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One million people become Dementia Friends

One million people become Dementia Friends
23rd February 2015

One million people have signed up to the Alzheimer's Society's Dementia Friends programme, helping to change attitudes to the condition.

Launched in February 2013, the initiative is aimed at tackling the stigma and lack of understanding associated with Alzheimer's, which means that many people with the condition can face social exclusion.

Jointly run with Public Health England and funded by the Cabinet Office and Department of Health, the scheme combines face-to-face information sessions and online videos to help people learn more about dementia and the small things they can do to make a difference.

There are currently more than 9,000 Dementia Friends Champions - volunteers who have dedicated an estimated 100,000 hours of time to changing their communities by running the information sessions.

An array of businesses, including Marks & Spencer, Asda, Santander, Lloyds Pharmacy, easyJet, Argos, Homebase and The Royal Bank of Scotland have encouraged their staff to become Dementia Friends.

Schools, the fire service, the police and transport providers have also joined the initiative to create a dementia-friendly society and support people with the condition to interact with their local community.

A TV advert has been launched fronted by celebrities who have become Dementia Friends, including Ruth Jones, Alesha Dixon, Ruth Langsford, Eamonn Holmes and Pixie Lott.

In addition, the Cabinet; the leader of the opposition, Ed Miliband; and more than 100 MPs have taken part in information sessions.

The Alzheimer's Society has put in place an ambitious expansion plan for the programme, aiming to create four million dementia friends by 2025.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Alzheimer's Society, said that while more research and better health and care services are fundamental objectives of the organisation, "the real revolution is the one million ordinary people who have chosen to become Dementia Friends".

"In communities across the country, they are working to eradicate the isolation, fear and despair felt by so many affected by dementia. Dementia is our biggest health challenge and the British people are rising up to tackle it," he added.

Find out more about Alzheimer's disease care at Barchester homes.