Charity seeks volunteers to boost dementia awareness in South Asian communities

06 January 2023

Alzheimer’s Research UK is offering people from South Asian communities in Leicester the opportunity to sign up to become Dementia Community Champions, to help build awareness and understanding around the condition.

People from South Asian backgrounds are more likely to develop dementia than the general UK population. It’s not fully understood why this is, but certain cultural and social factors, as well as a higher risk of other health conditions like heart disease and stroke may play a role.

Recent reports have highlighted delays in seeking and receiving a dementia diagnosis for people from South Asian backgrounds, as well as worse long-term health outcomes. There is also under-representation of people from South Asian backgrounds in medical research studies, meaning their findings are not representative.

To tackle this, the UK’s leading dementia research charity is piloting a scheme to recruit people from South Asian communities across Leicester to become Dementia Community Champions. Volunteers receive training about dementia, brain health and risk factors for dementia, and taking part in research. Training will be delivered by a partnership between Alzheimer’s Research UK and local Leicester charity, South Asian Health Action. After their training, Champions will then receive ongoing support to share knowledge and information about dementia with their communities through their day-to-day interactions, as well as talks and events.

The project is seeking people from South Asian backgrounds to take up this volunteer role and test out this approach. No prior knowledge or experience of dementia is needed to take up the role, as volunteers will receive full training and support as part of the scheme. Most importantly, volunteers will need a passion for raising awareness of dementia and a proactive attitude to seek out opportunities to champion dementia information in communities.

Almost one million people in the UK are living with dementia and over half of people in the UK know someone affected by the condition. The condition, most commonly caused by Alzheimer’s disease, affects people’s ability to remember, think, plan and communicate.

At present, while there are treatments that can help the symptoms, there are currently no treatments available in the UK to slow or stop the diseases that cause dementia. Alzheimer’s Research UK is dedicated to bringing about life-changing preventions, diagnosis and treatments for the condition. As well as funding pioneering research, the charity works to challenge the way people think about dementia and reduce health inequalities.

Jess Tobin, Information Services Manager who leads the project at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“Tackling health inequalities around dementia is vital to so that everyone can benefit from research breakthroughs. We are excited to work with Dementia Community Champions who can help spread information within local communities, reducing stigma around dementia and working to improve representation in research studies. After this pilot scheme, we hope to roll the programme out to other communities across the UK, building a network of Champions.”

Kirit Mistry, Chair of South Asian Health Action, said:
“We are delighted to be partnering in the pilot of the Dementia Community Champions scheme, having seen the impact of dementia on our community across Leicester. Becoming a Dementia Community Champion is a valuable way to support and empower others through growing understanding of dementia and ways to look after brain health. Regardless of how much you currently know about dementia, we encourage people to step forward who are passionate about raising awareness of the condition in their community.”

Potential volunteers can find out more and apply at www.alzres.uk/DCC, or enquire by email [email protected] or calling 0300 111 5 111.