The North East’s biggest building society has been sharing the findings of its work on supporting people with dementia and their families with industry colleagues from across the UK.
 
Sheila Hodgson, branch support lead at Newcastle Building Society, was invited to deliver a dementia awareness session at a meeting of the Building Societies Association (BSA), which represents the UK’s 44 building societies.
 
The session, which took place at the BSA’s London headquarters, followed Newcastle Building Society’s commitment to support The Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends initiative, which aims to change the way people act, think and talk about dementia.
 
Sheila Hodgson has so far delivered around 55 dementia awareness sessions and trained over 750 new ‘Dementia Friends’ in the Society’s head offices, including members of its main board of directors, and in each of its 27 branches.
 
Every Society branch now including at least one Dementia Friend within its staff team.
 
Newcastle Building Society information sessions have also been offered to people living in the communities around the Society’s branches, while neighbouring businesses, including high street banks and other building societies, have also taken part.
 
A recent session in the Society’s Gosforth branch saw staff from Barclays, Santander, Nationwide Building Society and Dawson & Sanderson attending, as well as members of the public.
 
Sheila Hodgson says: “As a Dementia Friends Champion, I regularly lead these sessions for the Society’s colleagues, and now we’re offering them to our customers and the general public. The sessions are interactive, easy to follow and have great stories to explain dementia and help people understand it.
 
“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.
 
“The feedback from our sessions has been very positive with attendees saying it was really thought provoking and the imagery used to describe the impact on dementia sufferers and their families worked really well.”
 
Joe Kirwin, dementia friends officer at Alzheimer’s Society, adds: “There are 35,000 people living with dementia in the North East, so to see Newcastle Building Society taking action through rolling out Dementia Friends sessions to their colleagues and the general public is really encouraging.
“By committing to making all their colleagues Dementia Friends, they will provide reassurance to those living with dementia that they can count on a safe and comfortable experience when visiting Newcastle Building Society.”
Anyone interested in attending any of Newcastle Building Society’s Dementia Awareness sessions can book a place via the Society’s www.newcastle.co.uk website.