Faith Leaders enlisted to raise dementia awareness

Public Health England (PHE) recently held a roundtable discussion with Black faith leaders to look at how they could work with church leaders to increase people’s understanding of dementia, and to remove the cultural barriers that cause African and Caribbean people to visit their doctor for diagnosis later than their White counterparts.

The Dementia Friends campaign, launched in May, seeks to tackle this disease, which is one of largest health issues facing England and Wales. The Dementia Friends initiative aims to dispel common myths and stigma associated with the disease, and to show how society can support those living with the condition. It is estimated that of the 600,000+ sufferers, 25,000 are from ethnic minorities.

Rev Nezlin Sterling of the New Testament Assembly, Bishop Mark Nicholson and Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin were among those present at the discussion.

Pastor Marjorie Esomowei of Triumphant Church International, who was also present, stated: “The event has helped us to understand how we can offer support to those living with dementia and their families. We need to ensure that people understand that dementia is a disease that can be managed with the right medical support, and with help from family and community.”

Dr Justin Varney, National Lead for Adults and Older People, PHE, said: “This event was a great start to an ongoing conversation about how we, as Public Health England, and our partners can work with faith and community representatives to understand and address the cultural barriers and fears that conditions like dementia raise in communities.

“Working together, involving faith, community and business leaders, we can shift society to be better for people affected by dementia, and fundamentally this makes it better for everyone.”

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