A light bulb moment

When a customer came in to speak to Francesca Hartley, Neighbourhood Coordinator for a housing association in Brighouse, she put what she had learnt at a Dementia Friends Session to good use. Francesca tells us her story:

‘After attending a Dementia Friends Information Session, I had a light bulb moment this morning.

‘A customer came in saying he had lost his key to his bungalow, this isn’t anything new. When the reception staff did some digging the tenant mentioned that he had no furniture in the bungalow and he thinks he was robbed and they locked the door on the way out.

‘I overheard the conversation so I asked the reception staff to look on our system to see if they had any alerts for vulnerabilities or next of kin. There was nothing on the system so we asked him for details to update our system. He couldn’t remember his daughter’s number or where she worked. We contacted the police for any details as I thought that something wasn’t stacking up. When we spoke to his daughter we found out the tenant has dementia.

‘We organised a lock change for later that day and we are keeping a key back in case this happens again!

‘If I hadn’t become a Dementia Friend I would never have thought that customer might be living with dementia. It definitely pays off being a Dementia Friend!’

Daisy’s 7 Step Guide to Making Dementia Friends Bunting

Step 1


Step 1) Go to www.dementiafriends.org.uk, login to your Champions account and download the Bunting document from the Session Resources page




Step 2


Step 2) Print one copy of each letter and Dementia Friends logo. Remember, you can always make it longer by adding logos.




Step 3


Step 3) Cut out the bunting using a pair of scissors – please be careful not to chop off any fingers!





Step 4


Optional Step 4) Is the event outside? Do you want to re-use your bunting at another event? You may want to consider laminating it!





Step 5


Step 5) Make holes in the corners of the bunting using a hole punch so that you can hang it up.




Step 6



Step 6) Thread string or ribbon through the top of your bunting to join it together.






Step 7



Step 7) Ta Da!! Your bunting is ready to be used again and again!





Send us pics of you and your bunting via the Dementia Friends Facebook & Twitter pages!

Great ideas for delivering Info Sessions outdoors

Summer is here, the sun is shining (and we all know that that’s a rare occurrence) so let’s make the most of it and deliver our Dementia Friends Information Sessions outside. Here are a few ideas to get you started!


England’s love of festivals continues to grow.  With large crowds, this could be a perfect opportunity to spread understanding of dementia further.

Have a look in your local paper or local website for news of nearby festivals, fairs or fetes. You might be able to get a stand for free, or contact a local venue nearby and target the crowds.

Websites such as www.chooseyourevent.co.uk and www.wherecanwego.com are examples of websites where you can find out what is going on in your local area.


Move your Information Session outside to your nearby park. Bring blankets, perhaps some food and drink and you could have a picnic to make it more of an event.

If you’re planning a public Information Session please remember to check with your local council beforehand to make sure that it’s possible to hold it outside. They will be able to explain if there are any safety measures you need to take.


How about delivering an Information Session round the Campfire under the stars? Debbie Hewitt did just that when she delivered a Dementia Friends Information Sessions during a weekend camping with friends.

Debbie Hewitt delivered a Session whilst on a camping holiday

‘We all came together in a semi-circle in the middle of the grass areas, it was a nice warm day and we had drinks and nibbles. Despite the relaxed atmosphere, everyone took it seriously, asked questions and enjoyed the activities. The ‘who’s right’ activity in particular created a good debate.’


On holiday

Sun cream, check. Swimming costume, check. Dementia Friend’s bingo sheets…

Okay so Dementia Friends resources might not be a staple item to pack on holiday. However if you’re planning a trip with friends and have been promising an Information Session to them, why not? Have fun with the activities and pass on understanding at the same time.

Please remember that only people in England and Wales can be recognised as Dementia Friends. If you deliver an Information Session to a mixture of people from England and outside, not to worry! Just make sure that you only report back on the number of Dementia Friends who live in England and Wales.


Not only is this a great opportunity to deliver an Information Session, the BBQ food will be bound to draw some people in. As with parks, if you’re hosting a public BBQ please contact your local council for permission beforehand.

There may also be a local BBQ/event happening in your area which you could piggy back on.


Planning on a family trip to the beach? Bring your Dementia Friends resources with you and deliver an Information Session on the sand (or pebbles). You could buy some seaside rock to hand out as a bingo prize.

You could also contact local businesses beforehand and arrange an Information Session at the local café, amusements arcade or to the local lifeguards. They come in contact with many people, of which some will live with dementia. The information and understanding that you pass on will be invaluable in improving their customer service.

Street party

You might like to hold a small street party in your community and have a Dementia Friends stand and Information Session there. For more information on how to organise visit this website.

If you have any questions about delivering an Information Session to the places above please contact your RSO.

Have a great summer!


Dementia Friends Champions: Ask your RSO

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

Dear RSO,

What do I need to consider when delivering Information Sessions outside?


Dear Champion,

Fantastic that you’ve decided to deliver an Information Session outside! I’ve put some key things to consider below. If you have any questions please do feel free to contact your Regional Support Officer.

Private or public?
If you’re hosting a private Information Session outside with friends and family, then simply make sure you have organised it as usual and you’re good to go.

If you’re hosting a public Information Session outside you may need to check with your local council. Depending on what you’re doing, whether it’s just an Information Session or whether you’re hosting an event or involving food, you may need to complete an application. For more information please visit your local council’s website.

Do I need Public Liability Insurance?
Public Liability Insurance covers the organisers of an event providing them with financial protection if they are held to blame for injury to a person or for loss or damage to property and sued.

There is no law that says you must buy insurance for a private voluntary or community event – but you might want to make sure you are covered in case something goes wrong.

Sometimes another body, perhaps a local council or the landowner will require you to have public liability insurance if you’re holding an event there. If this is the case, get in touch with them, sometimes signing a disclaimer will be adequate.

Remember all public Dementia Friends Information Sessions must have Public Liability Insurance. The best thing to do is to contact your local council to double check, and if you have any questions please give your RSO a call.

Plan for your audience

If you’re hosting an event with a Dementia Friends Information Session make sure you’re clear on how people will get there.

• Give details of public transport and parking
• Do you need any signs to make it easier to find?
• Is the venue accessible for wheelchair users and people with other disabilities?
• Are there any toilets nearby?

Check the weather

If you’re running a session outside it’s worth preparing for our traditional English rain. Have a plan B, whether it’s having a nearby sheltered area or bringing umbrellas!

Food and drink

If you’re expecting a lot of people and would like to make a fun day of it, why not provide food and refreshments.
Please consider
• Labelling your foods. Let people know what it is, and be wary of any possible allergies. For example you could make signs saying ‘contain nuts’.
• Ensure that you wash your hands before preparing or serving food
• Keep the food simple – for example cakes, sandwiches or food cooked straight from the BBQ.

The Information Session itself

Think about your audience. If you’re holding a large Information Session outside the Bingo activity might not be ideal.

Equally think about the space you have. Can everyone see and hear you?

For information about how to adapt your session, and what materials you can use please check out our other top tips on the blog.

Most importantly have fun!

Our information session can be adapted to any environment – enjoy it! Think outside of the box and please get in touch with your RSO if you have questions.


How to adapt your Info Session for the outdoors!

Your regular Dementia Friends Information Session can be run in the great outdoors – in your garden, at your local park, on the beach – with just a few adaptations. Let’s think about the different parts of the Session that will need to be altered:

Bingo vs. Broken sentences

These can both be played anywhere but make sure you consider:

  • Will participants be sitting or standing? (Camping chairs? Picnic blanket? Park bench?)
  • Do they need something to lean on? (Take along some clipboards or a fold-out table?)
  • Could you make them into a more active group activity by printing the resources larger? (Broken Sentences could be blown up in a big font and laminated so the sentences can be moved over the ground – talk to your RSO if you need help with this!)

Who’s Right vs. Cup of Tea:

Which of these will be more engaging for your group in the setting?

‘Who is Right’ works really well in open spaces – think before the Session where your starting/finishing line will be so that you are clear in your instructions.

Cup of Tea will be experienced by your group in a similar way to the Bingo, e.g. people will need to lean on something/may want to sit down, so think about varying the activities to give your participants a range of ways to interact with the session and keep them engaged.

Champion jumps in at the deep end with massive first Session

Rather than easing in to her role as a Dementia Friends Champion and starting with a small first Session, Cecile Mallett decided to just jump right in at the deep end. Her first Session as a Champion was delivered to 80 Year 2 Physiotherapy students at the Cardiff School of Physiotherapy. Cecile tells us how the Session came about:

‘I was once a student at that very school so the surroundings were familiar as were the faces of some of the lecturers who had been students with me 20 years ago! The difference that day was that I was at the front of the lecture theatre giving the talk and not sitting in the back row taking notes. I had been invited to give the Session as part of the students ‘Care of Older People’ module through my links with the school. As a physiotherapist working in a care home I know the importance of a good understanding of dementia in the effective and dignified care of older people. Of course, I was nervous beforehand, but I was confident in my presentation skills and I had practiced the talk many, many times in my bedroom.

‘The practical elements of the Session worked well as it encouraged everyone to focus on the subject and interact with each other, and me. I did have an ‘interesting moment’ when we were doing the “Who is Right” activity. I had accidentally given one of the students a blank slip of paper! Luckily, he was not phased by it and we all laughed together when this mistake came to light!

‘The Session went so quickly and I really did have to be aware of whizzing through it because of my nerves and my enthusiasm! Overall, the Session went well – I can truthfully say I enjoyed it in the end! I would say I benefited from lots of practice beforehand – confidence comes from knowing your stuff and being passionate about the subject. Plus, the students and their tutors felt the Session fitted in really well with their ‘older people’ module. They had done work on the theory side of dementia and this gave them more practical understanding i.e. how it feels to have dementia and how to interact with someone with dementia.

‘Would I do anything differently next time? Well, there has been a next time when I presented to 9 ladies in my book club. It was a different experience with more personal interaction and I think I enjoyed a smaller group more for this reason. Again, I felt prepared and organised and I think you have to feel this to present effectively and get the message across

‘I had become interested in dementia because some of my clients at the care home where I works are living with dementia. After attending a Dementia Friends Session as part of a physio study day, I made the decision to get more involved.

‘Attending the Session totally made me reflect on my interaction with people with dementia and how a little information could go a long way in making their lives better. When asked to decide on an action I put down “train as a Dementia Friends Champion” and I did! Having now delivered some Sessions, I am so glad I chose to volunteer for Dementia Friends as a Champion- it is so worthwhile on a personal and a societal level.’

Phil from ‘The Island’ tells us why he volunteers as a Dementia Friends Champion

I decided to become a Dementia Friends Champion because my mother died while dealing with dementia, and I feel all of my family would have had more comfortable lives if I had known then what I know now.

Champions deliver Sessions to the public, how did your first one go?

My very first session went very well. I gave it to 50 people I had never met before and the groups feedback was very positive. My biggest challenge was my lack of experience, but by following the Session plan given to me at the training day, I got through it successfully. The only unexpected moment was when the organiser ran over and the presentation time was cut by 10 minutes.

Tell us about your experiences on The Island?

Taking part in The Island with Bear Grylls was a fantastic opportunity. Over 90 thousand people applied and I felt being selected was like winning the lottery. It gave me the chance to find out if I am still the man I think I am. It was very, very hard but incredibly satisfying and fulfilling.

Has the experience helped you in your volunteering role?

Yes, the experiences on the Island helped me in my role as a Dementia Friends Champion because it reinforced my belief that I am good at communicating with strangers and that my sincerity and faith in what I am supporting and saying comes across. On the fun side you gain the same buzz from doing something for your fellow men and women while having no idea who they are, and they have no idea who you are.

Do you miss being cast away on The Island?

I don’t miss the Island but I do miss my Island Brothers. We called ourselves the Oceans 11 as, (spoiler alert!) 11 of us survived out of the original 14. I am glad to be back in the real world but I do have a new appreciation of how much we take for granted the things in our lives.

What do you want to achieve as a Champion?

As a Dementia Friends Champion my goal is an easy one for me – spread the word as often as I can to make our world a more dementia friendly one. My motivation comes from not putting too much pressure on myself.  I use this little saying to keep me on target by the yard it is hard, but by the inch it’s a cinch’. This works well for me because it confirms that everything I do is a worthy effort.

Do you have any advice for people thinking of volunteering as a Dementia Friends Champion?

My best advice to any potential fellow Dementia Friends Champions would be, be yourselves and just do what you can, with a smile and a willing heart.  If we all pull together (there’s now over 10,500 trained Dementia Friends Champions) and deliver Sessions in our communities we really can have a positive impact on people living with dementia.

Creating Dementia Friends for TV cast and crew

Dementia Friends Champion Dara Brown went along to the filming of Alzheimer’s Society’s new TV advert and delivered a Dementia Friends Information Session for the cast and crew. Here she tells us about her experience:

When I got a call out of the blue last week, asking if I would like the opportunity to see the Alzheimer’s Society’s new advertising campaign come together, I jumped at the chance. With behind-the-scenes access on the final day of filming, I was able to see exactly how a television advert is put together and it was not at all what I was expecting!

Dara playing Dementia Friends bingo with the film crew

A couple of days before filming started, I visited advertising agency Fallon’s Central London office to give a Dementia Friends Session to a group of twenty-five Fallon and Pulse Films representatives, including the production team for the upcoming shoot. Despite a small hiccup when it was discovered a good chunk of the group didn’t know how to play Bingo (and the resulting outrage from several others!) the session ran smoothly. By the end, everyone had come up with some great ideas about how to turn their understanding into action, including thinking about how their future advertising campaigns could be adapted to support people living with dementia.

With the film crew signed up as Dementia Friends we were ready for the shoot.

Arriving on set, I couldn’t quite believe my eyes; outside what appeared to be an ordinary North London terraced house was a huge amount of equipment, from generators and scaffolding to huge lights shining artificial daylight through the windows. As I made my way into the house, I realised that there was just as much equipment (if not more!) squeezed into every room. Filming was taking place in the dining room, which had been redecorated for the shoot, and I took a seat in the kitchen where a small screen had been set up to show exactly what was being filmed.

Before now I had never really considered how long it would take to film a 30 second advert, but the level of detail the production team were trying to achieve meant that every scene was shot several times to make sure it was perfect. One shot took seven takes and twenty minutes to perfect, and it simply involved the grandfather turning his head to look around the dining table!

I was amazed at the number of people required to make everything happen- crammed into this family home were over fifty cast and crew, all busy getting on with their jobs. Every couple of minutes an order of ‘Quiet Please!’ was shouted out and everybody would fall silent and still while a scene was shot.

In between scenes, I got the chance to talk to the cast about the Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia Friends. We left the house and walked half way down the street in order to speak, so that we didn’t distract those inside who were still filming. We started with the basics, covering Dementia Friends five key messages, before moving onto the bookcase analogy and answering their questions. Some of the actors had personal experience of dementia, and I was touched that they wanted to share these with the group.

Talking to the people on set, I really got a feel for the level of work that went into this advert. Months of research and planning took place before filming, and after everything was wrapped up, it would take weeks of editing to completely finish.

It was a brilliant experience, experiencing what really goes into the making of a campaign like this and I’m looking forward to seeing the final advert, both on television and online.

Dementia Friends Champions: Ask your RSO

Ask your RSO

Each month, one of our RSOs (Regional Support Officers) answer your Dementia Friends Champions questions. Philippa Tree, RSO for London and North, answers this month’s question:

Dear RSO

I want to deliver a unique session for your #DoSomethingNew campaign for Dementia Awareness Week. What do I need to consider when running Sessions in unusual places such as outside? Anonymous Champion

Dear Champion,

Great question and fantastic that you’re getting on board with our #DoSomethingNew campaign!

We want as many people as possible to deliver information sessions during Dementia Awareness Week – that way we can really get the word out there, raise people’s understanding and make a positive impact to those affected by dementia.

Speak to your RSO
If you’re planning to deliver a session in an unusual place (amazing!) but are unsure on what to do please contact your RSO. They are your first point of call and will be able to help you with any queries you have.

Perhaps you want to deliver a session on a bus, on a boat or at a yoga class? Find out what the capacity is. You want to make sure that it is safe for all.

Once you know the capacity for the venue, set this as your maximum for attendance. If you’re advertising your event online and through word of mouth etc, it might be worth setting the maximum online as a little less than the capacity. You then have some room for people who show up on the day from your other methods of publicity.

Think about your audience
Is the venue difficult to get to? Will they have to stand for the duration of the session? Make sure to put this information online when you promote it. That way people know what to expect and can plan accordingly. Equally think about signposting on the day so people can find it!

Outside sessions
If you’re delivering a session outside I would recommend making this a private session for your friends and family.

If you make the session public it can get a bit complicated with regards to public liability insurance and getting permission from your local council. You can find out more information about holding public events outside on your local council’s website.

Check the weather
Ahh our unpredictable weather! If you’re running a session outside it’s worth preparing for our traditional English rain. Have a plan B, whether it’s having a nearby sheltered area or bringing umbrellas!

Most importantly have fun! Our information session can be adapted to any environment.

Think outside of the box and as usual please abide by the standard policies, and health and safety requirements. If you have any questions please get in touch with your RSO.

Philippa Tree
Regional Support Officer, London

Small changes making a big difference

Dementia Friends Champion Trudi Rogers shared this inspiring story with us which demonstrates the value of running Dementia Friends Information Sessions no matter how small.

‘I ran a session for my two children aged 7 and 8 who really engaged with the activities and seemed to enjoy it. We shared the pictures on Twitter and Facebook to help raise awareness.

‘Several weeks later they were visiting a National Trust property with my parents and sat at a table in the grounds. My mother informed me that two ladies approached the table and asked if they could sit by them and my children agreed. One of the ladies explained they were very tired as they had been looking after her husband who is living with Alzheimer’s. My youngest son said: ‘Well we know about that because we are Dementia Friends and our mummy is a Dementia Friends Champion’ and they had quite a chat! The lady expressed her surprise at their knowledge and said that she thought it was wonderful. She hadn’t heard of Dementia Friends before but said to my mother that it was really comforting to think that people understood a bit about living with Dementia, as she had been feeling quite alone.

‘My children told me all about it themselves afterwards, and were very proud that they had ‘made the lady feel better’. It made me very proud of them and also of being part of Dementia Friends. Little differences can make such a big difference!’