Dear Sam,

I love the idea of internet search engines which support good causes – what a great example of an easy way to make a difference every day. I’ve started to use everyclick.com and linked the searches to support Alzheimer’s Society. Which brings me neatly on to what I wanted to tell you about today…

I chose Alzheimer’s Society because I’ve been volunteering for them since last year.  I’d been thinking for a while about ways to broaden my horizons and start doing something new and I came across the opportunity to be a Dementia Friends Champion.  I know how hard it can be for people who are living with dementia and their families and this sounded like such a good idea; Dementia Friends attend a free session to learn some key facts about dementia and then agree to carry out an action to help make life easier for those affected.  This can be as simple as wearing the Dementia Friends’ badge – which features a forget-me-not flower – and spreading the word about the scheme.  Those who want to become more involved might volunteer, like me, visit someone with dementia or perhaps sign up to take part in a research programme.

I did some training to become a Champion so that I can run the information sessions and I’ve really enjoyed every one I’ve done. The groups have ranged from friends and family to staff at a nearby dental practice and members of a local church.  Volunteering has made me polish up some rusty skills and acquire new ones and it’s been very rewarding. I love to be told at the end of a session that someone has learned something which has opened their eyes and it’s done me good to be reminded time and again of how kind and caring people really are.  It needed a bit of courage to make the call to offer to volunteer, but I’m so glad I took the plunge.

At the moment in the UK there are about 1,800,000 Dementia Friends. Do you know if there’s a similar movement in the U.S?

I’ve found that the sessions go particularly well when there’s something nice to eat on offer. I might just take a few Welsh cakes next time. As we know, they’re a great way to seal a new friendship.

Much love,

Claire