THE region’s biggest initiative to help people with dementia is launched today (Wednesday).

It is estimated that more than 43,000 people are living with dementia in the North-East and North Yorkshire and experts believe that it will take a positive response from society as a whole to help people with the condition to live well.

That’s why the Alzheimer’s Society is launching its ‘Dementia Friends’ initiative, which is backed by Public Health England.

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The initiative - which encourages people to attend a briefing or watch an explanatory video - aims at increasing knowledge of dementia and encouraging members of the public to do more to help those with the condition.

The launch coincides with a new national TV ad which will be broadcast tonight, featuring some of England’s best-loved performers - including Lily Allen, Ray Winstone, Ruth Jones, Michael Vaughan and Alesha Dixon who will perform the iconic Beatles track ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’.

Co-writer, Sir Paul McCartney has confirmed that he has become an ambassador for Dementia Friends.

Dr Roberta Marshall, director of the North-East Public Health England centre, commented: “Becoming a Dementia Friend involves finding out more about what dementia is, and the small things they can do to make a big difference to a person living with the condition. People can live well with dementia, it just takes a little love and care from those around them."

Hazel Cumbertson, regional operations manager for the Alzheimer’s Society, said: "Dementia Friends is this country’s biggest ever project to change the way the nation thinks, talks and acts about dementia.”

Ken Clasper, who has dementia and lives in Chester-le-Street, said: “A lot of people find it difficult to cope after a diagnosis, especially if you are on your own you have no one to talk to which is why I'd encourage more people all all ages to become Dementia Friends.

"I was lucky in that I had a strong wife and daughter who kept me going. It would be too easy to sit down and give in to dementia if you weren’t given the right support. Being a Dementia Friend shows people want to make a difference.”

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