Leominster Meeting Centre Heritage Project: working both sides of the door
This month’s webinar was a true hybrid affair, with some people attending and presenting online while others had assembled in the Town Council Chambers in Leominster. The webinar was planned as a showcase of the Heritage Pathfinders project which has taken place at the Leominster Meeting Centre. A lot of information was shared during the webinar and this blog will never do it justice, but we hope it gives a flavour of what was presented and encourage you to watch the recordings to hear it directly from those involved.
Hosting the webinar was Tim Senior from supersum, one of the project partners, who gave a bit of background to the programme. Twelve projects from individual Heritage Pathfinders were proposed and taken forward during the programme, looking at a wide variety of different avenues for engaging members and carers at Leominster Meeting Centre with heritage. The programme was funded by the Tudor Trust and Herefordshire Community Foundation.
Several of the Heritage Pathfinders presented their projects during the webinar, but you can find an overview of all the projects here.
Hilary Norris told us about her ‘Living Orchard’ project which focused on apples as an important symbol in Herefordshire. The project used apples as the underpinning basis for a range of activities such as cooking, games, visiting the nearby Millennium Orchard, linking up with other local groups, and taking part in the annual apple fair. The project engaged all the senses, included social aspects, and encouraged embracing mess.
Next up was a short film from Rachel Freeman who took members from Leominster Meeting Centre for walks around the grounds of the National Trust’s Croft Castle, and audio recorded what was said during those walks. Clips from the recordings were used to create an interactive map around Croft Castle that others could follow and listen to while being in the same places as the recordings were made. The aim is to launch the trail during Dementia Action Week for a minimum of six months.
Kate Green followed, with her project on walking in a non-linear way. Kate took people out for walks around Leominster, with no particular route in mind. She also did solo walks in different areas, including the seaside, which she live-streamed back to the Meeting Centre and got members to decide where she should walk and which direction to take.
Sal Tonge also used a short film to tell us about her project which incorporated singing, dance, movement, learning new lyrics, and interacting with each other. A key aspect of the project was inviting Meeting Centre members to come up with their own stories behind different images, encouraging spontaneity and imagination in a safe space where there are no right or wrong answers.
A recording of the first part of the webinar is available here.
Following a short break, Elizabeth O’Keefe looked at the provision of dementia friendly worship. Working with the members, Elizabeth was able to share relevant stories relating to the building where Leominster Meeting Centre is based (The Old Priory), explore the importance and symbolism of candles, and provide members with the opportunity to make beeswax candles. The project allowed members to engage at different levels based on their own experiences, and members expressed a wish to visit and engage with Hereford Cathedral.
Gemma Moore’s ‘Drawn in Time’ project looked at how the act of drawing can potentially alleviate stress and help people to express themselves. All sorts of media, techniques and styles were used, and members were encouraged to explore their own ways of making their mark. Different themes were used as prompts, such as favourite items and places, as well as heritage.
Next up was Marsha O’Mahoney, who looked at creating an interactive diary using the Mayfly App. The app enables you to record audio on a sticker which you can put in a diary. When you scan the mayfly sticker, the audio plays, giving an extra dimension to the diary. Marsha worked mainly with a carer at Leominster Meeting Centre, who was initially put off by the idea of ‘digital technology’ but was more than capable of using the app and was actually very tech-savvy. For those who feel they are not technologically minded, regardless of their actual ability, the language used to introduce the app can be an important factor. We use different forms of technology every day in almost all aspects of our lives, but a lot of the time we may not consider it as ‘tech’.
The final presentation came from Yvie George who looked at archaeology and people’s connection with objects and possessions. Leominster Meeting Centre members were invited to bring in important possessions to create a pop-up museum and share their stories of why those objects were valuable to them. As part of the work, at least one of the items was painted by Yvie and was accompanied by a recording of the member sharing their story.
The session was concluded with Tim talking about the Adjusting to Change Model which underpins the Meeting Centre ethos, and bringing together the learning across the projects. For those who may not be aware, the Adjusting to Change Model comprises seven key areas as shown below.
Tim considered how the various creative projects had an impact in each of these areas, grouping them around practical adjustment, social adjustment and emotional adjustment.
The Heritage Pathfinders programme has been hugely successful, and shown that Meeting Centres can be a core place to bring together multiple different sectors and organisations. Members, carers and staff at Meeting Centres can not only benefit from such projects but also be a driving force behind them. Resources from the project will be developed and made available in due course.
A recording of the second part of the webinar is available here.
Thanks to everyone involved in this programme.