Proposal for Talk / Demo: Introducing Remarkable Lives - the App for Ageing Well

I would like to propose a talk and demo for the OpenVillage Festival 2017 of my social networking platform: Remarkable Lives.

The timing of the Festival will fit very well (I hope!) with my platform’s development stage as it proceeds from Beta to community roll-out. In fact, OpenVillage Festival 2017 could be the stage for its European launch.

Let me explain a bit more about Remarkable Lives…and forgive me for using the third person (I’m new here and not 100% sure how this community works yet).

Remarkable Lives is the App for Ageing Well: a new social network that celebrates and shares the life stories and achievements of older people, improving society’s connectivity with later life.

Founded by Social Entrepreneur, Owen McNeir, Remarkable Lives helps to change society’s perceptions of later life, aiming to combat loneliness and isolation, improve health and wellbeing, and benefit care providers and community groups by offering real-life solutions to challenges confronting the care sector and an ageing society.

Why it matters

  • Ageing is often portrayed as society’s burden; its associations with physical and mental decline perceived as something to fear.
  • In the UK, 3.5 million people over 65 and 2 million over 75 live alone. In the US, roughly one in three people older than 65 and half of those older than 85 live alone. This compounds feelings of loneliness and isolation in people, at a time in their lives when they should be valued and heard.
  • The needs of our ageing population are changing and there are many people that make up our diverse society who still feel under-represented and anxious about later life, such as the LGBT community, people with mental health problems, refugees and those displaced in society who find themselves far from home at this vulnerable time of life.
  • Families continue fragmenting; communication has changed, leaving many behind, widening the gulf of shared experience, reducing connectivity between generations and the loss of memories when life stories go untold. 
  • The care sector is under strain and facing rising costs, making it harder to motivate and retain valuable staff, ensure standards of care quality are sustained, and maintain a positive, trusted reputation.

Remarkable Lives addresses these challenges to create a positive social impact:

  • Enhancing the physical and psychological health of all older people in today’s diverse society, contributing to more positive feelings about later life, combating loneliness, isolation and the onset of dementia.
  • Building confidence and reassurance in people facing the transition into care.
  • Saving money for care organisations with solutions to enhance acquisition and retention, reduce administration, facilitate easier reporting, save staff time and reduce medical costs.
  • Improving job satisfaction, staff retention and helping to address vital resource issues by attracting good potential candidates for recruitment into the care sector.
  • Improving care standards by enabling front-line care workers to gain a better understanding and appreciation for the people in their care.
  • Promoting care organisations by telling the stories of people in their care while raising awareness and profile for the services and support they provide.
  • Reconnecting families and friends, bringing them closer together across generations through the positive and meaningful process of reminiscence.
  • Providing the cornerstone for fundraising or PR campaigns by building interest and engagement within the community, with press and with potential donors.

Building a community platform

An award from UnLtd, the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs, and a successful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter are supporting the development of an operational platform that will take Remarkable Lives forward to engage care providers and community networks with a system that offers easy-to-use personal web profiles using photographic, audio-visual and written reminiscence.

To raise awareness and build a community of interest around the enterprise while the platform is in development, Owen is conducting life-story sessions in care homes, hospices, community centres and with individuals in their own homes.  Using photographic and oral reminiscence techniques, he is opening a window on the past, giving older people a renewed sense of identity, dignity and meaning.

The results are short life-story moments, edited and published on a dedicated photo-blog: . These stories, easily accessible online, are also designed to help those who care for older people to better understand and connect with them. Carers and nurses are rushed off their feet, so Remarkable Lives provides a quick to read, personal history to help them form a picture of the individual in one click. Care homes who have participated in this stage of the project even add the stories to their residents’ Care Plans, all of which is resulting in improved staff satisfaction.

Owen says, “My mission is to help society stay in touch and age well together by providing a positive, safe and empowering environment; an online gathering place. Remarkable Lives offers a refreshing perspective of old age that rolls back the years to celebrate our most memorable moments and helps to change society’s perceptions of later life.” 

He adds, “We are building something special with Remarkable Lives: we are combining creativity with innovation, harnessing the powerful medium of storytelling with the familiarity and connectivity of a social networking platform to create a positive social impact.”

Evidence that Remarkable Lives makes a difference

“UnLtd is convinced that innovative social entrepreneurs like Owen hold the key to ageing well.  We are delighted to have the opportunity to support him to increase and deepen the impact of Remarkable Lives.”                                                   Julie Carthy, Award Manager, UnLtd

“What you are doing has such value and importance. It’s things like this that make our world better and kind, putting humanity into statistics.”       Nicci Gerrard, Author & Founder of John’s Campaign

“With Remarkable Lives the emphasis moves on to their lives, experiences and skills and away from dependency and disability.”                                      Rob Fountain, regional CEO of Age UK

“Remarkable Lives has strengthened our staff / resident relationships – we know them better and have a deeper understanding.”            Peter Gardiner, General Manager The Hollies Care Home

This short 3 minute film from Owen’s recently completed Kickstarter campaign helps to convey the essence of Remarkable Lives. 

I hope my enterprise is of interest to the EdgeRyders community. Please feel welcome to connect with me - I’d love your feedback. Thank you.




Hello @Owen_McNeir , welcome and thanks for the proposal. I would definitely be interested in a presentation.

I checked out the Remarkable Lives website. It’s great reading – stories of humans are always interesting. I wonder: what’s your plan for interaction? What happens if I think Jean or Derek seem cool, and I want to reach out? I saw there is support for sharing the story on FB/TW, but that does not make a connection with the Remarkable People themselves.

BTW: in pre-Internet days, I was a musician. My band was a sort of Italian version of The Pogues, keenly interested in a “folk” collective narration of Italian recent history. We are almost an amnesiac country, and it is hard to gain access to first-hand experiences from the messy times of war, Nazi occupation, partisan guerrilla, collaborationists etc. Long story short, I started asking around and ended up in the house of Germano Nicolini, a former partisan commander and Resistance hero, later disgraced because suspected guilty of the political murder of a priest (happened in 1946), and finally found innocent (after 10 years in jail) in the mid 1990s, 50 years after the crime. No Google, no six degrees, no nothing. We wrote and published a fairly successful song about Nicolini’s story. It put him on the radar of popular culture: while not exactly a celebrity, he became a respected voice, one of too few real elders in the Italian left’s tribe.

He now has his own Wikipedia page, but at the time he was floatsam and jetsam of history, just another freedom fighter gone bad. I am telling you this story because I understand the value of oral memory, and of personal relationship with the past. But I did need to wash up at Nicolini’s doorstep, and ring his bell. I remember his initial guardedness: my story made sense to him (“you are part of my history, I want a first hand account”), but it was way out of his experience, as of my own.


Hi Alberto

Thanks for your comment and for sharing your own experience of meeting Nicolini. What a fascinating story.

The question of interaction is an interesting one. At this stage in my planning, I don’t envisage any direct interaction other than commenting on / sharing the stories that are published via social media. This is important in emphasising the privacy and security of the platform when it is launched later in the year. When this happens, people - everyone - will be able to create profiles for their own relatives to which invited family, carers and friends can contribute. But these profiles will only be visible to those who have been given permission and, in this context, Remarkable Lives operates as a private family social network. It is also to take in account the sensitivity around the demographic’s profile - we’re talking about older people in society, some who are vulnerable and for whom privacy needs to be safeguarded.

That said, there will be the facility for profiles to be made public, for example if someone has created a profile for themselves (imagine an 80-something tech-savvy person) and is happy to be ‘found’. In that instance, you would be able to make contact with that person and send a message and, feasibly, begin interacting that way.

I hope this answers your question.


Why an App?.. and more about the session.

Hey, I’m Noemi, and my story (only partially) featuring my grandma is here.

Your project is interesting to look at… storytelling about old age is uncommon, and good storytelling in general is as well. I like the idea a lot, although I’m not sure why you call it an app?

Super happy about you joining edgeryders at OpenVillage. What would you like to happen at the session? Do you need people to participate in a more active way, if so, how? Even if it is a demo, from past edgeryders events I can say it’s been the greatest when the session articulates a question for participants? The time which would follow your demo/ talk is spent trying to asnwer together that question.

1 Like

Why an App - more about the session

Hi Noemi

Thanks for the comment, questions and for connecting with me on social media as well. Thank you also for sharing the story of your great-grandma and grandma - that’s very powerful indeed.

I must apologise for not being clearer in my original post. While the concept of discovering, telling and sharing stories about our older members of society underpins Remarkable Lives, the enterprise I am building is a social networking platform.

To clarify, the current phase is where I am interviewing older people and publishing their stories on the photoblog - the purpose of this is to raise awareness and a sense of community appreciation around the Remarkable Lives project. If you like, what I am doing now is trying to get people tuned in to the idea of celebrating the life stories of their older relatives by actually telling some stories myself.

When my social networking platform (or application - hence sometimes referring to it as an App) is live, that will be like me handing it over to society, to the public, as in: “Here you are. I’ve been telling some stories to give you a flavour of the rich and diverse lives older people have led. Now it’s over to you to discover the stories in your own families and share them with each other.” And for the general public the platform will be free to start creating Remarkable Lives profiles. Does that make sense?

At OpenVillage I would like to:

  • Present the Remarkable Lives project and my journey, starting with the challenges I identified that I wanted to address (see 'Why it matters' above) 
  • How I chose to address these challenges by celebrating and sharing the life stories of older people to help change society's perceptions of later life
  • Where the project started, i.e. by telling individual stories and publishing them on the photoblog and social media
  • How this led to the idea of building a private social networking platform for individuals, their families and carers (and how I realised there were more challenges I could address)
  • Demo the platform itself, by showing some case studies and by inviting festival delegates to participate themselves by creating their own accounts and profiles (this would be even more effective if we could contact delegates in advance of the festival and ask them to bring some old photos / memories / stories of their older relatives with them for this exercise)
  • Then together, build on the knowledge and research I've developed by using this interactive experience to consider both how the challenges I've identified in the UK are relevant to other countries and what additional challenges (I haven't thought of and that are especially pertinent to individual delegates e.g. personally or in relation to their countries / communities) the Remarkable Lives platform could help address and resolve.

Would that work as a session?

Best, Owen