Leading convenience store group, SPAR, is working with Alzheimer’s Society and the ACS (Association of Convenience Stores) so that over 7,000 colleagues can become Dementia Friends.

Shopping is the favourite activity for most people with dementia but they are often worried about going out and can feel isolated.

As SPAR stores are located at the heart of communities and many owners and colleagues live in the neighbourhood, the convenience store group says it is ideally placed to help support these vulnerable customers.  “I am delighted that so many of our SPAR colleagues have committed to becoming Dementia Friends. With over 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, a huge number will live in the communities our stores serve,” commented Cath McIlwham, Head of CSR at SPAR UK.

“This is such a worthwhile campaign as our SPAR stores are ideally placed to make a real difference to the most vulnerable people in our society. This campaign enhances the great work our stores already do and the important role they play at the heart of communities all over the country,” she added.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We are proud to be working with Alzheimer’s Society on this campaign and I would urge all retailers and their staff to get involved in order to better understand how they can support their customers and colleagues who are affected by dementia. SPAR’s commitment to create 7,000 Dementia Friends as part of the campaign is fantastic, and will help tens of thousands of people affected by dementia across the UK.”

Tamsin Fraser, Head of Community Engagement at Alzheimer’s Society, said:  “For many of the 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, going to their friendly local shop is important social interaction and with two thirds of people living with dementia living in their community, it’s likely that convenience store staff will encounter someone with the condition.

“We know that shopping is the favourite activity for almost 80% of people with dementia, but sadly many often stop going out or popping to the shops to even buy a pint of milk, as they’re worried about getting the support they need, so they can be left feeling socially isolated.

“We’re delighted SPAR is showing it means business when it comes to dementia, by uniting with Alzheimer’s Society and joining over 480 dementia-friendly communities to ensure people with the condition feel understood and better included in their communities. We would urge other organisations to follow the example that SPAR has set by joining the Dementia Friends movement.”

There are a variety of resources available to help SPAR store assistants learn more about dementia and how to support those who are affected by it, whether they are family members, friends or customers.

To become a Dementia Friend, SPAR staff complete a short online course available via Alzheimer’s Society and once completed, SPAR store staff wear a Dementia Friends badge to demonstrate they understand dementia.

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