In May 2014, Crawley became the first Town in the UK to win the Dementia Friends award. This was a huge success for us as Crawley was up against many larger Cities. For 12 months previously many groups and organisations had worked together to form the Crawley Dementia Alliance, these include, NHS Crawley Clinical Commissioning Group, Crawley Borough Council, West Sussex County Council, Sussex Police, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, and voluntary organisations including The Alzheimer’s Society, Crawley CVS, Carers Support and Age UK, and many more.
The Alliance led and administratively supported, by Crawley Borough Council health and wellbeing department, has gone from strength to strength and is now able to promote, activities and support for people living well with dementia.
Receiving a dementia diagnosis can be a frightening and devastating time for families and loved ones, the days of embarrassment and fear of this horrible disease should be a thing of the past. With the help of the organisations working as Crawley Dementia Alliance hundreds of people with a diagnosis are now continuing to enjoy life, making new friends and taking part in activities that they did not do before. The very aptly named Forget me Not Club meets on Fridays and carers and cared for enjoy time together, taking part in easy exercises, quizzes, conversation, coffee and lunch organised and supported by Crawley Council, wonderful volunteers bring a happy, fun atmosphere to the day which is held at Fairlawn’s Three Bridges.
Age UK, is very conscious of including everyone in their activities and day clubs and activities are all dementia friendly.
Crawley Borough Councils, K2 holds a dementia friendly indoor bowls session once a week. they also host swimming sessions and walking football, and a Special day each year, when all activities are on offer in taster sessions.
The Alzheimer’s society, supports all forms of dementia and they run a Carers Support Group once a month, a De-cafe once a month with tea and entertainment for cared for, family and friends. The Oasis club, meets twice a month on Saturdays and provides a day of respite for carers, whilst cared for enjoy craft, games, lunch, coffee, entertainment before the day ends with tea for everyone together. The latest addition is the Borough Councils Mens Shed, which is open to all men with an interest in gardens, woodcraft, and small projects, under the guidance of a willing adviser.
The success of our Alliance and activities has drawn International interest from Finland and Denmark who have sent delegations to Crawley to see for themselves how we do it. What an achievement for a small Town, with a great heart.
Metro Bus supports the Alliance and their offices at the bus station are offered as a haven for anyone who is confused or anxious, Their helping hand cards identify vulnerable passengers. Barclays Bank, Lloyds bank the Halifax and others are prominent supporters and staff are trained to be Dementia Friends.
This is just the tip of the iceberg and much more needs to be done, helping loved ones to remain in their own homes, by supporting their families and carers. Social Care is far from perfect and continual cuts to Social care budgets is reducing the much needed help. We do not want to populate our nursing homes, with residents who can and do live well with dementia. Crawley can do it better than this.
Become a Dementia Friend by watching a short film or attending an information session: dementiafriends.org.uk
Councillor Brenda Smith
Borough Councillor for Langley Green