Last Wednesday I was over in Lincolnshire at ann Alzheimer Societies Staff and Volunteers day. I’d been asked by Rosemary Campbell-Blair, Volunteering Officer for East Riding and Humber, to speak at the event about my diagnosis and the Alzheimers society Research Network.
Lincolnshire is not an area I know so it was fortuitous that Aimee Maguet (Legacy and Recognition Giving Officer) was also going and she lives near me so was able to give me a lift – bonus!
It had never occurred to me that we’d be going passed the turning to my new village (if the solicitors ever manage to get a wiggle on) but I refrained from asking Aimee to take a detour…..It was a wonderfully sunny day and we went across the Humber Bridge – my first time – I think!
Aimee and me (or more accurately, Aimee) eventually found our way to the venue and was met by Rosemary and the all important cup of tea.
Paul Harrison opened the proceedings saying how much was happening in north Lincolnshire. He spoke of the aim of today was to bring staff and volunteers together and celebrate but also to find out how we can do things better to help volunteers
NE Lincs and N Lincs have about 4000 people with dementia
There were about 40 staff and local volunteers at the event.
Cllr Julie Reed was the first to speak – she is cabinet member for adult services…….. She said it was difficult to imagine what the day in the life of a person with dementia was like. We wouldn’t ask someone in a wheelchair to stand up and walk. We need to have the same attitude with people with dementia and treat them as individuals. Public buildings need to be dementia friendly. When you think of wheelchairs you can design effectively but the challenge is what to do for people with dementia in public buildings.( I did feel like suggesting ‘asking people with dementia’, but the day was early so I was biding my time)
She then spoke of the need in Lincolnshire to encourage architects to think about dementia friendly designs. North Lincolnshire is a very rural area so we need to be aware especially in those areas who may have dementia so we know not to isolate.
My turn next. My speech went well. I had a shock in the car on the way there when I reread the email from Rosemary. I was actually looking for the name of the venue but then saw the sentence asking me to speak for 30-40 mins…………had prepared 25mins – note to self to check emails in future! Many people asked questions afterwards and Paul had to bring my bit to a close as we’d overrun. However, it was then lunch time so those that hadn’t had the opportunity spoke to me during lunch instead – it as a wonderful lunch….
Ellie Vaughan reward manager for the Alzheimers society talked about the ‘people’s awards’ held earlier in the year at St James Palace.
It was at this point that I realised I was there with my daughter Gemma, as they showed our table with Keith Oliver and his wife.
She took us through all this years winners and what a wonderful job they do. There are so many people all over the country doing so many wonderful things to help raise awareness of dementia.
All the local staff and some from the national team all introduced themselves which was nice. It must be good for local volunteers to meet staff as they rarely get that opportunity.
Emily Reseigh, services manager for the area, gave a talk about volunteering.
Volunteers enable the society to reach far more people. Without willing volunteers the society would not be able to reach all those with dementia who need access to their service and support. Emily explained what all the staff do but for each one, the person with dementia is at the heart of it.
The stats Emily put up on screen showed how many people had been touched by services in this area. Significantly not many of those with Young Onset had accessed- why? One short fall of the society is that services need to be more age appropriate and more to be created for YOD. Dementia cafes are all well and good but wouldn’t it be nice if a group of people with Young onset met in Starbucks or wherever……….it would make us feel easier and more people may access that opportunity. It would also ‘include’ us into main stream rather than exclude us from the community (as happens with Memory cafes)…………much to Emily’s credit she did touch on tis very point……
One interesting development for the future is to deliver well being hubs – great idea – all services needed under one roof, just like they have already in Merton..
Their aim is to make better use of volunteers skills – she then listed all the opportunities available. We can’t do it without your skills and time. Everyone has a talent, and it’s just trying to access different groups of people in the hope that they will volunteer.
At some point in the day they asked for ideas to encourage more and how to attract different aged groups to volunteer – I suggested using volunteers own stories as well as people with dementia to promote volunteering……..
Then Sarah Merriment read out a poem directed at volunteers just to say thank you. A nice touch.Just after this session my brain started to shut down so I’ve no recollection of the rest of the afternoon but I remember going away thinking it had been a good event and well worth my venture across the Humber Bridge