New research shows huge social impact of GFT’s dementia-friendly film programme, as we welcome Movie Memories audience back to the big screen

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GFT's popular Movie Memories event will celebrate its fourth anniversary with its first in-person event since March 2020 - a screening of the John Huston classic The Man Who Would Be King.

New research by HammondCare has revealed that Movie Memories has a significant impact in supporting people living with dementia and their carers. For every £1 of investment in Movie Memories, the social value contribution of the programme is estimated to be £4.74.

In 2017, GFT received three years of funding from the Life Changes Trust to launch Movie Memories, a monthly cinema programme designed for people living with dementia and unpaid carers, which has attracted 2,000 attendees in its first three years.

90,000 people have a diagnosis of dementia in Scotland and 10% of those people live in Glasgow. Research has shown that many people with dementia grow to fear that they will no longer be socially welcome and stop taking part in activities they enjoy. With Movie Memories, we have created a safe and inclusive cinema experience for people living with dementia and their family, friends and carers. The programme offers classic and contemporary film screenings alongside a programme of live music. Each screening has an interval with live music and free refreshments, and all tickets are subsidised so they cost just £3 to customers.

GFT has taken a learning organisation approach: consulting with, and learning from, people with lived and learnt experience of dementia, including our Movie Memories Coordinator, Agnes Houston MBE.

Agnes Houston said: ‘My last memory, before Movie Memories, of going to the theatre was awful. It was too noisy, it was too busy and it was painful. A new movie would come out and I would say ‘that’s not for me’. I would not even contemplate it. And I am not alone, this is the experience of many people living with dementia and their carers. Movie Memories has given me, and people like me, the cinema experience back.’

HammondCare have just published an Evaluation and Social Return on Investment report on Movie Memories which demonstrates the positive impact the programme has on the wellbeing of people living with dementia and their carers. The report identified that the benefits of the initiative include helping to reduce isolation, providing a safe place, creating a social event for those living with dementia and their carers to enjoy together, and bringing back memories of attending the cinema. GFT’s Movie Memories Ambassadors have been trained in dementia awareness, with staff and volunteers becoming Dementia Friends.

To quantify any added value delivered by the programme, the report uses Social Return on Investment (SROI). SROI assigns a monetary value to outcomes from activities that take place in the real world which are not easily measured in financial terms – things like happiness, dignity, respect. In supporting people living with dementia and carers, the social value contribution for every pound (£) of investment in Movie Memories is estimated to be £4.74.

A carer who attends Movie Memories said: ‘When it was on, the build up to it, the day, and the days after, filled a colossal void. It was the monthly highlight of my life and I absolutely firmly believe that it is vital to people who are carers.’

Movie Memories was paused in March 2020 when lockdown restrictions closed cinemas across the UK and has been sorely missed by many of its regular attendees. To celebrate the fourth anniversary of the initiative’s inception, Movie Memories will return for its first in-person event for more than a year with a screening of John Huston classic The Man Who Would Be King, taking place on Thursday 21 October at 11am.

Jodie Wilkinson, GFT’s Public Engagement Coordinator, said: ‘The Movie Memories programme was built on a commitment to Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: that “everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts [...] and its benefits.” At GFT we believe this is fundamental to the future of cultural activity. As we navigate our way out of the immediate impact of a global pandemic, the fallout of which may marginalise and make many more people vulnerable, human rights-based cultural engagement strategies are critical. A consistent legacy is that this model that we have developed can be applied to other cultural organisations so we can help more people create a new community doing an activity they enjoyed even before dementia.’

Dr Julie Christie of HammondCare said: ‘HammondCare were delighted to undertake the evaluation of the Movie Memories Programme. Going to a picture hall is a special experience and GFT is such an iconic cultural part of Glasgow. We found that participants experienced a range of benefits in the cinema and at home, and that the wider community also benefits from the presence of the Movie Memories programme. But just as importantly, thanks to GFT people living with dementia and carers can simply enjoy the magic of the cinema together.’

Arlene Crockett, Director of Evidence and Influencing for the Dementia Programme at the Life Changes Trust, said: ‘GFT’s Movie Memories project was one of the first to receive ‘Dementia Friendly Communities’ funding from the Trust, and we have now funded over 40 dementia inclusive communities across Scotland. A diagnosis of dementia can lead to social exclusion and isolation, but dementia friendly communities can help address this by keeping people included and supported, providing a culture that makes it possible for people to remain integrated and active in their own communities and do things that matter to them.

‘It is wonderful to see ‘Movie Memories’ film screenings starting again as restrictions ease. They are hugely popular, provide a social space that recognises people’s needs as well as a welcoming safe space for entertainment and social interaction. GFT have really embraced a dementia-led approach - the screenings and venues are inclusive and friendly, and are supported by dementia aware staff and volunteers (Movie Memories Ambassadors). People living with dementia also play a central role in the programme delivery - Agnes Houston MBE, a dementia activist and ambassador who has a diagnosis of dementia, is the GFT’s ‘Movie Memories’ Coordinator. This has been an exemplar project and we are delighted they continue to take such a pioneering dementia-led approach in the arts.’

Read the Report

Download and read the Movie Memories Evaluation Report Highlights below. If you would like a hardcopy of either report email your request to:

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