UTC student inspires UK first for Yemeni community

National Museums Liverpool’s dementia awareness initiative House of Memories has announced it’s working on a new, intergenerational project, centred around the Yemeni community, after recently securing funding. The project, Connecting with Yemeni Elders Heritage will help young people in the Yemeni community to support their parents and grandparents in keeping their connections with their cultural heritage.

The inspiration for the project is a 16-year-old UTC student – Abdul Wase. A member of the Yemeni community, and volunteer for L8 A Better Place, Abdul was motivated by his own grandmother who is living with dementia, after seeing her struggle to reconnect with her heritage as her memories fade.

Not only will the project help those with dementia, like Abdul’s grandmother, to keep their connections with their culture, but it will also help the younger Yemeni community, too. For those like Abdul, the impacts of dementia can mean that they may not have the opportunity to learn about their heritage, culture and traditions from the older generations of their family.

But now, thanks to this project, Yemeni youths will be able to connect more deeply with their heritage and mesh their heritage with their British culture – all whilst supporting family members with dementia. As Abdul says, “this project will change lives.”

Abdul said: It’s not just dementia that has resulted in the Yemeni community feeling disconnected from their culture. The continued war in Yemen prevents families from travelling to re-connect with their heritage.

“As a result, older people’s memories are fading and young people are struggling to connect with their cultural roots. A loss of language and upholding cultural traditions is a concern for our older population and young people feel unable to bing their roots with British culture.”

The project will enable young participants from within the community to capture, preserve and digitise both familiar and unknown community stories, and share traditions and culture. As well as being co-created with the Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre, Liverpool, the project is supported by access to collections and research from The Fashion Museum Bath and other Yemeni collections from museums across the UK.

This will all be linked to museum collections that will expand understanding within the community and beyond. Also featuring in a bespoke, multi-language My House of Memories app – the first UK dual-language digital collection created for an app – and a toolkit for museums and young people to access. All inspired by Abdul’s determination and passion.

Carol Rogers, director of House of Memories, said: “We were impressed and inspired by Abdul’s commitment to his family and community and accepted his challenge to create a community led Yemeni heritage package for the My House of Memories app.

“We know from Abdul that the stories linked to ornate and everyday objects remain unknown to the wider population. It is our ambition to research, understand, build trust and share knowledge and skills between our partners, young people and elders in the Yemeni community.”

Jill Davies is principal at the UTC, and said: “We’re so pleased to celebrate the work Abdul is doing to support his family, community and the wider health sector. I’m so proud of Abdul and his work on this project, keep changing lives!”

Abdul, and the House of Memories, will create a space for members of the Yemeni community to support people to live well with dementia – and build resources to learn about and share Yemeni culture whilst doing it.”

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