AN AMBITIOUS project which uses archived heritage, digital technology and community events to bring people together through their shared memories of Worcester is to be launched by the City Council and the Worcestershire Health and Care (NHS) Trust.
Worcester Life Stories (www.worcesterlifestories.org.uk), which will be launched via YouTube on Saturday, June 27, has been awarded £79,400 by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and is being match-funded by partners, bringing the total value to £286,400.
The initiative will see material from the Worcester City Historic Environment Record, which includes a rich archive of 35,000 historic photographs and maps, made available digitally by the end of the year. People will also be able to contribute their own knowledge, memories and images to the site which will be called Know Your Place – Worcester.
Sheena Payne-Lunn, Worcester City Council’s Historic Environment Record Officer, has been using archive photography from the same collection as part of a series of online quizzes during the lockdown. Over 5,300 people took part in a recent ‘How well do you remember Worcester in the 1970s?’ quiz.
“The lockdown quizzes have demonstrated just what a powerful tool archive photography can be to stimulate memory and reunite old acquaintances,” explains Sheena.
“It’s been fantastic to see so many people re-connecting with one another and taking pleasure from their shared memories. Thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we will now be able to create a permanent resource for people to explore and record their memories for posterity.”
The second phase of the Worcester Life Stories initiative will see the NHS launch an online portal, called Worcester Life Stories, in March 2021. This digital toolkit will be available to everyone including people living with dementia, their carers, mental health service users or those who are socially isolated.
“Life story work and reminiscence is already well evidenced for the benefits it brings to the individual as well as family members and staff. These include enhanced well-being and improvements in communication and inclusion,” says Dr Natasha Lord, Clinical Psychologist at the Worcestershire Health and Care (NHS) Trust.
“This initiative is exciting as local people will be able to define what is important to them about their own place and history. Through collaborating with the Historic Environment Record, people will be able to easily create their own digital story.”
A series of Worcester Life Story workshops will be held next year. A published book, museum exhibition and ‘virtual time travel’ 3D projection trail will also be created, bringing to life some of Worcester’s many historic photographs by projecting them on to buildings within the streets of the city centre.
To find out more, join the team for the Live YouTube launch event on Saturday 27 June from 11am-3.00pm. Grab a cup of tea and your favourite cake for talks, live music and for the project’s first live quiz to challenge your family and friends. Care homes across the City will also be invited to take part with their own afternoon tea parties. Full details of the day can be found at www.worcesterlifestories.org.uk .
Worcester Life Stories is supported by Platform Housing, Historic England, University of Worcester Association of Dementia Studies, , Worcestershire Association of Carers, Worcester Warriors, Tudor House Museum of Local Life and Bristol City Council.
The University of Worcester Association Of Dementia Studies will be exploring the impact of Worcester Life Stories on mental health and wellbeing.