By Kenny McLachlan, Care Logistics Manager, Funeralcare

In 2017, I took my first Memory Box on a care home visit. Based on the response received from the residents, I knew I’d struck gold with an idea that could easily be rolled out nationally. Fast forward to now, and they’re much more established. In Scotland alone approx. 1,650 personal Memory Boxes have been given out to care homes, socials groups and hospitals, so people can fill them with their own keepsakes.

Continuing the momentum, I’ve invested lots of time working with colleagues, Member Pioneers, and local organisations, to find ways to adapt the Memory Box initiative, and to reach out and connect with more people by trialling some new initiatives.

Recently I attended a daycare centre with a local folk singer, where we spent sometime looking through ‘Granny’s Handbag’. This involved a real carpet bag filled with all the items a stereotypical ‘granny’ would need, ranging from bingo pens and hair rollers, through to embroidered handkerchiefs and plastic rain hoods. Each item was modelled by the audience before we broke into a rousing rendition of a well-known Scottish song – Ye Canny Shove Yer Granny Off The Bus! It was a really fun way to bring some energy into the room. In fact, everyone enjoyed it so much they gave the singer a round of applause.

I’ve also been planning a Children’s Memory Box. This idea is to give individual boxes to children and they can fill them with their own special items as they grow up. It’s then there should they eventually need it when they’re older.  I’d love to develop the idea further, and work with schools and care homes in our local communities to bring together children and older people. It will be a really powerful tool comparing the differences between the memory boxes from varying generations, and it will spark some interesting conversations.

Thanks to my work in the community, I’ve built a strong relationship with Alzheimer Scotland. Lots of colleagues have undertaken Dementia Friends training, and following their refurbishments, our care homes have been officially awarded Dementia Friendly Accreditation. This means that our locations feature in an online directory, which helps potential clients when they’re looking for safe places that meet the needs of anyone living with Dementia.

I love every second of my job and could spend hours talking to people about it, so it came as a real shock to receive an invite from Buckingham Palace. I’d been nominated by a lady I’d done some fundraising for and she wanted to thank me. My wife and I were able to enjoy a lovely Garden Party in Holyrood Palace, with Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and The Queen herself, all in attendance!

The nature of the funeral industry is one of empathy and compassion, so it makes me really proud to know that a simple idea like the Memory Box can bring so much joy to people in different ways, often taking them back to relive some of their happiest memories.

Join the conversation! 17 Comments

  1. Hi Kenny, I really enjoyed reading your update. It would be great to see the memory boxes being offered to young people and agree that this might be of particular benefit to looked after and accommodated children and young people in a range of different settings. I’m a new Member Pioneer Co-ordinator in the Central Belt and in a previous role worked closely with different organisations supporting children in care, and care leavers, as well as different care providers, so do get in touch if I can help make any connections.

  2. Its a great Memory tool for those suffering with Dementia but also good to use in older age care homes. Most Libraries here (west sussex) also have Memory Boxes so if we don’t yet have this service nationwide it might be worth enquiring at your library if there is one to use/borrow .
    Love the idea of children’s box

  3. What a very good idea hope this becomes available to us all as we all have someone we can relate to this well done you should be very proud of what your doing

  4. Truly inspirational Kenny, a brilliant idea. Thanks for sharing. Well done and what a thrill getting an invite from the Queen 🙂

  5. What an absolutely fantastic idea.
    I love it!

  6. Fantastic Kenny, well done. I really like the carpet bag idea & the singing. I’m sure it is a song that people remember no matter how advanced their condition is.

    • Its a very well known Scottish song Marian,

      Granny’s Handbag is always very popular, I thought that item up because I (or most other men) would never dream of going into a lady’s handbag to examine the contents

  7. Well done Kenny! Amazing results coming from this. I will ask you for a rendition of the song next time I see you 😉

    • The reason I took a singer along Sam is that my singing voice is certainly not that of my countryman Lewis Capaldi, best not to ask

      however here are the lyrics

      Oh ye Canny shove your Granny off the bus
      Oh ye canny shove your Granny off the Bus
      Oh ye canny shove your Granny
      coz she’s your Mammy’s Mammy
      Ye canny shove your Granny off the bus

      Ye can shove your other Granny off the bus
      Ye can shove your other Granny off the bus
      Ye can shove your other Granny
      She’s no your Mammy’s Mammy
      Ye can shove your other Granny off the bus

  8. Brilliant Kenny and well done on the recognition. Well deserved .

  9. What a fantastic story.Inspired and Inspiring.Thank you so much for sharing

    • Thanks Sally, Memory Boxes are a fantastic tool and such a fun and rewarding way to engage with your local community

  10. How wonderful to have received such prestigious and well deserved recognition! Well done.
    I have been trying to get one of these Memory Boxes. Could all Member Pioneers be offered one please? I am now a Member Pioneer Co-ordinator, but I have happily trundled boring old plastic Memory Boxes, (which I’d collated at Stevenage Museum), to clubs, groups and elderly care homes, etc, this would make a much better impression. Thanks. Gerry (Geraldine Strohm).

    • Hi Gerladine, Thanks for those nice comments

      The large Memory Boxes can be ordered via your local Funeralcare Branch, (they may already have one) our Coffin factory produce them. If you speak to the local Manager/Funeralcare team they may let you borrow it or may consider ordering one which you can use

      I have also seen people using an old suitcase as a Memory Box

      The small individual boxes which we give away free of charge can be ordered through Funeralcare Promotional Items, again they can be sourced via your local Funeralcare branch

      The Members Pioneer and Pioneer Co-ordinators co-operation where we are working in our communities is vital going forward and as a member of the Field Leadership Team I will take forward your comments to see where we can mutually help each other across the business

      • Brilliant Kenny thanks! I am a MPioneer and about to askt he same question !
        It would be good to get the link t your post out in the fortnightly Member Pioneer bulletin, if it isn’t already.
        I love the idea of young people building their boxes as they grow up – one of our ’causes’ is a child bereavement network and I am going to ask if this is something they are interested in…..

        • Hi Barbara

          The Child Bereavement Group is one where those involved would certainly benefit from having a personal box where they could keep treasured keepsakes of a lost child, this would be such a helpful thing for parents to be able to keep their child’s memory alive and would provide a startpoint for them to be able to talk about their feelings

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