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LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 22-May-14 11:01:22

The power of reminiscence

Memory Bank's award-winning DVDs use archive film from the 1920s-1970s to bring past events and experiences back to life, prompting stories and memories to share and enjoy. Sue Howard is Director of Yorkshire Film Archive, and one of the creators of Memory Bank. Here Sue talks about activities to involve all the family.

Sue Howard

The power of reminiscence

Posted on: Thu 22-May-14 11:01:22


Lead photo

Bringing the past back to life

Connect the past with the present
Connecting a person’s past with their present is an effective and rewarding way to spark those all important inter-generational connections, which we wanted to achieve with our Memory Bank films.

Finding ways to trigger memories and get people talking about subjects we are all familiar with is especially useful - even more so for people living with dementia or those recovering from a stroke, when it can be difficult to find common conversation points.

Triggers for conversation
Reliving memories and telling stories provides a fascinating insight for everyone in the family, it’s amazing how often you can find out something new about even your closest relatives. So much the better if you have the triggers to make it happen.

When we created Memory Bank we selected archive films along familiar themes - holidays, schooldays, special events - so that even with the widest of age gaps, the delight of watching something together, and sharing experiences that we have, gets everyone involved.

Finding ways to trigger memories and get people talking about subjects we are all familiar with is especially useful - even more so for people living with dementia.

Scrapbooks and photos
Many families will have albums of photographs, and doing something together like making scrapbooks or slideshows is another great way to actively involve everyone.

An annotated scrapbook is a fun way to show the difference between growing up now and then. Compare holiday snaps, or school photographs, and ask questions to prompt memories: Where was the picture taken? Who was there?

Home movies
Many of us also have family films and videos as well: home movies that have been taken over the years, but often remain on the original film format, or slides and video tapes.

So what can you do?
1) Take advice from your nearest regional film archive

2) Try organising your material in a way that highlights points for conversations: focus on recognisable faces, or special events like weddings, christenings and birthdays.

Technology for all
There are lots of apps to create digital slideshows: involve kids and teens with scanning old pictures, or editing short videos and choosing a soundtrack. Or download ready made films from our Memory Bank website, they come with notes and information, so all you need to do is press play and you're away!

Props and Memory Boxes
We've had lots of positive feedback about the ideas in Memory Bank packs, which help you get even more out of watching the films and sparking memories.

Making a memory box can include tactile items, familiar scents - old postcards and a stick of rock for a holiday-theme, or marbles and some chalk for a schooldays theme.

These activities help piece together the experiences gathered across a lifetime. By spending time sharing stories, you are creating new memories of times together that grandchildren may remember and share when they become grandparents themselves.

To download film clips or find out more visit Memory Bank.

By Sue Howard

Twitter: @memorybank_uk

Sonsybesom Sat 24-May-14 06:14:11

I am from Leith, but live in Orkney. There is a brilliant page on Facebook called The Spirit of Leithers in which people send in their family and archive photos of familiar streets and houses often sadly demolished in the drive to modernise in the Sixties. The response to these photos is amazing, they stimulate so many memories and discussions, people are involving their relatives with memory problems and finding that so much is being recalled. It is a wonderful page and numbers are growing every day as people tell each other about it. I find details of shops and buildings and people which bring back so many happy memories. It's sheer delight, and there may be many such pages on the web. A great use of technology.

Agus Sat 24-May-14 09:10:15

I'll have a look at this Sonsy.

Always delighted when I see a sixties 'concrete box' demolished! Absolute eyesores.

annodomini Sat 24-May-14 09:44:00

Hi Sonsybesom - like the name; it could just about describe me! My 19th century ancestors had a dairy in Leith, so I might be able to find out more about them. Thank you.

Sonsybesom Sat 24-May-14 10:27:01

So did mine, annodomini, and there have been some brilliant photos of dairies!

annodomini Sat 24-May-14 10:36:32

Wow! maybe they knew each other, Sonsy!

Sonsybesom Sat 24-May-14 11:44:43

That would be nice! The webpages are brilliant, people send in so many photos and discuss memories, it is such a wonderful resource and for anyone with memory problems it is amazing how even the distinctive lamp posts, shop fronts, school photos, trams, all sorts of thing, trigger memory. Wonder if many other places have the same. Lost Edinburgh is similar but I think a close community can produce amazing results.

janeainsworth Sat 24-May-14 13:33:03

I think this is one of the benefits of Facebook which is sometimes much maligned.
I'm a member of two groups for native Stopfordians [posh alert] - Im from Stockport and Stockport Memories. People post old photos and chat, and sometimes familiar names from a long time ago pop up.