St Andrews is very dementia friendly

The Thumbs Up campaign
The Thumbs Up campaign

The launch of a new initiative to make St Andrews a dementia friendly town received a warm welcome from residents and businesses.

The event, held in the Byre Theatre recently attracted a good turnout of local people and businesses keen to get involved.

Dementia Friendly St Andrews is 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.

It was led by university lecturer Dr Maggie Ellis, a fellow in dementia care at the School of Psychology; Lisa Cathro, owner of Zest coffee shop; and Sandy Mitchell, creative director of Greybridge Designs, both in St Andrews.

Dr Ellis’ students led the way for the initiative after all deciding as a sideline from their studies, that they wanted to become Dementia Friendly and the idea to make the town follow suit came about.

A ‘Thumbs Up’ campaign for the idea generated a huge amount of interest, with many people posting photos of themselves with their thumbs up to the group’s Facebook page.

The launch event attracted around 55 visitors all keen to find out more about what was involved. These included representatives from local businesses and shops, services and citizens of St Andrews.

Dr Ellis said: “There was lots of interest in setting up a Dementia Alliance, and the launch generated lots of ideas about fundraising activities, workshops and events for the future.

“I’m delighted with how it turned out. It was well attended and there was a real buzz around the initiative. I’m confident that by building on this success and enthusiasm we will move very quickly towards making St Andrews a Dementia Friendly Community.

“We hope to build on this momentum and arrange the first meeting of the newly formed alliance next month.”

Now a series of workshops on dementia for as many people as possible in the community is planned.

“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,” Dr Ellis explained.

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.”