MAJOR Hampshire businesses are backing moves to help people suffering from dementia.

Marks & Spencer, Lloyds Bank, Argos and Homebase will become ‘Dementia Friends’ in an initiative from the Alzheimer’s Society. Staff will learn about helping those living with the condition in their community. Together, they have committed to create more than 121,500 Dementia Friends in shops and banks across the UK.

A recent study by the society found that one in four people with dementia have given up shopping since being diagnosed, even though most feel this is the most common activity that enables them to feel part of their community.

The society is now calling on other businesses in Winchester and the surrounding area to make themselves more ‘dementia friendly’ by offering sessions to their staff, or by joining their local Dementia Action Alliance.

Angie Newing, society regional director, said: “Many people with dementia tell us that shopping and visiting their local high street can be very stressful but today’s announcement brings us a step closer to becoming a dementia friendly society.

“We applaud Argos, Homebase, M&S and Lloyds Bank on their commitment to help their staff in Hampshire understand more about dementia.”

Sacha Berendji, M&S retail director, said: “When we heard that a quarter of all people with dementia feel that they can no longer go shopping, despite it being the local activity that they enjoy most, we knew that M&S had to play a part in changing this for the better. We want our stores to be friendly, safe environments for customers with dementia.”