A CHARITY is appealing for shops, businesses and organisations to take advantage of a project to make York more accessible for people with dementia before specialised funding runs out in April.

Dementia Forward, which was set up around two years ago, runs a dementia friendly communities scheme with City of York Council.

The scheme runs until April, and gives businesses, shops and other organisation the chance to have specialist dementia education for their staff to help make their premises more friendly and accessible for people with the condition.

Dozens of premises, including York railway station, Fenwick’s department store, and York Hospital, have already taken advantage of the scheme and now project workers want more places to get involved while they still have a chance.

Project worker Netty Newell said they have seen great success where businesses see their neighbours display a “dementia friendly” sticker and follow their example by signing up for the scheme.

She said: “The communities in Haxby and Wigginton are beautiful examples. Lots of businesses in the area have signed up, and the Aroma Café has become a safe haven for people with dementia.”

Dementia Forward’s CEO Jill Quinn worked in retail when requirements for disabled access were first introduced. At the time managers were shocked that they were required to widen their aisles for wheelchairs as they thought none of their customers used wheelchairs.

“Now we wouldn’t dream of building a new shop if the aisles weren’t wide enough for wheelchairs. One day, being dementia friendly will be as every day as being wheelchair accessible.

With most people who have dementia living in the community, rather than a residential care setting, for as long 14, 15 or even 20 years, many become isolated in their own homes as they lose confidence in everyday tasks like going out onto busy city streets and handling money.

The Dementia Without Walls project aims to make York a safer and more welcoming place for people with the condition, and combat social isolation.

Businesses or organisations who want to get involved should phone Dementia Forward on 01765 601224.