Sharing memories - Using the past to enrich the present

Working at the Garden City Collection is never dull, from working on exhibitions about the inspiring women of Letchworth to heading into schools and talking to young children about the town’s history. But a unique and special part about this job is seeing visitor’s faces light up when they see an object in the collection that unlocks a long lost memory.

This is why I’m really excited to be leading our new programme Sharing Memories, where we will be offering reminiscence sessions to care homes, day centres and community groups across Letchworth Garden City. The purpose of the sessions will be to encourage positive experiences for older people and inspire a strong sense of personal worth and identity, by using images and objects to trigger memories and stimulate conversation. 

‘There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2025. This will soar to 2 million by 2051.’* Figures like these show how reminiscence sessions could play an important role in the community. Someone with dementia may not be able to remember recent events but may still recollect important life events such as their first job or their wedding day and the sessions could help encourage them to talk about these memories.

Reminiscence is a search for meaning – a search for understanding of our past. It simultaneously invites reflection and reconstructing memories. It is a means of becoming more contented with ourselves now and who we may become in the future.**

This of course would be a big undertaking for one person alone so I have been advertising for volunteers to help support the sessions. I’m also really pleased that local care homes and community groups have already expressed interest in the sessions and hope to start in April. These sessions will be free and wouldn’t be possible without the funding and support of the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation.

*For more information visit

** From ‘Reminiscence and Life Story Work’ by Faith Gibson