Cultivating a culture of creativity

4th December, 2020

by Natasha Morgan, Senior Innovator, Alzheimer’s Society

At this month’s members zoom event, our Community Makers had a presentation from Tim Senior from supersum, describing two new innovative projects which facilitate serendipitous connections through creative activities. 

Tim explained how enabling connection in a time of change and uncertainty is a ‘wicked problem’ – one that can only be solved by combining different fields of expertise to experiment with different solutions. This is exactly the approach that we are taking as a network of community makers. 

The first of Tim’s projects, Memory Jars, will soon be piloted in four meeting centres – Hereford, Leominster, Kirriemuir, and Berwick. It tweaks a familiar format to be delivered to people in their own homes. Each person living with dementia receives a jar and beautifully designed instructions for a set of reminiscence activities through which they fill the jar with artefacts around a topic. It is wrapped as present and sent on the next person, who creates their own jar and passes it on, forming a self-sustaining network of community interaction. 

We then heard about an upcoming project based in Leominster called Heritage Pathfinders. From January 2020, the Tudor Trust are funding a ‘living lab’ at Leominster meeting centre where members will drive innovation in heritage participation by working with a series of resident creative practitioners. The aim is to develop and showcase several new ideas to get people affected by dementia involved with local heritage initiatives. These will be written up as innovation briefs to be shared with other meeting centres. The project will be delivered online until April, when they hope to be able to meet again in person. 

Tim’s presentation led to a great discussion among the group around the benefits of simple, organic and replicable local initiatives which require minimal organisation and can be sustained socially, rather than being reliant on funding. These move creative activities from being isolated acts to being just what you do as a community i.e. ‘Culture’   

There was also great excitement about creative ways to make use of all five senses in reminiscence activities. Ideas included smelling bags of penny sweets, looking up streets on google maps, and even creating chocolate tasting of 1960s custard!

We look forward to our next event on 13th January when Vivienne Depledge will be speaking about how Dementia Adventure has innovated to continue connecting people with the outdoors, despite COVID restrictions. 

Image: Memory Jars by Alison Neighbour & Kate Lovell, supersum and UK Meeting Centres Support Programme