Hello, I'm Cheryl Beer, the Founder and Coordinator of Sound Memories Dementia Friendly Radio Station. That's me, in-between our Life Story Volunteers, Richard & Nelly, on the day that we launched their digital story at Plas Y Mor Care Home. Nelly has sadly passed away now. It was such a beautiful celebration of thier lives together. You can see their film on our Life Story Page.
Sound Memories began in 2014 as 'Postcards from Louie' a Storytelling & Dementia Research Assignment for my MA Drama. By collaborating with Louise Davies, a 92 year old woman living in a dementia friendly care home in Llanelli, her family and carers, we created a book and talking book as a dementia friendly memory resource for her and for others. Postcards from Louie became a storytelling trail for primary school children and is housed online at the People's Collection Wales in Welsh Language. It is also part of the RNIB National Talking Book Resource.
Following this work, I was invited to be part of 'A Better Life' research project funded by Joseph Rowntree in collaboration with Swansea Uni & Social Services, working in Care Homes to create 2 further resources with older people. For this body of work, I was awarded an Outstanding Contribution to MA Drama from the University of South Wales in 2014 and a Gold National Care Award in 2015. Since then, my research has grown into a beautiful community resource: Sound Memories Radio.
.Our online Radio Station has @ 500 listeners and enables us, as older people, to create our own dementia friendly resources, promoting memory in a friendly and compassionate way. We hold Digital story events in local community settings, inviting the public to celebrate our station with us.
Are you wondering how it works?
As Coordinator, I recruit, visit and record interviews with older volunteers. We then edit these into digital stories with old and new photographs, sharing them here.
Sometimes, I train other people to do the interviewing. This is usually older people, their family &/or carers. I have also trained primary school children to collate oral history from their local older community and edit digital films, housed at our station.
In the later stages of dementia, listening to speech can be difficult, so I also work with local farmers to record environmental sound maps as a narrative for identity and place.
We are a dementia friendly station in that the content and sound levels are tested by our user groups to ensure we are inclusive. Our stories stay at the website so that they can be watched many times. People living with dementia are given every support to take part in the making of their own stories for the station.
How are we funded?
Currently, we do not have any core funding, so at the moment, I am working as a volunteer, putting together funding bids with partner organisations for specific projects and give my time to the day to day running of the station, so that it stays accessible to our viewers. We are always looking for new ways to stay afloat.
Sound Memories relies on kind donations &/or funded projects with specific groups. For instance, if you would like to book a digital life story project for you, your organisation or a family member, then we charge you this service.
The payment for your service, enables Sound Memories to work with individuals living independently, staying in hospices or who may not have funds but would benefit greatly from being included.
Sound Memories also holds Digital Storytelling Afternoons in the Care Homes with tea and cakes and has group meetings to discuss our aims. Together, we give our time to be the change we want to see in the world.
Sound Memories Radio is very grateful to the following organisations for their support ...