A pledge that means so much

Damian writes a regular column in the Petersfield Post, and this is a copy of piece published today:

The start of Dementia Awareness Week is coming up on the 15th May, and that marks the first anniversary of Dementia Friendly Petersfield. Almost a year old, and going great guns.

When the group of founding members came together last year (including the team here at the Petersfield Post) a very simple ambition was laid out – to get as many organisations as possible across the town to help their staff become Dementia Friends; all that was needed was a pledge.

And the pledge was key – a commitment to make time for a trained volunteer to come into their premises and take their staff through a free 45 minute Dementia Friends information session. I’m delighted to say that the initiative now has the support of almost 40 different organisations in Petersfield, and more than 230 people have attended a session.

The word is spreading, and that really is the point – to get more people talking about dementia, and sharing a little more understanding of what it is like to live with the disease, or to be the carer of someone living with the disease.

Most recently there was a Dementia Friends information session at the Taro Centre for a group of fitness and well-being practitioners.  It was yet another reminder of how many of us are touched by dementia, and how many people want to understand some of the practical ways they can help through their businesses and activities.

Carers often shoulder a great deal of responsibility, and it can of course be very daunting.  Finding more ways to help and support carers is certainly something that can make a big difference. With that in mind, Dementia Friendly Petersfield is hosting a Dementia Carers Workshop at the Petersfield Festival Hall on Wednesday 17th May.

London-based theatre group, Spare Tyre, is running the session, and will lead people through a free two-hour session that focuses on non-verbal communication skills and ways of bringing creativity into everyday activities.

Spare Tyre has been working creatively with older people for over twenty years, and with people with dementia for seven years. Their experience will offer insights on how different ways of communicating can help improve relationships and well-being, and give carers more tools to help them engage with the people they look after.

If you would like to find out more, or book a place at the workshop, please contact Jeff Williams at grahamjeffreywilliams@hotmail.co.uk or on 07849 195702.

And with the great support of Mayor James Deane and Petersfield Town Council, Dementia Friendly Petersfield can be even more ambitious as it heads into its second year – as one of the mayoral charities, it has received more resources to continue its aim to make the town as dementia friendly as possible.

If you would like to find out more about Dementia Friendly Petersfield please go to www.dementia-friendly-petersfield.org.uk or go to www.dementiafriends.com for more information on becoming a Dementia Friend.

Written by Damian Hinds and published in the Petersfield Post on 26th April 2017