Dementia ‘champion’ Gerardine in running for award

Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna is a finalist in the Alzheimer's Society Dementia Friendly Awards.
Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna is a finalist in the Alzheimer's Society Dementia Friendly Awards.

Mid and East Antrim councillor Ald. Gerardine Mulvenna has been shortlisted for two prestigious awards for her work with dementia.

The councillor is a finalist in two categories in this year’s Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friendly Awards.

She has been shortlisted in the Dementia Friendly Community Champion of the Year and the United against Dementia: Outstanding Contribution of the Year categories.

This year’s finalists are “leading and inspiring change that will transform the lives of people with dementia forever”.

They have been credited with “challenging misunderstandings, changing attitudes and taking action”.

Cllr. Mulvenna has been a “dementia champion” since 2017 and has been a driving force behind council’s ongoing work to enhance the quality of life for those living with dementia and their carers.

Gerardine explained that her passion and motivation comes from watching her mother live with dementia for several years before she passed away in 2016.

She knows the challenges that face many families and witnessed first-hand, how her mother flourished when treated by “dementia-friendly” trained staff.

Speaking of her delight at the nominations, Cllr Mulvenna said: “I’m so thrilled to be shortlisted for two awards. I really can’t believe it. It’s such an honour that all the hard work I’ve put it alongside council and our partners over the past few years is being recognised.

“Council has been working to create Dementia Friendly Communities (DFC) across the borough as part of its community plan ‘Putting People First’.

“We’ve campaigned relentlessly with local businesses in Larne and Carrickfergus to ensure Mid and East Antrim becomes a dementia-friendly borough and I’m really delighted to see that work paying off.”

To date, over 270 people from more than 100 businesses and organisations have attended dementia-friendly training workshops.

Gerardine says that her work isn’t finished yet.

With a new dementia friendly garden opening, council staff and business training workshops in the pipeline, Gerardine’s sights are now on rolling this ethos out to Carrickfergus and Ballymena and ensuring they succeed at becoming DFC towns as well.

Gerardine is a huge advocate for community planning, which sees many groups working together to deliver on the ground for the people who need it most.

She says: “This collaboration between council, Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia NI, the Northern Health Trust, down to the local groups like Prom Friendship Group and Larne Renovation Generation – this excellent teamwork proves pulling resources works.

“I want to see the entire borough focusing on becoming DFC’s, so watch out businesses, I’ll be knocking your door down soon too.”

The awards will take place in November in Belfast’s Europa Hotel.