The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 2nd March:
It’s so important we do our best to help others in our community for whom day to day life isn’t quite so easy.
And one cause of such a challenge in many people’s lives is dementia.
From memory loss to orientation problems, mood or behaviour swings, and difficulty concentrating, thinking or speaking, the symptoms are many and each person is uniquely affected.
But what is the same for all is that it can have a profound impact on their ability to go about their normal day without assistance.
Sadly, it affects so many people both across the country and here in Barnsley.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, around 850,000 people are currently living with dementia in the UK, with this figure expected to rise past 1 million by 2025.
Here in Barnsley too, many in our community are affected.
Figures by Alzheimer’s Research UK suggest that in Barnsley alone there are roughly 3295 people living with dementia – that’s more than 1 in every 100 people here in our community.
So that’s why it’s vital we do what we can to help those living with dementia, and support local organisations like Barnsley Independent Alzheimer's And Dementia Support (BIADS) and Butterflies.
BIADS and Butterflies are two fantastic Barnsley organisations who I met last year that provide critical local support for those living with dementia, their friends, families and carers too.
And last week I met with the Alzheimer’s Society to discuss how we can make our community more dementia friendly.
I took part in an information session to become a ‘Dementia Friend’ and help understand how to create a climate of kindness and understanding.
I’ll be taking steps to ensure my office is more dementia friendly and accessible to those living with dementia.
And I’ll also be writing to local businesses to make them aware of the ways they can be accessible and open to people with dementia too.
It’s crucial we do our best to raise awareness of dementia, and ensure everybody living with it can remain involved and a part of our community.