Broadcaster and campaigner Angela Rippon celebrated some of the most inspirational people living and working with dementia at the Kent Dementia Awards yesterday (MON).
The event at the Oasis Academy, Isle of Sheppey, with the theme Memories of School Days, showcased the fantastic work going on across Kent to make the county more dementia friendly.
Addressing the students, teachers, volunteers, organisations and businesses who have been working to raise awareness and understanding of the condition across the county, Ms Rippon said Kent has a ‘great team’ of people tackling the stigma of dementia.
She said: “Here in Kent you have been hearing a microcosm of what is happening nationally. I believe the future for dementia, for undersanding of dementia, lies with our young people. If we can take the word stigma out of their vocabulary, they are going to grow up knowing about it, recognising it, understanding it.
“When we started the project four and a half years ago to get dementia awareness into schools, one of the regions was here in Kent – two of our first pioneer schools were here in this county.
“We now have just under 600 schools throughout Britain, who are involved in our Dementia Friendly Programme creating that Dementia Friendly generation. I’m thrilled for all the work this school has done to make it more Dementia Friendly.
“It’s wonderful local councils are among the finalists. I’m thrilled the Co-operative won an award, as we have a whole programme with supermarkets to make their staff more aware and clearly it’s working well here in Kent because the Co-op has won one of those awards.
“Here in Kent, you have got a great team. Keep up the work you’re doing. Thank you to all of you for all you’re doing for people with dementia.”
The event ran a marketplace with stallholders displaying the work going on around the county to create Dementia Friendly Communities. Attractions and activities included sports activities, arts and crafts sessions, entertainment from local primary schools and Oasis Academy and a Punch and Judy Show.
The winners of the awards are:
Intergenerational Activity – Sunshine Saturdays in Thanet, which brings together young people, aged 10-19, or 25 if they have additional needs, and over-50s, including those with dementia. The project aims to break down barriers between generations, reduce negative stereotypes and reduce isolation and loneliness.
Community Project – Forget-Me-Not Cafes in Edenbridge and Westerham. Initially funded by KCC, the monthly cafés are run by volunteers and offer activities such as music, arts and crafts and social groups and promote community understanding of living with dementia.
Innovative Team – Bright Shadow Zest Communities Project, Thanet. This fun fortnightly group for older people and those living with dementia, their relatives, friends and carers, offers different creative activities which are challenging and accessible
Outreach Award – Kent Wildlife Trust, Ashford area. Activities and talks at the dementia café in Ashford. The trust is designing an indoor multisensory engagement activity to allow those with mobility issues to benefit from nature and social aspects of its work. The trust has worked with Age UK and NHS to create dementia friendly wildlife gardens.
Partnership Project – Forget-Me-Nots Group, East Kent. The group grew from a group of people living with dementia who wanted to challenge stigma, raise awareness, influence services and policies and inform the workforce. They teamed up with 2 psychologists at Kent and Medway Partnership NHS Trust (KMPT) and students from the University of Kent and have achieved an enormous amount locally and nationally.
Dementia Friendly Business – Co-operative, Sandwich. Age Concern, Sandwich, has been working with management and staff at the store to provide dementia friends sessions. As a result, Store Manager Paul Harris was able to identify a customer who needed extra support and has assisted her on more than one occasion. He has also provided a room and refreshments for local focus group for people with dementia away from Age Concern, Sandwich, reducing the stigma of walking into a day centre.
Dementia Friendly Organisation Award – Sevenoaks District Council. The council supported and helped run the Sevenoaks Dementia Friendly Community. They encouraged staff to become Dementia Friends, with some going on to train as Dementia Champions and trained some staff to be ‘on call’ to assist in supporting visiting members of the public living with dementia and support staff caring for someone with dementia. They also changed their reception area to make it more dementia friendly.
Inspirational Person Living with Dementia – Tom Coppins, Wrotham. Tom’s diagnosis of dementia has not stopped him being active to make Kent more dementia friendly. He came up with the idea for Maidstone Mentors, offering peer support from those living with dementia to people with a diagnosis. He also worked with colleague Brian and the SILK team from KCC and the Alzheimer’s Society to start the Maidstone Mentors.
Inspiring Volunteer Award – Chris Norris, a Dementia Service User Envoy for KMPT and a member of the East Kent Forget Me Nots group. Chris is also part of a number of Kent’s Dementia Action Alliances, attending the Canterbury and Ashford groups. Last year, he also sat on the steering group for the Kent Dementia Awards and is described as a ‘totally committed gentleman’.
The Emma Kent Dementia Award for Outstanding Contribution – Paul Murray, Oasis Academy, Isle of Sheppey. Paul took the first step in making the Academy dementia friendly, inviting representatives to the school to talk to students. Since then, he has supported a wide range of inspirational activities for past and current students.
Kent County Council runs the Dementia Friendly Community project and is part of the Kent Dementia Action Alliance, along with colleagues in health, councils, businesses and the voluntary sector which are all working together to make Kent a better place for people living with dementia.
The Dementia Action Alliance aims to make Kent more inclusive of people with dementia, reduce stigma and increase awareness and understanding of the condition. Kent now has 400 Dementia Champions who have recruited and trained more than 25,000 Dementia Friends across the county and more online. There are eight Dementia Action Alliances and 14 areas registered as working to become dementia friendly.