Sunderland's Radio 6 Music presenter Lauren Laverne becomes ambassador for Music For Dementia 2020 campaign

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Lauren Laverne was today announced as an ambassador for a new campaign which aims to use music to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia.

The Sunderland-born BBC TV and radio presenter has joined forces with Music For Dementia 2020 to highlight the powerful impact music can have on people living with the condition.

Lauren Laverne is an ambassador for the Music For Dementia 2020 campaign.

Lauren Laverne is an ambassador for the Music For Dementia 2020 campaign.

The new campaign aims to make music accessible to everyone living with dementia by 2020, after a ground-breaking report revealed how music can help improve quality of life for dementia sufferers.

Lauren, who hosts Radio 6 Music’s flagship Breakfast Show, has carved out a career as one of the UK’s leading music broadcasters.

She is currently presenting BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs while Kirsty Young is on leave, and she said the issue of dementia is close to her heart.

Lauren said: “I can’t imagine my life without music. We all instinctively know how important music is, and how beneficial it is for our well-being.

BBC presenter Lauren Laverne says access to music is a subject close to her heart.

BBC presenter Lauren Laverne says access to music is a subject close to her heart.

"It connects us to others, to our memories and boosts our mood.

“That’s why it’s a central part of every important human interaction – from socialising with friends to weddings, even funerals.

“But because music is everywhere, we sometimes take it for granted, and that’s a huge mistake.

“There is now a vast amount of scientific research exploring the enormous benefits music has for cognitive, physical and mental health.

“Music’s connection to memory is something we intuitively understand and celebrate every day on radio shows like mine, but we are failing to use this powerful tool in the fight against dementia.

“Music should be made available to everyone living with the syndrome.”

Lauren will bring her experience and insight from the music industry to her role with Music for Dementia 2020 – an initiative created and funded by The Utley Foundation.

She will help shape the campaign over the course of two years and increase awareness around how and why music can be used as an integral part of dementia care.

Music for Dementia 2020 is a nationwide campaign backed by The Utley Foundation, a charity founded in 2014 by Neil and Nicky Utley.

Neil Utley, founder and trustee of The Utley Foundation, said: “We’re thrilled to have Lauren Laverne on board as an ambassador, who brings vast experience from the music industry.

"I know that she will be hugely influential in helping to spread the message about the impact music can have on the quality of life for people living with dementia.

“People with dementia often live in a silent world. Yet music can be used to minimise their day to day anxiety.

"The ability to connect to music is an innate aspect of being human and there is substantial evidence to demonstrate that.”

Grace Meadows, programme director at Music for Dementia 2020 and a senior music therapist at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, said: “A song has the power to instantly transport us to a different place and time, and can have the most profound effect on people living with dementia and their carers.

“We want everyone in the UK living with dementia to have access to the music that means most to them and for it to be accessible in the most appropriate and effective ways.

“For some, this will mean ensuring they have the right technology – allowing them to enjoy their favourite music wherever and whenever they want. For others, it means being able to attend music groups and participate in music-making. For some, it may mean working with music therapists.

“Music for those living with dementia isn’t a nicety, it’s a necessity.”

There are currently more than 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK – supported by 700,000 informal carers who need support to keep caring for loved ones.

Visit the website for more information, to sign up to the newsletter and to become part of the Music for Dementia 2020 taskforce.