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PEOPLE living with dementia will have a better quality of life thanks to electronic devices that they will be offered in the coming months.
A number of organisations have joined together to help the many people living with dementia in Wigan by building on a campaign brought to life by a local charity, with an official launch event taking place during Dementia Awareness Week.
Wigan councillor Mark Aldred, who founded Good Deeds Trust with his wife Karen and mother Hillary, has been working closely with Wigan Alzheimer’s Society since 2010 offering support to those affected by dementia and already delivers cafes that are also open to family members and carers.
Working with Wigan Alzheimer’s Society and dementia sufferers the charity identified a number of devices known as Guardian Angels, including wristbands, badges and keyrings, which have been trialled with 400 people through a dementia workshop in Atherton.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service has since contributed £17.5k to support the life-changing cause and will now help Good Deeds Charity to further widen its campaign alongside Greater Manchester Police, Wigan Council, Transport for Greater Manchester and others.
Chair of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority, Councillor David Acton, said: “Dementia charity Good Deeds made contact with GMFRS and our community safety team in Wigan has been working closely with them since, offering support and helping the campaign to develop.
“Dementia is a condition we are familiar with and many of GMFRS’ incidents involve vulnerable members of the community who live with mental health issues.”
GMFRS Assistant County Fire Officer Geoff Harris attended an event to launch the Dementia Buddy campaign on Friday, May 22, 2015, when he welcomed people to GMFRS and talked about the importance of partners working together to allow people with mental health issues to remain independent.
ACFO Harris said: “We are pleased to be able to offer financial support to Good Deeds that now means more than 2,100 people in Wigan can be offered two digital Guardian Angel devices that will allow them to be identified, by emergency services or other people, should they find themselves in need of help.”
The afternoon saw around 100 people get together at Leigh Fire Station to mark the special occasion which coincided with Dementia Awareness Week 2015.
Attendees at the event included Fire Authority councillors John O’Brien, Fred Walker and Jim Ellis, Deputy Lord Lieutenant Paul Griffiths, Mayor of Wigan Councillor Phyll Cullen, Andy Burnham MP and Cllr Mark Adred’s wife Karen and their daughter Chloe.
During the event Guardian Angels wristbands, keyrings, badges and zip tags were showcased allowing people to see how they work and how the devices are activated.
Councillor Mark Aldred from Good Deeds said: “The Guardian Angel Devices are programmed to contain emergency details of a family member or carer and they can be accessed by placing a smart phone against the tag to reveal the information.
“Most smart phones have NFC technology built in to them that will simply need activating to allow people to access the dementia sufferer’s first name and a loved one’s phone number – this is the same technology used for contactless payment in our bank cards.”
Inspector Liz Sanderson, from the Wigan East Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Dealing with dementia can be extremely challenging and has an increasing impact on our aging communities. This is a worthwhile project for the area and will make a real difference for those members of the community who are affected by it and have relatives that suffer with this illness.
Head of Buses at Transport for Greater Manchester, Howard Hartley, also attended the event. He said: “I’m delighted to have been invited to attend the Dementia Buddy launch and look at how TfGM can assist with the campaign.
“By working together with the likes of the Good Deeds Trust to co-ordinate the services we offer members of the public, TfGM, bus operators, GMP, councillors and GMFRS can play a vital role in ensuring vulnerable individuals get the service and help they need, not just in Wigan but across the whole of Greater Manchester.
“Signs will be going up at Wigan and Leigh bus stations to provide more information on the campaign to members of the public.”
Good Deeds Trust delivers Dementia Cafes across Wigan Borough and you can find details of the workshops on the charity website - http://www.dementiabuddy.co.uk/
Group photo taken by Wigan Council at launch event Friday, May 22, 2015
front row l-r: Chloe Aldred, Karen Aldred, Mayor of Wigan Phyll Cullen, Mark Aldred, Head of Buses at TFGM Howard Hartley andGMFRS Community Safety Manager Reg Dempster