Dementia Voice: The Facing it together (FIT) group

The Facing it together group is run by and for, people living with dementia in the Bradford area.

‘It makes you feel better going here because it is nice to be with people like myself – we are all learning from each other and openly talking about dementia to people who understand and don’t question it.  It really feels like we can contribute’.

Cathy Henwood, one of the group’s coordinators, talks about the work and the laughter, that makes this such a successful involvement group.

The Facing it together group is run by and for, people living with dementia in the Bradford area. It was set up as a peer lead group with an outward looking focus; therefore group members take part in a huge range of activities to challenge, shape and change viewpoints and services in their local area. 

Some of the group members speak at events to challenge the myths and assumptions around people living with dementia. Other members interview new Alzheimer’s Society staff so have a direct impact on the people who run services.

Their latest group project involved liaising with the Council on four new swimming pools and sports centre development projects in the Bradford district, to ensure that the designs and staff are dementia friendly. The group is passionately involved with projects such as this to discuss and interact with dementia friendly community plans and work on a local and national level.

How do the participants like the group?

I asked the members themselves to describe the group and here is a selection of their responses:

‘Coffee and biscuits’ (followed by a lot of laughter)

‘It’s good to talk’

‘We talk about interesting topics makes me think’

‘It’s good to get our views heard’

‘We are all in the same boat’

‘I can relate to what people say, so many similarly as well as differences’

 ‘It’s good fun – I always go away feeling better’

‘We all have a good laugh but laughing with each other not at each other’

This group is so important for contributing to dementia friendly work in the district, yet it also brings personal advantages to its members, including a sense of purpose from the achievements of their influencing activities.

People in the group say it is the only place they feel able to really speak about their condition because they are all in the same boat. The group is very supportive of each other and no one feels embarrassed if they get in a muddle, repeat things, or can’t find the words to express themselves.