10 jobs in the pipeline in Sunderland - and it is happening with a helping hand from the Echo's archives

A Sunderland jobs boost could be on the way thanks to a project which helps people in care homes to remember the past.

Tuesday, 15th December 2020, 1:08 pm

Ten jobs are in the pipeline and it is all down to a Sunderland Echo-backed scheme called Poetry and Reminiscence which will expand in January.

The group used the photos in a small number of care homes in a pilot project to help people think about the past.

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Some of the Sunderland Literacy Aid team with a selection of the photos provided by the Sunderland Echo.

The project is aimed at helping those elders who even though they are not struggling with dementia, they express a feeling of loneliness and isolation.

But the project has been such a massive success that it is about to be expanded to 15 care homes across Sunderland and also in South Shields.

And that means Sunderland Literacy Aid needs more people to help run ‘Poetry and Reminiscence’.

Cata Constantine, from the Sunderland Literacy Aid team, said: “We first started by having sessions in the care homes and they lasted for 45 minutes but they soon extended to an hour or one hour and 15 minutes.

The Pyrex factory in 1975 - one of the photos donated by the Echo to Sunderland Literacy Aid.

"We would have eight to 10 people around a table. We would put the prints on the table. Through the photos, we keep hearing stories from people who would remember something in the photo.

"We have had a couple of people who recognised friends from their childhood in the photos."

Echo photos are being printed onto huge boards so that people with sight problems can also view the images. The expansion of the scheme means Sunderland Literacy Aid ‘might be able to offer 10 part-time jobs’.

Cata added: “The reminiscence project we delivered in care homes before the pandemic hit had had amazing success. It gained popularity fast amongst care homes residents as well as staff members.

The Fulwell End in 1977. Another of the photos shared by the Echo.

"Managers from two care homes have mentioned that residents keep asking 'when are those people with pictures coming back?'

"Soon we were asked if we can deliver two sessions per week instead of one.”

To do that, more people need to be taken on.

Cata said funding has been secured for people to have online training in January and February ‘to help us deliver the reminiscence project from March/April, depending on how the COVID situation will look like then.

Bobby Thompson and fans at the Sunderland Empire in 1981. One of the photos shared by the Echo with Sunderland Literacy Aid.

"There are some eligibility criteria, with one of them asking of us to only recruit unemployed people, and ideally of 50 years of age and over.

"The online sessions will run once a week, and in some cases we can also provide people with the technology they need (tablets, laptops) to attend the sessions via Zoom/Skype.

"We will also send them each a course pack via post, and at the end of the course we have also managed to secure £20 Amazon vouchers to be given to each learner.

“Part-time employment is also available for those learners who wish to deliver reminiscence sessions on a weekly basis as Sunderland Literacy Aid employees, but also long-term volunteering.”

Those interested should contact the Sunderland Literacy Aid website at www.sunderlandliteracyaid.co.uk. or email [email protected]

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The Ford Estate jazz band carnival in 1971. It is another example of the photographs shared by the Sunderland Echo with Sunderland Literacy Aid.

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