Third Sector called it one of the most ambitious volunteering initiatives of recent years. It’s called “Dementia Friends” and it’s the name of the Alzheimer’s Society latest campaign to raise awareness on the issue. The program received a 2.4 million Pounds and was launched by the health secretary Jeremy Hunt. It calls for one million people to become “Dementia Friends” and join the awareness sessions for the opublic on how to spot dementia and support people suffering from the condition.
The organization hopes that the people who decide to become “friends” will later use the knowledge they gain to volunteer in their community. The biggest challenge will be for the organization to reach and recruit such a huge number of volunteers. In order to simplify the registration process, people will be able to register on line and vby text message. According to Gayle Willis, head of communications at the Alzheimer’s Society, the goal is to have 6 thousand volunteers who agree to make a greater commitment. A goal that doesn’t seem too hard to reach: about 5 thusand people registered their interest in the projecton the launch day alone.
According to the Association of Volunteer managers, one of the risks of making such a big announcement is that people might not sign up because they think everyone is doing so. However, in her opinion, the organization has the right model to ensure the project gets “the right number of people in the right places”, because it has local groups in local communities.