THE efforts of businesses and organisations in Durham in making the city more accessible for people with dementia have been recognised.

The Dementia Friendly Durham City scheme was launched in May last year to try and encourage organisations to make changes to make it easier for people living with the condition to shop and access services.

Among those taking part in the scheme are the Passport Office, Leeds Building Society, Durham City Library, Durham City Smiles, Durham Cathedral, Ping Pong Parlour and Bean Social, a cafe in North Road.

They were presented with certificates to recognise their efforts at a reception, which was held at the Town Hall on Wednesday.

Mayor of Durham, Councillor John Lethbridge said: "Everyone in our community is important without exception. We all need to understand dementia and to know how we can help those who are affected.

"Our city displays its genuine and sincere care and concern under the title Dementia Friendly Durham City.”

Ernie Malt, from Evenwood, in County Durham, lives with dementia and attended to present the businesses and organisations with their certificates.

The Northern Echo:

Ernie Malt, pictured at a dementia garden he helped set up in Evenwood

He said: "There's still stigma around dementia and it's really important for communities to come together to support people like me. I'm very proud of everyone here today and all that they do to try and make our lives a little easier.”

Organisations can sign up for Dementia Friends sessions, held in collaboration with Durham Business Improvement District (Durham BID).

The sessions help staff learn how to recognise customers who may be suffering from memory issues and suggest small changes that can be made to make a significant impact, like displaying a coin chart by the tills or clearly signposting exist points from within their premises.

Mark Henderson, from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue, one of the original organisations involved in setting up the scheme , said: “While it’s a great achievement, there’s still more work to be done. We continue to deliver Dementia Friends sessions and advice to organisations in the city who wish to become ‘dementia friendly’, and we aim to build on this to make Durham a truly dementia friendly city.”

For more information about the Dementia Friends sessions as part of the scheme, email: