Why We're Creating 25,000 Dementia Friends

This week we launched a major new campaign to create 25,000 new Dementia Friends in our sector. You’ll see lots of information about the campaign on our website and on social media, and if you have any questions call me or anyone from the ACS team and we’ll make sure you have everything you need to become a Dementia Friend and to help your colleagues to do the same.

In this blog I want to explain why we’re doing this. The overwhelming reason is that we saw an opportunity to do something positive for people, specifically the people who work in our sector, and the millions of customers we serve. Those customers are from every demographic and geographic segment in the country; ours is not a niche sector but a mass market providing essential services. We also know that we trade in more communities than any other business sector, offering sometimes the only touchpoint for isolated people. You’ll recognise those people in your own stores, and they may well be young mums, young people caring for ill parents, or people of any age with very limited means and support structures.

But the most common distinguishing feature of people who are isolated is that they are old, and as our population ages so does the number of people living with dementia. Our presence and reach into these peoples' lives means that we are uniquely placed to help them, and of course many convenience stores already do this (the idea of creating Dementia Friends in our sector isn’t new, and we’ve been inspired by and given great advice and support by some members who have already worked in this area).

So we can help our customers and communities, but we can also train and empower our colleagues. 405,000 people work in our sector, and most of them are juggling being in store with caring for others outside of work. We’ve been struck by how many people we talk to - independent retailers, head office executives, colleagues from the supplier community, and the ACS team - have been directly impacted by dementia.

By training our colleagues to recognise the signs of dementia and to support people who are affected by it, we’re not only adding skills to their work life, we’re equipping them for interactions outside the store. What’s more, those skills and that knowledge will not be unlearned, and all the evidence suggests that people who become Dementia Friends want to find out more themselves and to share this with their friends. This campaign can be part of a snowball effect where everyone learns more about how to help people affected by dementia, and having been in Dementia Friends sessions with our board and our team, I can already feel the enthusiasm and commitment to make this a huge success.

Finally it’s worth recognising another reason why we’re running this campaign: it’s part of celebrating ACS’ 25th anniversary. The main purpose of our silver anniversary year isn’t to dwell on old war stories about past campaigns or to focus on the institution of ACS, it’s about celebrating the people who have been part of our sector and our story for the past 25 years. So, it feels appropriate to make the centrepiece of this year a campaign about people.

This entry was posted by Chris on Thu, 16/01/2020 - 09:15