By Rachel Bagnall-Bray, volunteer and communities manager
Approximately 850,000 people are living with dementia in the UK, 1.3% of the population. It’s important to us that everybody feels welcome at Fulham Palace so on Monday 25 November, we embarked on the journey to becoming Dementia Friends.
As with so many of us, I have a personal connection with dementia through seeing my grandma have the illness some 20 years ago. Knowing the best ways to help and take action seem to be half the battle. The Dementia Friends scheme and the entire programme of activities that charities such as the Alzheimer’s Society have set up have come leaps and bounds since we first heard grandma’s diagnosis. I feel very lucky to have been able to support the Alzheimer’s Society through fundraising just under £800 for running my first half marathon, the Putney and Fulham Half in April 2019. The fundraiser also opened up so many conversations about the personal connections many people at the Palace had with dementia.
Six months ago, we made our first collective step into the world of dementia friendliness through hosting a dementia awareness session. We were led by Dementia Friends champion, Simon Wales, who delivered our session with ease and charisma. Through interactive games and activities we were able to understand the illness better and think about the simple steps we could take to make life more enjoyable for those living with dementia, and their carers. The Dementia Friends initiative is such an effective way of increasing awareness and encouraging advocacy. We were pleased that 18 staff and volunteers from various departments across the Palace became Dementia Friends during the course of the morning. And this is just the beginning!
We’re delighted to be welcoming Simon back for another session in late January 2020, and are looking forward to how we can better support our local area in becoming even more dementia friendly.
Find out more about the Dementia Friends initiative here.