Residents from Shotley Bridge, Benfieldside, Bridgehill and Blackhill have got together to launch a project to help dementia sufferers.
The communities, having secured funding from Durham County Council, will work with the Alzheimer’s Society to fight the social isolation dementia sufferers can experience and to encourage more businesses to take their needs on board.
Businesses will be urged to modify their premises to make them easier for those affected by dementia and their carers to use.
The project was launched at a meeting held in Blackhill Baptist Church Hall, near Consett.
At the launch event – which was attended by around 50 people – Andrew Ball, from the Alzheimer’s Society, said, “If we all work together, we can build a community where people with Alzheimer’s and their carers don’t feel excluded.”
“Businesses, by making relatively minor adjustments to their premises and improving their signage, really can make a difference.”
Durham Constabulary’s community cohesion officer, PC Mark Lumsden, told the meeting about the Herbert Protocol – a scheme which encourages carers to submit information which can be used if someone with Alzheimer’s goes missing.
John O’Conner, the chairman of the project, said, “I’m delighted with the turn-out for the launch. We couldn’t have wished for a better start.”
Another recent community project – in East Durham – involved young people creating art to express their understanding of how people with Alzheimer’s might experience the world.
Statistics from the Alzheimer’s Society show that around 800,000 people in the UK have dementia. It is estimated that a third of the population will eventually develop the disease.
Alzheimer’s usually affects people over the age of 65. The condition can impair memory, thinking speed, language, understanding, judgement and emotional control. It is thought that by 2021 one million Britons will be suffering from dementia.