The new High Sheriff of Belfast said the move would allow those living with dementia and their families the freedom to move about the city with ease, removing the isolation that can often come with the disease.
Councillor Carole Howard said: “Almost everyone will know someone who’s life has been touched by dementia, either directly or through a family member or friend. A disease that doesn’t only affect the elderly, Belfast now has one of the highest diagnosis rates of dementia in the UK – so we all have a responsibility to educate ourselves about the condition.
“Creating a dementia friendly city is our opportunity to do something proactive to help all those currently suffering in silence. In a dementia friendly community people will be aware of and understand dementia and those living with dementia will feel included and involved. They will have control over their day to day lives.
“Dementia Friends or Champions are those who have awareness and training in understanding and empathy, a role the Alzheimers society says is vital in enabling community integration. People should feel confident to go out and not sit at home. They should be encouraged to stay as active for as long as possible, doing their own shopping and banking. Keeping those parts of the brain active helps retain quality of life so people can interact rather than sit at home feeling isolated and alone.
“This is an issue Alliance has led on from the start, with my colleague Alliance Councillor Gerardine Mulvenna helping Larne become a Dementia friendly town. This is a golden opportunity which I hope all parties will be able to support, helping to make Belfast a truly inclusive friendly city – after all some of us may need that understanding and empathy at some point in the future.”