Threads of the Past Project Proves a Great Sucess

Issued: Monday 18 July 2016

Threads of the Past was an innovative heritage project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and delivered by Lincs Inspire’s Library Service and local textiles and mixed-media artist Nicky Dillerstone. 

Thanks to National Lottery players, the project helped people in local care settings and people with early stage dementia.  Participants were encouraged to develop their creative skills using local history images and artefacts as prompts to explore their past, stimulate memories and recreate them in textile and stitching.

Jennie Cartwright, Development Officer for Lincs Inspire Libraries, said: “The Threads of the Past project exceeded all expectations.  The bar was set very high at our first venue, St Andrew’s Hospice, and the two subsequent venues, Strand Court and the Alzheimer’s Society in Grimsby proved equally rewarding but in very different ways. 

“We have heard phrases such as ‘I’m a changed person.  I never used to see anybody’ and ‘this lady is transformed – she used to sit in her room on her own and not see anybody and now she comes down into the communal lounge and exchanges jokes with everyone and has a laugh’.  I think that we underestimate the value of sitting round a table and talking to each other – the simple but essential and stimulating value of conversation whilst creating something meaningful. 

“Nicky Dillerstone wove her magic, not only in the memory boxes she helped to create but in her skill at dealing with all the people who have been involved in the project.  She has engendered a sense of value in people and lasting relationships have been created with participants and volunteers.  I would like to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for awarding us the funds to run the project.  For a relatively small amount of money, the outcomes and success of this project have been immeasurable.”

Susan Ney, Therapeutic Activities Assistant at St Andrew’s Hospice, said: “The project has proved a great success. During the workshops patients were able to experience self-expression through creativity and, with the help of volunteer support and the enthusiasm and skills of the textile artist, to bring their ideas to life. This built confidence in their creative abilities and pride in the finished artwork.  The sense of wellbeing achieved from being able to share their own stories and reminisce about local history was noticeable at each of the workshops.

“The images and artefacts provided by the library service prompted the recall and retelling of stories, and patients would often reflect on the changes that have taken place during their lifetimes. The project added value to the creative activities provided here at the Hospice and will inform activity planning in the future.  The experience also enhanced the skills of the staff/volunteers who took part.”

The project had a significant impact on some of the patients taking part, opening up conversations that enabled them to explore feelings about their own lives and losses. Sue explained: “The resulting artworks are very personal and full of meaning, with the potential to become family heirlooms. They are also triggering conversation and discussion around memories between the creator of the piece and their own family and friends.”

Fiona Spiers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund, Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “Threads of the Past has provided a fabulous opportunity to open up collections, explore the past and share this with a much wider audience. This hands on project has helped to connect people with  library local history collections generating a sense of well-being and pride in the local area.”