Films from the collections housed at the Yorkshire Film Archive are at the forefront of a pioneering project to unlock memories for people with dementia and other age-related memory disorders.

Working with experts from Age UK, the Alzheimer’s Society and Methodist Homes for the Aged, the Yorkshire Film Archive has created Memory Bank, a series of themed DVDs and online films, plus a wealth of information and activities for use in reminiscence therapy and life story work.

A preview screening of Memory Bank took place yesterday at the Pictureville Cinema at the National Media Museum, Bradford, in front of an audience which included representatives of the Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK, the National Media Museum Reminiscence Group and members of the Penistone Dementia Cafe.

Sue Howard, Yorkshire Film Archive director, said: “Memory Bank is about opening up our collections to a huge range of older people.

“Reminiscence therapy and memory work play an invaluable role in improving a sense of personal identity and wellbeing, and stimulating communication and sociability.

“As one Memory Bank user who was involved in the pilot summarised: ‘It’s like the years peeling back – the memories are all still there, it just needs a trigger’.”

The Alzheimer’s Society estimates that in Yorkshire and Humber alone, there are more than 60,000 people diagnosed as having dementia. It is also estimated, however, that a further 65 per cent of cases are as yet undiagnosed.

Even though the condition mainly affects people over the age of 65, there are more than 17,000 people in the UK under the age of 65 who have dementia.

The films that have been used in Memory Bank have been selected from home movie collections held by the YFA, ensuring that everyone can relate to the familiar subject themes of holidays, schooldays, sporting fun, working life, domestic life, and fetes, fairs and fireworks.

Suzanne Wightman, senior manager at the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said that they were proud to be associated with such a positive development and believed it would be another great resource for anyone affected by dementia.

Gerontologist, Professor Dianne Willcocks, said: “Memory Bank offers older people a compelling and fun tool to reclaim their lived past – and to share it with family, friends and carers alike.

“It works both for those living with dementia and for those simply living with rich memories.”