BUSINESSES are being urged to sign a pledge to support people with dementia.

The Worthing Dementia Action Alliance is campaigning for the town to become a dementia friendly community.

And it is staging an event later this month urging companies and organisations of all sizes to go along and find out more.

Julia Johnson, volunteer and managing partner of Fine Marketing, said this would have an enormous impact on people who live and work in the area.

She said: “Making a positive change through offering staff dementia friends information sessions will help reduce the stigma associated with the disease and provide a workplace culture where people can talk openly.

“These sessions are all free and delivered by volunteers.

“With one in nine working people caring for someone older, ill or disabled, dementia is frequently a hidden issue in the workplace.”

Businesses leading the way include Bennett Griffin, Southdown Leisure, Barclays Bank, Relative matters, Hanover Housing, Breathing Spaces and Fine Marketing, who are all supporting their community through a range of action plans.

Charities and providers Guild Care, Alzheimer’s Society, Coastal West Sussex Mind, Crossroads, St Barnabas Hospital and Darlington Court Care Home are all members.

So too are St Lawrence Surgery, Offington Park Methodist Church, Worthing Library and West Sussex County Council.

Two of the town’s largest employers, Worthing and Adur District Council and Stagecoach Bus Company, are currently formulating their action plans.

Ms Johnson said: “More than 14,000 people live with dementia in West Sussex using shops, public houses, restaurants, hairdressers, public transport, banks and theatres.

“It has been found, by local businesses who have encouraged their staff to have dementia friends sessions, that a greater knowledge and understanding of dementia better equips them for phone calls and face-to-face conversations.

“A little knowledge goes a long way, encouraging patience, promoting understand and improving customer experiences.”

Dementia friends champions have created 2,859 dementia friends in the Worthing area.

The event is taking place at Worthing Leisure Centre in Shaftesbury Avenue on March 28 from 5.30pm.

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