A pledge to improve the lives of people living with dementia was made yesterday in Hebburn.
Key figures from the private and public sector came together for the launch of Dementia Friendly Hebburn - an important milestone in an initiative that is set to spread across South Tyneside in the coming months and years.
A dementia friendly community is any city, town or village where people with dementia are understood, respected and supported – and feel confident they can contribute to community life.
In such communities, people are aware of and understand dementia, and people with dementia feel included and involved, and have choice and control over their day-to- day lives.
The launch, at Hebburn Central, was attended by more than 50 business people, health and social workers and police officers.
It was organised as the Alzheimer’s Society marked Dementia Awareness Week.
Speaking at the event, Mark Overton, chairman of South Tyneside Dementia Action Alliance, said: “I think we should get some T-shirts printed saying ‘I have dementia – so what?’
“That is where we need to be.
“We have to get to the stage where people with dementia feel totally accepted as part of the community and know that support is there for them.”
He added: “We’ve done a lot to get this far.
“Key organisations have demonstrated their commitment by coming together to drive the agenda.
“They have shown that they understand the issues facing people living with dementia and are committed to taking positive actions that will make their lives better.
“All of that has made the launch of Dementia Friendly Hebburn possible.
“This community is at the vanguard, but this is just the beginning and soon we’ll have Dementia Friendly Jarrow, South Shields, Whitburn and everywhere in between until all of South Tyneside is on board.”
Liz Williams, an Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Support Worker covering South Tyneside, told the meeting: “I have worked for this charity for 22 years and today makes me feel very proud.
“I’m a Jarrow lass but you know what Hebburn, I bow to you!
“Well done for being the first Dementia Friendly community in South Tyneside.”
The Alzheimer’s Society is the country’s leading dementia charity and provides information and support, funds research, and campaigns to improve care and create lasting change for people affected by dementia.
Research shows that 850,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia and, by 2021, one million people will be living with the condition.
This is expected to reach two million by 2051.