KEIGHLEY people of all ages and backgrounds are being urged to volunteer as Dementia Champions.

Dementia Friendly Keighley is teaming up with the Alzheimer’s Society to run a training day to recruit new Champions.

The charity said the training on April 28 was part of a long-term drive to change the way Keighley communities think, talk and act about dementia.

DFK already has seven Dementia Champions who raise awareness of the illness through the Dementia Friends programme, and have to date recruited more than 4,800 Friends.

One of the champions, DFK treasurer Maggie Marsden, said the team had delivered Dementia Friends sessions at local local towns, businesses, schools and places of work.

She said: “They ensure that individuals have a better understanding of dementia, and thus help to break down the fear and stigma surrounding the condition.

“The Dementia Friends sessions are a beautifully designed awareness-raising tool. It’s a real pleasure to deliver them and see understanding of dementia grow amongst the participants in a group.

“It can be emotional too and we often have tears as people make connections with the concepts and their own experiences.

“I have learned so much and met many inspirational people during the six years I have been a Champion and would urge anyone interested to get in touch and join our team.”

Maggie said more Champions were needed due to the levels of interest in hosting awareness sessions from local groups and businesses.

She said: “Our current target is to reach 5,000 friends and we aren’t far off that now. But it’s not just about numbers, it’s also about getting the sessions into all areas of our town.

“For that we need a wide age range of Champions and from all our diverse communities. We would particularly love to hear from young people and those from the black and minority ethnic communities.”

Dementia Champions are trained by Alzheimer’s Society volunteers at one-day sessions. Once trained, they can run their own Dementia Awareness sessions lasting one hour, either alone or with an experienced colleague.

Maggie said the Alzheimer’s Society recognised DFK as a leading light in the development of Dementia Friendly Communities and was keen to support the local work.

She added: “The sessions include information about dementia and how it affects people, as well as the practical things that can be done to help people with dementia to live well in their community.

“It also enables Champions to answer people’s questions about dementia and suggest sources of further information and support. Champions will be able to access resources from the Dementia Friends website, including exercises, quiz sheets, bingo sheets, book club ideas and reading suggestions.”

The April 28 training day will be at Central Hall, Alice Street, Keighley.

Email or call 07452 773788 for further information.