Music for Dementia and broadcaster Lauren Laverne urges people to sign up to the #Song4You challenge to highlight the unique role that music plays in the lives of people affected by dementia.

Celebrities kickstarted the challenge with social media posts dedicating a song to someone affected by dementia along with a message about why the song is special.

Each song will be played across m4d Radio - a first-of-its-kind internet radio station which launched today and will be available free for people living with dementia and their carers.

m4d Radio aims to provide ‘a lifeline’ for those living with dementia by helping them connect through music and help soothe some of the often distressing symptoms of the disease, including anxiety and agitation.

The 24-hour, non-commercial station, which plays songs from the 30s through to the 70s, is ad-free to help ensure those living with dementia can maximise the holistic benefit of listening to their favourite music.

m4d Radio is the new initiative from Music for Dementia – the campaign which calls for music to be more accessible to everyone living with dementia.

Lauren is among of a host of celebrities, music industry figures and carers who have posted their #Song4You video in support including DJ Naughty Boy, Paul O’Grady, Judge Robert Rinder, Choreographer Arlene Phillips CBE, TV host Fiona Phillips, CBBC stars Sam and Mark, Composer Paul Hardcastle, Dating guru Lara Asprey, Musician Beatie Wolfe and author Pippa Kelly.

The celebrities have all dedicated songs to someone they know who has been affected by dementia, which includes heart-rending personal stories.

Lauren said: “We all instinctively know how music can help connect us to others, but for people living with dementia music provides a lifeline.

“When words fail, music has the power to reach people emotionally and in many cases trigger memories.

“m4d Radio is a vital resource that aims to stop those living with dementia feeling isolated, especially during these unprecedented times and this is a simple way that everyone can help.

“We’d love to see as many people as possible getting involved in the #Song4You challenge, help build the m4d Radio playlist and crucially, help improve the wellbeing of so many who are affected by this awful disease.”

Lauren has launched the challenge by dedicating The Beatles’ In My Life to her local Singing For The Brain workshop, a group of people who are all affected by Dementia. She has called on others to join her in the challenge in a video posted on her social media, while her personal dedication can also be seen here.

Grace Meadows, Programme Director at Music for Dementia 2020, said: “Music is a wonderful connector and has the ability to bring people together in the here and now. It can enliven, stimulate and enable people living with dementia to creatively express themselves.

“Often people living with dementia and their carers don’t know how to access the music that matters to them.

“At m4d Radio we are developing content with our listeners to make sure it’s what they want and need, through themed shows and era-specific stations in careful collaboration with our close partners.”

Helen Foster, Director of Operations at Alzheimer’s Society said: “Music can have a really positive effect on people with dementia: from our Singing for the Brain sessions we know many people with dementia enjoy music, and there’s also evidence that it can prompt memories, improve mood and help maintain a sense of personal identity.

“A survey conducted by Alzheimer’s Society of around 880 people living with and caring for someone with dementia revealed that over three quarters said the pandemic has made them feel more lonely or isolated than before. m4d Radio will hopefully help connect people with dementia and carers across the UK, and make those affected by dementia feel less isolated.”

Colin Lyne, 62, who lives with vascular dementia and is a member of Stockport EDUCATE *, said: “As I listened to m4d Radio it took me back to when I was at school in the late sixties and early seventies, which I thought was great. It gave me a warm fuzzy feeling and I could even picture walking through a school corridor to join a classroom full of mates.

“I used to play the trombone in a local wind band and I listen to music all the time but m4d Radio plays tunes I haven’t heard for years, not necessarily just the number one hits of an era.”