ELEVEN businesspeople from Crediton have become Dementia Friends as part of the campaign by the newly formed Crediton Dementia Alliance, a partnership of local organisations – which includes the Crediton & District branch of Devon Senior Voice – that is working towards the town becoming a dementia-friendly community.
The group received their training in dementia awareness from retired computer training consultant Marion Pollinger, of Crediton, at a session on Monday evening at Club Crediton in Searle Street.
Marion is a volunteer Dementia Champion with the Alzheimer’s Society, who was herself trained in dementia awareness with the society’s new Devon service earlier this year. She has already held dementia-awareness sessions across the county for a range of organisations, including charities, care homes and the police.
She is now using her professional skills as a volunteer with the Alliance, taking her experience out to businesses in Crediton, as well as interested members of the public.
‘So far this year, the most challenging and exciting series has been with the communications team at Devon & Cornwall Police headquarters at Middlemoor in Exeter,’ said Marion. ‘The difficulties of answering 999 calls from a person with dementia need a very different kind of patience and understanding.
‘It is really good to learn about other people’s experiences with dementia, and to be in a position to give some kind of understanding of what is happening and how to recognise potential problems as the dementia progresses. Every person is different and the challenges faced are never easy.’
Each session lasts about an hour and a quarter, depending on how much discussion takes place. They give a basic understanding of the main types of dementia, its effects and how memory works.
‘Just as important, the sessions will also show you the symptoms of dementia, the small things that you can do to make a difference to people living with dementia, and how to communicate with them,’ added Marion. ‘Afterwards, all participants will be entitled to become a Dementia Friend as part of the Prime Minister’s initiative www.dementiafriends.org.uk
‘Any businesses that attend will also be entitled to display the Purple Angel to indicate to the passing public that they are dementia aware.’
To book on one of these sessions please go to the Dementia Friends’ website and search for Crediton, or contact Marion on 01363 777894 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Crediton Dementia Alliance was launched in September to take up the challenge of increasing the awareness and understanding of dementia and to remove its stigma. It is made up of members of the Crediton & District branch of Devon Senior Voice, the town’s two Rotary Clubs, together with Alzheimer’s Society volunteers and other community representatives. For further information go to http://www.dementiaaction.org.uk/local_alliances/3302_crediton_dementia_action_alliance
AT the start of a wide-ranging public question-and-answer session organised by the Ivybridge branch of Devon Senior Voice at the Watermark, Devon South West MP Gary Streeter said that he had both bad news and good news for the audience.
Although the economy was recovering, Britain’s public finances remained in a ‘dire position’, he pointed out.
‘After three years of cuts, the Government is still spending £110 billion more than it receives,’ he said. ‘Although we have a plan to reduce the deficit to break even by 2017, we still have to tackle the debt mountain beyond that date.
‘The reality is that whoever is in power there will be no Government handouts for the next 10 years.’
Mr Streeter said that the good news was that Britain was reducing its deficit faster than any other European country, and that the economy was starting to grow again after several years of recession.
More than 1.4 million new jobs had been created in the private sector since 2010, which would reduce benefit payouts and increase the numbers of people paying taxes.
‘Unemployment in this constituency stands at 1.3%, which is virtually full employment,’ he said. ‘Apprenticeships are increasing, and we are putting more money into the NHS.’
Subsequently, the meeting was thrown open to questions from the floor, which led to a vigorous but good-humoured exchange of views between Mr Streeter and the audience on a number of topics, including the best ways to develop renewable energy; the future of the UK and the European Union; immigration; longer hours for GP surgeries; the West Country’s transport infrastructure; the future role of Ivybridge; affordable housing; local authority services; the role of volunteers; the ringfencing of the overseas aid budget; the need to have properly paid and professionally trained domiciliary care workers; and the price of heating homes.
Branch chairman John Montgomery said: ‘This was our second annual meeting with our MP, and again it was a highly successful occasion that allowed our members and the public to make their views known and to get straight answers. I’d like to thank Mr Streeter for making the time to come along and listen to us properly.’