Project Engagement Lead Tommy Whitelaw, of the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE), is being awarded an Honorary Master’s degree in health, social care, and policy influence from the Open University. The awards ceremony will take place at Usher Hall on the 29th October.
Tommy Whitelaw’s campaigning journey began in 2011 whilst caring for his late mum Joan who had vascular dementia, when he undertook a walk around Scotland’s towns and cities to collect hundreds of life story letters from individuals caring for a loved one living with dementia. These letters were presented to members of the Scottish Parliament to ensure that real people’s experiences are at the heart of the decision-making process.
Since then, he has engaged with thousands of carers through his ‘Tommy on Tour’ blog and as Project Engagement Lead with the Health and Social Care Alliance’s Dementia Carer Voices Project, conducting frequent talks to health and social care professionals, students and carer organisations across Scotland and indeed the UK to raise awareness of the impact of dementia on people and families, and the importance of empowering carers in carrying out their difficult but vital role.
The Open University has developed several modules which help students to understand and respond sympathetically and appropriately to the issues which dementia presents. They have benefited tremendously from Project Engagement Lead Tommy Whitelaw’s insights, and he has used videos and lectures to open students’ eyes to the experience of caring for someone with dementia.
Speaking about the Honorary degree, ALLIANCE Director Irene Oldfather said
“Tommy has done a huge amount in Scotland and beyond to raise awareness and to campaign for people living with dementia and their carers. It is right and fitting that those efforts have been recognised in his Honorary Degree from the Open University.”
Project Engagement Lead Tommy Whitelaw said “I’m really privileged to receive this Honorary Master of the University from the Open University. Arriving home from a talk and receiving the letter the day after my mum’s birthday was particularly special.
The work we do is really based on people and relationships, and we are looking forward to working with the Open University and are excited to have the opportunity to work with the future of health and social care.”