Fifty or sixty of us came together yesterday to talk about dementia, as part of Dementia Awareness Week. A bit of a downer on a sunny day? Not at all!
Yesterday was a sizzlingly gorgeous day in York. I was at a sounding board event for our project Dementia without Walls at the wonderful 14th century Hospitium in the Yorkshire Museum Gardens.
There was a huge energy in the room right from the start. A wide range of people - carers and people with dementia, staff from health, care, housing and leisure, singers from Singing for the Brain, transport police, lawyers, a theatre group and voluntary groups.
The day kicks off well: Julia Unwin, our Chief Exec, calls for York to lead the way on dementia and reminds us that, over its 800 years of history, York has always been able to adapt and grow to meet the changing needs of its citizens.
Chief Executive of the City of York Council Kersten England commits to working with others to build a dementia-friendly city – calling our project 'hugely ground-breaking'.
James won't be limited or defined by his diagnosis of dementia. He regales us with tales of hobbies and trips far afield. Dennis can't be here today, but we hear his words of testimony on video.
And then we're off – talking Place, People, Resources and Networks, the four cornerstones of the dementia-friendly community.
How about awards for businesses that go the extra mile in being dementia-friendly?
Sue wants an annual 'Go Slow' day in York (with emails and mobile phones banned) to give people with dementia time to explore the city without the pressures of modern living.
Some have already made real progress just by getting on with it – Fiona's just got an award for her work with her colleagues in the Transport Police on dementia. Cath, a local GP commits to training all her reception staff about dementia.
So what do we conclude?
Not a bad day's work. A fitting way to spend our Founder Joseph Rowntree's birthday – focusing on how we can continue to build York as a city that is a good place for all its citizens – including those affected by dementia.