Losing her grandfather to dementia prompted Ellie’s interest in the power of creative communication to build connection and community around others living with the illness. The Photobook Project supports people with dementia to take control of their narratives, share tender, fleeting moments with loved ones, and to build wider power as a result.
The project invites people living with dementia and intergenerational groups to document their own or shared experiences through the use of a single-use camera. The individuals select themes under which to tell their stories. These could be anything from a particular colour, a season or significant objects.
Once completed, the cameras are sent back to Ellie, who places the images in The Photobook Project template - keeping the images in the order they are taken. Each book states the theme, the artist and includes a map in the right-hand corner which locates where the images have been taken.
Recognised internationally as an intergenerational specialist, in 2019 Ellie organised a symposium on intergenerational programmes at the University of Falmouth, at which three people living with dementia were keynote speakers alongside world-leading intergenerational care home Humanitas Deventer and project Run Tomo Japan.
She leads an international, cross-disciplinary steering group on intergenerational activity, set up a multi award-winning Penryn Memory Cafe in rural Cornwall, and manages eight dementia-friendly walking groups for The Sensory Trust. Ellie is also an online tutor for the Dementia MsC at The University of Hull, inspiring future dementia leaders in the role creativity can take in empowering people living with the condition.
Ellie applied for the Multiplier programme because she wanted to find support to grow The Photobook Project while ensuring meaningful relationships and beautiful design stay at its heart. She also wanted to connect with like-minded community leaders.
Through our core programming, The Cares Family regularly connects people living with dementia to their wider communities, and we have seen how lonely and isolating the journey can be. Ellie was selected for the Multiplier because her project shifts the narrative from what’s been lost through a dementia diagnosis, to the opportunity for connection, confidence and creativity of everyone living with dementia.