CAPTION: Bishop Nick is calling for more support for those with dementia in rural areas

Bishop appeals for Dementia Friends sessions in rural areas

Posted: 30th May, 2018

During this Dementia Action Week and following the launch of a Dementia Friendly Rural Communities Guide, the Bishop of Plymouth, the Rt Rev Nick McKinnel is calling for more Dementia Friends awareness sessions to help communities support those affected.

“For people living in Devon’s rural communities, there’s a double impact of living with dementia and rural isolation, where specific services aren’t as accessible. While there’s often a strong sense of community, there’s also a tradition of self-reliance and privacy,” says Bishop Nick,  a member of the Prime Minister’s Rural Dementia Task and Finish Group. The group helped put together a new Dementia Friendly Rural Communities Guide, launched at the Devon County Show this month, to help anyone who lives in a rural community get started on becoming dementia-friendly.

“Many fear what a diagnosis might mean in terms of losing a lifestyle, a home, a farm, everything that’s familiar. So we really need to reach more rural areas with this message that there are ways to help and support each other. It’s important to look ahead and plan for the challenges dementia may bring. And we can all learn how to make ordinary, everyday activities dementia-friendly so that people can still go to the village shop, catch the bus, visit the market, take part in the local gardening group or Mothers’ Union.

“That’s why I’m a Dementia Friend and I encourage everyone to find a Dementia Friends awareness session near them. Our Devon churches in rural communities could help with this by providing a free venue to a local Dementia Champion and hosting a Dementia Friends session for their village,” says Bishop Nick. “We need more volunteer Dementia Champions like Christine Westlake in West Down. She did the free day training and has now done sessions for all her parishes in Heanton Punchardon, Marwood and West Down plus many others across North Devon and as a result more than 300 people have become Dementia Friends.” There are many different kinds of rural area but it is usually defined as a population of fewer than 10,000 people.

To organise a Dementia Friends session for your church or community please email or