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20,000 Young People Become Dementia Friends

The Scout Association and Alzheimer’s Society unite to empower young people to help those living with dementia

A staggering 20,000 Scouts have become Dementia Friends, joining the biggest ever social movement to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about dementia.

As part of the ‘A Million Hands’ partnership’ between Alzheimer’s Society and The Scout Association, which started in October 2015, Scouts in all four corners of the UK have taken action on dementia.

The partnership will culminate in the Big Moment, where Scouts up and down the UK will unite to deliver a Dementia Friends Information Session in their community throughout April – May 2018, educating and empowering people to take action to tackle stigma around the condition.

Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer. It affects 850,000 people in the UK, with this number set to reach one million by 2021. But too many people with dementia are isolated and face the condition alone.

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends helps to tackle the stigma and lack of understanding around dementia that means many people with the condition experience loneliness and social exclusion.

There are over 2.4 million Dementia Friends across England and Wales growing the dementia movement and taking action in their communities. But Alzheimer’s Society argues that more people are needed, from every age group, to end the stigma surrounding dementia. Young people and The Scout Association play a crucial role in ensuring that people with dementia feel included, supported and empowered in their communities.

As part of the partnership, 804 Dementia Friends Information Sessions have been delivered to Scouts in the UK, challenging each young person to learn five key messages about dementia and commit to one action. These key messages are:

  1. Dementia is not a natural part of ageing
  2. Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain
  3. It’s not just about losing your memory
  4. People can still live well with dementia
  5. Alzheimer’s Society is here for anyone affected by dementia

From committing to something as simple as promising not to laugh when my grandpa gets confused, to getting creative and organising a dementia-friendly cinema screening, every action counts.

Claire Jenkins, Head of Community Engagement at Alzheimer’s Society, says:

‘Someone develops dementia every three minutes, but too many face it alone. There is a lot of fear and stigma still surrounding dementia. The goal of this project with The Scout Association is to ensure that young people are spreading awareness in their communities so that society can better understand the condition – today and in the future.

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends helps ensure that people know the issues and challenges that people with dementia face, and can take small actions to help them live a life they love in their community. We’ve found that by working with the Scouts Association, parents feel more comfortable talking about the condition, and young people are empowered to do what they can to help.’

Claire Bruce, Beaver Scout Leader, says:

‘I’ve really enjoyed seeing the interaction between young people and people with dementia. With an ageing population, this an issue that is important and which is only going to become more relevant. Being a Dementia Friend is something our Scouts chose, and as active citizens, want to know more about.’

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