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Old black and white photo of adults dressed formally and smiling at the camera. One woman is singing into an old fashioned microphone.

Unlocking Our Sound Heritage


The Unlocking Our Sound Heritage (UOSH) project aims to preserve and provide access to as much as possible of the nation’s rare and unique sound recordings. It is a partnership led by the British Library, with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund which involves ten regional hubs across the UK. The Midlands Hub for the project is based at the University of Leicester and is preserving sound recordings from across the Midlands. They commissioned the Participation Team to create sound resources for use in reminiscence work especially focussing on people with dementia.

Our Mission

Our project aimed to bring the medium of sound to the forefront of the heritage agenda. We planned to raise the profile of its power in reminiscence work, expand the range of communities who have access to its potential, involve diverse communities in our resource creation and design, explore meaningful new archive material and develop a legacy for use and replication nationwide.

Sounds Familiar

The resources have been developed in partnership with people living with dementia, their carers, group leaders and members of the community. The activities have been trialled, archive recordings have been reviewed and new recordings have been made. We have explored what works and how it makes people feel! The themes replicate those from our award-winning Memory Plus project; Seaside and holidays, Childhood, Working life, Food and health, The Great Outdoors and Entertainment.

Here’s What People Said

“It’s the highlight of the week.” – Participant

“M and M who were new to our group and came along to the session for the first time had both really enjoyed it. She said that he was talking a lot about things she never knew about during the session!” – Volunteer

“All agreed that listening to the sounds had made them feel good and some said that they were still talking about it after the session had ended.” – Group Facilitator

“What I loved about the project was how accessible it was, the idea that we could use our phone to record and just click send it, is accessible to all, genius.” – Participant

Our findings show that sound resources are useful in stimulating reminiscence with people living with dementia and their carers…All participants who completed a feedback form confirmed that the sessions improved their well-being and 9 out of 10 said it made them feel happier’ – External Evaluators

“What fantastic resources you have produced! Incredible achievement. Every carer needs to hear about these wonderful activities! LOVE this!” – Participant at the Sharing Event

Click here to view the project’s evaluation report.


Click on this link to take a look at the sound resources and activities:

Click here for a list of useful links to oral history websites etc.

Click these links to see our Sounds Familiar toolkits:

Toolkit 1 – Using sound archives to create reminiscence material

Toolkit 2 – Using Sound recordings for reminiscence sessions


Click the video below to watch a recording of the Sounds Familiar Sharing Event:

Simply Sounds

We have reached out to inspire community leaders from different cultures, traditions, ethnicities and faiths to help us reach their respective communities and create new sound recordings for our ‘Simply Sounds’ listening activities, find out more by clicking here

Want to know more?

Please contact or if you would like us to get in touch with you.

Please note: our Fair Processing Notice for this project can be found by clicking here