Mark Curteis, Network Co-ordinator, Reminiscence Network East
Reminiscence is an innovative and creative way of engaging with people of all ages including hard to reach audiences. Reminiscence work empowers people, bringing history to life and can also help to forge active and engaging partnerships and activities across generations. It is therefore an approach which can be used across many sectors including museums, the arts, health and social care and education, with the potential for cross sector partnership working.
A visual, tactile and audio experience can aid a person’s recall and reminiscence involves the use of prompts such as museum objects, photographs, music, film and poetry as memory triggers to stimulate the long term memory of older people and particularly people with dementia and early onset dementia. It has the potential to lift mood, raise self-esteem, improve communication and aid general well- being. It links to a variety of government agendas including community cohesion and older people’s mental health by emphasising the valuing of a person’s life history and experience which is integral to the person centred care approach. From a museum perspective it can help develop an understanding of collections, aid the development of new collections and can be extended into contemporary collecting projects. Apart from developing new audiences, other benefits to the museum are it increases access to collections; it facilitates community involvement, and has partnership working opportunities.
Organisations across many sectors have found working on reminiscence related projects to be hugely beneficial. Reminiscence work can lead to many innovative outcomes and memories can inform a wide range of cross sector creative activities, such as art and craft work, making memory quilts, memory collages, life story book work, animated film production, photographic work, music making, drama, creative writing and poetry. The reminiscence process can also be used to identify potential people who are willing to have their story recorded as oral history.
This work is supported in the East by Reminiscence Network East – a network open to all and consisting of individuals and organisations from many sectors committed to reminiscence work. The East of England has a wealth of experience and expertise in reminiscence work and membership of the network, which currently stands at just over 200, includes people from museums, health and social care, arts, libraries, archives, the voluntary sector, education and youth work.
The network aims to:
- Encourage innovation and promote project development
- Develop partnerships and activities across sectors
- Provide training, information, advice and guidance
- Share good practice
- Work to ’embed’ reminiscence across the sectors
The network, which is supported by SHARE and was derived from a SHARE conference in 2010, became formally constituted in 2013.
The network currently organises workshops and conferences and communicates through an e-newsletter to its membership. Membership is free and open to all those with an interest in reminiscence work. The network continues to develop and evolve and is currently looking at ways for members to share information and ideas through social networking.