Emdad Rahman in east London shares how he became a Dementia Friends Champion and hasn’t looked back since.
I work and volunteer in Tower Hamlets and in Barking and Dagenham. I became a Dementia Friends Champion purely by accident!
Since the London 2012 Olympics I’ve loved the ‘welcoming the world to my city’ idea. I was at Lords, training to become a voluntary matchday steward.
The training started with a Dementia Friends information session from two champions. They said that I would be decent as a Dementia Friends Champion. So I did the training and I haven’t looked back since.
I’ve held information sessions at exciting places and with amazing people. I just finished a session with the official Speaker and First Citizen of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
I’ve held them at banks and the Mayor’s Parlour, for matchday stewards at Leyton Orient Football Club, a charity mountain climbing group, in town halls, mosques and community centres.
I’m a practising Muslim but I went to a Sunday service at church – people were very welcoming and friendly.
A memorable moment for me was making a Dementia Friend of the late great Max Levitas, who fought off Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts.
A complete folk hero and a good friend. He saw the leaflet in my hand and wanted to become a Dementia Friend, aged 100.
More recently, I did an information session with Dabirul Choudhury OBE, who’s 101 years old. He’s raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for coronavirus relief by walking, inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore.
My approach is for everybody, although because of my background, I can reach out to the Asian community in particular, which is wonderful and really helps. I’ve also held a session at a synagogue, and the local gurdwara want me to go there.
The sessions can have a major effect. Sometimes people get emotional, I get a lot of gratitude. When we raise awareness, we have the support of the community. People still keep their badges five years on.
I’d 110% recommend becoming a Dementia Friends Champion, without a doubt. The main obstacle people face is time. But I say that if you love doing it, it’s never a chore. You make the time for it. It’s one of the best community things I’ve ever done. Alzheimer’s Society provides support and training resources.
Together, we’re making a difference all the time – every single day, and the results are wondrous. It’s magical work and will continue to benefit and help countless people.
Become a Dementia Friend
You can become a Dementia Friend by taking part in an online session, and also by watching our online videos.