Championing Dementia Friends at the College of Human and Health Sciences

A Swansea University PhD student is championing the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme within the College of Human and Health Sciences, with the aim of making the College a dementia friendly department.

Dementia Friends Champion Emma Richards, who is studying for her PhD in vascular dementia within the College’s Department of Psychology, has already delivered a number of successful sessions within the college and has plans to run more.

She said: “I have had an interest in dementia since I was sixteen years old, when my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I studied the disease as part of my undergraduate and Master’s degree. I recently worked on the Cognitive Function and Ageing Study at Swansea and I am currently studying for a PhD in vascular dementia.  It is my ambition to make the College of Human and Health Sciences a dementia friendly department.”

“I was fortunate to be one of the first dementia friend champions in South Wales. I am a volunteer who encourages others to make a positive difference to people living with dementia in their community. I do this by arranging sessions at the University, and giving information about the personal impact of dementia, and advising people on what they can do to help.

“As dementia friends Champions we are individuals who are committed to improving understanding and awareness of dementia. Through delivering Dementia Friends sessions in our local towns, businesses, schools and places of work we ensure that individuals have a better understanding of dementia, and help to break down stigma. We have run two dementia friends sessions in the Centre for Innovative ageing, and have another two planned for the College of Human and Health Sciences.”

The Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme is the largest national initiative set up to change people’s perceptions of dementia and improve understanding of dementia and its effects.  It aims to transform the way the nation thinks, talks and acts about the condition.

A Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it's like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action - anyone of any age can be a Dementia Friend. From helping someone to find the right bus to spreading the word about dementia on social media, every action counts.

Friends information sessions are run by local, trained volunteer Dementia Friend Champions, such as myself” said Emma.

She continued, “Each information session is free, lasts about one hour and can be done individually for shops, business groups or organisations at a time to suit. They are interactive, fun - and suitable for all ages!”

Celebrating one year of dementia friends in Wales.

In February, the Alzheimer’s Society celebrated the first anniversary of the launch of Dementia Friends in Wales. Every dementia friend champion was invited to the event, which was sponsored by Minister for Health, Mark Drakeford AM.

Deputy Minister for Health, Vaughan Gething AM, spoke about the Welsh Government’s support for Dementia Friends and its role in changing attitudes towards dementia by equipping thousands of people to help make Wales a more dementia-friendly nation. It was also announced that the Welsh Government will continue to fund Dementia Friends in Wales over the next three years.

Sandy Mewies AM, Assembly Commissioner for Equalities, discussed future developments and the further commitment the National Assembly is planning to make on this important national issue by announcing its ambition to become a dementia-friendly organisation, supporting the 45,000 people living with dementia in Wales. 


For more information about the Dementia Friends programme please visit:   

Emma Richards is organising more dementia friend sessions at Swansea University.If you would like to come along to a one hour dementia friend session please contact Emma on for details of dates and times

Dementia Awareness Week 2015 is taking place in the UK from 17-23 May.  At the Alzheimer’s Society, we do everything we can to keep people connected to their lives and the people who matter most, because we believe life doesn’t end when dementia begins.