Actress and writer Ruth Jones MBE has pledged her support for Dementia Friends as Alzheimer's Society's trailblazing awareness movement is launched in Wales today (Wednesday 19 February 2014).
Dementia Friends is an initiative that aims to give people an improved awareness of the condition, as a YouGov survey reveals that just under half (46%) of people in Wales think they have a good understanding of dementia. From today anyone in Wales can follow in Ruth's footsteps and register online to become a Dementia Friends Champion or attend a Dementia Friends' information session.
Alzheimer's Society supporter Ruth, famous for her roles as Nessa in Gavin and Stacey and Sky One's Stella will join Assembly Members from across the country, for the launch of Alzheimer's Society's Dementia Friends programme at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay .
Thanks to funding from Welsh Government, Alzheimer's Society are running a year-long pilot of the Dementia Friends programme in Wales. Free volunteer-led information sessions will initially be rolled out across South Wales. The sessions aim to improve public knowledge of dementia, by helping people understand what living with the condition might be like, and the small things that they could do to make a difference to people living in their community.
As well as encouraging people to sign up as Dementia Friends, Alzheimer's Society is also calling on people to volunteer to be a Dementia Friends Champion. Dementia Friends Champions talk to people about being a Dementia Friend in their communities. They attend a training course, receive on-going support and are part of a growing network of people creating dementia friendly communities together.
Sue Phelps, Director of Alzheimer's Society in Wales said:
'With so few people feeling they know enough about dementia, we are really excited to be able to invite everyone up and down the country to register their interest in becoming a Dementia Friend. The Dementia Friends programme isn't about creating experts, it's about helping people understand a little bit more about what it's like to live with the condition and then turn that understanding into action - anyone of any age can be a Dementia Friend. Sign up to be a Dementia Friend or a Dementia Friend Champion and you can help us to transform Wales by changing public attitudes and making life better for people with dementia.'
Ruth Jones whose mother-in-law, Margaret, had dementia said:
'I am particularly keen to raise awareness of dementia in all communities, especially where people may not know what support is available. Dementia Friends is a great way to get people talking and to ensure that people with dementia can be included wherever they live. Being a Dementia Friend is about being that little bit more aware because it's the small things that make a big difference.'
To sign up and to find out where your nearest session is visit dementiafriends.org.uk.