From Pants to Puddings... The M&S Company Archive in Leeds contains over 70,000 objects telling the story of M&S, from the first stall on Kirkgate Market to one of the UK"s leading retailers. The collection is full of treasures that can evoke memories and encourage conversations. After members of the archive team became Dementia Friends, we realised we could use the collection to support our Dementia Friendly status.
Our community programme has been running since the archive opened in 2012. Groups can visit the exhibition, have a cup of tea and enjoy a handling session with items from the collection, and for groups local to Leeds we offer a reminiscence outreach service. By its nature this has limited reach, so in order to reach older people and those with dementia on a wider geographical scale, we have developed two reminiscence loan boxes, one themed around men"s and women"s clothing and accessories, the other around childhood, each containing original objects from the 1940s to the 1970s. The boxes are free to borrow, and we arrange collection and delivery.
We trialled the first box with a group in Leeds and had a fantastic response. The gents enjoyed trying on the smoking jacket, many of the ladies delighted in comparing the stitch-work on garments to their own handiwork. The power of these objects was demonstrated when one of the ladies told the group she used to work in a factory making garments for M&S, though she couldn"t recall what she used to make. As soon as the case was opened she took hold of a 1960s lace slip and started talking about how she sewed the straps on " the physical object unlocked this memory for her.
To complement the physical reminiscence boxes, we"ve also developed themed image packs, available to download for free on our website. For more information please contact us on 0208 718 2800 or firstname.lastname@example.org