Radio play unlocks memories

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Radio play unlocks memories

Unlocking memories through the arts is having a positive impact on people with dementia attending the Lights Up arts and memory club in Chipping Norton.

Arts activities have included the creation and performance of a 20-minute improvised radio drama that is attracting interest for broadcast from local hospital radio stations, Radio Horton and Cherwell Hospital Radio.

Community artist Sharon Woodward came up with the idea of a radio drama. She said, “Radio gives so much to the imagination, but the story created was so imaginative and way beyond the simple play I was expecting. I can only describe it as being a comedy spy thriller, a bit like ‘carry on spying’. Creating it was hilarious; everyone had so much fun and really got into their roles, becoming spies, gangsters and police officers. We even have a fight scene!

“As well as stimulating the mind, it allowed people to be someone else, to relax and have a lot of fun, which is very important for those living with dementia.”

Jan and Ralph Burrage both thoroughly enjoy coming to Lights Up. Jan, who cares for Ralph said, “We loved making the play and would go home each time with our jaws aching having laughed so much. Sometimes Ralph doesn’t remember much about the day, but if he has had a good time the feeling remains with him for some time.”

The drama, called ‘A Very Strange Journey’ is set in 1957. It tells the tale of a group of train travellers stuck at Chipping Norton station after a small landslide, followed by sheep on the track, causing the Banbury to Wales train to run one hour late.

Pictured are some of the group members who created and performed the radio play.

Cllr Richard Langridge, Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “I am delighted that these sessions have been so enjoyable. We know from recent studies that engagement with arts brings benefits to both those with dementia and their loved ones through sharing activities. Living with dementia brings many challenges and it is important to try and help those affected to cope with the everyday strains and stresses they face.”

‘Lights Up’ arts and memory club was set up by West Oxfordshire District Council in October 2012, to support people living with dementia.

West Oxfordshire has one of the largest proportions of people aged 55 and over of all the Oxfordshire districts. There is increasing prevalence of dementia amongst an ageing population and current figures suggest over 8,000 people have dementia in the county.

Cllr Mark Booty, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Health said, “Memory Clubs can make a real difference to people’s lives and we have been happy to lead on this initiative. A year ago we formed the West Oxfordshire Dementia Alliance along with NHS partners, voluntary groups and other organisations to improve services and give support. Lights Up is a shining example of how this type of support is working in the community.”

West Oxfordshire District Council is working with a host of organisations to run the Lights Up initiative and funding support also comes from the Guideposts Trust, Cottsway Housing, Oxfordshire County Council Big Society fund and Chipping Norton Rotary.

Volunteers help to run the Club and around 20 people come to each session which are led by professionals and artists with experience of working with older people. Pictured left is an art activity.

Coordinator Val McKay of Memory Clubs UK said, “Anyone who has an interest in memory is welcome: people who are concerned about their memory, or that of someone they know; people living with dementia (diagnosed or not) and people caring for someone with memory difficulties can all relax, explore the arts and socialise with us.”

The club meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month at Highlands, 73 Burford Road, Chipping Norton, OX7 5EE from 10.30am-12.30pm. People can turn up on the day and do not need to book in advance. Help with transport may be is available. For more information call: 0845 1204048.

Posted : 28/11/2013 11:04:51

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