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Lives on Hold – behind the campaign

Communications Manager for Dementia UK, Natalie Tomlinson, tells the behind-the-scenes story of our new campaign, Lives on Hold.

It was two weeks into lockdown that the idea came to me

Talking to colleagues about how we were feeling; already missing friends and family and the freedom to do what we wanted when we wanted, made me realise that for carers of people living with dementia the lockdown was probably not that different to their lives before.

I’ve worked for Dementia UK for two years and had the opportunity to speak to a number of carers. I also saw the impact my dad’s dementia had on my parent’s relationship. Carers often told me they felt their life was on hold as the person they were caring for had to come first. Friendships, hobbies and free time fell by the wayside.

I felt there was unlikely to ever be a better time to engage with the general public on why the charity’s dementia specialist Admiral Nurses are so vital

As the lockdown period turned from weeks into months, the general public would begin to understand what it feels like to be socially isolated. Whilst you cannot know the difficulties of life as a 24/7 carer unless you are one, you can have some empathy as to what it’s like to not live the life you once had.

Now to turn all these thoughts into a campaign which would ensure we meet one of our key objectives of increasing awareness, understanding and engagement with Dementia UK and Admiral Nursing. All with the added complication of having to do everything remotely in a limited time period!

I’ve worked with Tony Lundon (video producer) and Rachel Braier (celebrity manager) on many previous projects and they were my first port of call. Together we turned the plan into action, identifying people who were happy to be filmed.

Filming over Skype was not without its challenges but all of our contributors rose to the occasion, downloading new apps, finding quiet corners of lockdown locations, tweaking the lighting, recording audio on their smart phones and of course, opening up their lives and their hearts to a video producer they had only ever met on the screen of a laptop.

We were lucky to have some amazing carers who were happy to share their story

Their honesty about what life to them as a carer is like and their obvious admiration for the Admiral Nurses that support them, made our jobs relatively easy.

Six weeks, six videos, three supporter stories, four new website pages, copy written, social media images created and a great team effort and we are ready to launch! We chose 15th June as with non-essential shops re-opening and some children back at school, for many their lives are getting back to normal.

We know though that for over 700,000 people across the UK who are caring for someone with dementia, they will see little change

That is why I wanted to create this campaign to ensure as many people as possible are aware of the bespoke support and advice of our essential Admiral Nurses.

For me personally, I have dedicated this campaign to my dad, Barry Spencer, who died from coronavirus on 11th April 2020. He always taught me if a job was worth doing, it was worth doing right. I think – and I hope you agree – we’ve done that here.

Communications Manager Natalie, standing next to her dad, both smiling.