New local groups for people living with dementia

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Local dementia charity, Dementia NI, are to deliver new Empowerment and Support groups for people living with dementia across the Southern Trust area, after being awarded almost £460,000 in National Lottery funding to support its work with individuals living with dementia.

The charity, based province wide, is a membership organisation specifically for people living with dementia. The charity was founded by five individuals living with a diagnosis of dementia who wanted to ensure that the voice of people living with dementia is at the core of policy, practice and service delivery across

Northern Ireland. The new groups, facilitated by Empowerment Officer Hazel Haworth, will provide support to people living with dementia, early stage post-diagnosis, throughout the Craigavon and Banbridge, Newry and Mourne, and Armagh and Dungannon areas.

Dementia NI members meet on a regular basis, offer each other peer support through their friendly social gatherings and raise awareness about what it is like to live with the symptoms of dementia.

Dementia Empowerment Groups provide a place where people with dementia can come and share, reflect and provide peer support. Members use their experiences and opinions to make a difference in the services and support provided to them to better meet their individual needs and challenge the stigma of dementia. Dementia NI groups regularly host visitors at the Empowerment Groups to offer feedback, consult and share experiences to anyone wishing to gain the opinions of people with dementia.

Programme Manager, Tara Collins said: “Our charity has established Dementia Empowerment Groups throughout Northern Ireland which provide a place for members, who all have a diagnosis of dementia, to come together, reflect, share experiences, provide peer support and consult with other organisations and professionals.

The new funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, which distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes and is the largest community funder in the UK, will see these groups expanded to twelve. This means that the number of people with dementia able to participate will increase to 180.”

At the same time, the charity will be able to provide personal development plans, carers’ groups and a new In the Same Boat telephone support service. These will help people affected by dementia to build relationships with others experiencing the same challenges and hopefully enable them to manage the challenges they face and reconnect with their communities.”

John McErlane, co-founder of Dementia NI, who lives with a diagnosis of dementia added: “We’re delighted that The National Lottery Community Fund has recognised our work in this way. Now, thanks to National Lottery players we will be able to press on with our plans to broaden the range of opportunities available to people with dementia. Participants will benefit from the mutual support of others living with dementia to help come to terms with a diagnosis, use and build on their own strengths, rebuild confidence often lost after a diagnosis, and engage in meaningful empowerment activities.

This is important because it enables people with dementia to have a voice which wasn’t available to this extent until Dementia NI was created. It has been almost 5 years of constant work to get us this far. Now we can look forward to achieving our aims to create empowerment groups for people with dementia in all Trust areas throughout Northern Ireland.”

For more information about the new Empowerment and Support groups please contact or call 028 96 931 555.