Coleraine is NI’s first dementia friendly town

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Coleraine Borough Council was one of the first councils in Northern Ireland to sign up to a programme aimed at supporting people with dementia.

At last Tuesday’s Leisure and Development meeting, members heard from Pamela Frazer, a support manager for the programme funded by the Alzheimer’s Society and Atlantic Philanthropies.

Pamela told members that the programme aims to improve the quality of life for people with dementia.

Highlighting statistics for Northern Ireland, Pamela revealed that around 19,000 people had the illness, she added that this would more than likely treble in the next 20 to 30 years.

The meeting heard that through the programme, towns like Coleraine would be taking ‘small but important steps’ to make the town more inclusive, and to help the suffer maintain independence. ‘Dementia champions’ would be located in towns as part of the programme, who would go out to community groups, churches and businesses to share good practice. Coleraine Borough Council staff have already taken part in awareness training as part of the project, Pamela added: “ Coleraine has already made great steps.”

Members welcomed the programme, many spoke about their own personal experiences of dementia.

UUP councillor David Barbour said he was pleased that Coleraine were part of the project: “We are already a heart town, now we can add a dementia friendly town to our list.”

SDLP Alderman Maura Hickey questioned how someone with dementia could maintain independence. She drew on experiences within her own family. In response, the support manager told the meeting that simple steps like allowing a person with dementia to visit the corner shop alone could make a huge difference to them.

Mayor, councillor David Harding added that he looked forward to seeing the programme develop in the future.