ROMSEY is to become one of Hampshire’s first dementia- friendly towns.

The scheme will be launched with an event at the town’s White Horse Hotel and Brasserie on Thursday (May 1).

The market town will join Fareham, and Lyndhurst, which joined the initiative earlier this year.

The scheme aims to raise awareness of the condition among the town’s businesses and organisations.

Businesses will be encouraged to provide dementia awareness training for staff and improve their signage and customer services processes for those living with the condition.

Banks in the town will be encouraged to come up with alternative ways for people with dementia to use their services if they struggle to remember passwords and pin numbers.

Businesses taking part will display a dementia-friendly sticker.

Mental health charity, Andover Mind, is leading the initiative, which they hope will enable more people with the dementia to continue living in their own communities.

Clare Kavanagh, of the charity, said: “Romsey is the first dementia friendly market town in Hampshire. We are trying to deliver them all across the county, working with Hampshire County Council and the NHS.

“We want to raise awareness so that people with dementia can carry on with everyday activities and with more understanding people with the illness will be able to do this.”

Dementia affects 800,000 people in the UK, 18,500 in Hampshire – a figure expected to double by 2030.

It affects people’s memory, speech, understanding and judgement.

The scheme is being backed by Test Valley Borough Council.

The council’s dementia champion, Tony Ward, said: “It is an excellent idea. We are proud that Romsey it to be the first market town to rise to this challenge. We should applaud those shops and business who have undertaken to get involved and train their staff – and encourage others to join it.”

Town centre manager, Mark Edgerley, said: “We are delighted to be the first market town in Hampshire to commit to be a dementia friendly community and will continue to improve our environment for all our shoppers and visitors.”

The launch event, which runs from 2pm to 4.30pm, is open to all and will include activity demonstrations and a Dementia Friends awareness session.