Greater Manchester to become the UK’s first ‘Centre of Excellence’ for Music and Dementia

By Natalie Rees | 13 May 2024

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Greater Manchester has been named as the UK’s first Centre of Excellence for Music and Dementia, after being awarded over £1 million in funding.

The commitment will help launch a major programme, enabling the world famous Manchester Camerata Orchestra and the Alzheimer’s Society to continue their ground-breaking music therapy programmes. 

The research-based courses Music In Mind (Camerata) and Singing For The Brain (Alzheimer’s Society) already offer musical support to people living with dementia across all of Greater Manchester.

The successful bid means both organisations can run more of the weekly sessions in each of the region’s 10 boroughs.

manchester camarata

Following the successful bid, they will collaborate with the University of Manchester and the NHS to undertake data-driven research into the impact and power that these music sessions have for people living with dementia, and the way in which they can reduce pressure on frontline NHS and social care staff.

The vital funding, committed by the Power of Music Fund, the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and NHS Greater Manchester, will enable the organisations to recruit, nurture and train a volunteer and community workforce.

Starting in October this year, these Music Champions will be trained to deliver four weekly Music Cafes, helping to support over 1000 people living with dementia over the next three years.

manchester camerata orchestra

Bob Riley, Chief Executive of Manchester Camerata, said: “This is a colossal moment built on over ten years of work and research in partnership with The University of Manchester. We know it will bring much-needed support for people living with dementia and their carers. It will create new opportunities for our amazing musicians in the UK, and bring about changes in the way we invest in music to bring the widest possible benefits to society.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham added: “This is fantastic news for Greater Manchester, and a reminder of the power of music to shape our lives and our communities. Manchester Camerata have played a key role in our Music Commission, and I’ve seen firsthand the transformational impact of what they do in our city-region.

manchester camerata

“They are the ideal partner to pioneer the UK’s first Centre of Excellence for Music and Dementia, working with the Alzheimer’s Society to unlock the potential of music as therapy. This project will provide life-changing support to people with dementia and their carers in our 10 boroughs – support that is grounded in our communities and delivered with a real expert focus. It will also generate groundbreaking research that will influence health and care policy across the country while directly improving lives across Greater Manchester.”

According to the NHS, over 940,000 people in the UK have dementia, affecting one in 11 people over the age of 65.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society that will rise to over one million people by 2025, and nearly 1.6 million by 2040. Currently, the care of these people in the UK costs over £34 billion per year.