Belleek – A Friendly Village welcomes Dementia Art Exhibition

29th June 2023

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Real Lives Exhibition (1)

Dementia NI’s unique art exhibition, ‘Real Lives: The Art of Living with Dementia’, will be on display in the village of Belleek.  The exhibition will be officially opened by the Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Thomas O’Reilly, on Wednesday 05 July 2023 at 3.00 pm in Belleek Community Centre.

The aim of the exhibition is to challenge the stigma of dementia and it will also highlight the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) initiative, The Herbert Protocol, which seeks to ensure the PSNI can respond quicker to find those with dementia who go missing.

The art exhibition, which will be on display from 05 July to 13 August 2023, will showcase thought-provoking photography and patchwork quilts.  Hosted by Dementia NI, Northern Ireland’s leading charity for people in the early to middle stages of dementia, it features 45 pieces created by Dementia NI members, all of whom live with a diagnosis of dementia and some of whom are Fermanagh residents.

There are over 20,000 people living with dementia across Northern Ireland and this number is projected to rise to 60,000 by 2050, due in part to our ageing population. Years of stigma and misunderstanding have led to common misconceptions about what it means to live with dementia and what we can do to help improve the quality of life of those with the condition.

Dementia NI’s exhibition sets out to challenge these misconceptions, transforming how people view the condition and starting conversations through the medium of art. It shares a message of hope that many people with dementia are still able to enjoy life in the same way as before their diagnosis and live well with dementia.

The patchwork quilts featured in the exhibition were created during an online project organised by Dementia NI and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, to help local people with dementia stay active during lockdown. Working with Arts Council art tutors, Dementia NI members were encouraged to make their own heirloom quilts which tell the story of their lives.

The Herbert Protocol is an initiative which was launched by the PSNI in partnership with Dementia NI, the Health and Social Care Trust and Local Policing and Community Safety Partnerships.  It uses a public document that can be populated with vital information such as a recent photograph, contact details, medication required and significant locations relating to the individual.  This can then be provided to officers and used to save vital time in any potential missing person investigation.  This form can be downloaded from the Police Service of Northern Ireland website.

The artwork will be displayed in a number of businesses throughout Belleek, providing a walking tour of the village.  To support the local businesses and groups, training on Aim for Better Access, Dementia Awareness and JAM (Just A Minute) will also be delivered to give everyone a better understanding of how to assist visitors and residents who may require additional support to access services in their area, and make the village more accessible.

Speaking about the art exhibition, Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Thomas O’Reilly, said:

“I am delighted that Dementia NI’s ‘Real Lives’ exhibition is coming to Belleek.

It is important that we use creative ways to raise awareness of Dementia so that the real needs and concerns of those living with Dementia and their carers can be catered for.

I commend Belleek Development and Heritage Group on having the initiative to encourage Dementia NI to bring the exhibition to a rural village to ensure that projects and initiatives which are highlighting key messages are as accessible as possible.  Rurality also creates additional challenges in many ways and it is important to ensure that these are realised and taken into consideration on matters which impact our residents.

The exhibition also helps to support the Council’s commitment to ensure that our older residents live more independent, engaged and socially actives lives.”

A representative from Belleek Development and Heritage Group, who recently launched a Tourist Development Strategy to enhance and develop tourist services in the area, and make the village more accessible, said:

“We launched our village tourism strategy earlier this year.  Belleek is a beautiful village and has always welcomed visitors from across the globe in particular to Belleek Pottery, we are working towards making our village even more accessible so that it can become an even more comfortable, welcoming and accessible village for everyone.

We are proud to be working with Fermanagh Omagh District Council and Dementia NI on this Real Lives exhibition and businesses in the village are getting involved in displaying precious pieces that share very personal stories of Dementia.  It is a privilege for Belleek”.

Hazel Haworth, Empowerment Lead for the South and West at Dementia NI, added:

“Misconceptions about dementia are widespread, meaning many people put off getting a diagnosis because they are worried about the stigma. To break through this stigma, we are sharing art works by our members, all of whom live with the condition, and championing our message of hope – that with the right support, it is possible to live well with dementia.”

Speaking about The Herbert Protocol, a representative from the PSNI said:

“Relevant personal information relating to an individual will only serve to speed up the process of trying to locate them when a missing episode occurs. This has the potential to minimise the risk and harm they are likely to be exposed to. It is a simple process whereby information may be recorded in advance for use if needed, rather than trying to recollect this information during a period of crisis, when emotions may be high.”

The exhibition, which is open daily and is available to view for free, is on display in Centra Shop and in windows throughout the village.

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council is working with Belleek Development and Heritage Group, the PSNI, PCSP and Dementia NI to deliver this initiative as part of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s Age Friendly Strategy.  Age Friendly is supported through funding from the Public Health Agency.

For more information on Age Friendly visit