NEW FRIENDS: Faith Walkwell and Emma Brown from the Alzheimer's Society with Mike Bettison
NEW FRIENDS: Faith Walkwell and Emma Brown from the Alzheimer's Society with Mike Bettison

MIDDLETON-in-Teesdale is preparing to become a dementia-friendly village with a number of people and groups signing up to the initiative.

Organised by the Alzheimer’s Society, an initial meeting has been held to form a steering group, involving the village GP surgery, Utass (Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services), businesses and the local care agency. Utass already hosts monthly music and memories sessions which are open to people affected by dementia and their carers.

Faith Walkwell, from the Alzheimer's Society, said: “It was a really good turnout for an initial meeting. We will see what small things the village can do.

“Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia. It aims to transform the way the nation thinks, talks and acts about the condition.”

Help for businesses to become dementia-friendly can include simple changes such as improving signage.

The launch in Middleton coincided with Dementia Action Week, which also saw people attending a dementia friends training and awareness session.

Ms Walkwell said the hour-long sessions are aimed at busting myths about dementia and explaining how people are affected by different types of dementia.

Ms Walkwell also attended the music and memories session held at Utass to “see how it works and share ideas”.

She added: “This Dementia Action Week I am challenging Middleton-in-Teesdale to help people living with dementia to feel active, engaged and less isolated by building their understanding of dementia and becoming dementia friends.”

More dementia friends training sessions are planned for the village in the near future. The village’s dementia steering group is to meet again on June 23 at Utass’s offices.