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Alzheimer’s Society is proud to announce that a staggering two and a half million people in the UK have now united against dementia by taking part in the charity’s Dementia Friends initiative. 

Dementia Friends is the biggest ever social action movement aiming to change the way people think, act and talk about dementia, so everyone gets the support they need, not just in healthcare environments, but in their community too.

Dementia Friends was launched in 2013 to tackle the stigma and lack of understanding which means that many people with the condition can face social exclusion. Already, one in every 30 people in England, Northern Ireland and Wales are involved and an estimated 200,000 hours (equivalent to 22 years) of time has been spent by Dementia Friends taking actions to create dementia-friendly communities, ensuring people with dementia are empowered to live a life they want.

There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK alone, with numbers set to rise to over one million by 2021. Because public understanding is so poor, people with dementia often feel misunderstood, marginalised and isolated. This can mean people are less likely to be able to live independently in their own communities. These findings were highlighted in May during Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Action Week and in the charity’s ‘Turning Up the Volume’ survey* published last year. The 2017 new Dementia Statements, informed by people with dementia, set out their rights to be treated the same as others, including ‘the right to be accepted and included in our communities and not live in isolation or loneliness’. 

While the growing dementia movement for change is advancing, and there are over 350 Dementia Friendly Communities working to ensure people with dementia feel understood, valued and able to contribute to their community,  there is more society needs to do to ensure everyone, in every corner of the country is supported. From Boots to British Gas, major organisations are doing their bit to ensure their staff are Dementia Friends. Iceland became the first food retailer in the UK to roll out Dementia Friends to all 23,000 of their store colleagues. Furthermore, UK Power Networks is rolling out Dementia Friends to their staff to ensure they can provide customers affected by dementia with the best possible service.

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