Larne named Northern Ireland’s Dementia Friendly Community of the Year

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Larne is home to the most dementia-friendly community in Northern Ireland, it has been announced.

The accolade was bestowed at the Northern Ireland Dementia Friendly Awards ceremony at the Europa Hotel on Tuesday.

This award recognises villages, towns and cities leading the way in taking action to ensure that people living with dementia are included in their community. 

Dementia Friendly Larne was established to encourage the entire community to share part of the responsibility for ensuring that people with dementia feel understood, valued and able to contribute to their community.

Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, who is part of Dementia Friendly Larne, said: “For the first time in my life, I’m almost speechless. I am so delighted! 

“This is a result of teamwork. I may have been the driving force behind it but this is what happens when working in partnership with the Council with Alzheimer’s Society and with the Northern Trust. 

“It is really wonderful, and all for the benefit of people from Mid and East Antrim Borough, for the carers and also for people with dementia.” 

Bernadine McCrory, Country Director (Northern Ireland) for Alzheimer’s Society, said: “It is amazing that Dementia Friendly Larne has won the Dementia Friendly Community of the Year award and it is a testament to their tremendous dementia-friendly work.

“The level of nominations received this year was truly phenomenal and there were some exceptional stories heard at the awards ceremony.

“All the finalists and winners at the Dementia Friendly Awards have demonstrated how we can unite against dementia and support those affected by the condition.”

Dementia devastates lives. By 2021, one million people will be living with dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Society Northern Ireland Dementia Friendly awards 2017 unite communities and individuals across the UK to recognise, celebrate and promote the inspirational achievements of those making a real difference to people living with dementia.

Originally a dementia support group meeting in the Prom Cafe, the group grew with the help of Alzheimer’s Society’s befriending service and now meets regularly with a large attendance. Dementia Friendly Larne grew quickly out of this as Mid and East Antrim Borough Council identified an opportunity to build on this work.

In March 2017, they delivered their first Dementia Friendly Communities workshop which has led to many businesses recognising the importance of building a dementia friendly community, and that it is a priority for everyone.

There is a friendship group meeting held monthly where activities and befriending services are provided. There have been regular dementia friends workshops held for individuals and businesses in the area. 

There are currently 219 dementia friends in Larne and 76 businesses proudly display the dementia-friendly sign on their windows. 

Included in this figure are 36 people from the Carnlough and Glenarm areas who attended training earlier this month in Carnlough. This session was organised in conjunction with Antrim Coast Lions Club.

In their submission to the awards, Dementia Friendly Larne wrote: “We aim to raise awareness and also to encourage the entire community to share in the responsibility for ensuring that people with dementia feel understood, valued and able to contribute to their community. 

“Dementia Friends are demonstrating how very simple changes can mean that people living with dementia are able to maintain their independence for longer.”

This year there were 12 awards across 10 categories, with awards for Dementia Friendly Organisation, Community, Partnership, Dementia Friends Champion, Innovation, Young person’s contribution and Inspiring Individual, as well as brand new categories to celebrate individual and group fundraiser of the year, and journalist of the year. 

The full list of winners for the different categories can be found on the Alzheimers website.