Putting Worcester on the map (literally) – the launch of two new digital platforms

On 23rd April, we attended the (online) launch of two new digital platforms that have been developed over the past few months to support the sharing of memories and heritage material. The work has been undertaken as part of a project led by Worcester City Council and Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, and has invited public input and feedback throughout the development process. So what are the two platforms and how can you access them?

Know Your Place Worcester

Know Your Place is an online resource based on the Know Your Place Bristol website, but specifically for Worcester. Hosted by Worcester City Council, it will be joining a family of eight other locations across the country that have taken on and developed the platform for their own area. The website is based on different maps of Worcester, which will allow people to overlay and compare maps from different times and see how areas have evolved over the years – more maps will be added over time. Users can also click on the maps to reveal various images, memories and records uploaded by other people, as well as link to a whole host of digitised photographs and Historic Environment Records. This will allow users to learn more about their area or specific parts of Worcester that they have a connection with. Users can also upload their own photographs and memories of Worcester to enable them to be shared with other users.

After seeing the amount of detail and information available via Know Your Place Bristol, it’s exciting to think how the Worcester platform will develop and expand over time. However, it does depend on members of the public engaging with the platform and adding their own photos and memories, so get involved!

The Know Your Place Worcester website is free to use and open to everyone. Have a look.

Life Stories Herefordshire and Worcestershire

Many people think about life stories as being used to support people with dementia, but actually capturing information about what is important to you can be interesting and relevant for anyone. There is evidence that it can make a difference for people across the lifespan, including not just people with dementia but those with learning disabilities and children who have been in the care system. Life Stories Herefordshire and Worcestershire is a new online platform that allows anyone living in either Herefordshire or Worcestershire to create their own digital life story book.

There are different ways you can use the book, such as for your own benefit, to encourage connection with others, leave a legacy, or as a group. If you create a book for yourself you can still share it with other people or export it as a pdf or video. You can do this for your whole book or just chosen chapters from it, depending on what you want to share with whom. Alternatively, carers or family members could use someone’s book to help them get ideas of how to engage with someone by finding out about their hobbies, interests or background, learning what is important to them such as past events or daily routines. You can also create a book as a group, maybe around a common interest such as football or music, and share it with other people allowing them to be able to edit and add to the same book. You don’t have to choose how you use it either as you can create more than one book within your account, so you could have ones focusing on specific topics or for different people to see.

However, the functionality within the life story books is essentially the same. Each book is split into different chapters, which are fully customisable. You can upload your photos, text, audio and video, even recording your own audio clips within the book to accompany images that you’re adding. You can also add media from the internet and Know Your Place, just by copying a web link. You can add as much or as little to your book as you like, and the great thing is that you don’t have to do it all in one go. Rather, you can add to it over time in smaller steps and just save your progress each time within the safe and secure website.

On the Life Stories website Life Packs are also available, which contain photographs, other images and videos around a common theme. These can be used outside of the Life Story books, or you could link to some of the content within them from your book.

Hosted by Herefordshire and Worcestershire Care and Health NHS Trust, the Life Stories Herefordshire and Worcestershire landing page is open to everyone. All residents in Worcestershire and Herefordshire can create their own digital life story book for free, but you do have to register on the site to be able to do this or to view a shared book. Life Packs are available and free to all.

Evaluation aspect

Here at the Association for Dementia Studies, our involvement with this exciting project relates to the next stage of both resources in terms of evaluating how people are using them and what impact they are having. This research was commissioned by Historic England and will help contribute towards a better understanding of how heritage is meaningful to people in their everyday surroundings and why they engage with or feel excluded from their heritage.

As well as interviews and focus groups to capture people’s experiences in greater detail, we are also conducting two online surveys – one for each resource – to explore how people interact with and use the new platforms. The surveys will be anonymous, so if you have used either (or both) of the platforms and wish to get involved and provide some feedback, please do click on the appropriate link(s) and join in.

But what if I don’t live in Worcestershire or Herefordshire?

Although both resources are aimed at people living in Worcestershire and Herefordshire, they could be relevant to a much wider audience. If you have any knowledge of Worcester, the Know Your Place platform will be of interest and help to expand that knowledge and learn more about the city. Even if you don’t know Worcester or have never visited, the website would be a great opportunity to explore!

You really have to be living in Herefordshire and Worcestershire to use the Life Stories platform, but you can still share your life story book with people outside of these two counties. You can invite people to see it and add to it, but they won’t be able to create their own.

These two platforms could also be replicated (at a cost, obviously) in other counties, and the Life Stories platform especially is available for other organisations to purchase.

If you are interested, here are the relevant contact details:

If you missed the launch and want to find out more for yourself – including seeing short demonstrations of both platforms – you can watch again using this recording.

For more information about either project, please contact:

Connect with ADS on twitter @DementiaStudies and on Facebook @adsuow

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