Sunday, 13 October 2013


You’ll wonder what I am going to do in London during the next nine months. Well, I am going to work for Pam Schweitzer, founder and coordinator of the European Reminiscence Network.

What is reminiscence? Reminiscence is the act of remembering experiences and events from the past. And this is what Pam has been helping people do during the last thirty years. She describes herself as a person who likes to listen to people’s stories and she really knows how to make them feel comfortable, how to ask you the right questions and create the right mood for remembering.

Pam started as a drama teacher in the 1970s and one day she experienced by chance how a group of old ladies became young again while telling stories about the time when they were seventeen. She also observed that the act of remembering together created links between them. She then invited a group of her students to record these ladies’ memories and create a piece of drama, which was performed at school and in the residential unit where the ladies lived. 

The show was a success, but it was only performed twice, so Pam decided to set up a professional company, Age Exchange, which would make plays out of people’s memories and go on tour to residential homes, community centres... From the very beginning, they decided that they would not perform in theatres but would take theatre to the places where older people lived or met. After the play, there was a discussion with the audience and this would trigger new memories.
Many were the topics of these plays: childhood memories, people’s first jobs, going to the doctor before the National Health Service existed, emigration to the UK... Along the years, Pam worked not only with professional actors; she also founded The Good Companions, a company of senior citizens that also performed together with young actors.

You can read more about Pam and her projects in her website:
There is also a very interesting book I’d recommend you: Reminiscence Theatre: Making Theatre from Memories, pulished in 2006 by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Pam founded the European Reminiscence Network in 1993 with partners in 16 European countries. The Network now has partners in 20 countries and many associates in USA, Canada, India, Latin America, Australia and the Far East.
Since 1997 the members European Reminiscence Network have worked with people with dementia and their carers. The first project was called Remembering Yesterday, Caring Today. This led to further projects: Making Memories Matter (which involved artists from seven countries working with individual older people to create ‘Life Portraits’ or ‘Memory Boxes’ around their life experience), or Sites and Signs of Remembrance.

The ERN latest project is Remembering Together: Reminiscence Training (RTRT), which is a development of Remembering Yesterday, Caring Today. According to the ERN website, in these projects “families who are caring for a relative with dementia at home can participate in a series of reminiscence sessions with professional and volunteer support. The purpose of these sessions is to engage families in remembering, recording, celebrating and sharing their long life histories and increasing their social integration in their local communities”. The current project aims at creating reminiscence groups in the countries who participate and train people to facilitate these groups.

This training comprises two stages:
·      A two-day training course.
·      A four-month apprenticeship period.
This year I am going to train to become a facilitator of reminiscence groups. I’ll tell you about this experience in my following post. 

Photos: Lorenzo Hernandez                            


  1. Congratulations, Marta! This sounds like a wonderful & meaninful life experience! Rescuing those buried memories from the past heals and gives people back the place where they belong too. I love the idea! Enjoy loads xxx

    1. Thank you Gloria. I think this is an experience you'd really appreciate. A big hug.

  2. Marta this is lovely. It was so nice to meet you at the training. Are there any other photos that Lorenzo would like to share from that day? I look forward to following your blog more. Margaret

    1. There's going to be an entry about the training soon :)