London Mayor launches dementia scheme with Tower Hamlets woman, 91

Sadiq Khan speaking at Museum of London. Pic: Amy Eastwood

A 91-year-old dementia sufferer from Tower Hamlets joined London Mayor, Sadiq Khan at the launch of the Museum of London’s new inclusive exhibition during dementia action week 2021.

The London Mayor visited the Museum of London on May 18, with Leila Clarke, a 91-year-old who suffers from the disease. The event was held in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society and showcased the museum’s new measures aiming to make their exhibitions more dementia-friendly. The exhibition is part of a new dementia-friendly venues charter launched by the Mayor, focusing on making London an inclusive and dementia-friendly city.

Clarke, originally from the Caribbean, has lived in Tower Hamlets since moving to the UK in the 1960s to work as a carer for the NHS before being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2015. In her youth, she was an active member of the community campaigning for union and employment rights. She now lives with her daughter, granddaughter and great-grandson in the borough.

The tour of the museum’s World City Gallery included a sensory bag, which hosted a feather and crown among other sensory objects aimed at bringing the experience to life. The museum has also introduced a calm room for those with the disease and their careers.

Amy Eastwood, Memories of London Programme Manager, Museum of London, said: “We are delighted to welcome the Mayor of London to the Museum of London today to announce the launch of the Dementia Friendly Venues Charter. As an organisation, we strive to be accessible to all.”

The event comes after Khan pledged to make London more inclusive during his recent Mayor of London election campaign. He said: “I was re-elected on a pledge to be a Mayor for all Londoners and that includes those living with dementia and their careers, so I am delighted to launch the world’s first Dementia Friendly Venues Charter today at the Museum of London.”

Over 40 London arts organisations have now signed up in support of the initiative including the Historic Royal Palace sites which include Tower Hamlets Tower of London.

Organisations who sign up to the charter become part of the Dementia Friendly Arts and Culture Network. This network provides them with access to guidance, material to help train staff and make their venues Dementia friendly. 

Katie Lee, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Society said: “Alzheimer’s Society is delighted to be supporting the Dementia Friendly London Venues Charter and it’s fitting that it is being launched during Dementia Action Week 2021, where we all join forces to improve the lives of people affected by dementia.”

Dementia action week runs from the 17-23 of May and with an estimated 70,000 Londoners now suffering from the disease, it has never been more of a pressing matter. Tower of Hamlets fares significantly worse than the rest of the Capital with an estimated 5.25 per cent of over 65s now living with dementia, compared to London’s average of just 4.49 per cent.

The charter was announced this week following Khan’s pledge to make London the first dementia-friendly capital in the world. The government has outlined its main objectives as: Accessibility, Inclusivity, Communication, Knowledge and Sustainability.

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