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In Search of Precious Memories
Wednesday 17th April, 2013

THE aroma of carbolic soap...

The sound of music and songs from a bygone age...

The feel and fabric of the 1940s and 1950s fashions...

They're the small things about how we used to live, but for people in Wigan Borough who are living with dementia they could be very well be the key to unlocking precious memories.

Now WLCT's (Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust's) Library Service is hoping to recreate the past for those with dementia with plans to launch monthly reminiscence sessions at Hindley Library. In fact, the library staff and the community have ambitious plans to make Hindley the borough's first Dementia Friendly town.

Susan White, who is Library Supervisor at Hindley Library explains: “We were asked by Wigan Council and the Alzheimer's' Society to come up with some ideas about how we could help people who are living with the condition to feel part of the community they live in. We at the library thought that reminiscence sessions might be a good starting point to get everyone together. The idea was so successful that we have now received funding to develop the sessions.”

Now Susan and the team at Hindley Library hope to put on a reminiscence event each month that they believe will help local people with dementia to regain some of their own past and even find a link to their future.
The sessions will be led by Diane Teskey from Wigan's Heritage Service who will bring everyday objects from years gone by.

“It's about the things that were just part of life when the people attending the sessions were children and young people,” says Susan. “They could be the kind of things that everyone takes for granted like soap or the sound of a popular tune from the time.

“We have done some reminiscence work with the community before and have seen how effective it can be. It is fantastic to see some of the people at the sessions suddenly remembering, it's almost like a light coming on and it really can help to transform their lives.”

But before the sessions can start, the library team need an audience and they have been busy leafletting town centre shops, doctor's surgeries and residential homes in the area calling for people to attend.

“We'd like as many people as possible to take advantage of these sessions and they don't have to be from Hindley,” says Susan. “Anyone who is interested or who knows or cares for someone with dementia and would like to know more can get in touch with us at the library.”

The bigger plan is to make Hindley a Dementia Friendly Community and much of the work is already under way. By increasing public awareness about the condition and encouraging the community to be supportive the team's ultimate aim is to help people living with dementia to retain some of their independence and have choice and control over their own lives.

“We have started with the shops and businesses in the town centre and are helping to make them more aware about the needs of people with dementia,” says Susan. “It's already working because the Summat To Ate cafe on Market Street is now running a dementia-friendly community event each week, which allows people with the condition and their carers to come along socialise and have something to eat – in other words do the kind of things that most of us take for granted.”

Susan adds: “The campaign is going really well and itís already popular but we now want to add to this by making sure our reminiscence sessions are just as successful.”

If you would like to find out more about the Reminiscence Sessions at Hindley Library you can call Susan White at the library on 01942 515831.

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