When good neighbours become good friends: North Norfolk Housing association staff reach out to tenants with dementia

Anne Newton and John Archibald with members of Victory Housing Trust staff who have become Dementia

Anne Newton and John Archibald with members of Victory Housing Trust staff who have become Dementia Friends. Picture: Andy Newman - Credit: Andy Newman

More than half the staff at a north Norfolk housing association have signed up to become Dementia Friends – just three weeks after a member of staff suggested adopting the initiative.

Forty-four people at Victory Housing Trust, based in North Walsham, have taken the pledge and completed an awareness session, with the aim of gaining a greater understanding of dementia and some of the ways they can help people living with the condition.

The Dementia Friends campaign has been launched by The Alzheimers Society, and is aiming to sign up four million Dementia Friends across the UK.

Income management officer Anne Newton heard about the initiative and immediately decided to start recruiting colleagues to take part.

'With the age profile of many of the people we are dealing with on a daily basis, it seemed to make sense that we should understand the challenges that people living with dementia face, and what we can all do to make a difference,' said Anne.

'I'm delighted that so many colleagues have embraced the scheme, and that we have signed up more than half the Victory staff in just three weeks.'

To become a Dementia Friend, individuals learn about what it's like to live with dementia through face-to-face information sessions or by watching online videos, and then pledge to turn that understanding into action, both by promoting understanding of the condition to others, and taking action such as helping someone living with dementia.

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Victory chief executive John Archibald, who is one of those who has become a Dementia Friend, said: 'Dementia is something that we are increasingly encountering in our communities as people live longer, so we all need to understand what it is about, and commit to helping people living with dementia.

'I am very proud that so many staff have signed up for this initiative, and we are now looking at what we need to do so that we can become a dementia-friendly organisation as a whole.'

More details about the Alzheimers Society Dementia Friends initiative can be found at www.dementiafriends.org.uk