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One million dementia 'friend volunteers' to be trained

Posted: 14th November 2012

Dementia friends will be trained by Alzheimer’s Society volunteers to spot the signs of dementia and to provide support. The funding for the scheme was provided by the Department of Health and the Cabinet Office.

The charity will be recruiting 6,000 dementia friend volunteers, who will be trained to recruit and train others, from people who register their interest in the scheme. It expects to start holding awareness session in early 2013.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the charity, explained: “Day-to-day tasks such as going to the shop or catching a bus can become increasingly difficult for people with dementia. Without a helping hand, this can mean people are left feeling isolated, unable to be part of their community and in some cases even unable to continue living at home.

“Dementia friends is our latest and most ambitious answer to how to how we can change this picture.”

The charity has launched a website for the campaign, which includes information advice and blogs along with a forget-me-not logo (pictured) and video explaining the initiative. People who complete the training will be awarded a forget-me-not badge. 

It is part of the Prime Minister’s Challenge of Dementia initiative, which recently published its six month progress report. When the initiative launched earlier this year, three challenge groups were identified - dementia friendly communities (which Alzheimer’s Society is leading and the dementia friends project is part of), health and care and better research.

The report said: “Awareness training is just the first step. Over time we hope that dementia friends will go on to learn more or participate in ways to help support people with dementia, through volunteering.”

The progress report highlights that the Alzheimer’s Society is working to create local Dementia Action Alliances with community leaders, sufferers and carers. As a result of a meeting held Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide, Aviva and Alzheimer’s Society, a protocol for supporting people with dementia access and manage their money will be launched in spring 2013 and other companies including E.On, Tesco and BT are working with the Alzheimer’s Society to develop training programmes for their staff.

The Department of Health has also launched a TV campaign, with the support of the Alzheimer’s Society, to encourage people to seek support.

Members of the public can register their interest in becoming a dementia friend online or by texting ‘friend’ to 88080.

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