Why dementia-friendly boroughs matter

The London borough community initiative that is exploring what a dementia-friendly borough looks like 

The London Borough of Brent aims to become the first dementia-friendly borough in the UK by 2020. Local resident and dementia campaigner Dianne Campbell explains why she wants to live in an area that enables people with the condition to continue to take charge of their lives

In 2013 I was diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Back then, there were no services in the London Borough of Brent for residents like me with dementia. Now, Brent aims to become the first dementia-friendly borough in the UK by 2020. It follows on from Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s vision to make London the first dementia-friendly capital city in the world.

'I am able to continue contributing to my community': Dianne Campbell. Picture: David Chater

The driving force behind the Brent initiative is Community Action on Dementia Brent (CAD-Brent), a group of volunteers chaired by Danny Maher who work with businesses, faith communities, minority ethnic communities, statutory services and people living with dementia and their carers. I am a founding member of CAD-Brent.  

Since CAD-Brent started in 2014 we have been discussing what a dementia-friendly borough looks like. Suggestions include the need for services to be co-produced by people living with dementia and service commissioners; the importance of a community that values people for themselves rather than defining them by their condition; and one that enables people to continue to live well and productively. We will continue talking with each other until we get it right.

Taking charge

A diagnosis of dementia does not mean that you can no longer contribute to your community. In fact, as the people who know most about the condition we can have a positive effect on services. For example, I have worked with City Hall developing the young-onset dementia London strategy and featured in a dementia training video for Transport for London staff. These have been positive experiences. They have given me a platform and kept me well, busy and working towards a dementia-friendly Brent.

I also wanted to give something back and be proactive about the absence of sufficient services in Brent. I set up a dementia café in my church, called the City Mission Hub. It is open every Monday between 10.30am and 1.30pm. We offer a social space to relax, socialise, do activities and get support. All people living with dementia, their carers and residents are welcome.

Setting up the dementia cafe has also been good for me because it means that I am able to continue contributing my talents and skills to the community. It has also helped me manage my memory problems.

I, and others like me, want to live in an area that understands dementia and enables us to continue to take charge of our lives. We want to work with you to create a borough that is dementia friendly. I invite any group, organisation or business in Brent to join us.

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About the author

Dianne Campbell is a dementia campaigner, London 

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