All of our people to become Dementia Friends
At M&S we’re proud to be supporting the Dementia friend’s campaign.
There are currently around 800,000 people in the UK living with Dementia and all the challenges that it brings. Life with Dementia can be disorientating and pretty frightening; it can have a huge impact on confidence and can lead to dramatic lifestyle changes.
Despite this, a recent survey by the Alzheimer’s Society found that less than half of us feel that we have a good understanding of Dementia.
When we heard that around quarter of all people with dementia feel that they can no longer go shopping, despite it being the local activity that they enjoy most, we knew that M&S had to play a part in changing this for the better.
We want all of our customers to feel comfortable shopping in our stores; even if they do need a bit of support, patience, kindness and a bigger than usual smile to greet them when they visit us. That’s why we have committed to each and every one of our 80,000 colleagues being empowered to become a Dementia Friend.
A Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it's like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action - from helping someone to find the right items shopping to spreading the word about dementia on social media, every action counts. We hope that through this scheme our people will be able to offer a compassionate and helping hand to those that need one.
We’re one of the first businesses to commit to running the Dementia Friends initiative to all our colleagues which we launched by visiting our Marble Arch store with Jeremy Hunt, Secretary for Health.
We carried out an engagement campaign across our stores and offices sharing the Dementia Friends message and training with all our people and empowering employees to learn about the disease and how they can turn that learning in to action.
The response we have had from employees has been overwhelming – it has really resonated with people providing a sense of pride that we can do our bit to provide a positive impact on our local communities in this way.
Just today I heard about how Kathyln, a customer colleague in our West hill store how put her Dementia Friends training to good use when serving a customer and was nominated by the customer’s daughter for our ‘Spotlight’ Service Award’.
We’ve even seen colleagues going that extra mile, getting in touch with their local Dementia network to volunteer and fundraise and spreading the message across our employee social network. One store even had the great idea of setting up a board whereby all colleagues posted the Dementia Friend’s Flower if they had been impacted by the disease – it serves in store everyday as reminder of what teams have learnt to ensure we continue to support those affected by Dementia to lead more fulfilling and independent lives.