A TOWN centre has become the first in the county to become dementia friendly.
Fareham officially launched its dementia-friendly initiative with a sing-song and gathering in Fareham Shopping Centre yesterday.
The initiative was set up by mental health charity Mind to encourage businesses to support those with dementia, and to train staff on how to be aware of the condition.
Organiser Diane Bizley, from Andover Mind, said: ‘Fareham is the first dementia-friendly high street in Hampshire. We are trying to deliver them all across the county, working with the county council and the NHS.
‘We want to raise awareness of dementia so that people with dementia can live their lives as normally as possible with the right support.
‘We all want to carry on with everyday activities, and with more understanding people with dementia will be able to do this.’
Dementia affects around 800,000 people in the UK and usually occurs in people over the age of 65. It makes people forgetful and affects people’s speech, understanding and judgement. There are around 18,500 people living with dementia in Hampshire – a figure which is feared may double by 2030 as people live longer.
Mayor of Fareham Cllr Susan Bayford, who launched the initiative, said: ‘It is an excellent idea. We are proud in Fareham to be the first town to take it up.’
Fareham Shopping Centre manager Mike Taylor said: ‘We decided to help pilot the scheme to support our community. It is not about business but about making life easier for those with dementia, their family, friends and carers.’
The initiative was praised by chairman of the NHS Fareham and Gosport Clinical Commissioning Group Dr David Chilvers.
He said: ‘All the partners involved in setting up this project, as well as the shops and businesses supporting it, deserve our thanks.
‘People with dementia often find difficulty in daily tasks many of us take for granted.
‘We should applaud those shops which have undertaken to train their staff – and encourage others to join it.’
All businesses involved will display a dementia-friendly sticker. For information go to andovermind.co.uk