It is fast approaching 5 years since Project Engagement Lead Tommy Whitelaw first started campaigning and raising awareness about dementia and the impact it has on families and unpaid carers.
This blog post comes from Tommy, reflecting about the anniversary and his story over the last five years..
June 6th will be 5 years to the day since I began walking around Scotland’s towns and cities to collect the life and love stories of people across Scotland who care for a loved one with dementia. This will also be the 5th year of my friendship with my now Director and mentor Irene Oldfather.
At the time of my walk, I was a full-time carer for my beautiful, kind, and caring mum- Joan, who had Vascular Dementia. My kind mum passed away in September 2012.
I felt passionately that no one should have to face the confusion, loneliness, and isolation that we felt. On 6th June 2011 I began my tour, collecting hundreds of life story letters, detailing the experiences of individuals caring for a loved one living with dementia.
You can view the video about the walk below which was later shown at the Scottish Parliament. It includes families and carers reading from the letters they sent during my dementia awareness tour of Scotland’s towns and cities.
An issue that struck me during my journey caring for my mum was the lack of awareness and understanding of dementia, and the way in which we perceive this illness as a wider society. My door was always open but no one walked through it, people didn’t come to visit us anymore, and I truly believe that was down to the stigma surrounding the illness.
Everyone affected by dementia has a unique story to tell, and by sharing our experiences we can help to tackle the misunderstandings surrounding dementia and offer hope to people in the same situation.
Since then, I have met with thousands of carers, health and social care professionals, and students through my original ‘Tommy on Tour’ blog and now as Project Engagement Lead with the Dementia Carer Voices Project at the Health and Social Care Alliance. Trying my best every day, working alongside my friend, Director, and mentor Irene Oldfather, my friends & team mates Laura and Ashleigh, and colleagues at the ALLIANCE in taking the life and love stories of carers who have written to us, carers we have met in person, spoken to on the phone, heard from through email or through our online survey and shared these with health and social care professionals, students, MSPs and members of the public to raise awareness of the impact of dementia on families and the importance of empowering carers in carrying out their difficult but vital role. You can view 10 films documenting this story at the link here
Our work continues..you can read more about the work we do below..
Make a Difference campaign
We have engaged with over 50 ,000 people in person over the last 2 years, collecting over 10,000 personal pledges from health and social care professionals and we’d like to share some of their inspiring words, and help celebrate the work they do to make a difference to the people they care for.
You can read every pledge here athttps://dementiacarervoices.wordpress.com/pledges/
Read our case studies of how hospitals, universities and care homes are putting people at the heart of their work at: https://dementiacarervoices.wordpress.com/case-studies/
Listen to Director Irene Oldfather and Project Engagement Lead Tommy Whitelaw update the Community Chanel about the pledges and the You Can Make a Difference campaign: http://www.communitychannel.org/video/6BvGx7iqymw/do_something_brilliant_series_2_episode_6/