This article was written by Damian and published in this week's Herald and Petersfield Post:
"I’m looking forward to visiting the Dementia Festival in Petersfield tomorrow (Friday), the third time this fantastic event has been held here in East Hampshire.
Organised by Dementia Friendly Petersfield, with the support of East Hampshire District Council, it brings together local organisations that can provide guidance, contacts and advice for people concerned about memory loss in themselves or in a loved one.
And an enormous amount of credit must go to Jeff Williams, who set up Dementia Friendly Petersfield back in 2016 and has overseen the development of several weekly support and carers groups in the town since then.
Jeff has also been responsible for producing the East Hampshire Dementia Directory, which provides comprehensive guidance and contacts, particularly in the difficult period after receiving a diagnosis.
There are more than 18,000 people in Hampshire with dementia, and it is estimated to affect one in six people over 80, and one in fourteen of those aged over 65.
With an aging population, it is a condition that will sadly impact more people and more families, and that is why getting advice on how to live well with dementia is so important.
Held at the Petersfield Festival Hall between 10am and 3pm, the festival also offers activities suitable for people with dementia as well as music, crafts and a chance to meet and talk with people who share similar experiences.
The Petersfield Dementia Choir will be performing at the event, and free refreshments will be served by staff from the Memory Café based at Winton House.
I would encourage anyone affected by dementia to come along to the festival tomorrow, to meet a wide range of experts and to talk with people who understand the challenges and where to get the help you need.
Also taking place this week is the launch of Dementia-friendly Alton’s new monthly wellbeing programme called ‘Flourish in the Forest’, which will be held at Alice Holt Forest on the first Saturday of each month, between 10am and 4pm.
The ground-breaking programme combines horticulture therapy with active pursuits in the beautiful forest setting of Alice Holt. The sessions have been designed to cover a range of supervised activities for active people living with dementia, together with their carers and families.
These include guided walks and cycle routes, outdoor table tennis, mini-badmington and volley ball, as well as gardening activities and themed arts and crafts in the new Activity Centre Studio.
A recipient of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services, Dementia-friendly Alton is a just one of the many fantastic voluntary organisations and charities we’re fortunate to have in East Hampshire.
They play such an important role within our local communities, and I want to pay tribute to the hundreds of individuals who give their time and energy through these organisations like these to help others.
It can be extremely difficult when you first find out that you or loved one has dementia, but there is support available and people who can help guide you through those first important steps.
There is more information about local dementia support services, and the dementia directory, available on my website at damianhinds.com/campaigns/dementia-friendly-communities"