World Alzheimer's Day 2020: Celebrating Movie Memories

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Monday 21 September is World Alzheimer’s Day, part of the month dedicated to raising awareness of dementia and highlighting the importance of talking about the condition. A new case of dementia is diagnosed somewhere in the world every four seconds. This is something we can’t ignore, particularly as 34% of the 850,000 people currently living with dementia in the UK don’t feel part of their community, 61% felt anxious or depressed recently and 40% felt lonely. (Data from Alzheimer’s Society). 

Closer to home, 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. 

At GFT, we established a dementia-friendly film programme called Movie Memories in October 2017, funded by the Life Changes Trust. The cinema is a social hub within our local community and we have an important role to play in ensuring that people living with dementia - together with their family and friends - can enjoy the cinema experience in a safe and welcoming environment.


Film not only has the power to bring communities together but it is a powerful tool to improve mental wellbeing and confidence. The popularity of the programme is testament to the demand for dementia-friendly cultural activity in Glasgow. As of February 2020, 1,989 people have attended 33 screenings, smashing our target of 1700 people over three years.

Movie Memories presents classic and contemporary film screenings alongside a programme of multi-arts entertainment. The programme is designed especially for people affected by dementia, whether they are living with a type of dementia or they are a carer, friend or family member of someone living with the condition. Our staff and volunteers have received dementia awareness training to empower them to create a safe and social environment where everyone is welcome.


And we couldn’t do this alone. We work closely with a steering group of leading dementia organisations, and people living with dementia play a central role in the programme delivery, including Agnes Houston MBE - our Movie Memories Coordinator - who had this to say about the programme:

‘For many years I have been excluded from the cinema experience due to my Hyperacusis with dementia. After collaborating with the GFT Movie Memories programme and coming onboard as event coordinator, I have found a way to engage with film again.’

‘The journey so far has been very rewarding. Through a dementia venue audit, GFT projectionists have found the high and low spots of acoustics which has made it enabling for me to enjoy the cinema experience and similarly with the lights being slightly brighter, I have no fear in getting around the cinema. This has been team work from programming, marketing to the frontline staff. This didn't happen overnight. The main point is that together, we found the barriers and then created solutions to make the GFT an enabling environment.’

‘Movie Memories, means that I am included. I am overjoyed to be enabled in my coordinator role and the GFT has given me the opportunity to be an instigator. A new journey focusing on film, community and dementia. How wonderful!’
- Agnes Houston MBE 


Like many cultural activities, Movie Memories has been on hiatus since March when the cinema temporarily closed due to the public health emergency. GFT re-opened on Monday 31 August but due to Scottish Government safety guidance and the ongoing health concerns for our more vulnerable audiences, the Movie Memories programme is yet to re-start. At this time, we want to hear from the Movie Memories audience to gather their thoughts and opinions on the immediate future of the Movie Memories programme. Please click this link to access our online Movie Memories survey. As with the usual programme, all audience responses help us shape Movie Memories and your feedback has never been more valuable to us than in these times.

With the support of our funder, Life Changes Trust, we look forward to re-starting and continuing the great success that has been built so far in dementia-friendly film engagement. 

In the meantime, you can stay up to date with Movie Memories by signing up to the Enewsletter.

Images: Ingrid Mur

All Monday to Friday shows before 5pm have capacity capped at 50% (unless otherwise stated). All other screenings have full unlimited seating capacity (unless otherwise stated).

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