Creating a Dementia Friendly Community


There are currently around 850, 000 people living with Dementia in the UK. Dementia knows no boundaries, no age limits, no race, and no gender.  The youngest person to ever be diagnosed with Dementia in the UK was 6… Yes!  6 years old!

Whilst on my placement with Radius Housing, at the request of John McLean, Radius’ CEO, I teamed up with Care Services Manager Deirdre Carr, to take the lead on making Holywood a Dementia Friendly Community.  It was an absolute pleasure to be asked to work on this project as it is something I am particularly passionate about and it a subject very close to my heart.

Deirdre Carr, Care Services Manager, and I worked alongside Dementia NI and the Alzheimer’s Society to create a timeline plan; our first step was to get all the businesses in Holywood involved and on board – who wouldn’t jump at the chance to be on board with such a worthy local project? After hand delivering 86 letters inviting the businesses to a short information session only 3 businesses turned up!  BUT we didn’t let that deter us, we picked ourselves up, dust ourselves down and continued to work hard.


We were kindly welcomed to the Dementia NI empowerment group where we met with people living with Dementia.  This was vital to kick start our Dementia Friendly Community as we were getting invaluable advice about what people living with Dementia wanted to see in their community.

The first suggestion was two different types of coffee mornings – one was a memory café and the other a careers support coffee morning.  We liaised with the local library and they were very accommodating allowing us to hold the memory Café once a month in their meeting room.   The Yard invited us to use their upstairs area for the careers support coffee morning.  The feedback we received from both coffee mornings was over-whelming, so much so there is now 2 memory cafes a month – still receiving great support!  The second suggestion was a monthly newsletter. Each month we published a newsletter to create awareness; every month the newsletter had a calendar of events, a map of Holywood showing where each event was and information about Dementia.  We also created a social media account and got posters printed to create awareness and tackle the stigma attached to Dementia.

Deirdre and I then went on to complete our Dementia Champion training – this course allows us to train others to become Dementia Friends and be more understanding of those living with Dementia. We started by training staff in-house the first of which was the tele-care staff and then moved into the wider community where we trained businesses within Holywood, the career support group and primary school pupils.  At present we are working to train all of the Ards and North Down Borough Council.

Dementia Awareness week

Having raised awareness and getting ‘Dementia Friendly Holywood’ up and running we decided it was time for an Official Launch.  As if organising an official Launch wasn’t enough work, we decided to run an event every single day that week, and what better week then Dementia Awareness Week  – we held Afternoon Tea, a Memory Walk and a Quiz to name but a few.  The launch event was well support and many local businesses hosted a stall, we had the local councilor attend and the Mayor also came to preside the official launch.




Given the amount of time and effort put in by everyone we were absolutely delighted to learn that we had been nominated for 4 different awards with the Alzheimer’s Society in November this year.

  1. Dementia Community of the Year (Dementia Friendly Holywood, runner up)
  2. Dementia Partnership of the Year (Dementia Friendly Holywood, winner)
  3. Dementia Champion of the Year (Jenny Martin, runner up)
  4. Dementia Young Person of the Year (Jenny Martin, Winner)

Having now completed my placement year with Radius Housing I still continue to help out with activities for Dementia Friendly Holywood and assist with the creation of Dementia Friendly Peninsula and Dementia Friendly Carrick.

Dementia Friendly Holywood Facebook

Dementia Friendly Holywood Twitter 


Jenny Martin is a final year BSc student in Communication, Advertising and Marketing at Ulster University, Jordanstown. You can follow her on Twitter @Jennymartin95 or on Facebook: /jenny.martin.12979431













Ireland to Australia… by BIKE!



Yup that’s right, who would be mad enough to cycle from Ireland to Australia? Definitely not me!! My good friend David Stanbridge, AKA Stanner’s has always had a keen interest in traveling and adventures, what better adventure to go on than cycling around the world!

This blog really won’t do Stanners’ trip much justice, I think a book would be more appropriate. Maybe that could be his next project after he finishes cycling around the world?

Anyway… here it goes. In 2016 Stanner’s thought a lot about taking this trip and then decided to start planning it.  He spoke to the bosses at work and they were willing to grant him a career break so in December 2016 he put the wheels in motion and sold his car – this was 3 months prior to his departure date.

After numerous good-bye parties and lots of tears Stanners left his home town of Islandmagee in Co Antrim on Monday 3rd April 2017 at 4.45 am. His father cycled with him to the boat in Larne and continued to cycle with him all the way to Newcastle Upon Tyne which is 360 km (I’m not sure my legs would even take me that far…rather you than me Stanners!).

He then cycled to Dover where upon boarding the boat and waving to his family from the top deck he spotted two other heavily loaded bikes: this couple were also headed to Australia! Imagine that, there are other people in the world as crazy as Stanners. Within the first month of cycling Stanners hit Slovakia and covered a total of 2400 km! All in one month! From Ireland to England to Netherlands to German to Austria to Slovakia. He experienced temperatures below freezing whilst sleeping in a tent and cooking meals in pots and pans like I’m a celebrity, get me out of here (without the fish eyes and kangaroo balls etc).

By the early part of May Stanners had reached Turkey and this is where he would be for the next month, cycling from one side to the other to reach Iran.

He encountered many different things while in turkey, he learnt a lot about the Turkish history and had a Turkish bath at Cagaloglu Hamam – the last Turkish bath to be built in the Ottoman Empire, so Stanners says anyway! This was one of his camping spots during his travels through Turkey, who needs a tent anyway?


Stanners spent his birthday in Turkey – on the morning of his birthday he received a video link form his dad with pre-recorded birthday messages from all friends and family. He watched this at 3 am after waking up for a pee during the night. He said he didn’t cry but I don’t believe him! On the day of his birthday he also reached the highest point of his trip at that time – 1500 m.

In June Stanners crossed over into Iran. After making it to Tehran, Stanners soon discovered the roads weren’t very safe; the traffic wasn’t overly heavy but there weren’t many rules on the road.  The lines weren’t very clear and at junctions they disappeared altogether, thus it became like the area after a toll booth where a super wide area of cars are all darting for one narrower section of road.  Meanwhile Stanners is trying to stay out of harms way. After a late night and early morning rise the sun soon got the better of him – he cycled to a car park where he came across a guy driving a truck and despite the language barriers he discovered that the fella was heading in the same direction that Stanners wanted to go. He clipped his bike securely onto the back of the truck and climbed into what should have been the passenger seat.  However, there was no seat just a flat area covered with a carpet, needless to say no seat-belt either. As the journey progressed the man got a little too comfortable, sitting completely side ways with cruise control on and no way to break if he needed.  At one point, whilst still driving, he proceeded to pull out a gas cooker, hooked it up to the engine and began to melt some sort of ‘substance’.  Stanners was concerned for his life at this point as he laughed nervously and asked him if he was still okay to be driving while smoking ‘that’. Anyhow Stanners made it out alive and the nice man bought him lunch before they headed their separate ways.


Skipping on and missing a ‘few’ countries not to mention a hell of a lot of stories, (like how Stanners managed to get himself invited to weddings and how he survived through an entire country without money – he arrived at the Iran border with no cash and not realising you weren’t allowed to lift cash in Iran.

Stanners is now in Aisia and will spend Christmas in Vietnam, his goal is to make it to Oz by February 2018.

Stanners keeps his own blogs which have a lot more detail for anyone who is interested and wants to keep track of his whereabouts and how hes getting on – it really is worth the read.


Facebook: @Solostantravel

What a man and what an inspiration to anyone wanting to travel. I’m one for an adventure and enjoy travelling myself but I think I’ll clock up my air miles rather than cycle! See you in 2018 Stanners and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from everyone at home. We miss you!



Jenny Martin is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. You can follow her on Twitter @Jennymartin95 or on Facebook: /jenny.martin.12979431

Top Tips for Travelling Thailand



After completing a year’s placement with Fold/Radius Housing I decided that I deserved a break before starting what was going to be the toughest educational year of my life so far, with deadlines coming at me left right and centre and no time to have a break in between.

For the past few years I had talked about and fantasised over travelling the beautiful country of Thailand but never had the money to allow me to do this. I worked hard for a full year and saved as much of my money as I possibly could and in January 2017 my best friend and I booked our flights to Bangkok.

Here are my top tips for travelling Thailand:

  1. Do NOT pre-book anything!

When we left Dublin on our flight to Bangkok the only thing we had planned was our very first night. At first I was a bit apprehensive about this as normally when I travel/go on holiday everything is prearranged. However, not planning our route or which island we were going to next turned out to be the best decision we made. We met amazing people in each destination and made our ‘next island’ decisions with each other, as we travelled to more islands and met more people we ended up travelling in a huge group, maybe about 25 of us, as you can imagine this was mighty craic and I can honestly say I’ve made friends for life!


  1. Bring an emergency cash fund!

Everyone will tell you about how ridiculously cheap Thailand is, this is true but very JM2deceiving! Some nights I was staying in Hostels for £3 a night, and more importantly I was drinking buckets for £2.50! (For anyone who doesn’t know, in Thailand they don’t drink from glasses but rather buckets, a quarter bottle of vodka and your mixer for £2.50. What more could a student ask for?) As well as the drink being cheap the food was also cheap! (Maybe this was because I lived on spring rolls and 7Eleven toasties since I was too afraid to eat anything for the fear of getting sick) However… The amount of travelling you do in Thailand, from flights to boats to buses and everything in between (TukTuks… you can’t go to Thailand and not ride in a Tuk Tuk) all of this money adds up and soon enough you know you’re left with zero money and contacting the bank of Mum and Dad.


  1. Be Careful and Be Safe

There are so many different aspects of Thailand that can be dangerous.

The Ping Pong Shows: before I go on to talk about ping pong shows I’d like to make it clear that I did not attend any of these shows- Before leaving to go to Thailand I was told that in some shows you pay the equivalent to £10 at the door and that includes all your drink for the rest of the night, which sounds like a pretty good deal, however when you go to leave; the doors are locked and you are forced to pay a sum of money before they let you out.

Boat Parties and one day island trips: mixing drinks with the ocean is never a good idea but in Thailand it’s all fun and games and no one really gives a s**t. Look out for yourself and your friends and always make sure you can be accounted for, there is no such thing as a life jacket in Thailand! Also on the ‘one day island trips’ you will most likely visit ‘Monkey beach’ – Do Not believe the myth ‘Monkeys can’t swim, stay in the water they won’t be able to bite you in the water’ This is not true! Monkeys may look cute and you might think they are lovely little animals- also Not True! They are vicious, nasty and dirty and they WILL bite you! Not one but two people on my boat got bitten and had to go to hospital (not before finishing to booze cruise of course)


  1. Finally, enjoy every single second!

I travelled around Thailand for 3 weeks, this was not even nearly enough time. I never stayed for longer for 3 nights at one destination and this is the only thing I would change about the holiday – Make it longer, make it last forever. Everything you see in Thailand is beautiful, take time to appreciate the views and the amazing things that you don’t get to do at home. From 1000m Ziplines, playing in mud baths with Elephants, playing beer pong on the beach, sleeping in some very questionable places, scuba diving with turtles, seeing the most beautiful temples and much much more I had the most amazing three weeks of my life with some of the most incredible people and I cannot wait to go back!


Jenny Martin is a final year BSc student in Communication, Advertising and Marketing at Ulster University, Jordanstown. You can follow her on Twitter @Jennymartin95 or on Facebook: /jenny.martin.12979431