A Dementia Friends Champion in Cambridgeshire volunteers for the cause in memory of her mum.
When Heather Hooper’s mother died in 2015, at first she wanted nothing more to do with dementia – the condition that had caused her family so much sadness. However, months later she began to feel ready to help others.
‘I walked the path with Mum on her dementia journey,’ says Heather, whose mother had mixed dementia. ‘I was so deeply affected by the whole experience that I had to turn it into something positive.
‘Five months after her passing, I found myself knocking on the door of Peterborough’s Dementia Resource Centre, asking, “How can I help?”
‘I had witnessed families and carers struggling to understand what was happening to their loved ones,’ says Heather.
‘I had witnessed families and carers struggling to understand what was happening to their loved ones. I recognised that, with a little knowledge, they may be better equipped to understand and cope.’
Heather has drawn on her experience to volunteer in different ways, though a key area has been raising awareness of dementia.
As a Dementia Friends Champion, she runs information sessions with all kinds of local organisations to help people understand what they can do to help people with dementia.
‘Through Dementia Friends, I reach out to people of all ages, particularly our younger generation. They are our future carers and will have heard about and even experienced dementia within their families, schools and communities.
‘I love witnessing the “penny dropping” moment when I present an information session,’ says Heather.
‘I love witnessing the “penny dropping” moment in people of all ages when I present an information session. It’s so rewarding.’
As well as creating over 840 Dementia Friends in schools, businesses and community groups, Heather gives monthly talks to student healthcare assistants and supports a regular walk in a local park for people affected by dementia. She also helped a local supermarket set up ‘quiet hour’ shopping, and recently ran a session with her local football team.
‘Volunteering is good for the soul,’ says Heather (pictured above with local care home staff). ‘The voluntary work I do is in Mum’s memory.’
Turn understanding into action
Volunteer as a Dementia Friends Champion