A SERIES of events have been planned to raise awareness about dementia as Tamworth joins national Dementia Action Week.
More than a dozen activities, including coffee mornings, a community fundraising day, dementia awareness sessions, ‘Singing for the Mind’ and planting in the Castle Grounds, will take place in the town between Monday, May 21 and Sunday, May 27.
It is the second year that Tamworth has taken part in the national event since being granted Dementia Friendly Community status last year to help improve the lives of local people living with dementia.
Activities are being organised and co-ordinated by the Tamworth Dementia Action Alliance (TDAA) – a partnership of stakeholders working together to raise awareness and improve services locally. The TDAA now boasts 27 member organisations including Tamworth Borough Council, the police, fire service, health care services and providers, community groups and businesses.
The various events aim to either support people living with dementia, to help others understand what it is like for those living with the condition, or to raise money for vital equipment and services.
The week kicks off with a fundraising day at Tamworth Community Together CIC hub in the Castle Grounds, between 10am and 3pm on Monday, May 21. This includes free tea and cake for anyone living with dementia and their carers. There will also be a raffle and the creation of a memory tree. All money raised will be donated to Sir Robert Peel Hospital to support patients with dementia.
Ankerside Shopping Centre will host two ‘Singing for the Mind’ sessions on the Wednesday and Thursday at 10.30am. The Wednesday session will be joined by youngsters from the choir at Wilnecote Junior School – Tamworth’s first dementia friendly school where all staff and pupils have taken part in training sessions to become Dementia Friends.
Other events throughout the week include a Memory Café and service at the Sacred Heart Church, a coffee morning at the Peel Medical Practice and information stands at John Lewis, Tamworth Library and Tamworth Market.
Depending on availability, a number of the events are due to be attended by Tamworth Fire Service’s branded appliance, which has special artwork carrying the dementia friendly message. These include the community fundraising event in the Castle Grounds, the Sacred Heart Memory Café and ‘Reminiscence of Tamworth History’ morning at Tamworth Heritage Trust in the Middle Entry at 10am on the Friday (May 25).
St Giles Hospice is also offering free dementia awareness sessions, as well as the opportunity for people to take part in a ‘virtual dementia tour’ which is designed to provide a realistic experience of what it’s like to live with dementia (priced at £30 per person).
Full details of all events can be downloaded via the Dementia Friendly page of Tamworth Borough Council’s website at www.tamworth.gov.uk/dementia-friendly.
As part of the week, people with dementia and their carers will again be invited to help members of Tamworth Borough Council’s Street Scene team plant out a special flower bed in the Castle Grounds’ sensory garden with the colours of the Alzheimer’s Society.
As an official Dementia Friendly Community, a lot of work has taken place in Tamworth to create a community in which people living with dementia and their carers feel understood and supported, with access to the services they need.
This includes building an army of Dementia Friends – people who have undergone a short awareness session, to give them a basic understanding of dementia and some of the issues it can create for people living with it. According to latest figures, Tamworth has almost 3,500 Dementia Friends, 14 Dementia Friends Champions and more than 100 information sessions have been run.
Work is co-ordinated through the Tamworth Dementia Action Alliance, a growing partnership of businesses, groups and organisations, working together to raise awareness and improve services.
Chairman of the alliance, John Edwards, said: “Every time a person becomes aware of the difficulties faced by those living with dementia and their carers, life becomes easier for those affected. Tamworth can be rightly proud of the progress that has been made and the determination to do more in the future.”
Jeff Wigley, manager at Ankerside Shopping Centre, added: “It’s a pleasure to be involved in the town’s Dementia Action Week this year. In 2017, we had excellent success supporting the cause with a ‘Knit and Natter’ event at our Druckers and AB’s cafés. This year volunteers will be returning to the centre to raise awareness of dementia to Tamworth shoppers on Wednesday 23rd and Thursday 24th May.
“Plus, as it’s proven that familiar songs and re-visiting old experiences encourage those living with dementia, volunteers will be hosting a session of ‘Singing for the Mind’ between 10.30am and 11.30am each day. This is going to be really fantastic for our shoppers to enjoy and will raise even further awareness of the illness.”
Becoming a Dementia Friend can be done online or in person and takes less than an hour. Visit www.dementiafriends.org.uk or contact Tamworth Borough Council’s Lead Officer for Dementia Friendly Communities, Karen Clancy, on 01827 709565.