MORE Worcestershire residents living with dementia and their carers are to benefit from a project to help them relive their memories from the 40s, 50s and 60s using the art of storytelling.

Following the success of a three-month arts and museums initiative last year in six Wychavon care homes, the county council-run museums service has received £32,000 to expand its Suitcase Stories scheme to six venues across the county. Major contributions have come from Arts Council England and The Elmley Foundation.

Each week participants can touch, hold, feel and smell objects from the museums’ collections to inspire stories which will later be performed by experienced storyteller and poet Gavin Young, with the help of multi-instrumentalist Gemma Young.

By bringing together museum objects for reminiscence and the arts for creative expression, Museums Worcestershire is aiming to improve the health and wellbeing of Worcestershire residents living with dementia.

It is hoped the memories of the adults living with dementia and the museum handling objects will inspire the artistic process and content to create a live performance of storytelling and music from the minds of these Worcestershire residents. New stories about Worcestershire’s past will be written from these memories.

They will then be performed at workshops in six local dementia cafes (Broadway dementia café, Malvern Cube, The Commandery, Museum of Carpet, Forge Mill Needle Museum and Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings), connecting residents of Worcestershire to their memories using arts and heritage.

Councillor John Smith, cabinet member with Responsibility for Health and Well-being said: "The Suitcase Stories project will make a great contribution to helping people living with dementia in Worcestershire to lead a healthy and happy life.

“Thanks to all the partners involved, the tremendous social and health benefits of this project will reach out across the county."

Councillor Lucy Hodgson, cabinet member with Responsibility for Localism and Communities said: "The Suitcase Stories project will help create and document memories, stories and music to establish a valuable storytelling museum resource.

“It is fantastic for the well-being of people living with dementia, and a wonderful opportunity to help shape and strengthen the future of museums that are truly part of people’s lives and the local community."

The project will work with 72 people across the county directly, with 200 more benefiting as a live audience. The stories will also be recorded and made available as a podcast and CD thanks to audio technician Ade Holbrook.

This project has been supported by Arts Council England, The Elmley Foundation, Worcestershire County Council, Malvern Hills District Council, Wychavon District Council, Worcester City Council, Wyre Forest District Council and Bromsgrove and Redditch Councils.