Dementia Awareness week is in full swing and local organisations are putting on more than ever to make people aware of the condition and the support available for people and carers who live with dementia in Leeds.
Tim Sanders, Commissioning Manager, Dementia, NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Groups / Leeds City Council looks back on how the national event first started and how it developed in Leeds.
“My first Dementia Awareness week in Leeds was in May 2012. We held a big event hosted by West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue at their service centre on Stanningley Rd. I remember melodious echoes around the building from the ‘Singing for the Brain’ workshop, and Tom Riordan introducing the event before apologising that he had to dash off to a meeting; some daft idea about bringing the Tour de France to Leeds…
I suppose it was another daft idea from someone at the Alzheimers Society that started Dementia Awareness Week in 2008. Now every year in Leeds there seems to be more going on: not so much having bigger events, but involving more people, in more communities and doing more different things.
Pride of place this year goes to the opening of the first ever public dementia-friendly garden at Springhead Park, Rothwell on Wednesday 17th May. All credit to Dementia-Friendly Rothwell, led by Peter Smith, and the Council’s Parks and Gardens service, for designing, fundraising, and making it happen.
If you’re wondering what a ‘dementia-friendly’ garden, or anything else, means it’s simply that people living with condition can feel a sense of belonging and are encouraged to be out and about in it. People living with dementia and their carers have been involved in the design, creating an easy-to-navigate and calming experience, with attractive colour contrasts that avoid extremes of glare and shadow.
Meanwhile, the local Alzheimers Society team are on tour all week at Crossgates, Otley, Pudsey, Beeston, Wetherby and Morley. Carers Leeds staff are busy on the wards at St James, at community events, and hosting a popcorn and cinema afternoon. Leeds Jewish Welfare Board, Touchstone, Horsforth Town Council, Shadwell Parish Council and Independent Library, Leeds Involving People, and South Leeds Live at Home are all putting on events. Leeds City Museum worked with Leeds City Council’s Dementia Peer Support Service and the Marks and Spencers Archive, to put on a “Leeds in the 50s and 60s” event. Most events are on this leaflet, but it’s got to the point where it’s hard to keep track of everything.
So that’s what happens when people ‘pick up the ball and run with it’ – a metaphor which comes from a thought William Webb-Ellis once had on a football field in Rugby in 1823. This year’s Dementia Awareness Week, isn’t only about Uniting Against Dementia, it’s about what can come from people having ideas and working together.”
Thanks Tim we certainly look forward to the rest of the week’s events.