People across the country have been recognised for their 'remarkable' efforts to make life better for people with dementia at Alzheimer’s Society’s 2016 Dementia Friendly Awards.
he awards celebrate organisations, communities and individuals making outstanding contributions towards improving the lives and experiences of people with dementia.
This year there were nine award categories, including four brand new awards with various sponsors across the different awards. The ceremony took place in Westminster, London on Wednesday 30 November and was hosted by Alzheimer’s Society ambassador Angela Rippon.
Winners include Gatwick Airport for their work as a dementia friendly airport and the East of England Co-Op, who won Dementia Friendly Organisation of the Year.
This year saw the introduction of the first ever Inspiring Individual accolade, awarded to Ernie Malt by Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt.
Ernie’s diagnosis of dementia failed to dampen his drive to support people. His achievements include securing funding to run a dementia café for a year, and working with Virgin Trains East Coast to help them become more dementia friendly. Ernie was the driving force behind a campaign to make his home village Evenwood dementia friendly and the face of a media campaign promoting Durham & Darlington Fire & Rescue’s Safe and Wellbeing programme.
Ernie, 70, said:
'I really didn’t see this coming but it’s very flattering. I know I instigated the Dementia Café but I couldn’t have done it without the support of people around me. There was so much positivity when people heard about my plans, which was great - and it got people to come out of the woodwork to make it a success. They inspired me and I’d like to think I might have inspired people who are living with dementia to know they can take action themselves.'
Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt, who presented the award to Ernie, said:
'I am honoured to present the 'inspiring individual' award to Ernie Malt, who is proof that it is possible to live well with dementia. Ernie has gone the extra mile to make Evenwood dementia friendly by setting up a dementia cafe in the village. I want to congratulate Ernie on his achievements and inspiring commitment to spread awareness, ensuring people with dementia can continue to feel part of their local community.
'The Dementia Friendly Communities programme has led to inspiring action, raising awareness of this condition and supporting people to live well. Dementia is a priority for this Government and I am inspired by the work of the individuals here today who are leading the way in making their own communities dementia friendly.'
This year also saw the newly-launched Alzheimer’s Society ‘Dementia Journalism’ award which saw Daily Mirror reporter Warren Manger win the national category while Bradford Telegraph & Argus features editor Emma Clayton won the regional accolade. The first of its kind, the award is recognises media professionals who portray and report on dementia in an accurate and sensitive way, helping to highlight issues and tackle misconceptions.
There are 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia, with this figure set to rise to over a million by 2021. With myths and misunderstandings around dementia continuing to contribute to the stigma and isolation many people feel, Alzheimer’s Society warns it has never been more vital for communities to rally together to make a difference to the lives of people with dementia.
Alzheimer’s Society’s Chief Executive, Jeremy Hughes, said:
'Dementia is the biggest health and social care issue facing our society and there’s no question that it has a profound and devastating impact for many – but the actions of all our winners and others like them are helping to raise better awareness, break down stigma and make our communities more dementia friendly.
'What makes our winners so remarkable is the way they use their imagination, energy and enthusiasm to inspire others. They have gone that extra mile to make a bigger difference in their community for people with dementia and they will inspire others to follow their example in all walks of life.'
Sponsored by Iceland, the awards are part of Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friendly Communities initiative, which aims to ensure people affected by dementia feel understood and included in all aspects of community life.
They demonstrate the huge success of Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friendly Communities and Dementia Friends programmes – there are now 1.7 million Dementia Friends and over 200 Dementia Friendly Communities supporting people with dementia at a local level.