Age Friendly 2:
Amersham Museum had previously completed an Age Friendly project for older people, run at the museum. This involved a creative activity and utilised the skills of an artist. Following the success of this project we wished to continue reaching out to the older population and make it accessible to people unable to attend the museum, as we realise that there are older people isolated in their own homes. So, we developed an outreach project which had two components to it. One followed the same format as before to make a Memory Box but in a Care Home, and the second part was to collect peoples Life Stories and write them up. This project was known as Age Friendly 2 and commenced in January 2019 for 18 months duration. The project was overseen by a Steering Committee.
This was a project designed to reach out to people in their homes, who may have trouble getting out, and help them record their Life Story. Everyone has a story to tell and over 18 months we had the privilege to help some people record theirs. We went out to various groups to tell them about the project as well as advertising in local publications and local associations. Trained volunteers then visited people in their homes over several sessions and they then wrote up the life story. Once this was final and all parties were happy with it, a printed copy was made for the person to keep, and if they agreed the Museum kept a copy as well.
Some of the stories are of local people but not all, however each of them tells of growing up in a different world, some very different from today. The overwhelming impression that they leave is how important it is that their stories are not forgotten, as we need to appreciate just how much life has changed and the challenges that previous generations had to face.
We had to temporarily stop recording people’s stories due to the coronavirus but we hope to recommence this shortly. If you are keen to have your story told then please contact us at the museum and we will arrange for someone to call you to discuss this. Also if you would like to be involved in listening to peoples stories and help bring these stories to life then please contact us.
We have been able to fund this project with help from the following organisations:
Make Your Own Memory Box
The project was carried out within the Care Homes and was known as Make Your Own Memory Box (MYOMB). It involves people making a Memory Box related to a theme that was special to them. To help with this activity an artist was engaged to give ideas and encouragement to help them create something that they could keep and show to their family and friends.
Three Care Homes were contacted about the prospect of being involved and all of these were keen to participate. It was planned to have four sessions at each Care Home, the first of these would be run by the Museum Co-ordinator who would talk to the participants about the project and how it would run and at the subsequent three sessions she would be joined by the artist who would help all the residents complete their Memory Box.
The Care Home staff selected the people to be involved in the activity and a member of staff who was responsible for the project attended the sessions. There were four people per session which ran for 2 hours each time, but we did sometimes find that the residents tired easily, so we then saw two people at a time for an hour, and this worked better.
Initially people were hesitant with ideas as to what to create, but with conversation and encouragement everyone was able to come up with a topic. Our challenge sometimes lay in finding the right objects and documents for them to put into their box as people downsize when they enter a Care Home and so we had to be creative and think outside the box a bit more. However what became very clear is that the residents all enjoyed talking and even if it was not necessarily related to the activity or their box, they enjoyed the stimulation of seeing other people and having the opportunity to chat.
Various boxes were created and included some of the following themes: World War 2, Millinery, Holidays, Square Dancing, Growing Up, Cricket
The feedback from the staff at the Care Home was all positive and it has helped us in building up working relationships with the Homes. Since completion of the project we have maintained visits with Reminiscence sessions run by a Volunteer.
The People’s Story of Amersham
In 2016 Amersham Museum received £82,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting learning and interpretation project, The People’s Story of Amersham in the 20th Century. This heritage project is giving residents, visitors and learners an ongoing opportunity to contribute to, learn about and engage with their local, 20th century heritage. The first part of the project included the creation of a permanent exhibition in the museum which was completed in 2017. In summer 2017 we began an 18th month creative arts programme, which will run until spring 2019.
The project is collecting personal stories about life in the local area in the 20th century. These are featured in the exhibition alongside objects, photos and documents loaned and donated by local people. The creative arts programme is exploring key themes and topics about life in the town in the last 100 years, resulting in a ‘mobile museum’ which takes The People’s Story of Amersham in the 20th Century on tour throughout the town and outlying villages in 2019.
Stuart McLeod, Head of HLF South East, said: “From the arrival of the railway to the growth in population, this area witnessed a great deal of change during the 20th century. The impact is still being felt today and our investment will, thanks to National Lottery players, enable visitors to discover more of this fascinating history than ever before.”
Welcoming the HLF investment, curator Emily Toettcher said: “Friendly, local museums are extremely important to their surrounding community. We are very proud of Amersham Museum and believe it is one of the best of its kind. We are so fortunate to be based in such a supportive and thriving town, and look forward to recording and sharing people’s personal experiences of life here during the last century. We also look forward to working with our volunteers on this project and, hopefully, recruiting many more to share in this exciting work.”
“Enjoyed our visit to this wonderful interactive museum where you are positively encouraged to touch things!”
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