This Christmas, an innovative digital campaign aiming to raise awareness of dementia has been launched. It's deliberately timed to remind us to remember, to help and to spot the early signs of dementia in our loved ones.
I don't approve of hashtags on Facebook. So imagine my disdain when an American woman announced the name of her newborn – Hashtag – via Facebook update. Twitter went wild at the news.
But otherwise, I do enjoy an out-of-context hashtag – on a t-shirt, poster or TV screen. And that’s probably why when we were thinking up ideas for a Christmas dementia awareness campaign, it didn’t take long before the image of a hashtag on a bauble – sitting prettily on our Downing Street Christmas tree – came to mind.
My Christmas dream became a reality this morning, when Carey Mulligan - Alzheimer’s Society celebrity supporter and star of one of my favourite films of 2012, Shame - presented a glistening white bauble to the Prime Minister to hang on our tree.
The hashtag on the bauble reads ‘#xmas2remember’ and it kicks off the start of a December-long digital campaign to highlight dementia issues to the public. People are being asked to send us their favourite Christmas memories – funny, silly or sad – via the Alzheimer’s Society Facebook page or Twitter to add to our Tumblr High profile Alzheimer’s Society supporters, as well as ministers, will contribute their memories throughout the month.
The blog will feature advice on dementia and signpost people to the right places to get help
December is a good time to talk about the syndrome – the Christmas dinner table might be the time when you catch up with relatives that you haven’t seen for a little while and you might spot symptoms. 800,000 people in the UK currently live with dementia and this is set to rise to 1m in 2015.
And if you already have a friend or relative with dementia, there are things you can do at Christmas to make the time more enjoyable and alleviate some of the stress that might come with a change in routine. Our new Tumblr reminds people of the fantastic Alzheimer’s Society tips on this subject.
Clearly this digital campaign, which is primarily focused on Facebook and Twitter, won't reach our target audience of women aged between 40-50 alone. But with a press launch targeted at consumer and regional titles we hope our messages will also reach people as they’re relaxing with a woman’s mag or watching the TV. Delivering messages digitally is just the start, and we hope it’s a means to encourage offline conversations too.
So please do look out for our campaign, which is part of the Prime Minister's dementia challenge, and maybe even contribute your own Christmas memory. And if you do happen to see #xmas2remember on Facebook, I apologise in advance.
Gillian Hudson is a digital campaigns manager in the Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet Office digital comms team. The team is responsible for No.10 site and associated digital presences.