An exciting international reminiscence project has been held at Derry’s Workhouse Museum.
The Remembering Together project - involving older people with dementia (60+) and their family carers - took place throughout September and October and was, according to participants, a great success.
The eight-week programme of creative reminiscence and life story work activities, funded by the Big Lottery Fund Healthy Minds NI programme, received a huge response from the local community and families living in the Derry City Council area.
The project, delivered by Reminiscence Network Northern Ireland, is a partnership initiative involving the support of Derry City Council’s Heritage and Museum Service, the Western Health and Social Care Trust and the European Reminiscence Network.
Remembering Together has been delivered in three locations throughout the North this year including Newry and Lurgan together with Derry.
With dementia being talked about as an issue of ‘epidemic’ proportions, the project aims to enhance the mental health and wellbeing of older people with dementia as well as their family carers.
Margaret Gordon, project facilitator and training officer for Reminiscence Network NI, said: “Remembering Together provides a time and place where families can go to learn reminiscence techniques, enjoy and share memories of the past together. The project activity links to and draws upon local surroundings. Participants would talk about the places, people and events that are specific to the local area and the relevance of the activities and the connections created between people then have much greater depth. Each week we worked to a different theme covering a wide range of memories including School & Childhood, Weddings, Reminiscing at home, Working Life, Going out and having fun, High days & holidays, Home, Food, Gardens & Pets, babies, grandchildren.
“Local volunteers from various community and health organisations were trained over the summer to help deliver the sessions and proved to be a huge asset to the programme.”
Remembering Together also builds on RNNI’s three year initiative, The Valuing Heritage by Valuing Memories Project, which was run in partnership with Derry City Council’s Heritage and Museum Service. This project established a museum Loan Box service at the Tower Museum. These Loan Box items can be borrowed by community groups and organisations for use in various projects.
The Loan Boxes proved a key resource for Remembering Together and the objects provided great enjoyment and outlets for creativity and humour throughout programme.
Deirdre Doherty, project facilitator and regional development worker, said: “Carers reported that the programme has provided them with increased confidence and helpful new skills. They said that the sessions demonstrated very useful everyday reminiscence techniques which can be used at home and in the community to aid communication and enhance personal relationships for all those involved.
Many of those who took part enjoyed meeting other families and said they felt closer through the joint activities and taking part in creative reminiscence together.
For most participants, simply meeting other people and sharing experiences was most enjoyable and has helped families to develop new friendships and support networks.”
Northern Ireland is one of eleven partners from ten EU countries delivering and monitoring the Remembering Together Project 2010-2012. The project brings together partner organisations from Britain and Northern Ireland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Spain, Poland, Finland and Ireland.
For further information on the outcomes of The European Remembering Together Project, contact Reminiscence Network Northern Ireland on Tel: 02890324729.