Almost 70,000 people aged 65 and over are said to be living with dementia in London alone. To address the challenges facing visitors who grapple with the syndrome every day, this new initiative aims to ensure the capital’s attractions are more welcoming and accessible than ever before.
Sensory tours, inclusive performances, dedicated relaxed sessions, clear signage, designated chill out zones and staff training are just some of the proposals made in the Charter, which has already received commitments from 40 major cultural venues.
All signatories become part of a Dementia Friendly Arts and Culture Network, delivered by the Museum of London, to share best practice. Those involved will receive access to guidance and materials in order to help staff and volunteers become Dementia Friends and Dementia Champions.
As part of my ambition to make London the world’s first dementia-friendly capital city, here at the @MuseumofLondon I’ve launched my Dementia Friendly Venues Charter, which will transform venues for people living with dementia and their carers. #DAW2021 pic.twitter.com/o8HevOLMZv
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) May 18, 2021
The Charter will “not only help people affected by dementia in London, but also visitors affected by dementia and their families, who will now feel more able to visit London’s cultural venues”, according to Kate Lee, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Society.
“As London begins to welcome people back, it is fantastic that people affected by dementia will be encouraged to fully take part in cultural activities across the city through this initiative. The new Charter, and Dementia Friendly Arts and Culture Network, will ensure the London arts scene is inclusive and accessible for people with dementia and their families.”
The Charter’s launch comes just days after Sadiq Khan, the recently re-elected Mayor of London, unveiled Let’s Do London, a campaign to reinvigorate tourism across the capital.
“As our city begins to re-open and our campaign to attract visitors gets into full swing, I want to send a clear message that our cultural venues are here to welcome people with dementia and we all have a part to play to ensure our capital is a more welcoming place,” Khan says.
He hopes participation will continue to grow, building on the 350,000 Dementia Friends, 1,000 dementia-friendly organisations and 25 boroughs accredited or working towards Dementia-Friendly Community status already in London.
Aside from simply making visits easier for those living with dementia, programming designed specifically for visitors who require certain adjustments is also a key strand of the project.
Museum of London, for instance, runs a Memories of London, a programme offering creative, sensory activities at its museums as well as in care homes and day care centres. Other examples include Southbank Centre’s Art by Post initiative, which offers free cultural activities to over 4,500 people affected by social isolation.