Trevor Salomon, Vice-Chairperson of the European Dementia Carers Working Group writes "Behind one of the world's most famous doors - 10 Downing Street"


On Thursday 7 March I took a call from Alzheimer’s Society asking me if I’d like to be present at a reception at 10 Downing Street. I didn’t even bother to look at my calendar. I said yes immediately without even knowing what I was being invited to attend. In due course, I received a formal invitation from Number 10 informing me of the event which was to recognise the ongoing widespread efforts to tackle dementia, alleviate its negative impact, and to discuss how the Dame Barbara Windsor Dementia Mission will support patient and carer needs. The Dame Barbara Windsor Dementia Mission was launched in 2021 by the then Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, in memory of the "EastEnders" and "Carry On" legend who died of Alzheimer's disease in 2020. 

Eventually, I was sent a communication advising me what time to arrive, which ID I should bring, etc. Before I knew it, the days had flown by and I found myself in the queue on Wednesday 20 March, waiting to access the building. After passing through very tight police security and an airport-style scanner, I then walked straight into Number 10. No photographs were allowed to be taken prior to entering the building but I was told it would be fine to take them once I’d exited. Mobile phones and smart watches had to be left in the vestibule area and then I was directed to the stairway to the second floor, passing all the pictures and drawings of the prime ministers who had served the country. There was this instant feeling of being surrounded by history. There were 150/200 guests in a beautiful large room, with representatives from charities, research organisations, the National Health Service, Government as well as carers and people living with dementia.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Victoria Atkins, hosted the event which was to launch the Government’s commitment to phase two funding of the Dame Barbara Windsor Mission. I must admit, I thought there would be at least some mention of social care and social care funding but, disappointingly, nothing. Following the speakers, canapés and drinks were served, whilst people mingled and networked. I spent a couple of minutes talking to Scott Mitchell, Dame Barbara’s husband, who it was announced has been appointed People's Champion of the National Mission to beat dementia. He is the most delightful and humble man and a true champion of the cause. Overall, I was in the building for about an hour and a half. Probably a once-in-a-lifetime, amazing and privileged experience, and a fantastic one at that!