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Project uses sound to support people with dementia

British Library project embraced across the county

people playing drums

A project which uses archive and new sound recordings for reminiscence emboldened communities across Leicestershire to capture and share everyday sounds which meant a lot to them.

And the result has been the development of unique sound resources to help support people living with dementia.

The county council's participation team led the initiative locally after a successful bid to take part in the national Unlocking Our Sound Heritage (UOSH) project.  

Nationally the project is led by the British Library, with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and involves 10 regional hubs across the UK.

The participation team called on groups and individuals across the county to create a two-minute recording of a sound that meant something to them and then to share it with the project, under the banner Simply Sounds.

This strand of work was particularly focused on sourcing unique contributions from communities where the first language is not English to ensure the final sound resource would be beneficial across Leicestershire’s diverse communities.

More than 50 new recordings of evocative sounds have been used in developing this resource, alongside sound taken from the archives at the University of Leicester.

The resource is free and available to everyone, including groups working with people living with dementia, families and carers and friends. The aim is to trigger memories, conversations and bring pleasure through sound.

The participation team also worked with two groups of people with dementia and their carers to capture the sounds most important to them.

Sounds recorded include children playing, dough being kneaded, tea making, a busy kitchen, a Cornish beach and the Scottish Highlands.

It was a wonderful project to support the wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable in the county as well as reducing any feelings of isolation during lockdown and achieved through the medium of sound.

It was an opportunity for communities to work together for the first time. Evaluation has shown that this project has especially made a significant difference to people and their carers living with dementia.

Leicester and Leicestershire’s contribution to Unlocking Our Sound Heritage will feed into the national project to explore and promote the potential of using sound for reminiscence.

The resources created from the project are now available on the Culture Leicestershire website, along with themed sound resources and helpful toolkits for use in reminiscence work at

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