Give the thumbs up to dementia friendly St Andrews

Dr Maggie Ellis, lecturer at St Andrews University, Sandy Mitchell, creative director Greybridge Design and Lisa Cathro, owner of Zest.
Dr Maggie Ellis, lecturer at St Andrews University, Sandy Mitchell, creative director Greybridge Design and Lisa Cathro, owner of Zest.
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Students and their lecturer from St Andrews University have been helping to push forward a campaign to make the town dementia friendly.

And next Tuesday they will see the official launch of Dementia Friendly St Andrews, a venture between Alzheimers Scotland and St Andrews University, which aims to help the town’s residents and business community to recognise the signs of the condition and lend a bit of extra help.

In just a few days of raising awareness on the streets of the town, organisers Dr Maggie Ellis, a Fellow in dementia care at the School of Psychology at the university; Lisa Cathro, owner of Zest coffee shop; and Sandy Mitchell, creative director of Greybridge Design have added hundreds of supporters to the ‘Thumbs Up’ initiative on the campaign’s Facebook page.

Maggie explained: “I’ve been working on applied dementia research at St Andrews for 15 years and my research shows clearly the benefits of maximising the retained skills and social connections held by people living with dementia. My students are very interested in the wider issues faced by individuals with dementia and wanted to know how they could help. I found out about the Dementia Friendly Communities initiative via my links with Alzheimer Scotland and thought that this could be a great opportunity for St Andrews.

“About six months ago, I approached Lisa as a friend and someone in the town who is widely known not only as a successful businesswoman but also for her community spirit. She introduced me to Sandy who has been instrumental in the marketing of the initiative, including designing publicity materials and getting people on board with his sheer enthusiasm.

“We are now set to officially launch it to the public on Tuesday in the Byre Theatre and we are hoping that loads of people will come along to show their support.

“From there we plan to run workshops on dementia for as many people as possible in the community. Our aim is to equip people, so that when they come into contact with people living with dementia, they can give them a little extra care and attention and help make their lives a bit easier.”

Lisa added: “We plan to involve the emergency services, shops and businesses and anyone who may come into contact with people living with dementia. The support from the public has been great.”

The launch event takes place at noon on Tuesday and will be followed by a talk by Dr Ellis for anyone who would like to know how to communicate with individuals with advanced dementia. It takes place at 7pm and costs £12, with those attending receiving a book. To find out more visit: www.facebook.com/dementiafriendlystandrews.