CHANG­ING MINDS

Kent Life - - Charity News - WORDS: Ly­dia Tewkes­bury

For World Alzheimer’s Month 2018, we’re look­ing into the stigma sur­round­ing the disease and the peo­ple work­ing hard to break it down

Septem­ber is World Alzheimer’s Month, an an­nual event in which cam­paign­ers from around the world raise aware­ness and chal­lenge the stigma that sur­rounds the disease. In the

UK, a need for ed­u­ca­tion and mis­guided stereo­typ­ing and me­dia shock tac­tics all play a role in the stigma peo­ple liv­ing with de­men­tia ex­pe­ri­ence.

Al­though there is much work still to be done, there are or­gan­i­sa­tions work­ing hard on the ground to cre­ate a more in­clu­sive so­ci­ety. The Na­tional De­men­tia Ac­tion Al­liance (DAA) is one such group, com­prised of more than 350 lo­cal al­liances around the coun­try who con­nect, share best prac­tice, and take ac­tion in their com­mu­ni­ties.

One lo­cal al­liance leader, Gina Awad, founder of the Ex­eter DAA in Devon, has re­cently been awarded with a Bri­tish Em­pire Medal in the Queen’s Birth­day Hon­ours List for her ef­forts to in­spire busi­nesses and or­gan­i­sa­tions to work to­wards a more de­men­tia-friendly city.

Gina, who be­came pas­sion­ate about de­men­tia care while study­ing for her BSc in Health and So­cial Care with the Open Uni­ver­sity, started the al­liance to fill the gap in in­for­ma­tion trans­mis­sion be­tween de­men­tia ser­vices and those who need them.

In­spired by her stud­ies, she started lead­ing the Alzheimer’s So­ci­ety’s De­men­tia Friend ses­sions. It was dur­ing these that she re­alised that al­though there were re­sources avail­able to peo­ple, in­for­ma­tion about them wasn’t read­ily ac­ces­si­ble.

Never one to rest on her lau­rels, Gina started look­ing for so­lu­tions to this com­mu­ni­ca­tion is­sue, dis­cov­ered the DAA and af­ter find­ing that Ex­eter didn’t have an al­liance of its own, built it from the ground up, on a vol­un­tary

Gina Awad, founder of the Ex­eter DAA in Devon

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