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Mission Possible – Become A Norfolk Dementia Friend!

july224
Written by Helen Burgess

Trevor Edwards, from Great Yarmouth is a man with a mission – to have 6800 dementia friends trained in the Borough of Great Yarmouth by 2021.  

We talked to Trevor earlier in the year when he launched the Dementia Action Alliance Great Yarmouth and we are pleased to share that his secondment from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to the national charity Business in the Community (BITC)has been extended for another year. This is great news for an area which has an accelerated ageing population and a high rate of deprivation. 

Figures announced this year from the NHS Great Yarmouth &Waveney dementia Registry reveal there are 2233 individuals aged 65+ diagnosed with dementia in the region, with at least 1000 more individuals non -diagnosed. This is projected to rise to 4200 by 2025.  


Community & Business

Trevor’s role as a Business Connector is varied and reaches much wider than his work with the Dementia Action Alliance. It involves linking businesses with the community to offer help and support in Education, Employment, Enterprise and Social Cohesion. 

Susanne Bell – Head of Dispute Resolution Working Age & Labour Market Decision Making, Department for Work and Pensions said

“DWP is committed to working closely with stakeholders to help the wider Society and having the opportunity to allow our talented people to be seconded to organisations that support our customers is an excellent way for us to build close working relationships and it allows our people to learn new skills and have a greater understanding of the challenges and difficulties our customers face.  This experience helps not only the individual, but DWP as a whole.  I was delighted that Trevor got this opportunity and very happy to support his extended secondment.” 

With this in mind, Trevor wants to use his background and experience with the DWP to help local businesses offer support for staff who might be caring for a partner or elderly parent.  

Training staff to become dementia friends is only part of the commitment, Trevor goes on to suggest ” “Wouldn’t it be great if all HR departments had a Dementia Tool Kit which was part of a wider policy on caring for their employees in the work place, which could include things such as  

  • Time off for appointments 
  • Supportive approach to emergency situations  
  • Flexible working patterns – to enable staff to build credit for medical appointments  
  • Stress management programmes  
  • Policy of Openness – to enable sharing and understanding which will tackle stigma surrounding caring and dementia.  

The benefits to business would be many – it would reduce common occurrences such as – low productivity and engagement, staff absence where people call in sick rather than tell the truth about their caring responsibilities and it would help employers spot changes in behaviour and attitudes and react sooner to offer support to their staff. 

A third of us during our lifetime will care for someone who has dementia, and with a growing ageing population, that is only going to increase.  

Could you help Trevor by becoming a Dementia Friend?  

Firstly, he needs a volunteer willing to chair the new group, preferably someone with business experience and secondly, he needs businesses and organisations in the Borough of Great Yarmouth, especially the Town Centre and Caister-on-Sea, to think about how they could help the area to become more dementia friendly. It’s not about big gestures, it’s about looking at how they operate internally and externally and how they could make small changes which would make the lives of people living with and caring for someone with dementia easier.  

Local Gt Yarmouth businessman, Trevor Saunders runs Mandalay Events – a business events consultancy company and Mandalay Wellbeing Community Interest Company. 

Trevor is a member of the DAA steering group and is helping to shape the Alliance’s action plans, he also oversees the Alliance’s Facebook page and has produced on-line videos to promote what they do. Perhaps most importantly, he uses his local connections to influence others to hear what the Alliance has to say and join.  

“I have been personally affected by dementia and through my work come across it regularly. I have many business contacts in the Great Yarmouth area, which I’m happy to approach and encourage to get involved. We’re not asking for grand gestures, it’s small things which will help raising awareness and make a difference to the lives of people living with dementia locally. First step –  take part in our free dementia awareness training!” 

If you want to find out how you can get involved and become a Dementia Friend, contact Trevor on 07584 602555 or email trevor.edwards@bitcconnect.org 

To find out if there’s a Dementia Action Alliance near you visit www.dementiaaction.org.uk  

If you’d like some more information and advice on caring for a relative with dementia visit our Dementia pages.

About the author

Helen Burgess

Helen has worked in the charity sector for 20 years in fundraising and marketing roles. Prior to becoming Regional Manager for Age Space Norfolk, Helen was at Age UK Norwich and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience on all aspects of elderly care.