New ‘dementia friends’ to draw on Olympics spirit

13:02 08 November 2012

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was in Kentish Town to launch the initiative today. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was in Kentish Town to launch the initiative today. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

The Government has started a scheme to identify hundreds of volunteers to support people with dementia.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt today said he wanted people to draw inspiration from the efforts made by Games Makers during London 2012.

The government hopes to attract “dementia friends” who will be able to spot the signs of the condition and offer support for sufferers.

He said: “The volunteers at the Olympics were an inspiration to everyone across the country and I think they changed the way we all felt about the Olympics because that sense that people were giving their own time to try and make sure that we could enjoy the Games really made it so much better as an experience.

“We definitely took a lot of inspiration from that and we are trying to harness that to tackle this big challenge we have - a million people will get dementia by 2020, that’s a huge chunk of the population. It’s already responsible for about five per cent or 10 per cent of all deaths.”

The sessions, which will be provided in church halls and workplaces, will help to raise awareness and teach people how to support those with the condition.

Mr Hunt, who received a taster session this morning in Kentish Town, added: “We recognise that we can’t do this as a Government on our own - we need the help of the voluntary sector and the public to be part of this change.”

Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes, who was also at the event, said: “There are three main parts to the session, one is an understanding of what dementia is, so there is an understanding that dementia is a disease of the brain it’s not just a natural part of ageing - which is one of the myths that we need to get away from.

“Secondly, that there is support people can get, whether it’s from the Alzheimer’s Society, whether it’s the drugs that are now available on the NHS.

“Thirdly, people will take away from the training session a better understanding of every day life - how much more difficult it is for somebody with dementia to make a cup of tea, to go shopping, to operate a bank account.

Prime Minister David Cameron also announced that the Government will be giving almost £10 million for dementia research and £50 million to make wards and care homes more comfortable for people with dementia.

To register interest in taking part in the local sessions, visit: dementiafriends.org.uk or by text Friend to 88080.

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