Sadiq Khan launches dementia charter with 91-year-old Tower Hamlets woman

Sadiq Khan and Leila Clarke

Tower Hamlets resident Leila Clarke joined Sadiq Khan at the Museum of London as he launched the Dementia Friendly Venues Charter - Credit: Sally Patterson

A 91-year-old woman from Tower Hamlets joined the mayor of London as he launched a new initiative to support people with Alzheimer's.  

Leila Clarke, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2015, met Sadiq Khan at the Museum of London this morning (May 18) to celebrate the Dementia Friendly Venues Charter. 

Sadiq Khan and Leila Clarke

The mayor of London joined Leila and her support officer John on their private tour around the Barbican museum - Credit: Sally Patterson

The venture aims to make London’s cultural venues “more welcoming and accessible” for visitors with dementia, through a range of dementia-friendly resources including sensory tours, inclusive performances and staff training.  

Mr Khan said he was “pleased and proud” to launch the world’s first Dementia Friendly Venues Charter. 

He told this paper: “What it means is that those Londoners who have dementia can enjoy the joys of our city. 

“I’m also really pleased that 40 of the world’s finest venues, such as the Southbank Centre and Battersea Arts Centre, are joining the Museum of London, because we’ve got to make sure people who have dementia can enjoy our culture.” 

The event, in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society, saw Leila and Mr Khan tour the museum’s World City Gallery together using a sensory bag, which included a feather and crown, to bring the experience to life. 

sensory bag

The museum provided sensory bags, including feathers, a flag and crown, to help people with dementia engage with the exhibition - Credit: Sally Patterson

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Caribbean-born Leila, who lives with her daughter, granddaughter and great-grandson in Tower Hamlets, worked in the NHS as a care provider after moving to the UK in the 1960s. 

Alzheimer’s Society's chief executive Kate Lee said: “These last 14 months have been devastating - one in four people who have died of coronavirus had a dementia diagnosis. 

“Most people have not been able to leave home, they’ve been frightened to do that, and trapped inside. 

Leia Clarke in crown

Leila, who was an active union shop steward and campaigned about employment rights, was given a special crown to wear on the tour - Credit: Sally Patterson

“For us, this is part of building back better- how amazing that once people with dementia can start getting out, now a whole range of venues across London have committed to being dementia-friendly and really welcoming them back, which we just think is amazing.” 

Sadiq Khan outside Museum of London

The mayor said he is determined to make London the first dementia-friendly capital city in the world - Credit: Sally Patterson

Amy Eastwood, Museum of London's memories of London programme manager, added: “We reopen the museum on May 19 and are excited to welcome back Londoners to our sites and to continue to work closely with those living with dementia and their carers.”