Sheffield residents become Dementia Friends

Residents of Shiregreen Estate in Sheffield have become Dementia Friends, thanks to a special event held by Sanctuary Housing to mark World Alzheimer’s Month this September.

18 local residents joined Sanctuary staff members at a Dementia Friends Information Session on 21 September, led by the housing provider’s community investment project officer Cherry Shagan, who is also a Dementia Friends Champion.

Set up to commemorate World Alzheimer’s Month, the Session encouraged attendees to carry out a range of activities – like volunteering, campaigning for positive change or visiting someone living with dementia – to help create a more dementia-friendly community.

Participants in the workshop were given a general introduction to dementia and what it is like to live with the condition, before taking part in a discussion around turning that understanding into positive action.

Sanctuary’s neighbourhood partnerships officer Sophie Kirk attended and said: “The workshop was informative and eye-opening, and I’m proud to say I’m now a Dementia Friend.

“It’s such a worthwhile service and is close to many people’s hearts, and the number of people who came along is testament to that. It’s great that Sanctuary can offer support to this vital cause.”

Kath Horner, chair of Sheffield Dementia Action Alliance, commented: “The National Dementia Declaration for England (2010) identified that people with dementia want to be part of communities that empower them to feel valued, understood and part of community and civic life. 

“In Sheffield we want to establish communities that are dementia-friendly, increase awareness and reduce the stigma that is attached to dementia. Sessions like this help put this into action.”

To become a Dementia Friend visit the website.

Why I became a Dementia Friends Champion

 Volunteer Dementia Friends Champion Sam Bradley tells us why she became a Champion:

‘Back when the Dementia Friends initiative first started, a member of the team delivered an Information Session in our office.  At first I thought this would be ‘just another information talk’ but at least it would be an hour away from my desk.

‘How wrong was I! It was one of the best and most informative talks I have ever attended, I learnt what it might be like to live with dementia and more importantly, that there is more to the person than the dementia.  In fact, it inspired me so much that I decided to volunteer as a Dementia Friends Champion, so that I could deliver the Information Sessions.  For someone who has always been petrified of public speaking, it must be something I believe passionately about!

‘Although it was a little scary at first, (and I still get nervous butterflies before each Session, as I want them to be delivered well) but the more I do, the more relaxed I feel.  My first Sessions I practiced on family and friends, and the Sessions notes are a really good aid to them running smoothly.

‘One of my first Sessions was at my daughter’s primary school, which was fantastic!  The whole of the junior school are now Dementia Friends and they were really engaged and asked lots of questions!  The children were very proud to wear their badges and come up with lots of actions.

‘I’ve now delivered Sessions in banks, and libraries, mainly by pestering family and friends to allow me to go into their workplace!

‘I think my favourite Sessions have to be the ones I delivered for staff and residents relatives in a local care home.  These were held once a week for 11 weeks, small groups, so not to affect the running of the care home. This enabled all staff, including managers, care staff, admin and cooks to all become Dementia Friends.  The feedback was great from them and I will definitely be writing to more care homes to offer these groups Session.

‘To date I have made over 300 Dementia Friends, with more Sessions booked in, and I can honestly say I love being a Dementia Friends Champion. I always get such good feedback from people who attend the Session, and it feels great to make a difference for people living with dementia.’

Interested in becoming a Champion? Visit

Reaching new audiences with Dementia Friends

We want to make it as easy as possible for as many people as possible to become Dementia Friends. The Dementia Friends team is developing a number of different resources to help Dementia Friends Champions meet the needs of audiences who may have specific requirements.

The four different audiences currently being looked at are:

  1. People with learning disabilities
  2. People from black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups (BAME)
  3. People with additional needs (e.g., visual impairment, BSL, hearing impairment, impaired movement)
  4. People living with dementia and carers of people living with dementia

Aimee Packwood, Regional Support Officer for the South West of England, is focussing on groups with learning disabilities:

‘We are looking at developing new resources and guidance for adults with learning disabilities, including easy read materials, so that Champions can run sessions tailored to people with different needs, but with the flexibility to adapt the session according to the group. Get in touch if you would like to know more about our resources or run sessions for adults with learning disabilities!’

Dementia Friends Champion David Truswell has been helping with the pilots of the BAME resources:

‘There are a lot of people from minority communities who think dementia doesn’t affect their communities. They see the TV campaigns as being about something that will never happen to them, because no one from their community is seen in the campaigns. When running a Session at the Chinese National Healthy Living Centre, I asked through our Cantonese interpreter if people with dementia could play mah jong rather than bingo and that’s when they realised we were talking about Chinese people living with dementia.’

Keeley Waldron, Regional Support Officer for the Midlands, has been working on the resources for delivering to people living with dementia and carers:

‘When developing the resources, we’ve been working with Champions to get their experiences of delivering Sessions to people living with dementia and carers. Champion Christine West delivered a Session for the pilot and said: ‘At the end of the Information Session, I was extremely touched when a lady with dementia approached me and thanked me for delivering the Information Session in such a positive way.’

The new resources and guidance are currently being piloted and, once ready, Champions will be able to access them from their Champions dashboard on the Dementia Friends website. Look out for further updates in the near future.

Dementia Friends Champions: Ask your RSO

Ask your RSOEach month, one of our RSOs (Regional Support Officers) answer your Dementia Friends Champions questions. Daisy Robson, RSO for North East, answers this month’s question:

Dear RSO

I’m a Dementia Friends Champion but I also want to get my organisation signed up to Dementia Friends. How do I do that?


Dear Champion,

There are a number of ways that organisations can make all their staff/ volunteers Dementia Friends via:

  • face-to-face Information Sessions 
  • watching videos hosted on their intranet
  • watching videos on the Dementia Friends website

By signing up your organisation on the Dementia Friends website, you can access and monitor the video routes.

Why should I sign up my organisation?
It might be that not everyone in your organisation is able to attend a Dementia Friends information session, but you would like everyone to have an awareness of dementia and the Dementia Friends five key messages. By signing up your organisation, you are able to offer another route to becoming a Dementia Friend and monitor the numbers of Dementia Friends in your organisation.

How do I sign up my organisation to Dementia Friends?
Firstly, decide who is going to be the lead contact in your organisation. This person will be responsible for managing the account, reporting numbers and liaising with the Dementia Friends Organisations team.

  • Go to
  • Click ‘Register your organisation’ and complete the registration form.
  • Verify your account via the link sent to your email address.

What happens next?
You will receive a code that allows you to share the videos with your organisation. When they watch them online this will be automatically recorded by the Dementia Friends website. If you host them elsewhere (e.g. on your intranet) you will need to record the numbers of Dementia Friends manually through your organisations account.

Do I still use my Champions account?
Yes – when you make Dementia Friends in an Information Session, as you do now, you need to create every Session and report on the number of Dementia Friends you make.

How do I get an update of the total number of Dementia Friends in the organisation?
If you want an update on how many members of staff have become Dementia Friends at your organisation, simply email and we’ll be happy to let you know!

Does this make my organisation ‘dementia-friendly’?
Not yet! To be recognised as “working towards becoming dementia friendly” you will need to sign up and submit an action plan to your local Dementia Action Alliance. See the DAA website for more details on how to do this and for contact details of your local DAA Coordinator.

Ready to get your organisation involved? Sign up here

Making the Royal Exchange Theatre more dementia-friendly

Andy Barry, Dementia Friends Champion and Adults’ Programme Leader at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester tells us what the theatre is doing to become more dementia-friendly.

Why did you decide to get involved with Dementia Friends?
I attended a Dementia Friends Session through another organisation I volunteer with and found it really useful and enlightening. Although I don’t have a personal connection with dementia I felt I wanted to do more to raise awareness so I decided to attend the Dementia Friends Champion training.

Why did your organisation get involved with Dementia Friends?
I was inspired by the work of other cultural institutions in Manchester like The Whitworth Art Gallery who had started to deliver Information sessions. I approached our Director of Engagement and our Visitor Experience Manager who thought it would be a great idea for staff, volunteers, friends of the theatre and the many young people we work with to get involved and find out some more. We welcome a lot of visitors into our building for performances and workshops and this includes a lot of older people so making sure as many of our staff as possible have a clearer understanding about the challenges people living with dementia face means that we can better support people when they visit us.

What has been the benefit to your organisation of colleagues becoming Dementia Friends and watching the online videos?
An unexpected benefit has been the way the Sessions have brought people together from different departments within the organisation.

Would you recommend our videos to other organisations?
Sharing the links to the videos was a great way to follow up with staff and keep the Dementia Friends campaign alive within the organisation even once the first round of Information Sessions had been completed. 

Has your involvement with Dementia Friends led to any changes being made in your organisation? Anything you do differently now?
We have recently started Relaxed Performances for people with a range of needs but this now very much includes talking about people living with dementia. When front of house staff had their relaxed performance training, we included a Dementia Friends Information Session as part of this.

If you’d like to sign your organisation up to Dementia Friends, visit the website.

Meet the team: Philippa Tree

Philippa Tree is the Regional Support Officer (RSO) for the London and South Central region and is responsible for training and supporting all the volunteer Dementia Friends Champions in the region. We chatted with Philippa to find out what keeps her busy and her highlights since joining the team.

What’s a typical day at work like for you?
I’m not sure there is such a thing as a typical day. I could be travelling across England delivering Dementia Friends Champion induction days, or attending Alzheimer’s Society meetings and working with colleagues to develop the programme, or I could have a full day in the office (always welcome, especially after a few days travelling!) catching up with emails and supporting our volunteer Champions in whatever way I can.

How did you come to be involved with Dementia Friends?
As with many people who get involved with Dementia Friends and Alzheimer’s Society, I had personal experience of dementia. My granddad had Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and sadly passed away last year. I became a Dementia Friends Champion because I had witnessed the lack of understanding of dementia, and I wanted to help raise the importance of being dementia-friendly and challenge the stigma surrounding the disease. I am honoured to be a Regional Support Officer, and to be a part of the Dementia Friends movement.

Every so often it hits me and I realise just how far we have come and how we are creating waves that are changing the way we think, talk and act about dementia. There is sometimes resistance and there is certainly still work to do, but the passion of colleagues and Champions is often astounding, and I’m eager to see what will happen next!

Any particular moment that stands out for you during your time in this role?
How can I choose one! One moment which stands out for me is when I first started in the RSO role. I attended a Singing for the Brain service to learn more about the services Alzheimer’s Society offers. There was so much warmth in the room. They were clearly not just a group of people with dementia, they were a group of individuals coming together and enjoying a common passion for music. Following this, when I deliver a Dementia Friends Information Session I always make a point to find out what services are in the area so I can put this information out for people to read. Dementia Connect is something which has helped me a great deal recently.

What is always on your work desk?
My note pad, mobile phone, and always a bottle of cordial – I’m addicted! Robinson’s squash is often my saviour (of course other brands are available!), that and something chocolaty come mid-afternoon.

What would you say to someone who is considering becoming a Champion to persuade them to sign up?

Go for it! If you want to help spread understanding of dementia, help people become more dementia-friendly, and if you feel happy with public speaking then this role is perfect for you. I realise that I am slightly biased writing this, but the Champion role is something that I thoroughly enjoy and it’s a great opportunity if you want to get more involved in making a difference to those affected by dementia.

The role isn’t for everyone however, so I would recommend that you read the FAQ’s on ‘what is a Champion?’ If you feel that it ticks all the boxes then simply register online.

Any questions about the role then please ask, we are here to help!

Action of the month

Dementia Friends Champions Sheila Goodall delivered a Session for her husband who put his learning to good use. Sheila tells us the full story:

‘I am a Dementia Friends Champion, and my husband attended my first Dementia Friends Information Session some time ago now. Yesterday he went to our local supermarket and when he came home he told me that he had had an encounter with a lady on the way to the newspaper counter.

He described the lady as very elegant and debonair looking, she clasped his elbow and called him Malcom and asked what he was doing. He explained he was buying a newspaper and she told him they had already got the papers. With that, another lady, whom he presumed was her carer, stepped in and apologised for what had happened.

My husband replied there was no need to apologise, we were just going to buy a paper. The other lady steered her away and the elegant lady told Malcom to stay where he was and she would pick him up on the way out.

My husband said that becoming a Dementia Friend had helped him react positively to this lady and shows that we can have more understanding and patient communities if more people become Dementia Friends.’

A whole school of Dementia Friends

Dementia Friends Champion Kristy Adams spent Dementia Awareness Week raising awareness and taking action on a big scale when she made an entire school Dementia Friends.

Kristy had been working with Robert Napier School on an intergenerational relationship project with the aim of, as Kristy says ‘reducing stigma surrounding young people and older people, building confidence and relationships of both groups and reducing isolation and dependency for older people’. As part of the project, students have been visiting a local care home and meeting some of the residents.

To support the project, Kristy ran an initial Dementia Friends Information Session for 14 of the students involved. After the Session, the students were committed to raising awareness and had the ambitious idea of making the entire school Dementia Friends! For Dementia Awareness Week 2015, the students organised a whole week of activity, including raising over £200 for Alzheimer’s Society. They also helped Kristy to organise the Dementia Friends Sessions. In one single day they ran four Sessions for students and staff, making an incredible 650 Dementia Friends in the process. Kristy said they were ‘so busy running the Sessions, we forgot to take any pictures!’

After the Dementia Friends Sessions, the students pledged to continue their involvement with Charing house, with one group pledging to visit the home and read to the residents. One pupil asked for extra information to take home and share with his family as his grandad has recently been diagnosed with dementia. The school has also pledged to continue making all new pupils Dementia Friends and to direct parents to the Dementia Friends website so that they can get involved.

Kristy works for the charity ‘Kissing It Better’ and she says that ‘as a charity we have pledged to make all the young people and volunteers we work with nationwide Dementia Friends. We will also encourage schools we work with to follow the example of Robert Napier and encourage all their students to become Dementia Friends.

Dementia Friends Champions: Ask your RSO

Ask your RSOEach month, one of our RSOs (Regional Support Officers) answer your Dementia Friends Champions questions. Daisy Robson, RSO for North East, answers this month’s question:

Dear RSO

What is a webinar and how do I sign up to it?

Dear Champion,

A ‘Webinar’ is essentially a seminar on the web! Our webinars are all one-hour presentations that we talk you through, and we love to get your involvement in them too – through polls, discussions or chat boxes. We send you a link to a website, and ask that you call a Freephone number. Lots of Champions can attend one webinar, so it is a great opportunity to share ideas and learn from each other’s experiences.

A list of all our upcoming webinars can be found in this newsletter, or here. To sign up to webinars (you can join as many as you like), you just need to email with a list of all the webinars you’d like to attend.

We will then email you instructions a few days before, which include a website to visit and a telephone number to join. The phone line is a conference call line where you can listen to the presenter and also un-mute your phone to ask any questions.