Raising the profile of dementia in local communities as a Dementia Friends Ambassador

Long-time supporter of Alzheimer's Society Jackie Chelin is relishing her new role as a Dementia Friends Ambassador.

Both of my parents had Alzheimer’s once they got into their 80s, Dad first. Mum did all the things you’re not supposed to do, like contradicting what he said. I used to be very impatient with her, then it became clear that she had it as well. I wasn’t really good with them. 

I heard about Dementia Friends on Radio 4 when I was driving to work. I wanted to become a Dementia Friend but couldn’t find any information sessions in my area. But there was Dementia Friends Champions training in Birmingham, which included an information session, so I popped on a train. That got me hooked! 

I took part in discussions about the champion role becoming a brand new role – Dementia Friends Ambassador. I’ve done all the training, which was excellent. It’s online and includes a refresher on information sessions.

Jackie Chelin.

Jackie lives in Cheltenham and has recently become a local councillor.

So many thank-yous 

I’ve run Dementia Friends information sessions with friends, family and neighbours, and even in a café at Cheltenham Science Festival. I seek out organisations that might want them and hear about opportunities through the Society. There are so many thank-yous that come through. 

I relish having to do at least six sessions a year as a Dementia Friends Ambassador, as it keeps up your knowledge and skills. The session resources are updated from time to time, based on feedback, so that’s really good. 

I work for the University of the West of England in Bristol and I’ve got a session booked for a group of radiography students. I do it for students every year before they go on placement. I’m also doing a session at a local church that has a drop-in café. If I see a need in the local community, I want to embrace that.

Support and resources 

The Dementia Friends Ambassador role also includes raising awareness of dementia as well as fundraising. You have a dedicated local volunteer role manager, so you get all the support and resources you need. 

After the training, Community Fundraiser Zena Jones phoned up and talked through lots of things – that was very good. To have her as a contact, you feel cared for by Alzheimer’s Society. 

I’ve just become a local councillor in Cheltenham, and I’m trying to suss out where the dementia support is in Gloucestershire. I’m getting to know more about the structures and networks in place, including the local dementia action alliance. 

I did the Cheltenham half marathon in aid of the Society and took part in Trek26 Cotswolds, which was great. Being an ambassador doesn’t necessarily mean doing the events – you can volunteer and represent Alzheimer’s Society in different ways. 

I’ll be looking for local opportunities to promote the Society. If I happen to notice a local company who is looking for a charity to support, I’ll draw their attention to Alzheimer’s Society. If people are raising money, I might go and present a cheque or give a speech. 

I’d absolutely recommend becoming a Dementia Friends Ambassador – we just can’t do enough to put dementia on an equal footing with cancer in terms of research funding and breakthroughs.

Dementia Friends

Dementia Friends is the biggest ever initiative to change people's perceptions of dementia. 

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Dementia together magazine

Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer’s Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
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Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer’s Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
Subscribe now