The North East’s biggest building society has delivered its 100th awareness session in support of people with dementia and their families in the North East, delivering its centenary session to Newcastle Eagles Community Foundation staff at the Eagles Community Arena on Scotswood Road.
As part of Newcastle Building Society’s long-term backing for the work of The Alzheimer’s Society, it has been running ‘Dementia Friends’ awareness sessions for the last year across its branch network and in a range of external locations which are aimed at its colleagues, customers, local people and neighbouring businesses on the high street.
Led by Sheila Hodgson, branch support lead at Newcastle Building Society, the initiative has so far seen more than 1,200 people becoming ‘Dementia Friends’ after receiving specialist training in 99 separate sessions.
And now, it has reached three figures with its latest event at the Newcastle Eagles’ new Community Foundation Arena on Wednesday 20 February.
The new Eagles Community Arena is a facility for the whole community to use, with arena space and function rooms to hire as well as a community café on the ground floor. Taking part in the dementia friends training further ensures it is an inclusive organisation.
The Dementia Friends initiative aims to change the way people act, think and talk about dementia at a time when the age profile of the UK population is rising and the disease is becoming ever more common.
‘Dementia Friends’ have been trained at every level of Newcastle Building Society’s operations, including at its head offices and on its main board of directors, while every one of its 28 branches now includes at least one Dementia Friend within its team.
Stuart Fearn, head of customer contact at Newcastle Building Society, says: “The Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme is the biggest initiative to help change people’s perceptions of dementia, and aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition.
“It’s a disease that cuts across every part of society, so as well as ensuring our colleagues have the training they need, we also invite people living in the communities around the Society’s branches and other neighbouring businesses along to take part.
“The sessions are interactive, easy to follow and have great stories which help people gain a better understanding of dementia and the challenges that come with it, and the feedback we get from participants has always been very positive.
“Reaching our 100th session is a fantastic landmark, but we already have many more planned and will continue to share the knowledge and experience we have to offer as widely as we can.”
Sam Blake, CEO at Newcastle Eagles Community Foundation, adds: “The Newcastle Eagles Community foundation works across all sectors of society, encouraging physical activity, friendship and community spirit.
“We are delighted to be taking part in the Dementia Friends’ training to ensure we provide the best experience possible to everyone who has interaction with our staff both in and outside of the Arena.”
Anyone interested in attending any of Newcastle Building Society’s Dementia Awareness sessions, can book a place via the Society’s website.