Scottish Racing committed to Dementia Friendly Racecourses
Hi, I’m Anne McWhinnie and I am the National Dementia Friends Programme Manager for Alzheimer Scotland. Alzheimer Scotland – Action on Dementia is Scotland’s leading specialist dementia charity, working to improve the lives and opportunities of everyone affected by dementia. We aim to be Scotland’s foremost provider of dementia support services and information and to be the leading force for change.
I started my career with Alzheimer Scotland in 2005, and following time with Social work found my interest was heightened into the needs of people living with dementia.
An opportunity came to work with Alzheimer Scotland and I jumped in. I started my work in this area by supporting people who had received a diagnosis in accessing services, followed by three years providing training. Most recently, I have taken on management of the Dementia Friends Initiative. This is a social action movement, engaging people from all walks of life.
Since the initiative started in October 2014, we have created over 60,000 Dementia Friends; people who participate in a free one-hour session are given an understanding of what it’s like to live with dementia, and how to turn that understanding into action. What action you may ask. Something as simple as wearing the badge in recognition of your participation or supporting a person to find the right bus. No action is too small; we aim to ensure that people Act, Think and Talk positively about dementia.
Every year we celebrate Dementia Awareness week (first week in June) and have just concluded this week with our Annual Conference bringing people together to talk about the year just gone, the year to come and how best to take the message forward.
I met with Eleanor Boden from Racing Together and discussed how we could support people living with dementia through collaboration through racing. Eleanor understood how important it is for people to continue to be involved in their community and for communities to support people to maintain their hobbies. We are extremely excited about this partnership and plan to have an official launch on World Alzheimers’s day (21st September). We will be working with all five racecourses in Scotland, firstly to ensure that the staff become Dementia Friends, and then to support Scottish Racing to look at making the courses Dementia Friendly. This will open up more opportunities for people living with dementia to remain part of their community but also to participate in the activities of Scottish Racing.