Hello, I'm Cheryl Beer, the Founder and Director of Sound Memories Dementia Friendly Radio Station. That's me, in-between two of our Life Story Volunteers, Richard & Nelly, at one of our Digital Storytelling Events in Cwm Aur Care Home. Nelly has sadly since, passed away. Their story is such a beautiful celebration of their life and love. 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 on from 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 now has @ 500 listeners and we have had over 40 older people volunteering. By older people, we mean people over 50 years of age, but actually, most of our volunteers have been over 70, the oldest being 100 and a very proud owner of her letter from the Queen.
The radio station enables and empowers older people themselves, to create dementia friendly resources, promoting memory in a friendly and compassionate way. Before Covid 19, we held regular Digital story events in local community settings, inviting the public to celebrate our stories with us, informing and educating through action and example. Thanks to the support of The Arts Council of Wales, we are now experimenting with taking our work online & expanding the Environmental aspect of our work.
I have also represented Sound Memories at National Events, Universities, Community Groups & Schools as a guest Speaker, which again, since Covid 19, has mostly been via ZOOM.
Sound Memories deconstructs negative stereotypes and inspires people to think more inclusively about working alongside and in partnership with older people, both in every day life and within devising Health & Social Care Policy and Practice.
Are you wondering how it works?
As Lead Artist, 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 themselves, 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 here.
As mentioned above, we are now experimenting with expanding creative social media and linking via social media with Care Homes.
Thank you to all the farmers & community members who help us to make out digital resources.
We are a dementia friendly station in that the content and sound levels of all our material is based on research with user groups to ensure that we are taking health implications into consideration with regard to sound, visuals, concentration time, longevity etc so that we are totally inclusive. Unlike other stations, our stories stay here at the website as our research has showed that people draw great comfort from re-visiting them. People living with dementia are given every support to take part in the making of their own stories for the station, along with their family &/or carers, friends and neighbours.