Nicky Bellenger has been a volunteer Dementia Friends Ambassadors with the Alzheimer’s Society since 2015. She has delivered Information Sessions to a wide range of individuals and groups in this time. She has raised awareness in her community and working with young people to help create a dementia friendly generation.
Nicky said: “I have met so many wonderful people, who want to help make a difference for those affected by dementia. Attending a Dementia Friends Session myself gave me such valuable insight into how dementia was affecting my nan and how best to help care for her. It's a joy to see those light bulb moments for other people, and that is all the motivation I need to continue.”
Nicky is a freelance theatre practitioner and producer and has recently co-created a new play about dementia for young people which was inspired through her own experience of having family members with dementia and being a Dementia Friends Ambassador.
The play, ‘Everywhere’, is for young people to perform, to explore and shine a light on dementia through a sensitive and creative platform, it is also intended as a resource for all ages to support a greater understanding of the disease.
The story is about a young boy whose mum is diagnosed with young-onset Alzheimer's, just before his 13th birthday, and how he and his parents cope with this life-changing news. Although a difficult subject matter, the script is also fun and playful, with an ensemble of characters, including the 'Future Scientists', for performers to make their own.
Nicky said: “Dementia Friends had a big impact on the play. There is a whole scene that is inspired by the fairy light analogy. I hope the play will shine a light on how people can live well with dementia and the importance of love, understanding and hope.”
‘Everywhere’ is the result of a creative and compassionate collaboration between Nicky, attendees to Derby Theatre and Universal Services for Carers in Derby ‘Carers Café’ and members of Derby Theatre’s Youth Theatre. It was launched on World Alzheimer’s Day (Thursday 21 September) as part of World Alzheimer’s Month.
As part of the co-creation of the play, Nicky delivered a Dementia Friends Information Session to the carers, people living with dementia and young people who all helped to create the script.
The introduction to the play advises groups to take part in a Dementia Friends Information Session with their cast, and there is a link to both the Dementia Friends and Alzheimer's Society websites, for people to get further information and support.
Nicky said: “This project has been very close to my heart. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with a special group of people living with dementia, carers and young theatre makers; all of whom have generously given valuable guidance, ideas and insight, to help shape the final play into what it is today. I hope schools and youth theatres enjoy performing it and I hope it helps to raise awareness and challenge stigma surrounding dementia.”
This play is available for youth theatres and schools to perform for free, thanks to the support of Derby Theatre and Arts Council England. If organisations have funds reserved for performance rights, it is suggested that they can donate to a dementia charity of their choice.
‘Everywhere’ is free to download from Derby Theatre’s website.