Club raises awareness of dementia
Town are proud to be marking the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Action Week (DAW), which runs from the 17 May to 23 May 2021, through our support for the Ipswich Dementia Action Alliance’s (IDAA) profile raising campaign.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of dementia and to promote the work undertaken by the IDAA and its members (local businesses and organisations) to support people living with dementia.
The Club recognises how important it is for fans with dementia to continue to do the things they love and the things that matter most to them for as long as possible. This includes attending matches, providing opportunities for the sharing of stories with other fans and remembering that as well as the fan with dementia, family, friends and carers are also living with it.
Liz Edwards, supporter liaison officer and the Club’s representative on the IDAA said: “Being involved with the IDAA for several years has really made me think about our fan base which includes fans living with dementia. We want to do all we can to ensure that all fans can attend games safely and with the support they need.”
Fans with dementia coming to games want to do so in a safe environment. 80 of our customer-facing staff and matchday stewards therefore have attended a number of Dementia Friends information sessions. These sessions provided an understanding of needs and challenges making staff and stewards much better placed to provide appropriate assistance on both a matchday and non-matchday.
As well as the Dementia Friends information sessions, since joining the IDAA back in 2016, Town have hosted a number of reminiscence tea parties with guests meeting ex-players, hearing stories from club archivist Pat Godbold and chatting about ITFC whilst browsing through old photographs and looking at memorabilia.
The Sunderland game in 2017 was dedicated to increasing awareness of dementia and in February 2019 our game against Sheffield Wednesday was a dementia friendly game with a number of people living with dementia and their carers being invited into a suite for tea and sandwiches prior to watching the game.
For one guest, Peter Berry, who has early onset dementia, it was a case of trying a new experience with the match his first time at a football game. Peter is well-known locally for riding a penny farthing bicycle and raising money for dementia charities – the match even gets a mention in the excellent book, ‘Slow Puncture’, written by Peter and his friend Deb Bunt.
As Covid restrictions start to ease, and we can start to look forward to welcoming fans back to Portman Road on both a matchday and non-matchday, the Club will continue the work it is doing for those living with dementia. As part of the IDAA’s campaign we therefore commit to:
- Hosting Dementia Friends information sessions for staff members and stewards who have not, as yet, attended a session. We will also look to hold sessions for fans who may want to become Dementia Friends.
- Holding a dementia friendly and awareness match during the 2021/22 season when we will invite guests living with dementia to join us for the game
- Hosting another reminiscence tea party at Portman Road for older fans, local care homes and memory cafes
In addition, the Ipswich Town Heritage Society has committed to become a member of the IDAA and will work with the Club and the other members of the IDAA to use the history of Ipswich Town to spark conversation and reminiscence across our community.
Sadly, when we carry out these activities there will be one very special person missing. Roger Fern, who was instrumental in the founding of the IDAA, sadly passed away on the 27 April 2021. An avid Town fan, he enjoyed games standing on the terraces, in the family enclosure and in the directors box with his wife, daughters, grandchildren and friends. Roger gave so much to Ipswich and the local community through his charitable work, his time as a school teacher and headmaster and as Mayor of Ipswich. The IDAA was very close to his heart with his beloved wife Pat living with dementia.
Photo taken in 2019, prior to social distancing.