Campaign To Help North East Dementia Sufferers

7 May 2014, 05:06 | Updated: 7 May 2014, 05:11

A new campaign's been launched to help the 34,000 people with dementia in the North East.

Public Health England and a leading dementia charity have joined forces in a major new campaign to mobilise people in the North East to play their part in tackling one of the biggest health issues facing the region.

Alzheimer's Society's Dementia Friends initiative aims to show it will take a whole society response to enable people with the condition to live well.

The initiative will show everyone the small things that they can do to make a difference.

Some of England's best-loved performers, including Sir Terry Pratchett, Lily Allen, Ray Winstone, Ruth Jones, Michael Vaughan, Ruth Langsford & Eamonn Holmes, Leighton Baines, Meera Syal, Simon Pegg, Paul O'Grady, Fiona Phillips, Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon, will perform the iconic Beatles track 'With A Little Help From My Friends' in a new ad, which will be shown on national TV for the first time this evening.

As the celebrities perform this memorable track Sir Paul McCartney is also today announced as an ambassador for Dementia Friends, to highlight that people with dementia can still live fulfilling and rewarding lives, with a little help from their friends.

Dr Roberta Marshall, Director of the Public Health England centre, North East commented:
"Becoming a Dementia Friend involves finding out more about what dementia is, and the small things they can do to make a big difference to a person living with the condition.

People can live well with dementia, it just takes a little love and care from those around them.

The statistics speak for themselves, 34,006 people are living with dementia in the North East and we can all do something to support them by signing up to become a Dementia Friend."

Barbara Dow, from Amble, Northumberland whose husband Al died with dementia, said:
'I can safely say that Dementia Friends is a wonderful initiative and I hope it goes from strength to strength because the more people that understand dementia the better.

Being more aware of what dementia entails will mean that people with dementia can continue to live well within their communities and avoid the social isolation that can make things worse.

Plus, Dementia Friends can tackle the social stigma that is still attached to a condition that can be terrifying.'

Hazel Cumbertson, Alzheimer's Society Regional Operations Manager for the North East, said:
"People with dementia sometimes need a helping hand to go about their daily lives and feel included in their local community. Dementia Friends is this country's biggest ever project to change the way the nation thinks, talks and acts about dementia and this new campaign promises to push this vital initiative to a new level.

There are already thousands of Dementia Friends across the North East, but we want to see many more people signing up and helping us reach and beat our target of a million by 2015.

Whether people attend a face to face session or watch the short online video, Dementia Friends is about turning understanding into action. From helping someone to find the right bus to spreading the word about dementia on social media, every action counts."

The advert will encourage viewers to become a Dementia Friend - which simply means learning a few useful tips to help make life better for those living with dementia.

To become a Friend, individuals first watch a short online film - which explains what dementia is, how it affects individuals and what people can do to help those living with the disease.

Once they've watched the film, they then enter their details in order to receive a Dementia Friends badge (to help spread the word), and 'Little Book Of Friendship', which includes further ideas and tips on how to be a friend to someone with dementia.

Alternatively, they can attend a face-to-face awareness session in their area.

The initiative forms part of the Prime Minister's Challenge on Dementia, and builds on commitments declared at the 2013 G8 Dementia Summit, which included a call to improve the quality of life for people living with the condition.

Today the campaign also releases new research showing signs of a shift in willingness from business to become more dementia friendly.