Categories Fundraising

New online film service transports elderly people back to the past with archive films from 1930s to 1970s

Living Memories CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise, has launched an online collection of archive films, documentaries and newsreels from the 1930s to 1970s, encompassing all sorts of fascinating material about living in the past from domestic and work life to key world events. 

The films are designed to trigger memories, aid conversations and help relieve loneliness. They’re targeted at elderly people living in their own home or in residential care, and also at community groups. 

A compilation of films on DVD has already been used and well received in East Devon and Cornwall for pre-lockdown Tea & Memories sessions and has been prescribed by NHS nurses, including for those living with dementia.

Now a Living Memories online platform has been launched so individuals, care homes and community groups can access a much larger range of their films and bring people together virtually as well as in person, where permitted, to watch and reminisce together. The site offers access to around two thousand programmes and newsreels. More material is being added every month, including from the Imperial War Museum, the Beaulieu National Motor Museum and Reuters. 

One charity, Abbeyfield, which runs hundreds of retirement homes across the UK has already signed up for the service after running successful pilot sessions with residents watching communally. 

73 year old Brian Norris, the founder of Living Memories CIC, said: 

“Archive films are a wonderful way of prompting 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 enables people to travel back in time and makes reminiscence activity much more widely available.

“This is important in combating isolation, especially now that Covid-19 means many elderly people are unable to access community groups or even see their own families.”

One of the first to experience the benefits of Living Memories was 84 year old great grandmother Noelle Ingham, she said:

“When I watch these films and chat about them they make me feel young again”.

The films can be accessed on the Living Memories website.