Remembering the Past: Building the Future in the UK 2015-17
This is a partnership project involving the European Reminiscence Network and the University of Greenwich.
Work already undertaken:
A Reminiscence Theatre event on 9-10 October 2015 involving older people from the Greenwich Pensioners Forum, drama and history students from the university and school students from Dresden.
The older people worked with Pam Schweitzer to record their memories of the war years. They then developed these memories into a short play, "Wartime Memories", directed by Pam Schweitzer with Dr Heather Lilley, senior lecturer in the Drama department and Charlotte Price-Stevens, a student placement supporting the project.
The drama students developed their own production based on memories in the Reminiscence Theatre Archive and performed it alongside the older people’s show. The school students presented their work in progress on a new theatre piece.
Older people from London and the Dresden school students then participated in a drama workshop based on the older people’s wartime memories and the young people’s stories as learned from older family members in Dresden.
The inter-generational gain was considerable and very positive relations emerged from this creative engagement.
The website of the Reminiscence Theatre Archive has been updated to feature this recent project work:
Press Release: for a review of the forthcoming conference "Remembering the Past - Building the Future 19-21 March 2016, Thessaloniki, Greece" - download PDF
"Wartime Memories" was reviewed in Oral History Journal by Christine Wall:
"From the moment the actors got up from their seats. strode forward and addressed the audience it was clear that this was going to be a powerful piece of theatre:
"I'm May Wellard and I was twenty-two years old when war broke out"..."I'm Ann Webb and I was about five years old when war broke out"
The play was the first in a day of performance and workshops held at the University of Greenwich and based on reminiscence workshop and archive material deposited by Pam Schweitzer in the Reminiscence Theatre Archive."
To read more of Christine's review - download PDF (See Oral History vol 43, no 2)
Drama and history students at the University of Greenwich are currently applying to take part in the project. They will undertake a reminiscence research and performance placement led by June Balshaw and Pippa Guard from the History and Drama departments respectively, and Pam Schweitzer from European Reminiscence Network.
If our funding application for study visits is successful, students from both departments will attend the week in Poland in June, will then prepare creative work arising and will share this work in Dresden in November 2016.
The theme of the research on the ground in Greenwich and the eventual performances and exhibition will be the evacuation of London’s school children during World War II. It will explore the impact of this massive movement of children to the countryside on the families involved, especially on the children themselves.
The students will study the oral history interviews in the Reminiscence Theatre Archive (based at the University) on this theme and will also conduct their own interviews with local older people who were evacuated. They will prepare short pieces of theatre, which will be performed in the autumn of 2016 in the university. These pieces of reminiscence theatre will also be performed for local school children in two local primary schools, supported by input from the older people themselves.
We shall involve the older people from the Greenwich Pensioners Forum in our work on wartime evacuation with school children and we hope they will be willing to undertake further drama work around their memories. The stories they have already told about their wartime experience will be made into a small booklet for wider distribution.
It is planned that we hold a reminiscence conference in March 2017, to which we would invite partners from the Remembering the Past, Building the Future project and representatives of oral history and reminiscence theatre projects in the UK. At this event, we would share work by the students, the older people and the local school children.
2012-14 Remembering Yesterday, Caring Today Training (RYCTT)
The European Reminiscence Network was funded under the EC Grundtvig Lifelong Learning Programme to continue and develop the work we had begun in 2010-12.
As a partnership, we developed a cross-Europe training and apprenticeship programme so that we could spread the work in our own countries and ensure that there would be competent group facilitators to lead it in the future.
Eight partners were funded for the RYCTT project, but all the original 11 partners managed to attend our project meetings and participate to some extent in our common programme. All have continued their commitment to creative reminiscence work and to reminiscence training.
The same 2-day training programme ran in all partner countries. Training course participants explored experientially the key concepts behind using creative reminiscence in dementia care.
The trainees were drawn from many different fields and disciplines, including dementia care, oral history, community development, education and the arts. 362 people across the partnership attended our courses.
At least half of those who trained on our 2-day courses went on to become apprentices. They were attached to a group of family carers and people with dementia, meeting for reminiscence sessions weekly over a 12-week period. Led by experienced group leaders in each country, these reminiscence groups followed a common set of themes, using a variety of creative approaches to help participants find and share life-stories. Over 250 people with dementia participated in the sessions, each supported by at least one family carer.
Apprentices had the chance to observe sessions, to contribute to them and eventually to lead them. They got to know the families and gained the confidence they needed to resource and run inclusive enjoyable reminiscence projects themselves. They reflected on their own learning in written essays before becoming accredited facilitators. 146 apprentices were granted accreditation as ERN group facilitators under this scheme.
2008-11 REMCARE a research project supported by National Institute for Health Research (Technology Assessment) exploring the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of reminiscence to family carers and people with dementia
This research project is operating in 8 centres across England and Wales and is supported by research teams at 5 universities: Bangor, UCL, Hull, Manchester and Bradford. It takes the “Remembering Yesterday, Caring Today” (RYCT) programme as its starting point and looks at the effect of this on 24 groups of 10 families.
A control group of matching size is also involved in the research for this project. This is the biggest single study of reminiscence undertaken to date. The research is still on-going and the results will be available in the last quarter of 2011.
This research project builds on the European Reminiscence Network’s reminiscence project, “Remembering Yesterday, caring Today”, for people with dementia and their family carers, piloted in 1997 and developed across Europe ever since. Image above: Working with families.
Click here for further information about the REMCARE research project [PDF document]
REMCARE photo gallery - click for larger images
Pam Schweitzer is the consultant and trainer to the REMCARE project. Please see the short film “Remembering Yesterday, Caring Today”:
“Remembering Yesterday, Caring Today”
The European Reminiscence Network is now operating a new dementia project entitled “Remembering Together: Reminiscence Training for families living with dementia” (RTRT):
2010-12 Remembering Together: Reminiscence Training for Carers of people with dementia
The current Grundtvig-funded project has 11 partners from 10 EU countries. Partners come from UK (ERN and Northern Ireland Reminiscence Network) France, Germany, Netherlands, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Spain, Poland, Finland and Ireland. The Learning Partnership is co-ordinated by Pam Schweitzer.
In each partner country, we are undertaking a series of arts-based reminiscence sessions with families living with dementia and introducing them to the value of sharing life stories and personal memories creatively in a group. Our special focus is on enabling carers to incorporate reminiscence into their home lives as well as enabling them to enjoy participating with their relatives in the reminiscence sessions. Image above/right: European Reminscence Network partners in Belfast.
Partners in this international project are meeting four times over the course of the next two years to prepare and train, to share experience of running the project in their countries and to document the work.
These meetings are in Northern Ireland, Finland, Spain and Germany. The final meeting in Germany will include an exhibition of all the creative arts work produced during the project.
Image above/left: Partners in the RTRT (Remembering Together, Reminiscence Training) project in Kotka, Finland for their second project meeting April 2011.
Visit the RTRT website which offers more information about this project and detailed project reviews from all the participating partners: www.rememberingtogether.eu
Comments from people with dementia in the Netherlands:
“It was fun, especially spending time in a different way with my daughter. Normally she just brings the groceries. "
"It was very special for me to do this together with my son."
And from their carers:
“I have more insight into communicating with dementia.”
“I have more understanding and patience with the situation.”
“I have less frustration, more understanding. After each meeting I called my family and told them what I learned, so they can use the information I got also.”
The “Remembering Together” project with Asian elders in London 2011Photo gallery - click for larger images