Living Memories is a not-for-profit social enterprise which promotes the use of archive film and images to trigger memories and reduce isolation.
Living Memories is a not-for-profit social enterprise which promotes the use of archive film and images to trigger memories and reduce isolation. Developed by Brian Norris and his wife, Leonore, it is the result of a long practical research with older people, including those with dementia.
In 2012 while living in an isolated hamlet near Bodmin Moor, Brian and Leonore started researching how they could use a large collection of archive films for the benefit of the community. Following several years research with groups of older people, including those living with dementia, they started publishing Living Memories DVD’s, each with a 40 page reminiscence guide. These were very well received and were finalists in the national Nursing Times Awards.
In 2016 they settled in Colyton, East Devon, together with the film archive, mostly on 35mm and 16mm prints. Brian then began researching ways of offering archive films online for reminiscence by a much wider audience of individuals at home, care and residential homes and community organisations across the UK.
To find out more about the history and formation of Living Memories, have a look at the below video interview with founder Brian Norris.
The Living Memories Online portal offers access to a huge range of information & social history programmes, and newsreels from the late 1900s to the 1970s available to watch online, along with digital Reminiscence Resources to help trigger conversations. It aims to bring the past to life for older people, the people who care for them, and anyone interested in UK social and industrial history, including schools. Living Memories also coordinates online events to benefit older generations, such as Tea & Memories sessions, wellbeing programmes and more.
Brian Norris, founder of Living Memories CIC, says: “Archive films can prompt older people to share memories and life experiences. Long-term memory is usually one of their strengths, so reminiscence encourages them to communicate and feel more confident about themselves. Living Memories Online will make reminiscence activity much more widely and easily available.”
Some of the archive programmes and newsreels come from Greenpark Images, established as a documentary and corporate film production company, which over the years has built a unique collection of programmes about UK social and industrial history from the decades during and after World War II. Greenpark has been involved in supporting the development of Living Memories C.I.C. and its creation of award-winning memory trigger resources to aid reminiscence by older people who grew up in the 1930s-60s.
There are also many hundreds of programmes licensed from collections such as The Imperial War Museum, Beaulieu National Motor Museum, archival film suppliers Screenocean, Clips & Footage, Huntley Archives, and Reuters, which made newsreels shown in cinemas before television was widely adopted, and continues today. Over 2,300 titles are currently available on Living Memories Online and more are added each month.
The footage can be accessed on a PC, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone and can then be cast to smart TVs for group viewing.
The Living Memories portal can be searched by decade or topic, and users can make a collection of their own favourites, which can be shared with other users of the portal. Brian says “that can make it easy to have online reminiscence chats with friends or several generations of family members.”
In 2018 Brian and Leonore started a regular Tea & Memories reminiscence group in Colyton, showing several short archive programmes, with 60-90 mins of reminiscence triggered by the films. We soon had regular participation from 20-25 local residents aged 60-100 and requests from neighbouring communities to start Tea & Memory groups. You can find out more about Tea & Memories groups in the video below.