What a fantastic opportunity. Two days of meeting, learning, connecting and reflecting. Importantly, two days of planning, looking at actions we can take together.
The European Foundations' Initiative on Dementia (EFID), along with local organisers Foundation Compassion Alzheimer Bulgaria, hosted more than 60 people from around Europe, creating a space for a friendly, open and honest exchange of ideas. Along with people from this year's winning projects, we met and worked with many of the 20 previous winners.
We discussed how we value the expertise of people living with dementia, how to scale-up activity across borders and how best to keep in touch and work together as a growing network. We also heard from a number of people living with dementia - Kathy Ryan from the Irish Dementia Working Group and Helen Rochford-Brennan from the European Working Group of People with Dementia provided some powerful personal experiences. Elena and Nico from Foton urged us to open our doors to each other, to connect as friends.
Great facilitation kept us moving and working together and, as ever, important conversations happened over coffee, chance meetings and introductions.
(Thanks to EFID for the photos)
And then it was the awards ceremony with much applause, celebration, a wonderful choir from a local residential home, an address from the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Policy, more powerful and thought-provoking words from Helen, certificates, smiles and a glass of wine or two...
I'm sure that the conversations won't stop here and I’m looking forward to seeing how some of these new connections can become collaborations to help people living with dementia across Europe.