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West Midlands trains pledge to become dementia friendly

By Richard Guttridge | Transport | Published:

Two train operators which run services in the West Midlands have pledged to make journeys more accessible for people with dementia.

London Northwestern Railway and West Midlands Railway say they will make stations and trains more dementia friendly and educate staff on the illness as part of a partnership with the Alzheimer's Society.

The operators run services through the region after taking over the contract from London Midland and bosses say they are keen to do more around dementia support.

Jon Harris, accessibility manager at London Northwestern Railway and West Midlands Railway, said: “We are committed to making the railway accessible to everyone – no matter what challenges they may face. We know that dementia can leave people feeling isolated and lonely, and we want to reduce the anxiety these people may feel about travelling by train to visit friends and live an independent life. Our staff come into contact with vulnerable people everyday, so educating and empowering them through the Dementia Friends programme will be invaluable to making our network accessible for all.”

Emma Butler, West Midlands community fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We are delighted that London Northwestern Railway and West Midlands Railway have chosen Alzheimer’s Society as the staff charity partner for the year, and that with the announcement, both train operators have committed to making rail travel more accessible for those living with dementia.

“Dementia devastates lives. Alzheimer’s Society research shows that 850,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia. By 2021, one million people will be living with the condition and this will soar to two million by 2051. Dementia deaths are rising year on year and 225,000 will develop dementia this year – that’s one every three minutes."

Staff at Wolverhampton station have already been working with the charity to help make the station more dementia friendly, as well as running fundraising activities. During December 2018, the station team hosted carol singers and held a tombola for customers in support of Alzheimer’s Society.

Mel Bryett, station manager at Wolverhampton, said: “Dementia is something close to many people in my team and we are committed to using our own experiences to help our customers. The station recently became dementia friendly, as we made a conscious effort to recognise and tackle some of the common challenges those with Alzheimer's face when travelling. Cementing this support through our partnership with Alzheimer’s Society will help educate more of our staff and customers, as well as helping to raise vital fund for ongoing research into better treatment for the condition.”

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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