Dementia Friends at the University of Manchester

Currently, over 800,000 people live with dementia in the UK and this number is set to double in the next 30 years. Whilst affecting all of the UK, current Department of Health data indicate the highest rates of dementia are in the North West region.

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia. The Dementia Friends initiative aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition.

When the Alzheimer’s Society first launched Dementia Friends, their target was to make 1 million friends via this initiative, having exceeded this they have now increased their target to 4 million and are continuing to promote and support in any way they can.

Dementia Friends at the University of Manchester

Back in May 2014 Chris Cutts, a previous Associate Dean for Social Responsibility, brought Dementia Friends to the attention of The University of Manchester, and with a cast of volunteers, the University has proudly provided Dementia Friends sessions to around 1,610 people, far exceeding our original target of 1,000.

This tremendous figure been achieved by members of staff who first undertook Demnetia Friends Champion training, providing 50 minute Dementia Friends information sessions to staff and in the community to groups of 5-10 people, and even an attempt of making 100 friends in 1 session!

These 50 minute Dementia Friend’s sessions will be taking place again this year, once a month during lunchtime. Staff can book a place or email for more information.

In order for more of these Dementia Friends sessions to take place, we require more Dementia Champions. A Dementia Champion is someone who has completed a 1 day training session, provided by the Alzheimer’s Society and can spare an hour (when convenient), to provide Dementia Friends sessions.

The University of Manchester has 31 known Dementia Champions. These Dementia Champions have provided 86 sessions to date – 30 in the community and 56 at work – another fantastic achievement.

If you’re interested in becoming a dementia champion please contact for more information.

At the start of this year, the research network dementia@manchester appointed a Project Manager, Carly Moseley. Carly will be taking over the dementia friends/champions initiative, with continuing support from Sally Shelmerdine at Staff Learning & Development.

In addition to monthly Dementia Friends sessions, we are aiming to reach out to non-office staff such as catering, halls & estates staff – staff that may not have had the opportunity previously to attend a session. If you work in any of these areas and are interested in finding out more about Dementia Friends, please email for more information.