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Businesses in Horwich embraced the opportunity to help create the first dementia friendly community in the borough.

A total of 40 local businesses attended a launch of the pilot scheme this morning and all 40 pledged their support.

They will now benefit from raised awareness amongst employees when dealing with members of the public who have dementia, plus practical advice on how to improve customers’ experience.

Small changes can make a really positive impact, such as improving accessibility, having clear signage, installing sympathetic lighting and creating a quiet space.

Employees can also undergo specialist training to become a Dementia Friends Champion and share their new-found knowledge with the rest of the workforce in a bid to improve customer service.

The launch was held at the Macron Stadium on February 24 and the experience of Horwich businesses will help to form Bolton Council’s Dementia Action Alliance.

The alliance will include a network of businesses, organisations and community individuals who want to improve the lives of people affected by dementia.

The Deputy Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Linda Thomas, said: “Nationally the number of people living with dementia is rising all the time and in Bolton, we anticipate that within the next 10 years we will see the number of cases rise by 30 per cent. Consequently, it is crucial that we work together as a community to ensure that people with dementia are supported to continue to live well.

“There is a need for extra support to enable people to participate in everyday tasks such as shopping, socialising or using public transport and we are relying on the wider community to help make this happen. It can only be a positive thing for a business to become dementia friendly as making the right changes can generate more custom and improve their standing in the community, so we are delighted that so many organisations in Horwich were eager to get involved.”

In addition to the 40 businesses which signed up today, a further 35 have also expressed an interest but were unable to attend the launch.