Council bosses have backed a mental health campaigner’s bid to pioneer Rothwell as Leeds’s first ‘dementia friendly’ area.
Peter Smith, who used to work as a carer for the Alzheimer’s Society, has been given permission to pilot the scheme, which involves making businesses and the wider community more aware of the illness.
The 65-year-old met with Leeds City Council’s lead member for adult social services, Coun Lucinda Yeadon, last week and is planning to boost awareness in Rothwell before his work is rolled out city-wide.
Peter has been granted £300 funding and plans to set up an awareness event, increase signage in the area, contact and educate businesses and work with those to provide dementia safe havens for those confused or lost.
He said: “People are still frightened and embarrassed about it and they don’t know how to react or speak to people with dementia.
“All they need is just that awareness and kindness.”
He said there are around 8,000 people in Leeds with dementia but almost half of those cases are undiagnosed.
Peter, who lives in Rothwell, became a carer after helping his mother Phyllis battle the condition until she died in 2004.
He said: “This is localised, which could lead Rothwell being the leader in promoting dementia awareness, creating the awareness and reducing the stigma.”
Peter plans to work with organisations such as Rothwell Live at Home to make Rothwell dementia friendly by April.
Last year the Tea Cosy community dementia cafe he runs at Rothwell Parish Church, which takes place on the first Saturday of every month, celebrated a year in existence.
Coun Yeadon said: “We’re delighted to be working with and supporting Peter and the other volunteers to establish safe havens in Rothwell and based on this experience we’ll be looking to recreate this across the city.”
She said making Leeds a dementia friendly city aims to enhance the everyday experience of people with the condition.
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