THE University of Worcester has been awarded for its work helping people with dementia.

It won the Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community title in the coveted Times Higher Education Awards.

It was recognised for its Association for Dementia Studies’ work to establish and develop meeting centres to support people living with dementia.

It also saved the centres from closure when funding ended.

Professor Dawn Brooker, director of the Association for Dementia Studies, said: “Our work on meeting centres has been a sustained team effort dating back to 2014, incorporating true partnership working between the Association for Dementia Studies at the University, international colleagues from many countries, national charities, health and care providers and local people determined to make a difference to the lives of those affected by dementia. “

The association started work to set up two pilot meeting centres, in Droitwich and Leominster, for people with dementia, offering them a place to talk to others, to get help and have fun.

But 2017-18 was a crunch point for the project as research funding ended, bringing the prospect of closure for centres that users had come to see as a lifeline.

The association helped them become charities so they could continue their work and secured £600,000 lottery funding which created a National Reference Group.

There are now eight dementia meeting centres operating across the UK.

And there are a further 20 expressions of interest.

The judges said Worcester’s meeting centres were “innovative, practical and the result of a genuine partnership between a research centre and local help points”.

It described the association as a “truly dedicated group who stepped in decisively when funding was at risk”.