MP joins assisted walk in Corbridge for dementia sufferers

Hexham MP Guy Opperman, whose family has experience of dementia, took part for the Alzheimer's Society

Guy Opperman, Hexham MP, joins a guided walk through Corbridge with a Dementia Friends Awareness Group
Guy Opperman, Hexham MP, joins a guided walk through Corbridge with a Dementia Friends Awareness Group

A Northumberland MP has signed up to a campaign which aims to end the stigma surrounding dementia.

Hexham Conservative Guy Opperman has become a Dementia Friend, as part of an Alzheimer’s Society initiative that aims to give people an improved awareness of the condition.

Mr Opperman, who has spoken out on the subject in a House of Commons debate, signed up after taking part in an assisted walk designed especially for people with the condition and attending a session at Corbridge which was part of a push to make the village dementia-friendly.

The MP, who was joined by disease sufferers and their carers and society staff at the Dementia Friends session, took part in a number of exercises aimed at helping participants understand the affect of dementia on people’s everyday lives.

The session also showed friends the small things that they could do to make a difference to people living in their community.

Mr Opperman said: “I have personal experience of dementia in my family so I have first-hand knowledge of what a devastating disease it can be.

“With a growing number of people living with dementia in the Hexham constituency, it’s more important than ever we all have a better understanding of the condition.

“Dementia Friends is about giving people an understanding of dementia and the small things they can do that can make a difference to people living with dementia.

“From helping someone find the right bus to spreading the word about dementia, it can help make our local community a better place to live.

“I’ve signed up to show my support for Dementia Friends, and I’ll be encouraging people of all ages across my constituency to do the same too.”

Guy Opperman, Hexham MP, joins a guided walk through Corbridge with a Dementia Friends Awareness Group. Pictured are Guy Opperman and Ken Payne, a young Alzheimers sufferer (in blue)
Guy Opperman, Hexham MP, joins a guided walk through Corbridge with a Dementia Friends Awareness Group. Pictured are Guy Opperman and Ken Payne, a young Alzheimers sufferer (in blue)
 

The session, at the Dyvels pub in Corbridge, was led by parish councillor Melvyn Stone, who is pioneering the work to turn the village into a dementia-friendly community.

Coun Stone, who led the assisted walk, said: “Most people don’t know enough about dementia.

“Dementia Friends is the perfect opportunity to be able to invite everyone to improve their knowledge.

“We are delighted that Guy has taken this important step towards supporting people in Northumberland with dementia and we hope that others will follow his lead because it is vital that we all become more dementia-friendly.”

Alzheimer’s Society business development officer for Northumberland Amy Syron-Mallenby, who is working with Coun Stone on the Corbridge initiative, said: “There are approximately 4,850 people who are living with dementia in Northumberland and that puts into perspective why it is so important that people like Guy sign up to become Dementia Friends.

“It is vital that we all increase our understanding of what it is like to live with dementia so we can make our towns and villages places where people with the condition can live the lives they want to live.”

Anyone interested in becoming a Dementia Friend or helping create more communities that are dementia-friendly should visit dementiafriends.org.uk, or call the Alzhiemer’s Society Hexham office on 01434 607318.

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