On a mission to be first dementia friendly shopping centre in Wales

A community spirited shopping centre is on a mission to be the first dementia friendly precinct in Wales.

Staff at Eagles Meadow shopping centre, Wrexham, are getting behind the Purple Angel dementia awareness campaign.

They are going to be trained by Purple Angel ambassador, Anita Moran, who is an Activities and Well-being Coordinator at the Pendine Park care organisation.

She was inspired to join the Purple Angels campaign by the experience of her late father Barry who had dementia.

Major players like Odeon cinema, Debenhams, and Frankie and Benny’s have already thrown their weight behind the scheme.

Eagles Meadow is the latest in a string of heavyweight backers of the campaign, including Pendine Park care organisation, Coleg Cambria and Glyndwr University, Wrexham MP Ian Lucas, and Wrexham AM Lesley Griffiths.

The aim is to raise awareness with local shops and other businesses, providing them with a simple training manual so that they are better equipped to recognise the symptoms of dementia and respond accordingly.

Businesses that sign up to the scheme will then display posters and stickers with the Purple Angel logo to signify that they are dementia aware.

Anita is delighted with the enthusiasm show by the staff at the shopping centre for the Purple Angel campaign.

She said: “I think Eagles Meadow getting behind this is fantastic. I can’t believe it. They’re really up for it, it’s amazing.

“If we can get the whole of the shopping centre on board, then that’s a big part of Wrexham. In the five years it’s been here it’s become an integral part of the town.

“To me this is like the hub of the town now. You meet friends here have coffee, do your shopping, go to the cinema. This is a massive step on the way to making Wrexham a dementia friendly town.”

Eagles Meadow shopping centre manager Kevin Critchley is an enthusiastic supporter of the Purple Angel campaign.

He said: “I think it’s a superb and wonderful campaign.

“It’s a growing problem in our society and we need to learn to deal with it, and we need to remember that people who are suffering from dementia are ill.

“They deserve our help and by the same token they’re also member of the community and important people for us to deal with as a shopping centre and as people.

“I think the absolute wrong approach is to just pretend it isn’t there because it’s not going to go away.

“The beauty of this campaign is it’s very simple.

“Someone suffering from dementia can at times appear to have too much to drink or be on drugs or something like that, where as in fact they’re obviously not. They just need a bit of help and a bit of understanding.

“The first step of that is being aware of the problem.

“A lot of people at the shopping centre are already getting behind this. Wrexham in general and certainly the centre in particular is a very friendly place anyway.

“We have a good reputation for customer service and that’s because the people who work here are part of the community. So the chances are the person we’re going to be dealing with is going to be somebody’s mum or dad or aunty or uncle.

“I think we should treat everybody the same way we’d want our parents and other relatives to be treated, and this campaign will help us to do that.”

Odeon cinema assistant manager Kenny Kempster added: “It’s really good that the shopping centre is getting behind the Purple Angel campaign.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to be the first dementia friendly shopping centre in Wales, and I think it’s good for the town as well.

“Eagles Meadow getting behind it adds a lot of weight to the campaign. There are some of the major players in retail in the UK and one of the biggest cinema chains in the UK based here.”

To find out more about the Purple Angels campaign please visit http://www.purpleangel.org.uk or contact Anita Moran at Pendine Park on 01978 720242.

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