About the Memory Bank
When we started talking to people about our ambition to collect, share and celebrate the stories of people in Burnage, lots of them through there wouldn’t be much to discover – surely there weren’t any notable buildings, famous people or remarkable events to shout about. However, over the 2 years our Burnage Memory Bank project ran, our collaboration with local groups and individuals uncovered some wonderful stories and historical details which enabled us to engage over local 650 people in discovering and celebrating the history and heritage around them.
We did this through:
- Weekly sessions, hosted at the Library provided a “home” to draw stories, images, recollections and together and share them, inspiring recognition, conversations and new stories being shared, and also built participants’ confidence and skills to research and share the history of their local area.
- Talks by historians and archivists, covered a wide range of topics, from the development of the area from its rural roots through to the present day, as well as local people who we supported to share their memories of growing up, living and working in the area.
- Our outreach sessions took the Memory Bank out to over 200 people from park groups, lunch clubs and community centres, working with older people's support groups, people with dementia and limited mobility, families and friends groups.
- Champions signposted us to local people they felt had important stories to tell which were recorded, and showcased through our website, alongside photos they generously shared with us. Writing produced through the project was showcased in displays and publications, including “A Women’s Work”, charting experiences of working from the 1930s until the 1980s
- Our Memory Bank Festival over November 2017 was a huge success - engaging people of all ages and developing accessible ways to discover more about the place they live in. 6 events engaged over 80 participants through a range of talks, films, performances, walks and tech encouraging families and young people to get in contact with their heritage, and think about the place they live in a different way.
- 180 visited our exhibitions including school groups open days attracted an average of 35 people. Our Memory Bank website has had 2,723 visits to our virtual exhibitions since it was launched, and we hope will remain a legacy of all the memories we have gathered.
What people said about the Memory Bank Project:
“I really enjoy being part of this group – it keeps my brain alive and there is always something interesting to learn about”
Participant in the weekly sessions
“Its been great – the children have really enjoyed it. We love the photos. K is doing a project on the Victorians at school and we never realised all this was going on in Burnage!”
Parent at the Green Screen sessions at a Memory Bank festival event
"I have come on leaps and bounds- particularly looking at things on the computer - like google earth and maps for example. I know much more about where to find things on the internet - like ancestry and military records”
Memory Bank Champion
“I've just browsed through the pictures of the day with great pleasure. What a good time we all had! Including the children, who were so keen to help. You are an inspiring crowd in Burnage! Thanks everyone. What can we do next?”
Performer in the 1916 Milk Boycott play
"hi .. just found your website.. & was amazed! my Mum sang in the Hans Renolds Operatic Society! enriched my childhood with lasting memories..
Comment from a website visitor
Numbers attending our regular sessions have grown - over 2 years we worked with 120 people in our tasters and workshops. We have made many new contacts and have plans for future collaborations around the heritage and local history of our area linking libraries and archives, housing associations, and universities with residents and community groups.
Our project was designed to support two main outcomes:
Local residents are more active and involved in the community, participating in project activities and involved in planning, shaping, delivering and developing the Memory Bank project. 18 champions have met weekly and been supported through training in researching maps, census data and ancestry, image scanning, oral history recording and working with local historians. They have to develop presentations about their lives and work, as well as a broad range of topics of interest, at sessions in the Library, outreach in the local area and open days and local walks attracting new participants to the regular sessions. Training sessions have built local people’s skills and confidence to explore and preserve their local history in a range of ways.
" I've been dyslexic all my life and I wasn't sure I could contribute anything, but I got a small notebook and started jotting down things I remembered from my working days. When I saw it in a book and on the display it was brilliant. They've helped me every step of the way - now I've even started a facebook page about the Garden Village memories after finding out how to scan in and put photos on..."
3 champions wrote and performed a play about the 1916 Burnage women's milk boycott as part of our Memory Bank Festival to an audience of over 40 local people.
" I uncovered this story when we were looking at online newspaper archives and thought is was amazing - all these women coming together to protest about the milk prices and how poor mothers couldn't feed their babies while their husbands and fathers were fighting a war. D and J thought it was important for people to know this had happened in our community. Can’t believe we ended up doing a play, in our suffragette costumes. It was so special seeing a group of young girls enjoying the play and realising it had really happened 100 years ago on their own street!"
Outcome 2 Stronger networks of friendship and support and decreased social isolation of participants. Evaluations of regular projects activities highlight the importance and value and networks of friendship and support that have been developed and sustained through engagement with the Memory Bank Project. 90% of participants attend the sessions regularly and see it as a social occasion. 100% participants said they felt welcomed, 100% part of a group, 90% reported meeting new friends. 100% said they shared a laugh, 100% said they felt confident to recommend the sessions to a friend. 50% have brought a friend or neighbour they thought would benefit from meeting others in the group. Celebrating memories and people's life experiences provide a forum for people from a very wide range of backgrounds to participate equally and feel their experience is valued.
"Memories lay dormant and fade away over the years, even the best ones, but on Tuesday afternoons these come alive again. We talk of not just about how things were, but of the experiences we had when we were growing up. Tuesdays wouldn't be the same without our group". "I lost my friend 4 years ago and got into a bit of a rut. Being retired I had time on my hands and had little mental stimulation. I saw a poster outside the supermarket and thought I should come. I'm so glad I did! I've met some lovely people and made some very good friends ".
Its been very important to have 2 years to develop the project. If we'd had to squeeze it into 1 year we would never have made the breadth and depth of relationships and been able to connect people up. The "lifelong learning" aspect has been very positive, especially as so many participants and champions are from working class backgrounds and left school at 14. Its been great to foster an environment where people's confidence can grow - especially as they are the experts in talking about their own lived experiences. The festival was great - it really raised the bar and connected with lots of new people - we learned a lot about ways we can make local history accessible to more than the usual suspects, and will build this in to future projects. We’ve also made some very valuable connections and friends along the way, which bodes well for any future projects - we’ve feel we’ve only just scratched the surface!