Worcester Life Stories
Keeping connected is important for our health, with some studies suggesting that the impact of isolation and loneliness on health, functional decline and mortality are of the same magnitude as such risk factors as obesity and smoking. Initial evidence suggests that interventions to reduce loneliness may provide health benefits, and previous projects have shown that life story work helps to keep people with dementia connected with their communities.
In this context, the Worcester Life Stories project aims to bring together health and heritage in a unique way by co-producing two independent, but connecting, online platforms:
Know Your Place Worcester
Know Your Place Worcester is based on a bespoke website developed by Bristol City Council called Know Your Place. Hosted by Worcester City Council, Know Your Place Worcester allows people to explore their neighbourhood through historic maps, images and linked information, and to share their own memories and images. It consists of a map-based database of over 35,000 digitised historic images from the Worcester City Council Historic Environment Record (HER). The platform has scope to hold further collections and continue to evolve and expand, enabling users to learn more about their area or specific parts of Worcester that they have a connection with.
Members of the public will also be able to upload their own photographs, written and oral memories. The platform can be used independently or collaboratively within families or community groups, and it is hoped that it will initiate social media conversations with other residents of Worcester developing new contacts and networks. The Know Your Place Worcester website is free to use and open to everyone - https://kypworcester.org.uk/
Life Stories Herefordshire and Worcestershire
Hosted by Herefordshire and Worcestershire Care and Health NHS Trust, Life Stories Herefordshire and Worcestershire is a new online platform that allows anyone living in either Herefordshire or Worcestershire to create their own digital life story book. Using a flexible template, users will be able to download images and memories from Know Your Place Worcester and upload their own materials. People may choose to develop their life story with others, share it within families and friendship groups and/or allow it to be used within community groups, care homes and hospitals for example.
Life Packs are also available on the website, which contain resources around a common theme. These can be used outside of the Life Story books, for example to facilitate reminiscence sessions, or content can be linked to a life story.
All residents in Worcestershire and Herefordshire can create their own digital life story book for free, but you do have to register on the site to be able to do this or to view a shared book. Life Packs are available and free to all. You can find the life stories and life packs here - https://life-stories.hacw.nhs.uk/
The Association for Dementia Studies was commissioned by Historic England to evaluate the experiences and views of individuals and community groups who use the two web-based platforms. This research will involve interviews, focus groups and two online surveys – one for each resource. If you have used either (or both) of the platforms and wish to get involved you can access the surveys here:
A blog of the launch event for the two platforms is also available.
You can keep up-to-date with developments for both platforms on the Worcester Life Stories website at https://worcesterlifestories.wordpress.com/