The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has launched a campaign in collaboration with Alzheimer’s Society to help convenience retailers and colleagues better understand and support customers living with dementia.

Launched today (15 January), the campaign coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Association of Convenience Stores and aims to create 25,000 Dementia Friends in the convenience sector to help customers, colleagues and communities affected by dementia.

ACS is uniting with Alzheimer’s Society, which is at the forefront of a movement to ensure everyone living with dementia is understood and included in society, with its Dementia Friends initiative.

As part of its campaign, ACS has launched a Supporting Vulnerable Customers guide which provides retailers with best practice advice on how they can support customers and colleagues in-store including those living with dementia.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Convenience stores have a unique reach into communities across the UK, and we play a key role not only by providing essential products and services but also as social hubs for customers who may be more isolated or vulnerable.

“We are proud to be working with Alzheimer’s Society on this campaign and I would urge all retailers and their staff to get involved in order to better understand how they can support their customers and colleagues who are affected by dementia. There is a range of free materials and resources available, including online films, face-to-face training, our guide to welcoming vulnerable customers and in-depth support for HR specialists, so everyone working in our sector can get involved.

“This campaign has the full backing of the ACS board and we have already received pledges of support from large and small businesses in our sector. We’re excited about this campaign delivering a real and lasting benefit to our members and their customers.”

Tamsin Fraser, head of community engagement at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “For many of the 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, going to their friendly local shop is important social interaction and with two thirds of people living with dementia living in their community, it’s likely that convenience store staff will encounter someone with the condition.

“We know that shopping is the favourite activity for almost 80% of people with dementia, but sadly many often stop going out or popping to the shops to even buy a pint of milk, as they’re worried about getting the support they need, so they can be left feeling socially isolated.

“We’re delighted the Association of Convenience Stores is showing it means business when it comes to dementia, by uniting with Alzheimer’s Society and joining over 480 dementia-friendly communities to ensure people with the condition feel understood and better included in their communities. We would urge other organisations to follow the example that the association has set by joining the Dementia Friends movement.”

ACS is also running a number of regional face-to-face training events which are free for members to attend.