November 22, 2010

The Age Exchange in London uses reminiscence as the basis for some wonderful work with older people.

Apologies for the break in transmission – my computer broke last week just before I came back to Australia, so I wasn’t able to post about my visit to the Age Exchange in Blackheath before I left.

Although only a small organisation, the Age Exchange works with many organisations across the UK promoting reminiscence as a beneficial activity, especially for older people.

I met Meg Hamilton, Administrator and Events Coordinator, who explained to me the tremendous scope of the work they do. She spoke about the difference between reminiscence (essentially recalling personal stories) and nostalgia (recalling a generalised past) and explained that the Age Exchange is interested in using reminiscence in creative ways to benefit older people in particular and the community in general. The website gives details – but projects include theatre, writing and artistic outcomes.

Many museums have taken advantage of the Age Exchange’s training opportunities, where people can learn about running effective reminiscence sessions. Research about touch and memory has demonstrated that how important handling objects can be, so museums are a logical place for reminiscence work to take place. And while reminiscence and oral history are two quite separate activities, reminiscence can help identify opportunities for oral history research.

The Centre itself was buzzing with volunteers the day that I was there. The front part of the Centre is filled with bits and pieces to spark memories from older people who will recall shopping, cooking and keeping house in middle decades of last century. This area is the perfect spot for a cup of tea and a piece of cake from the cafe. in the back room is a gallery space where the results of various projects can be displayed.

There is also a small book shop (smaller now that I have been through it!) where visitors can buy books explaining the principles of reminiscence work and also publications relating to particular projects. I’m looking forward to trying out some of the ideas!

Now that I am back in Australia, I won’t be posting as often, but I will still update now and again with interesting projects that I hear about. I will also be producing a report on my Fellowship experience, and will post a link when it is complete.

Thank you to the people who have followed this blog and made comments along the way. It has been an inspirational journey for me, and I am looking forward to applying what I have learned in my own work. Sincere thanks, too, to all the people I have met on my travels who have been so generous with time and ideas.


4 Responses to “Reminiscing”

  1. Chris Says:

    Hi Allison….and I thought I packed a lot of museum visits into my trips around Europe!! Cant wait to hear your report at the MA Xmas function….

  2. Catherine Says:

    Really enjoyed coming along for the ride Allison. You’ve posted about some fantastic projects. Looking forward to seeing how those ideas might play out into new projects at History SA.

  3. Hi Allison, I’ve really enjoyed your posts and learning about the various inspirational programs you’ve encountered in UK museums. Yours is the first blog I’ve ever followed! Look forward to reading your report. cheers Meredith Blake from RMIT university in Melbourne

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