Be a friend to needy old folk

John Killick,centre,  attended an event at the Jessop West Exhibition where he was reciting poems about dementia
John Killick,centre, attended an event at the Jessop West Exhibition where he was reciting poems about dementia
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Health experts are highlighting the importance of friendship in helping people with dementia.

Sheffield residents are being encouraged to support men and women isolated by the debilitating condition as part of a scheme being rolled out across the city.

Dementia Friends, a Government campaign, aims to recruit hundreds of volunteers who can be pals to patients to improve their everyday lives.

Experts from The University of Sheffield, who have developed an information pack offering advice and guidance for people with memory problems, organised a week of events to promote the scheme.

The Dementia Creative Arts Exhibition showcased paintings, collages, photography and poetry which portrayed the importance of friendship in dealing with the illness.

David Reid, from the university’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, said: “The initiative is a bold and positive step by the Department of Health, with the Alzheimer’s Society, to improve the likelihood of living well with dementia.

“While the target to have in place one million trained Dementia Friends volunteers in the UK by 2015 is ambitious, there are likely to be many people who take up the challenge to offer a helping hand to those affected who require support in their local communities.

“People with dementia are as culturally diverse as any group in society.

“The same cultural barriers that currently prevent people with memory problems from certain minority ethnic groups coming forward for assessment may well limit the cultural diversity of Dementia Friends.

“Further collaborative work is required with members of minority ethnic communities to ensure the Dementia Friends initiative encourages ‘dementia friendly’ communities for all.”

n The pack is available free – visit Dementia Pack to download, or contact the university for a printed copy. Call Sheffield’s branch of the Alzheimer’s Society on 0114 276 8414 for details on Dementia Friends.