The potential for creative writing and poetry to empower and uplift those affected by memory loss will be celebrated during the first National Memory Day in May 2017.

A flagship event of the UK’s Dementia Awareness Week, it will raise the profile of the challenges that living with memory loss can bring, not only for the individual but also their wider circle of family and friends.

The day itself will feature a prestigious event at which leading poets, writers and actors will present and read the winning entries from an open writing competition focused around celebrating memories.

But leading up to that, there will be a year-round programme of talks and workshops with poets and writers working with the nationally successful Memory Cafés to ensure everyone can become involved in the enjoyment and writing of memories and new creative work.

The annual event will also aim to raise funds to increase the number of Memory Cafés, an initiative run by Alzheimer’s Society, and particularly to establish new ones dedicated to groups of veterans.

The National Memory Day is being managed by the charity Literature Works in collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Society, the Plymouth Literature Project at Plymouth University and The Poetry Archive.

Sir Andrew Motion is the project’s President, with broadcaster Angela Rippon – Co-Chair of the Prime Minister’s Dementia Friendly Challenge Group – as Vice President, and the steering group also includes Alzheimer’s Society Chief Executive Jeremy Hughes.

[Pic: courtesy of Alzheimer’s Society]

Sir Andrew Motion says: “Research is beginning to show how the metre and rhythm of poetry can help calm and relax listeners who live with various forms of memory loss. I’ve seen at first-hand how the practice of reciting and creating poems can help to unlock older memories which encourage new conversations and new, positive memories for people living with memory loss to share with their families, friends and those who care for them. This project will have fantastically positive benefits, not only on individuals and families living with memory loss and those who attend Memory Cafés dedicated to individuals with dementia, but also for the poets and writers involved in working with these groups.”

Angela Rippon, an Ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society and Honorary Graduate of Plymouth University, says: “The National Memory Day and the programme of events we have planned around the year to support it, recognises how the effects of memory loss can impact on a wide group of family, friends and community. The creation of new poetry and writing, inspired by and with the active participation of individuals at Memory Cafés, will provide fantastically positive new approaches to living with memory loss, and the resulting collections and archiving of people’s memories in such creative forms will provide support to the participating families for years to come.”

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society, says: “There is widespread recognition at the highest level of government about the present and potential future impacts of dementia. The search for ways to enhance the quality of life for those affected is a constant and complex one, combining clinical research with innovative and creative projects such as National Memory Day. Alzheimer’s Society is excited about this initiative and the potential it has to open up new ways and partnerships to communicate about dementia to a wide audience.”

Tracey Guiry, the CEO of Literature Works, says: “This project demonstrates how Arts and cultural activities provide enormous and measurable benefits to key challenges facing the UK, such as health and wellbeing and the rise in the costs of care. The Memory Day will ensure we can continue to develop and support the talent of new and existing writers and poets to provide them opportunities to enrich their work through community engagement.”

Ian Sherriff, Plymouth University’s Academic Partnership Lead For Dementia and Chair of the Prime Minister’s Rural Dementia Task Force, adds: “There are 800,000 people currently living with dementia in the UK, and it has been proven in the past that the arts can have a positive impact on their experiences. This project has the potential to expand on that previous work, and reach more people with the condition, their families and carers. It is also an opportunity for Plymouth University to build on its various research and support projects, which are already transforming the lives of those affected by memory loss.”

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www.nationalmemoryday.org.uk

Further Information

About Alzheimer’s Society
  • 225,000 will develop dementia this year, that’s one every three minutes
  • Alzheimer’s Society research shows that 850,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia. In less than ten years a million people will be living with dementia. This will soar to two million people by 2051
  • Dementia costs the UK economy over £26 Billion per year. This is the equivalent of more than £30,000 per person with dementia.
  • Alzheimer’s Society champions the rights of people living with dementia and the millions of people who care for them
  • Alzheimer’s Society works in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Alzheimer’s Society supports people to live well with dementia today and funds research to find a cure for tomorrow. We rely on voluntary donations to continue our vital work.

You can donate now by calling 0845 306 0898 or visiting alzheimers.org.uk
Alzheimer’s Society provides a National Dementia Helpline, the number is 0300 222 11 22 or visit alzheimers.org.uk

About Literature Works

Literature Works is a literature development agency and an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation. Based in the South West of England, they bring together all elements of the literature sector, writers, poets, libraries, booksellers, publishers, agents, schools and communities of readers in ways that strengthen and sustain the whole. They enable talent to develop and provide opportunities for writers of all genres to sustain their living whilst developing their craft. They ensure that the very best writing and reading opportunities are made available to the widest and most diverse audiences and communities and provide information, news and resources via their website, Twitter and Facebook.

Main Literature Works contact: info@literatureworks.org.uk. Tel: 01752 585073. Website: www.literatureworks.org.uk. Twitter: @LitWorks.

About Plymouth University

Founded in 1862 as a school of navigation and now the 15th largest university in the UK, Plymouth is one of the leading modern universities, ranked in the top four institutions in the country and 37th internationally under the age of 50 by the Times Higher Education. Twice awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education, it has won numerous accolades in respect of its teaching and its research.

The University has one of the highest number of National Teaching Fellows of any UK university (20 National Teaching Fellowships in Higher Education since 2000), is ranked 19th in the UK and in the top 100 globally for research quality (2015 CWTS Leiden Rankings), with two-thirds of its research ranked as world-leading or internationally excellent (2014 Research Excellence Framework). It was also the first university in the world to receive the Social Enterprise Mark.

Its 27,000 students, which include those at its partner colleges across the South West, are enrolled on courses from farming to fine art, business to biology, and design to dentistry. The University has invested more than £150 million in its campus and is the first modern university to have launched a medical school. The University plays a key role within the South West region’s economy and through its £100 million network of support facilities and services, is growing and supporting hundreds of businesses across the region and beyond.

To find out how Plymouth is making a difference, please visit www.plymouth.ac.uk

About Poetry Archive

A registered charity, The Poetry Archive – www.poetryarchive.org – is a free website containing a constantly expanding collection of recordings of their work by poets from around the English-speaking world. Recordings are accompanied by a wealth of enlightening background information with a special emphasis on providing help and encouragement for teachers and students. Many recordings are available for download.

Notes for Editors

For more information about the National Memory Day please contact Tracey Guiry, CEO of Literature Works at info@literatureworks.org.uk or Alan Williams, Media and Communications Officer at Plymouth University, at alan.williams@plymouth.ac.uk.

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