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Bees

A couple of months ago I was in Waterstones picking up some summer reads. I was drawn to a gorgeous yellow cover… The title of this book – “The Bees”, also caught my attention. I read the blurb and instantly knew that I wanted to read it. Little did I know how fascinating and thought provoking it would be.

“The Bees” is a tale of survival, bravery and defying expectation, in the intriguing setting of a hive. The book explores issues of prejudice and racism, all within the insect world. What the story really highlights, are the mirroring challenges that can be found in the human world. “The Bees” is also surprisingly frightening – I really couldn’t put it down. You can buy it here.

Prior to reading “The Bees”, I didn’t have much knowledge of what a bee hive is like or how they operate. Of course “The Bees” isn’t necessarily a 100% accurate depiction of hives and the insect’s life. However, it sparked an interest in why bees are important and actually made me see them in a new light. I started considering them as individual creatures contributing towards the world we know. Unfortunately, bees are endangered due to disease, natural habitats being disrupted and destroyed; as well as the decline in beekeepers.

Eleanor Owens, Horticulturalist, says: “ I focus on planting flowers that bees enjoy and I have seen an increase of bees in my garden by doing so! A garden with bees is a more vibrant and exiting place, I always encourage clients to consider bees and wildlife when we’re designing their outside space.”

So, why are bees important?

  • 1/3 of the food we eat would not be available but for bees. Bees are pollinators vital to our food chain.
  • The social life of the honey bee colony provides a controversial start to thinking about the structure of societies.
  • Pollination by bees is important for genetic sustainability.
  • The harvest from honey bees of honey, pollen, wax and propolis has nutritional, craft, manufacturing, and medical applications.

[Click here for source and more information from the BBKA]

Luckily, there are things we can do to help to protect bees and ensure their future: 

  • Avoid using insecticides and pesticides, there are lots of natural alternatives.
  • Make your garden bee friendly!
  • Find out more about bees and share what you learn with your community
  • Support your local beekeepers and buy local honey
  • Help to protect swarms
  • Make you own insect hotel
  • Become a beekeeper
  • Contact your local MP or MEP
  • Encourage your local authority to do more to help bees
  • Look after the bees you meet. Bees only sting when provoked, just stay calm and walk away. They will soon buzz off!

 

I hope that this blog has taught you a thing or two and that I have encouraged you to explore the world of bees! Not only is it enchanting, it is also really important.

 

 

 

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Placement Year: Reflection

I know it can be a little repetitive hearing “I can’t believe how quickly the past [insert amount of time] has gone”. So I’ll skip that part and get straight to what I learnt, how I’ve changed and why I can’t recommend doing a placement year more.

I was always keen to choose a university course that would give me the opportunity to gain practical experience, increasing my employability. Now I can safely say that deciding to do a placement year was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

In my “What’s Next?” blog in June 2015 I wrote “My hope for this year is to gain as much experience and learn as many new skills as possible. I also want to really figure out the types of jobs I will be applying for when I graduate in 2017. I am sure the year will fly by, so I will try my best to enjoy it and get the most out of it.”.

I am thrilled (and relieved) that the year exceeded my expectations. I met great people and I feel that I have learnt so much about business and social enterprise. I have also learnt a lot about my values, strengths and weaknesses. I instigated exciting projects, gave presentations to over 900 people, worked with brilliant people and made amazing memories that I’ll treasure.

Due to the nature of my various job roles, I had control of my timetable. This meant I had time to pursue some personal projects. For example, I had more time for my blog and other writing projects. I also fell in love with yoga again, joined the gym and got back behind the wheel!

Next year I’ll be finishing my degree, so the plan is to make the most of my final year at university. At the moment that entails writing a dissertation on a topic I am passionate about (more about that later), visiting Berlin in January and continuing my work with some of the projects I have been working on; prioritising the degree of course!

If you’re thinking about doing a placement year, I say do it! The application process is challenging and stressful when you have to juggle studying with interviews. However, what you will gain from your time working in industry will make such a difference come graduation. You will leave university feeling ready to tackle the real world and isn’t that what Higher Education is all about?

Over the past 9 months my confidence has grown immensely. I have built my network, learnt new skills and started to build my reputation in the business / social enterprise world. I really have loved every minute of it and if I’m honest, I can’t wait to graduate so that I can get back out there.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone I have worked with for the duration of my placement year, it’s been truly inspiring.

 

If you’d like to check out any of the projects I’ve been working on, please see below:

 

 

 

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Calling the Garage

I am disappointed to say that I don’t know a lot about cars. It’s not through lack of trying or even lack of interest; my brain just isn’t very “practical” and common sense isn’t a strength. Recently, I have had two problems with my car, 1. A soft tyre 2. A roof tile fell onto my car and dented the bonnet, brilliant.

It was actually my dad that pointed out the tyre; I heartbreakingly discovered the dent myself and to be honest I had no idea what to do about either. Obviously I understood that I needed to get them fixed but I didn’t know where to even start, beyond taking it to the garage.

I was forwarded the details of a local garage and I made the call. In preparation for this I scribbled down everything I knew about the whole car situation because I was determined to seem like I knew what I was talking about. To be honest I felt embarrassed and nervous that I would look stupid… Why’s that? GENDER ROLES!  Disappointment filled my veins.  I couldn’t believe I was reaffirming gender roles; I was the walking stereotype that women don’t know anything about cars. How complicated.

I am pleased to say that my phone call was greeted by a friendly customer service person called Eleanor. She put me at ease and didn’t make me feel like an idiot- woohoo!

I had quite different experience when I visited a timber yard with my partner last summer. My SO is a million times better at real- life- common-sense- problems. Our experience with the assistants at the yard was terrible. The shop was filled with men who couldn’t even begin to imagine that we knew what we were talking about. They were unhelpful, rude and condescending. I can’t say for sure that they acted like this towards us because of our gender, but it definitely looked that way.

I am always desperate to be knowledgeable about topics that aren’t stereotypically associated with women – I aim to be armed to challenge assumptions. However, is this attitude adding unnecessary pressure to myself and other women to be all things to all people, in an attempt to be treated with respect?

Feminism is about believing in equality for all genders. So surely, in order for women to be treated equally, we shouldn’t have to live up to masculine ideals in order to be treated like “men” and therefore fairer in our patriarchal society. Men face their own pressures in terms of masculinity and what makes a “real man”. Feminism aims to challenge this, which actually benefits everyone. I guess the point I am trying to make is: isn’t it time we abandon the ideals surrounding gender? Can we please just acknowledge that the human race is made up of individuals, who are all good at different things? Everyone is entitled to the same opportunities and to be treated fairly.

It is also okay that I am a woman who doesn’t know a lot about cars and that doesn’t make me a bad feminist; At least, that’s what I think anyway.

 

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Young People & Opportunities

I have recently had the privilege of meeting some pretty inspiring and driven young people. Generally, I think young people get a bad reputation. Our generation has been deemed social media obsessed and spoilt for choice in the consumer driven society we live in.  There are many young people who are studying, working and squeezing in hobbies, social lives and sleep. University fees are ridiculous and student finance is a mess.  What a time to be young…

One observation I have made during my placement year is that a majority of the young people I have worked with, have worked for no money. They had taken on projects that are demanding and time consuming solely because they saw it as an opportunity. They saw beyond the lack of pay and saw it as a chance to add to their portfolio and to perhaps make a difference. Although I must say it is a shame that young people’s enthusiasm isn’t always enough for them to get paid  – or at least having their expenses paid.

On the other hand, I have to say that I have also been experiencing some youngsters who aren’t taking up opportunities that have the potential to be real game changers. Or they are taking up opportunities half-heartedly – which I think could actually be more harmful that beneficial. As you grow up, your life starts in a bubble. You have your circle of friends, your routine and a list of fun stuff you like to do at the weekend after you have finished your homework. But when you enter the real world, there is no room for such egocentricity  and you have to start thinking about the dreaded phrase…. “the world of work”.

More and more people are going into further education and getting degrees. There are degrees that are churning out more graduates than there are jobs.  That’s pretty scary.  There are also many students and young people who aren’t pushing themselves to take opportunities that could really put them ahead.  This includes work experience, putting extra effort into assignments and going beyond what is expected of you.

I guess this is just a little word of advice.  Even if you’re not sure exactly what job you want to do, take up opportunities.  Over my placement year I have been thrown out of my comfort zone numerous time, which has been pretty terrifying but my goodness am I grateful for it! You are likely to face some stereotypes about young people – how we don’t care about anything other than “selfies” and that we’re obsessed with the internet. But I am calling on you to help me prove them wrong.

Besides, one of the biggest lessons I have learnt this year is that everyone is winging it – no one really knows what they’re doing. You just need bags of enthusiasm, the ability to get stuff done and a good sense of humour.

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“No” is a complete sentence.

“No” is a complete sentence.” (Anne Lamott)  is my new favourite quote. I am someone who finds it difficult to say no. That is not to say that I don’t say the word – I do, including variations of the word. But the element of no that I really struggle with is the guilt that comes with it. Letting people down and not delivering on what I promise or internally expect of myself is truly challenging for me.

There has been a big increase in portfolio and flexible working in our modern workplaces. This means that we are expected to juggle multiple roles and projects at one time. As well as “life stuff” – relationships, housework, children, pets and making time for leisure. One of the first rules of time management is the ability to prioritise the most important tasks.  Prioritising doesn’t only involve listing your tasks in the order of importance. Prioritising also consists of being able to say no to tasks you can’t do to a high quality or jobs that won’t actually benefit you.

It is a real skill being able to say no to people and jobs. It is crucial to your happiness to be able to set boundaries and know your limits. Even if you can find the time and energy to squeeze more work in – should you? You need to make time for self-care and doing things you enjoy.

Another area of life that poses resistance to the word “no” is your social life. One of the negative sides of social media is being constantly bombarded with the fun that everyone is having. This puts us at risk of FOMO (the fear of missing out) and makes us feel like we not making the most of our short precious lives as much as we should be.

We are all guilty of holding onto friends who we’ve outgrown and make us feel bad about ourselves. Or there are those people that we love but we can’t spend too much time with – we can only handle them in small doses. I would even go as far as saying that we have different friends for different purposes. Some friends with whom we enjoy a drink and dance, others we have intellectual discussions with and there are our childhood friends who we love forever (mainly because they know too much).  But how can we say no when they ask to see us for the second dinner in one month and we’re desperate to find another excuse which isn’t – “I’ve have my monthly dose of you already!!”. It would be great if we could be honest and explain. But let’s be more realistic.  A step forward would be being able to say “no I can’t that day I am afraid, but I will let you know when I’m next free.” Or any equivalent that isn’t a long winded, overly apologetic and defensive response.  We should be able to give a one liner as to why, as most people will require some explanation, and then that’s it. No guilt, not another thought about it.

That’s what I am working on at the moment anyway. I am secretly hoping that other people are facing the same problem too, it can’t just be me!  The ability to say no without becoming defensive and guilty is a skill I am working hard to obtain. I want to live by ““No” is a complete sentence” and I urge any other worriers to do to the same. We can do this.

 

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Political Correctness

 

The importance and purpose of political correctness is a debate that is becoming more and more prominent. In this blog I thought I would share my thoughts on the topic and I am going to start by saying – oh my, this is a tricky one.

Something I feel that we can all agree on is that language is one of the most powerful tools humans have.  Words can change the world. We use words to communicate our thoughts, feelings, ideas and beliefs.

The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of political correctness is: “the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.”

At first glance, I think it’s difficult to argue against avoiding exclusion or marginalisation of socially disadvantaged people. Political correctness allows us to use language that reduces a negative impact on other people. Some argue that it is easy to choose one word over another. Yet saying the wrong thing can have serious negative consequences for someone else in terms of whether they feel safe and welcome. Political correctness is also arguably an acknowledgment of an awareness that your experiences aren’t the same as everyone else’s experiences.

I can understand the concerns some have about political correctness going too far. There is the view that PC-ness can shrink space for debate and get in the way of progress – which could have negative implications on change.  Political correctness can even “hide” discriminatory beliefs a person has – just because someone is saying the right things, it might not match their actual thoughts. This in turn could mean that it dismisses the chance to further educate people and challenge their perhaps outdated views on various issues. Other arguments against PC-ness is that it is a form of censorship. Freedom of speech is a human right and losing this could lead to a downward spiral.

The controversy that surrounds political correctness stems from personal experiences and to an extent, privilege. People tend to believe that what isn’t offensive to them, won’t offend anyone else. Whereas if you have experienced someone who has not been considerate with their choice of words and know what it’s like to be offended, excluded or hurt; you are much more likely to understand the importance of political correctness.

There has arguably been an increase in the prominence of political correctness in every day conversations. You often here “this isn’t very PC but…” and “I’m not sure what the right words are to say this nowadays…”. Personally, I think this is a good thing.  It is important that we are mindful of the impact that our words can have on the people around us. I do believe that political correctness can protect and encourage inclusivity. But really, the most important thing is to make sure that you are open to listen and learn about the language you use and be prepared to be challenged. We will all use the wrong word or phrase at some stage – that is inevitable. But how we deal with these mistakes and how we learn from this for future conversations and debates is the most important thing.

 

I would love to hear what you think about “Political Correctness” – tweet me your thoughts @maldrichwincer or comment below!

This post featured on the Inclusive Networks website. Find out more about what they do here and check out their Twitter @incnetworks.

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Michael Aldrich (22 August 1941 – 19 May 2014)

Today we remember my Grandpa, Michael Aldrich – inventor, innovator and entrepreneur.

I have spent the past 4 months working on a community arts project – a collaboration between Balfour Primary School and the Aldrich Collection.

The Aldrich Collection was set up in 1995 by my grandparents, Michael and Sandy Aldrich. It now has over 800 pieces of art.

I was keen to be a part of the project because the Aldrich Collection was always meant to be in the community and inspire people. For many reasons, this hasn’t happened until now. It was important to me as unfortunately the arts are slowly being cut from schools. This is devastating for children and society, particularly for talented creatives who are not academic. There are many forms of intelligence and success, I hope our project highlighted this to the children of Balfour Primary School.

One of my favourite bits about the project was contacting the artists whose art forms part of the collection and hearing lovely things about my Grandpa.

“I am honoured to be involved in the collaboration between the Aldrich collection and the Balfour Primary School because I believe that the awareness of the visual arts should be fundamental to the education of children at an early age. This is something that the Aldrich family believe in and I admire the generous and enlightened way they have pioneered and created such an interesting and wide-ranging collection of artefacts.” – John Vernon Lord, Illustrater & Children’s books author

“Lovely to hear from you and thank you for getting in touch.  I’m sorry to hear of your Michael’s passing, he was a very special man. I am so excited that you are taking up the mantle of the Aldrich Collection to which I am so proud to be a part of.  I love the idea that the collection will be used to inspire children so I would be delighted to get involved. Michael and Sandy Aldrich hold a special place my heart, not only did they buy my work but they helped sponsor my artist residency in 2002/2003 to Japan which changed my life and art. Being involved in the arts for all of my life as an artist, gallery owner and curator I have realised there are very few people like Michael and Sandy who believe in the power of art to transform lives, heal, empower and inspire.” – Kellie Miller, Artist & Gallery Owner

“I hope I can help with your project, I really liked and respected Michael…A very lovely man, very sad to hear of his passing.” –  Tanya Brett, Artist 

 

Thank you for teaching me that nothing is impossible Grandpa; Know that the gang are out there making you proud.

Love,

Molly

 

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Balfour Primary School & Aldrich Collection Project

I am thrilled to announce my latest project with the Aldrich Collection and Balfour Primary School.

The project aims to raise awareness of the Aldrich Collection and to inspire the children of Balfour with real works of art and working with local artists to produce their own interpretations of pieces in the Collection. The art will be created during an “Art Week”, where each year group will have a dedicated piece of art. These masterpieces will then be displayed at the Balfour’s Art Open House on 21st May as part of the Brighton Festival.

The Collection aims to promote the University’s “rich portfolio of courses in arts and design” and to encourage community interest in the visual arts.

Marcelo Staricoff , Head Teacher at Balfour Primary School says “When the idea of collaborating with the Aldrich Collection first emerged, I was really thrilled as I felt it would be a great way to enrich the experiences of our children, staff and families. I also thought that developing such an exciting partnership could be part of our long term strategy and not just a one off initiative.”.

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John Lord – Runaway Rollerskate

**OPEN HOUSE ART EXHIBITION** 

SATURDAY 21ST MAY 2016

10:00 —15:00

Balfour Primary School Balfour Road Brighton BN1 6NE

 

 

 

Be sure to follow @Balfourprimary, @maldrichwincer & @thfutureperfect on Twitter regular updates on the project!

IN: Intergenerational Interview for International Women’s Day

Today (8th March 2016) it is International Women’s Day. This is a celebration of the achievements of women around the world. I therefore took the opportunity to interview two very important women in my life – my mother (Philippa) and grandmother (Sandy). In this interview we chatted about their careers, family lives and the challenges women face every day.

I wanted to begin my interview write up with a brief overview of the lives of Sandy and Philippa:

IMG_5689 (1)Sandy Aldrich grew up in a working class family in Hull. Through her school years she worked in the local vets every night as an assistant and receptionist. Despite her ambitions to be a vet, she decided science wasn’t for her and went to Art College to do photography. When Sandy tried to apply for her first job as a photographer she was told “we don’t employ girls. This led her to get a job at the World Record Club as she saved up to marry her then fiancé who at the time was finishing his History degree. Sandy got married and had 4 children. Aged 29 she began training to become a magistrate adjudicating in criminal, juvenile and domestic courts. However after 10 years, Sandy decided she wanted to do more to help people, so joined the CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau) and became an advisor; as well as continuing in the courts.  Aged 55 she decided to retire so that she could enjoy her grandchildren – Sandy has 8 in total.

Philippa Aldrich, Sandy’s daughter, is an Oxford University graduate who entered the image3 (4)male dominated world of law in the City. The wife and mother of 2 worked her way to the top before a massive career change. Leaving the legal world, Philippa set out to establish herself as an expert in the field of ageing and inclusive design. She started her own business (The Future Perfect Company) and launched a competition that encourages young designers to consider the challenges of ageing (Designing for the Future).

 

Question 1: What is your biggest achievement or proudest moment in your career and personally?

Sandy: “My biggest achievement was the first time I felt able to take the Chair as magistrate chairman. It was scary and I had to build my confidence, Michael (her husband/ my grandpa) used to give me tips to help me project my voice. My proudest moment personally was all of my children getting their degrees and of course having my 8 grandchildren”.

Philippa: “When I was in the City, my biggest achievement was leading a team acquiring a £1 billion property portfolio – the biggest deal in the West End. After my career change, when I was about 5 years in to DFF at a launch event, I looked around and saw that I had brought together experts, students and tutors. I had created something and my idea had become a reality”.

Question 2: Who was your role model growing up & why?

Sandy: “I didn’t have a role model growing up. Being born in a working class family who had no aspirations, I had to make it up! I think they wanted me to marry a local boy and work in an office, they thought I was a bit odd!”

Philippa: “There weren’t many inspiring female role models in senior positions in the legal world, it was very competitive. I did look up to my father who was an entrepreneur, innovator and successful business man. I also had a very supportive boss for many years. Ronnie Fox, himself a leading lawyer, always believed in developing people’s potential. He was also one of my biggest supporters post law – and my first customer!”.

Question 3: Let’s talk about Work/life balance; how did you juggle work and family responsibilities?

Sandy: “I always put the children first. Although my jobs were voluntary, they were just as demanding. If you didn’t turn up, you let your team down. It was much easier to juggle work and family responsibilities when the children were at school. They did have to cooperate, older ones looking after younger ones and so on. Sometimes it was difficult, but we managed.”

Philippa: “I was an early adopter of flexiworking which was then unheard of in the City (supported by Ronnie). It was very difficult and in the unenlightened 1990s included a certain amount of dissembling so the clients did not find out I was working from home. The key to my success was having a husband who supported my career and was prepared to stay at home and look after the children. This was at a time where he was the only dad in the playground, which he did whilst training for his own career. The alternatives didn’t suit us so we managed all the child care between ourselves”.

Question 4: How do you think women’s position in society has changed over your lifetime?

Sandy: “Women are more educated and assertive now. But they are also expected to do much more, juggling family and careers”.

Philippa: “There is a tension between the confident young women we’re creating and the opportunities that are available to them. There are more women training for professions but there are very few at the top of them. Women in senior positions are still the exception”.

Question 5: What challenges and inequalities for women would you like to see being tackled next?

Sandy: “I am appalled by sexism that still exists in the workplace and unequal pay. I think women are more confident to speak out, but more needs to be done.”.

Philippa: “The workplace needs to be redesigned to be inclusive and flexible. There is a huge challenge ahead with our ageing population as families’ caring responsibilities increase. Often, not always, it is women who are the primary care givers and organisers. We need more flexibility in our workplace without penalties on career progression.”.

Question 6: Any advice for the next generation of women?

Sandy: “If you would like to have children, don’t put it off. Put your family first and make sure you educate daughters as much as sons- give them the same opportunities.”.

Philippa: “Be brave and challenge the norms. You have to be resilient and stand up for yourselves with confidence. We need to get rid of the “imposter syndrome” that so many women feel every day. Believe that you’re good enough.”.

 

 

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT INCLUSIVE NETWORKS HERE & CHECK THEM OUT ON TWITTER @incnetworks 

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DFF Dementia Workshop

Designing for the Future is a competition run by The Future Perfect Company in conjunction with the University of Brighton. This year I have been working with DFF to support the network’s growth and development. The competition encourages young designers to consider the challenges of ageing by creating a product that would solve a problem the older generation face. This year the focus is smart tech and dementia.

On 16th February we held a Dementia workshop with the students. This involved two experts coming in to share their knowledge and experience to help the students get a better idea of what it is like to have dementia and the challenges that come with the disease.

To kick off, Sharon, a Dementia Champion gave a talk and went through some exercises with the group. If you haven’t already, I would highly recommend becoming a Dementia Friend. You can attend a session in your local area or do it online – it is super easy!

Some facts about Dementia:
– Dementia is not a natural part of ageing
– There are over 100 types of dementia
– Dementia is caused by diseases in the brain
– Dementia is progressive
– 1 in 14 over 65’s are living with dementia

My favourite activity that Sharon did with the group involved 3 volunteers who were each given a brief description of an individual. Sharon read out tasks and asked if they thought “their person” would be able to do it. They each gave different answers. At the end it was revealed that they all had the same person description, yet they had each came to different conclusions as to the individual’s capabilities. The point of the activity was to highlight that dementia affects everyone slightly differently and you must assess everyone individually.

Dementia Friend tips for communicating with people with dementia:

  • Be understanding
  • Limit the distractions in your environment.
  • Slow your voice down and think about body language.
  • Visual aids can be helpful
  • Never speak down to someone with dementia
  • Patience is key

Sharon went on to speak about how design and public spaces have an impact on people with dementia. For example, some Boots stores have big black mats outside their entrances. For people with dementia, this can look like a big hole in the floor- which is very frightening! The retailer has now been approached remove these.

Our second speaker was Fran Hamilton, an occupational therapist from the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals. She opened our eyes to the types of dementia and the differing symptoms. Fran explained that often people will come into the hospital and deteriorate. She also told us that a minimum of 25% of people in the hospital have dementia and around 70% of people in care homes have dementia. There figures highlight the importance of raising awareness of dementia and how to make the lives of people with dementia easier. Ensuring that individuals with dementia can live independent and fulfilled lives for as long as possible.

What is affected by dementia?

  • Day to day memory
  • Concentration, planning and organisational skills
  • Language
  • Visual perception – colour and contrast
  • Orientation
  • Learning
  • Age related changes – reduced ability to adapt to these changes

Fran explained that simple things can make a huge difference. For example, one of her clients kept falling over so she was brought in to assess what was happening. Fran found that the client’s room had a beige carpet and a beige chair. Her client could not distinguish between the two, as people with dementia often need contrasting colours to help with their visual perception. Fran placed a bright red blanket on the chair and this solved the problem!

Both of our experts highlighted the importance of seeing people with dementia as individuals and getting the balance right between safety and independence. The Designing for the Future students really enjoyed the session. Following the speakers, our students mapped dementia through design using post it notes and began coming up with their product design ideas for people with dementia. Design plays an key role in accessibility and inclusion.

It was really positive to have open discussions about dementia and learn about how society can help improve the lives of those with the disease.