Corbridge becoming Dementia Friendly

Today I was invited to go to Corbridge, where they were showing the rest of the North East how to become Dementia Friendly.

Before this I have never been to Corbridge, but I left feeling that it was somewhere, I have totally missed, and have decided that I have to return to see more of the town.

It a beautiful little Tyne valley town, which I found to be friendly, and was staggered by the number of shops etc which were displaying the Dementia Friendly Badge in their windows

Todays event which was to broadcast it on ITV Television was the brainchild of Mr Melvyn Stone a Corbridge Parish Councillor, someone who has worked tirelessly to promote the Town as being Dementia Friendly.

It was obvious that quite a lot of very hard work had been put into this project, but it seems that they have certainly put Dementia on the map, which is brilliant

I spoke to two people in one shop who were really dedicated, to this project, and if the other shops were the same it will be amazing, because they seem to have the right attitude, where dementia is concerned

Its places like Corbridge where dementia may be more obvious that anywhere else, because it is small and I would guess that most people are well known, so if anyone did have dementia, other people  would know and do their best to help when needed

This would not work as well in large towns or cities, but that does not mean that they should not at least try.

Also in attendance were Mr Rob Stewart, the Alzheimers Societies Communications and Media officer, and Amy Syron- Mallenby who is the Business Development Officer in the North East Region 

The Reporter was Helen Ford of ITV Tyne Tees, who is a brilliant reporter, who is dedicated and spends time helping those involved to feel at ease and comfortable.

Tyne Tees Television have done quite a lot of dementia projects, and each time I have found them to be very understanding of Dementia, while helping us to promote the illness, very commendable of all involved 

My only hope now is that other North East towns will follow suite, and become Dementia Friendly, so that everyone who has dementia will find their communities as friendly as I did at Corbridge 

Thank you for all of your support and kindness today

                                                                   The Market Place

Becoming 'dementia friendly': one community's journey so far

Corbridge is aiming to become 'dementia friendly' Photo: ITV News Tyne Tees
Nestling in the Tyne Valley, Corbridge has long been known as a place to visit and to shop.
Now, it has another aim: to become one of the country's first 'dementia friendly' communities.
The scheme is co-ordinated by the charity, the Alzheimer's Society. It wants to create a network of towns, cities and villages where people with dementia can feel safe and supported.
One of the first priorities in Corbridge has been to provide training for traders, giving them guidance in assisting someone with dementia.
Joyce Anderson, who runs a jewellery and clothes shop, is among those to receive the informal training. She says the aim is to treat all customers with dignity and respect.
"One of the common things that happens is that the person with dementia might get confused about the money that they've got, or their card or their pin number. It's making sure that we say things like 'oh I forgot my pin number last week and I put my card in the wrong way round too' and perhaps just a touch on the arm or a bit of comforting reassurance and giving people time."
– Joyce Anderson, Corbridge Traders' Association Chairman
An estimated 800,000 people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are living with dementia. The brain condition can lead to memory loss and can also affect thinking, problem solving and language. The Alzheimer's Society is concerned that many people with dementia become isolated.
"When people receive a diagnosis it can knock their confidence in terms of them still making use of facilities in their communities. We really want to try and avoid that and make communities more inclusive for people with dementia."
– Amy Syron-Mallenby, Alzheimer's Society
Ken Clasper has lived with dementia for many years and now helps to raise awareness of its effects. He says shopping can be a daunting experience.
"Your brain is running to try and work out what you want and it's easier if you've got signposts pointing you in the right direction so you don't have to panic.
Sadly in a lot of shops people don't understand dementia and you're treated with the old stigma: is it contagious?"
– Ken Clasper
While Corbridge is not alone in working towards dementia friendly status, it is seen as a flagship for the countrywide project.
As well as helping people while shopping, there are plans for an assisted walking group as well as 'dementia friendly taxis', to cut out the worry for people when they order a lift.
Watch my report on Corbridge's progress so far:

Today I found a newspaper article which explains what they have done and are doing, and this explains just how far they have gone, and I feel very privileged to have been involved today

CORBRIDGE is on course to become Northumberland’s first dementia-friendly community as part of a nationwide initiative being rolled out by the Alzheimer’s Society.

Focusing on improving the inclusion and quality of life of people with dementia, the scheme requires the participation of local residents, traders and key public figures, such as police officers and bus drivers.

Crucially, it means people affected by the condition are not afraid to seek help from members of their own community.

They can go about their daily business, including tasks such as shopping, banking and using public transport, knowing that if they become forgetful and confused, the people around them will be supportive and understanding.

With around 4,690 people currently living with dementia in the county, a figure expected to rise to around 6,250 by 2021, the project’s ultimate aim is to raise awareness and increase understanding of the illness.

Amy Syron-Mallenby, The Alzheimer’s Society business development officer for Northumberland, said: “A dementia-friendly community is a city, town or village where people with dementia are understood, respected, supported, and confident they can contribute to community life.

“There are simple steps communities can take towards becoming dementia-friendly, as well as launching the new symbol that communities can use to show they are committed to making changes.

The steps range from challenging stigma to including people with dementia in local life and highlighting the importance of accessible transport and businesses that are respectful and responsive.”
Elsewhere in Northumberland, support is also being harnessed to help Hexham and Berwick become designated dementia-friendly communities.

In Corbridge, the project has been driven by parish councillor Melvyn Stone, who has already undergone training with the charity to become a dementia friend.
These are volunteers who are prepared to turn their understanding of dementia into practical action.
Coun. Stone explained: “In Corbridge, we are already doing a number of things as a village which ensure dementia sufferers are firmly part of the community.
“We have a drop-in centre, the Florence Hope activity club, which takes place in the parish hall twice a week.
“We also now have a weekly walking group with between nine to 12 trained walk leaders we can call upon to lead walks in the local area suitable for people with dementia.
“We adapt them to suit the person’s physical fitness and it means they can be accompanied by their carers out in the fresh air, or their carer, particularly if it’s a husband or wife, can go into the village and have a coffee or enjoy a bit of a break.”
The assisted walking group was developed from a core of interested volunteers who originally met through the West Northumberland Health Walks programme, run by North Country Leisure.
They have since won £2,000 of grant funding in their own right and plan to get 2014’s walking programme underway in April.
“I’ve also had a meeting with at least nine of the village’s traders who all registered their interest in supporting the initiative and have since undergone training,” said Coun. Stone.
The next step for the traders is to sign up to displaying a dementia-friendly logo within their premises to provide an extra level of reassurance that they are on board.
It is also hoped a music workshop can be established where people of all ages and abilities can get together on a regular basis to enjoy their chosen instrument.
Coun. Stone said: “It’s been inspired by one of the village’s residents who plays the recorder particularly well and came to me, as chairman of the parish hall management committee, to see if we could set something up.”
Corbridge Women’s Institute has offered to support the venture by providing St Andrew’s church cottage in the village as a base for the gathering.
“I don’t have anyone in my family that has suffered from dementia or any particular personal story,” said Coun. Stone.
“But I feel lucky enough to live in one of the nicest and friendliest towns in the country, among people who are very proactive and willing to do their bit.
“Corbridge is a lovely, friendly, close-knit community so our village is the ideal place to be a shining beacon for dementia-friendly communities, so people with dementia can enjoy their surroundings for as long as possible.”
After visiting the Chrysalis at Tynedale club for people with dementia, which operates from Hexham’s Torch Centre, Coun. Stone was struck by how many of the regular attenders were from Corbridge.
“It made me realise that this could happen to any one of us at any time,” he added.
“It is more common in people over 65, but I’ve learned through my training that there are more than 400 different types of dementia and it’s such a complex condition.
“It’s happening to more and more people in front of our eyes and it’s important that we address it and do everything we can to help those suffering from it.
“I suppose I’m interested in dementia because so many people are not interested, but I get a feeling that people in Corbridge are ready to change things for the better.
“Because of all the criteria we already meet and the steps we are undertaking, Corbridge qualified in just 48 hours to begin working to become a dementia-friendly village.”
Melvyn is preparing to embark on more training which will allow him to become a designated dementia friends champion, enabling him to deliver information sessions and training to other local volunteers.
Last September, The Alzheimer’s Society launched a report Building Dementia-friendly Communities: a priority for everyone, which revealed less than half of people living with dementia feel a part of their community.
An economic analysis commissioned by the charity shows that building a network of dementia-friendly communities could save £11,000 per person, per year by helping people with dementia to remain independent and stay out of care for longer.
Amy, who has been working alongside Coun. Stone, said: “To create a dementia-friendly community we need to bring together every part of the Corbridge community from health services, social care, transport, businesses, charities and voluntary groups, emergency services and local people.
“Thanks to Melvyn we are heading in the right direction.”

A short History of Corbridge

Corbridge is a jewel in the crown of Northumberland. Lying just off the A69, about 18 miles west of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, it grew from the Roman town of CORSTOPITUM, a supply town for the troops on Hadrian's Wall. From the beginning Corstopitum provided much of the building stones used in the construction of many of the village buildings, including the church, Vicar's Pele and nearby castles.

In the thirteenth century Corbridge was second only to Newcastle in wealth and its citizens were heavily taxed to help pay for Edward 1's Scottish wars and its mediaeval street plan is much the same today. The Saxon church however has trebled in size by the addition of aisles, transepts and chancel to the inner Saxon tower and naïve whilst The Vicar's Pele illustrates the fierceness of Border warfare which burnt Corbridge to the ground several times.
The bridge at Corbridge is the oldest of the mediaeval bridges which became derelict by the 17th century, and was finally replaced in 1674.
As far back as 1827 Corbridge was a place renowned for its small shops and several of the decorated fronts still survive. Today Corbridge is still known for its quaintness and unique boutique shops and is an ideal base to explore the beauty of Northumberland.
On arrival pick up a copy of the Tynedale Visitor magazine from the Tourist Information Centre in Hill Street or the newsagents - it is jammed packed with local events from the Hexham Races to the Border Reivers!



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