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Published on October 1st, 2015 | by Luke Hardy

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Progress uses theatre to bring memories back to life

Progress Theatre have relaunched their dementia care home project ‘Hidden Lives: Stories to Remember’ to mark World Alzheimer’s Month this September.

The project had a positive impact on the residents of Lakeside Residential Care Home last year, enabling them to share their stories and to join actors from Progress Theatre in a special performance in the home, bringing their memories to life.

After a successful application to the Earley Charity for funding to continue the work, Progress will now be delivering the project in four dementia care homes in Reading, beginning with a revisit to the residents of Lakeside.

Nicky Bellenger, Progress Theatre’s Outreach Manager, was recently appointed to manage and develop the project. Nicky has a first­hand experience of what it is like to live with dementia, as her grandmother has Dementia with Lewy Bodies, and is a passionate advocate for how the arts can help people with dementia to live well.

She volunteers as a Dementia Friends Champion, delivering information sessions on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Society to help raise awareness and to create more dementia friendly communities, and has delivered these sessions to Progress’ volunteers and staff as part of the project.

Nicky said “I was thrilled to be appointed as Outreach Manager for the Hidden Lives project; it’s a very special project that is addressing a subject matter that is close to my heart. People living with dementia have such rich and interesting stories to tell, and equally as important to remember is that they still have a future. Anyone living in a care home is at risk of social isolation, but the more organisations like Progress take work into the homes themselves then the more people will feel connected to the world around them.

“The project not only helps to connect people living with dementia to their own memories and stories but, perhaps more crucially, it is also helping them to remain a central part of our communities.”

Progress have joined the Reading Dementia Action Alliance and the Hidden Lives project is forming part of the organisation’s commitment to becoming a Dementia Friendly Theatre.

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is a recent graduate from the University of Reading interested in starting a career in programming. Also a big fan of British horror and comedy.



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