Sarah Travers supports Alzheimer’s Society launch of Northern Ireland Dementia Friendly Awards

‘I wish Dementia Friends awareness workshops had been available when my father had dementia, it would have helped me so much to understand what the world was like for him and what was happening'

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Alzheimer’s Society has opened nominations for its 2nd annual Dementia Friendly Awards, which celebrate people and organisations which have made an outstanding contribution towards improving the life and experiences of people with dementia.

This will see exciting new additions for 2016 including the ‘Inspiring Individual’ award, designed to shine a light on an individual who has made an exceptional difference to the lives of people with dementia, and ‘Young Person’s Contribution’, to mark the important role younger generations have to play in supporting the better understanding and inclusion of people with dementia in their local communities via Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friendly Communities initiative.

There are 20,000 people with dementia in Northern Ireland and this number will rise.  Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friendly Communities programme is Northern Ireland’s biggest ever initiative to change the way people think, act and talk about dementia, tackling the stigma resulting in social exclusion. The Dementia Friendly Communities initiative sets out to create more communities and businesses that are dementia-friendly, so that people affected by dementia feel understood and included in all aspects of community life.

As part of Alzheimer’s Society’s drive towards creating a dementia friendly society, it is encouraging dementia friendly people and organisations across the country to enter the awards and have their efforts to make communities better for people with dementia recognised.

The awards will be hosted by Sarah Travers, Alzheimer’s Society Celebrity Ambassador, who explains why she is delighted to be involved in the awards again this year:  

‘My involvement with the awards last year highlighted to me how Dementia Friends awareness workshops are not just for care workers, it’s for everyone. When I did a Dementia Friends awareness workshop this year it highlighted to me how unfriendly a place the world is for people with dementia. These awards celebrate the people making the world friendlier, whether they are a hairdresser, a police officer or a part of a team of people working with dementia.

‘The Dementia Friends awareness workshop really gave me an understanding of what the world is like for a person with dementia. I wish it had been available when my father had dementia, it would have helped me so much to understand what the world was like for him and what was happening.’

‘It’s wonderful to see dementia friendly initiatives emerging from every corner of our communities - from schools to hairdressers and theatres to public transport. I’d encourage anyone who is involved with making their community a friendlier place for people with dementia to enter these awards. This is an opportunity not only to celebrate these achievements, but also to inspire others to make Northern Ireland a dementia friendly Province.'

Nominations are open to all groups, individuals, organisations and partnerships from across Northern Ireland that champion the rights of people affected by dementia to remain included and supported in their communities and daily lives.

Alzheimer’s Society is hoping to make this year’s awards bigger and better than before, with eight categories to choose from including three new awards. 
These are:

  • NEW: The first ever Inspiring Individuals Award
  • NEW: Young Person(s) Contribution of the Year
  • NEW: Dementia Innovation of the Year
  • Dementia Friendly Community of the Year
  • Dementia Partnership of the Year 
  • Dementia Friends Champion of the Year 
  • Dementia Friendly Organisation of the Year 
  • Outstanding Contribution of the Year 

Bernadine McCrory, Director of Operations in Northern Ireland, said:

‘Dementia is the biggest health and social care issue facing our society and there’s no question that it has a profound and devastating impact. Additionally, the many myths and misunderstandings around the condition continue to contribute to the stigma and isolation that many people feel. 

‘The work people and organisations are carrying out up and down the country in a bid to raise better awareness, break down the stigma and make our communities more dementia friendly is awe-inspiring. These awards allow us to celebrate the incredible dedication individuals, community groups and businesses have shown in improving the lives of people with dementia.

'I’d urge anyone and everyone to enter, so we can continue to show that life doesn’t end when dementia begins.'

Previous winners include the boys from Hammer Youth Club on the Shankill Road, who were presented joint winners of the Best Dementia Friendly Educational Initiative at the at the awards last year.

The ‘Take A Step In Someone Else's Shoes Project’ was created to allow young people from the Hammer Youth Club to gain insight and also a practical experience into the world of others living in their community.

The information and awareness session educated the group of nine boys about dementia.  The session allowed the young people to dispel the myths surrounding the condition and started constructing their own educated opinions and views. Some of the young people could relate the learning to their personal experiences which was really important as it gave them the tools to support their family members.

All finalists will be invited to attend an awards ceremony on Wednesday, 12 October at the Europa Hotel, Belfast, where winners will be announced. 

Anyone interested in entering this year’s awards, either as an individual, or part of an organisation or community, should refer to the individual entry criteria for your chosen award and apply using the nomination form at alzheimers.org.uk/dementiafriendlyawards

Nominations are open now. The final date for submissions will be midnight on Monday 1 August 2016.  For further queries email the team at:dementiafriendlycommunities@alzheimers.org.uk