Welcome to my website. I am proud to have been elected to represent more than 80,000 residents of Ashford, Tenterden and the surrounding villages. I live in Charing and am involved with organisations and local matters in all parts of the constituency. 

One of the campaigns which quietly does a huge amount of good is the one asking communities to become Dementia Friendly. As this disease becomes more prevalent, partly because as people live longer but also for other reasons, including better diagnosis of early-onset dementia, enabling people to live with it with dignity is becoming increasingly important.

So it was a pleasure to visit the Just the Ticket Memory Café, held in Tenterden every Friday at the Kent and East Sussex Railway. This is a meeting place both for those with one of the various forms of dementia and their carers, and everyone involved says that it is a great step forward. In the past I have found a similar response to the dementia cafes held in Ashford.

Apart from coffee, conversation, friendship and mutual support the café provides practical advice for carers and families. It is also closely linked to the local GP surgery, who provide a worker every week to supplement the efforts of the volunteers who work there. It is a great tribute to Tenterden that there are so many volunteers to work at the café that there has to be a rota system.

The café is only one part of Tenterden’s progress to becoming Dementia Friendly. There is also regular training of businesses and other service providers to raise awareness. Equally important is the signposting exercise which provides information about where to go when the condition first emerges, both for those living with dementia and their carers.

Whenever I write about dementia I feel it is important to dispel some of the myths that surround it. The most prevalent is that it is only a disease that affects those who are already long retired. At the café in Tenterden there were people in their fifties who were already affected, and I have previously met people younger than that who had been diagnosed.

As for the attitude of society, doctors say that we are still in the early stages of recognising this as another disease, and therefore not feeling any shame about it. Just as attitudes to cancer have changed in recent decades, so we need to make the same journey with dementia. Initiatives like the one in Tenterden are big steps towards making that journey possible, and I hope as many people as possible join in.

Damian Green, Member of Parliament for Ashford

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