Dementia Love Stories
This project conducted by Emma Wolverson and Michael Gratzke started off with a training session for Hull City of Culture volunteers and Hull PhD poets on the morning before the conference on ‘The cultural legacy of ageing well with dementia in Hull’ on 29 November 2017. John Killick of Dementia Positive delivered the training which volunteers will put to good use at an event in January 2018 at the memory loss support group Butterflies in Hull.
The basic premise is that people with dementia have a creative voice which should be heard. The training will equip volunteers to co-write poetry with people who have dementia. To poets as to people with dementia, every single word is precious. Words are carefully arranged in way which may divert from everyday language use in terms of meaning, form and connections (semantics, morphology and syntax).
The Butterfly collaboration is a pilot project which will be carefully evaluated. Possible follow-on initiatives may include the provision of poetry tool-kit online for carers to download, and further workshops on prose and visual arts such as photography.
Inspired by a similar initiative in Australia, we maintain a focus on love in all its forms such as love between spouses, love within the family and the love of care professionals. Memory loss does not mean that people stop experiencing or giving love. Each voice of love is rich and deserves to be heard.