hurt to have dementia?’ It shows that they’re really engaged."

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends initiative was launched in 2013 to tackle the stigma and lack of understanding of the illness. It is the biggest ever social action movement. Aiming to change the way people think, act and talk about dementia, so everyone gets the support they need, not just in healthcare environments, but in their community.

The charity announced their pride in a staggering two and a half million people in the UK now being united against dementia by taking part in the charity’s Dementia Friends initiative. Including 149,311 Friends in the South West.

Speaking of the importance of people's awareness of dementia and how a supportive community can make a difference, Kevin said: "The more people who have an understanding of what it’s like to live with dementia then the more people there will be to carry that awareness, patience and understanding. I am proud to be to uniting with the other 149,310 Dementia Friends in the South West making a difference to the hundreds of thousands of people living with dementia and their loved ones.”

Anyone can become a Dementia Friend by watching a short online video or attending an Information Session enabling you to better understand and help people with dementia. Unite with Alzheimer’s Society today, visit www.dementiafriends.org.uk

Jo Malyon, Alzheimer’s Society’s Senior Dementia Friends Officer shared her thanks to Kevin and Dementia Friends, but, also her feelings that the public must not lose focus on the issue: “We are so grateful to Kevin and the 149,310 others who have become Dementia Friends in the South West.

“The public response so far has been impressive, but we must not lose momentum as dementia continues to be the biggest health and social care crisis of our time, and we are a long way from realising equality for people with dementia.”

As part of a long-term commitment to help more communities and businesses become dementia-friendly, Alzheimer’s Society has set an ambitious target of creating four million Dementia Friends by 2020.

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