UK’s first music therapy project for dementia patients to roll out across Greater Manchester

It'll be life-changing for thousands of people in our region.

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 9th May 2024

A UK-first £1 million music therapy project is being rolled out to provide a “lifeline” for people with dementia in our region.

Thanks to generous funding from a number of regional and national sources, Greater Manchester is to become the first ‘Centre of Excellence for Music and Dementia’ in the UK, and it’ll be hosted by Manchester Camerata with support from the University of Manchester (UoM) and the Alzheimer’s Society.

More than £1 million of funding has been committed by Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, Sir Richard Lees, who is now the Chair of the NHS Greater Manchester, and the National Academy for Social Prescribing’s ‘Power of Music Fund’.

Due to be rolled-out from October 2024, the funding will support three years of direct musical support activities across all of the region’s 10 boroughs.

For the three-year project, Manchester Camerata will work in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society and UoM to offer “research-backed” music cafes, for both its ‘Music in Mind’ programme and the Alzheimer’s Society’s ‘Singing for the Brain’ scheme.


It’s hoped this will “help take pressure off frontline health and care staff” in the NHS.

Manchester Camerata’s internationally-renowned ‘Music in Mind’ programme – created in collaboration with UoM – uses the principles of music therapy to improve the wellbeing of people living with dementia, and was devised from the foundations of some of the world’s leading dementia experts and their research. 


The Alzheimer’s Society’s ‘Singing for the Brain’ programme is based on key music therapy principles, and has already been massively successful in bringing people living with dementia together to sing a variety of songs they know and love in a fun and friendly environment – with sessions also including vocal exercises that help improve brain activity and wellbeing.

The sessions also create an opportunity for people living with dementia and their carers to socialise with others, and experience peer support too.

Manchester Camerata and the Alzheimer’s Society will recruit a workforce of 300 volunteers over the next three years and train them to deliver the ‘Music Cafes’, which will help support thousands of people living with dementia in Greater Manchester.


In addition to the Centre of Excellence in Greater Manchester, the National Academy for Social Prescribing’s ‘Power of Music Fund’ is also awarding small grants to 70 grassroots music and dementia projects across the UK, and this will support more than 5,500 people in total.

Mayor Andy Burnham called said the project is “fantastic news for Greater Manchester”, and called it a “reminder of the power of music to shape our lives and our communities”.

He continued: “Manchester Camerata have played a key role in our Music Commission, and I’ve seen first-hand the transformational impact of what they do in our city region, so they are the ideal partner to pioneer the UK’s first Centre of Excellence for Music and Dementia and work 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.

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“It will also generate groundbreaking research that will influence health and care policy across the country while directly improving lives across Greater Manchester”.

Featured Image – Manchester Camerata