‘IN Hackney, we are proud to support and work with our Dementia Friends Community Group and to promote the initiative across the borough,’ said Phil Glanville, Mayor of Hackney, at the ‘Let’s Talk about Dementia’ event on Saturday February 23, organised by Grace Olori of the Hackney South Constituency Labour Party Black Asian Ethnic Minority (BAME) group, with support from Cllr Yvonne Maxwell, Hackney’s Dementia Champion.

Grace, who is Hackney South CLP BAME Officer, said –  ” It was a day to remember. I would like to say thank you so much to everyone for making it such a day. When one member of the family is diagnosed with Dementia, it affects the whole family’s psychological well-being, therefore there is a need for a therapeutic service to be provided and this should be provided for free.”

 Grace Olori speaking

“It’s a good thing Grace and the Hackney South BAME Forum are bringing about  further awareness on such a sensitive issue through this event. We in the Ethnic Minority Forum of Hackney North  support this cause,” said Kofo David, Ethnic Minority Officer, Hackney North Labour Party.

The Mayor said that it was a Labour-led move which led to the Council voting unanimously to become a Dementia Friendly Borough in January 2018, and it has been working to fulfil that commitment ever since.

‘And thinking back, it was notable at that meeting how Councillors from across the Chamber spoke with a common voice about their personal experience of supporting friends and family members who have lived with Dementia,’ he added.

  [Photo: Kofo David]

There are around 1,300 people in London’s Borough of Hackney living with dementia. This is a figure that will continue to increase as time goes on.

As the rate of dementia increases, so too will demand for local dementia-friendly services.

 Cllr Yvonne Maxwell [Photo: Kofo David]

Cllr Yvonne Maxwell, Hackney’s Dementia Champion, says that all new Hackney Council staff take part in Dementia Friends Information Sessions, and all staff at the Council are going to have dementia awareness training.

She added that the Council is also working with local transport providers, encouraging them to become Dementia Friends. This will help to ensure transport staff in Hackney understand the basics of dementia. They will be able to better support passengers with dementia, allowing them to travel safely.

She pointed out that it is an Alzheimer’s Society initiative which encourages everyone to share responsibility for ensuring that people with dementia feel understood, valued and able to contribute to their community. It is everyone’s responsibility and involves the council, business, leisure , transport, emergency services, shops, schools, markets and much more.

 Cllr Feryal Demirci [Photo: Kofo David]

Cllr Feryal Demirci, Cabinet member for Health and Social Care, talked about the issues facing  the BAME community and how the current service meets their needs. She said that the  issues facing the BAME community in Hackney are very similar to what other BAME communities face elsewhere in the UK.

It is reported that there are lower levels of awareness about dementia in some communities, which can prevent people accessing  services that are available to them.

Engaging with and supporting community groups from specific communities has proven to be an excellent and successful approach to encourage people from BAME communities to access wider statutory and universal services.

She noted there has been an increase in the number of people living with dementia from the Africian and Caribbean community in Hackney. This increase in awareness could be linked to the excellent work that has been carried out by the Hackney Caribbean Elders Organisation.

They deliver a project called Mental WellBeing and one of its main objectives is to raise awareness about dementia amongst the African and Caribbean Community.

That project has been funded for over two years by our local Dementia Alliance, she added.  The main teaching it has delivered for health and social care professionals is the importance of working with people’s families and loved ones, helping them with accepting the diagnosis, living with the disease, understanding and managing the condition and integrating people living with dementia into the wider community.

Cllr Demirci said that it is recognised that ongoing work is needed with statutory services, so that they can better meet the needs of  a person living with dementia. To achieve that, there is a local Dementia Alliance.

This is a multi-agency partnership made up of organisations such as the City and Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group, East London Foundation Trust, Homerton University Hospital Foundation Trust and London Borough Hackney who can lead on spearheading the changes to services to ensure they meet the needs of people living with dementia and their carers.  The Alliance will also be producing a draft of the first Dementia Strategy for consultation in May of this year.

 Everyone demonstrating they are a Dementia Friend

Phil Glanville pointed out that a post at the Alzheimer’s Society is funded by the Council – that person can lead work with the local community, businesses, leisure and more. This Dementia Friendly Community Coordinator is dedicated to ensuring these organisations understand how their services and communities can be dementia-friendly.

He added that there is always more we can do. ‘That is why in our Labour Manifesto last year we reaffirmed our commitment to work with partners including local businesses, transport and leisure services to continue to make Hackney one of London’s first Dementia Friendly Boroughs. ‘

Dalston ward Cllr Soraya Adejare said it was a timely and essential event, ‘encouraging us all to think about dementia, its impact and how we can work together to improve experiences and outcomes’.

Cazenove ward Cllr Caroline Woodley said: ‘Congratulations to Grace and all at @SouthHackneyLab for putting on an important event today about dementia. It’s vital to support carers properly, both in terms of decent pay and in proactive contact with families who are learning to live with the condition.

‘Inspired to hear of the good work of City & Hackney Alzheimer Society, building in collaboration with Hackney Labour a Dementia-friendly borough, as championed by @yvonnemaxwell19 and the other speakers.

‘And very moved to hear of the experiences of those who, like me, have had to adjust to the change dementia brings to family life. In my case it has brought us all closer and more passionately protective of one another. And I’m grateful for that.’

 Cllr Feryal Demirci, Cabinet Member for Health & Social Care; Cllr Yvonne Maxwell, Hackney Dementia Champion; Mayor Philip Glanville, launching the dementia awareness campaign

The Mayor said that there is no “one size fits all” approach to becoming Dementia Friendly. But across the world the concept is being given practical expression in four different ways:

  1. Being inclusive and supporting and protecting the rights of a person with dementia.
  2. Tackling stigma and lack of community understanding of dementia.
  3. Increasing the capability of the health and care workforce and availability of key services.
  4. Improving the physical environment.

* Take a look at the Hackney blog on the Alzheimers Society website –


Deputy Mayor Cllr Anntoinette Bramble spoke at the event

** The concept of dementia friendly communities has captured the imagination of people around the world.

The Dementia Friends program was pioneered in Japan in the early noughties, and has more recently been adopted in the UK. According to the latest ticker count on the top of the Dementia Friends website, there are already over 2.8 Million Dementia Friends in the UK.

[Thanks to Kofo David and others for some of the photos]

Other speakers: Cllr Sem Moema; Harry Johnson from City &Hackney Alzheimer’s society; Simon from St Joseph’s Hospice

Dalston Cllr Soraya Adejare with Hackney South CLP BAME officer Grace Olori.


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