The award-winning project is called ‘Your Beautiful Brain’ and is a partnership between DPUK, a dementia research programme based at Oxford University, and Feyi Raimi-Abraham, founder and CEO of the Black Dementia Company. The goal is to pilot the use of art as a vehicle to engage people from Black African and Caribbean backgrounds with dementia research and to increase understanding of brain health.
Recent research has found that people from a white ethnic background are more likely to get involved in dementia research than people of other ethnicities. This results in research outputs that may not be representative of the wider population, so cannot directly be applied to people of different ethnicities.
Feyi Raimi-Abraham said: ‘With the barriers to participation in dementia research that exist across communities in the UK – including African and Caribbean communities – initiatives like ‘Your Beautiful Brain’ provide much-needed opportunities for meaningful engagement with dementia researchers.’
To combat this disparity, ‘Your Beautiful Brain’ will consist of art workshops delivered across England in Oxford, South London and Leeds, plus one online session. The project involves prominent African and Caribbean artists and dementia researchers working together to deliver art workshops for community members.
Dr Sarah Bauermeister, DPUK’s Senior Scientist and project lead, said: ‘Our team is really excited to have been awarded a grant from the Inspire Fund to create workshops on brain health and dementia awareness for African and Caribbean communities. By working with artists, community members, and the DPUK team, we aim to produce relevant, appropriate and, most importantly, fun and engaging materials on brain health and dementia.’
Attendees at the workshops will be given colouring books specially designed to stimulate cultural memories. They will then be helped to create vibrant artworks depicting members of the African and Caribbean communities participating in dementia research.
This project engages directly with people from African and Caribbean backgrounds in two-way conversation about dementia and participation in dementia research through the medium of art. Normalising dialogue about dementia-related topics and research will help decrease stigma and improve overall understanding within these communities.
Tim Parry, Director at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: ‘The Inspire Fund is part of Alzheimer’s Research UK’s work to engage and empower the public by improving understanding of dementia and sharing the benefits of dementia research.
‘Thanks to our Dementia Attitudes Monitor we know that people who identify as Black are less likely to feel comfortable telling people about a dementia diagnosis, indicating higher levels of stigma around the condition.
‘We look forward to working with DPUK and African and Caribbean communities to maximise awareness of dementia research and look to change this narrative.’