Dementia Friends

Dementia Friends is one of the University's Social Responsibility flagship programmes. Raising awareness of dementia is one very small step that we can all take, regardless of whether we have any direct experience of dementia.

What is Dementia?

  • There are 800,000 people with Dementia in the UK with numbers set to rise to 1.7 million by 2050.
  • One in three people over 65 will die with Dementia.
  • There are over 17,000 people under 65 with Dementia in the UK.
  • Symptoms of Dementia include memory loss, confusion and problems with speech and understanding. Dementia is a terminal condition.

What is Dementia Friends?

Dementia Friends is a Government funded national initiative that is run by the Alzheimer’s Society. It aims to improve people's understanding of Dementia and its effects and aims to create one million Dementia Friends and Dementia Friends Champions by 2015.

A Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it's like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into a practical action which may include helping someone to find the right bus to spreading the word about dementia on social media. A Dementia Friends Champion runs Friends' information sessions for people in their personal networks or communities.

We are supporting this initiative because we recognize the national importance of this project and our ability to positively contribute towards raising awareness of and improving support for people living with Dementia. The University had recruited and trained over 50 Dementia Friends Champions by the end of the 2015/16 academic year whi have in turn delivered over 1,000 Dementia Friends informatin sessions. We continue to run dementia friends information sessions each month for staff and students, where staff can learn more about dementia and become a dementia friend.

Dementia Champions require 1 day of training whereas Friends require just one 50 minute information session.

What do Dementia Friends do?

Actions could include:

  • Behaving patiently with someone showing the signs of dementia
  • Spending more time with, helping or supporting a friend or relative affected by dementia
  • Signposting people affected by dementia to more information and support
  • Fundraising for a dementia-related cause
  • Helping your workplace to be more dementia friendly
  • Telling other people about Dementia Friends or spreading the word through social media.

Why is The University of Manchester supporting this?

  • Research on dementia is a priority area for the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences; it also features strongly in various strands of activity within the cross-faculty Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing.
  • The University boasts as well the UK’s Dementia Tsar, Professor Alistair Burns, who has responsibility for providing clinical advice on dementia and related issues to NHS England.
  • Manchester as a city is also well-placed to take leadership on this issue given its participation in the World Health Organisation’s age friendly city programme.
  • As an institution with social responsibility at its core, and with the largest number of staff and students in the UK, Manchester also recognises the impact its 40,000 students and 10,000 staff can have on issues of major societal importance.
  • The University also plays a key role in engaging with people in later life, particularly through its library and cultural institutions, with nearly 1 million public visitors each year.
  • Our campus is a major part of the neighbourhoods, particularly the wards such as Hulme, Ardwick, City, Moss Side, Rusholme, Fallowfield, Old Moat and Withington.

Who should get involved?

It is hoped that this initiative will engage and involve both students and staff at all levels. Staff from Schools, Faculties, PSS Directorates/Divisions and Cultural Institutions at any grade or level are encouraged to apply. Staff will need to be confident in engaging with groups of people in a training/briefing environment.

Why should I become a Dementia Friends Champion?

By becoming a Dementia Friends Champion you will be helping Manchester to lead the way in UK higher education, and across the Greater Manchester region, in realising the target of creating a million Dementia Friends in the UK.

The Dementia Friends Champion scheme provides numerous opportunities for professional and personal development, including the opportunity to develop communication skills, demonstrate local leadership in making a difference and to positively contribute to this agenda through initiating activities that will further increase awareness and uptake amongst colleagues.

This could be an effective development opportunity for staff wishing to enhance their communication and leadership skills and will be something that may provide evidence of professional development and contribution in the P&DR process.

Watch this film to find out more about becoming a Dementia Friends Champion.

To find out more about becoming a Dementia Friends Champion or register for a training course please email:

How will the University support me?

If you are successful in your application you will be given time the one day of time to attend training, offered developmental opportunities and provided with extensive networking opportunities right across the University. This initiative has the full backing of the President, the University’s Social Responsibility Governance Group and Human Resources Directorate, who are keen to make this scheme a success.

What will the University expect of me?

As a Dementia Friends Champion you will be a local leader within your university locale. This could be within your School, Faculty, Division or immediate team, whatever is local to you.

We would like everyone to play a part in the University achieving its target. This would normally take the form of you running around five, 50 minute sessions impacting on a minimum of 50 colleagues by the summer of 2015, some of which will take place in your locality, or will be part of a wider university initiative. These are likely to take place across lunch periods. You will encourage colleagues to take part in the scheme by attending a 50 minute Friends sessions.

What next?

Information sessions open to all staff are held regulary on Campus and dates are published on StaffNet.

For further please email

We have prepared some FAQs which should answer any additional questions you may have.