Macmillan is working with the University of Sheffield on a pioneering service that allows people with life-threatening illnesses, or those receiving palliative care, to record their life story on audio CD. It’s a remarkable project in many ways – not least because a team of volunteers is at its heart.
The oral history project is a unique scheme taking place at six sites across the UK. Dr Michelle Winslow, Macmillan’s Oral History and Bereavement Project Manager, says the benefits are clear.
‘People enjoy having the time to sit and reflect upon their life. After all, it’s not often that someone says to you, “Tell me about yourself – I’ve got all day.”
‘Everyone has photographs of their loved ones, but few have recordings to listen to’
‘The idea of being able to leave a voice recording for your future grandchildren can be very significant too. What’s more, family members really value the CD. Everyone has photographs of their loved ones, but few have recordings to listen to.’
Volunteers are integral to the project’s success. ‘I provide volunteers with extensive training and ongoing support, but they do nearly everything else,’ says Michelle.
‘From preparing the equipment and conducting the interviews to editing and archiving the recordings, there’s a lot involved.’
And, while the volunteers carry out a wide range of tasks, they all get a real sense of satisfaction from giving their time to the project.