Alzheimer’s Society has been confirmed as official charity partner of The Football Association for the next two football seasons, following a competitive application process.
Off the back of a historic year for football, the partnership will use the sport’s unrivalled power and reach to increase support and generate significant funds and awareness of dementia, changing how people experience dementia on an unprecedented scale.
The partnership will be launched at The FA Community Shield supported by McDonald’s between Leicester City and Manchester City on Saturday 7 August at Wembley Stadium connected by EE.
The FA will work closely with Alzheimer’s Society to raise vital funds towards crucial support services, such as its Dementia Connect support line, increasing its capacity so the charity can reach even more people.
The partnership will also ensure The FA and local football clubs up and down the nation can refer employees, players, former players, and fans to the charity for dedicated dementia support. The FA’s employees will also be offered the chance to volunteer for Alzheimer’s Society.
Additionally, the partnership seeks to help bring dementia out of the shadows and tackle the stigma surrounding the condition, by raising greater understanding of dementia among the footballing community.
The FA will work with Alzheimer’s Society to break down the barriers that prevent people from accessing the help they need, so no football player, former player or fan across the nation faces dementia alone.
The partnership will also create a network of dementia-friendly facilities and upskill The FA’s employees, so people living with dementia and their families can return to and stay connected to the game they love without fear – setting a benchmark for other sports to follow.
The partnership will benefit from Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme, the largest social movement around dementia, changing the way society thinks, acts, and talks about dementia and garnering over 3.4 million members in the UK.
Alzheimer’s Society will also advise The FA and provide research expertise to further understand the cause of dementia and its risk factors.
There are currently 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK. The announcement comes at a crucial time, with the pandemic having hit people with dementia hardest – they face a long road to recovery, with many experiencing isolation, missing activities, and losing routines that are crucial to maintaining independence.
Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador Sir Geoff Hurst said of the announcement: ‘It’s incredibly exciting to see The FA partner with Alzheimer’s Society, especially after a huge year for the nation’s most-loved sport. This partnership has the potential to change the landscape of dementia in football on a massive scale.’
‘Too many of my colleagues from the unforgotten team of ‘66 have been affected by dementia – a group of remarkable men.’
‘I will never forget the memory of us all doing a lap of honour at Wembley and walking up to the Royal Box to face the Queen, trophy in hand. But the reality is that Wembley could be filled ten times over with people living with dementia in the UK, with millions more lives affected.
‘Throughout the pandemic, demand has increased for Alzheimer’s Society’s services, such as its Dementia Connect support line, but there are so many more who desperately need help and don’t know where to turn.
‘By working with The FA, the charity can raise much-needed funds and ensure that the millions of football followers and their families know they don’t have to face dementia alone.’
Edleen John, The FA’s Director of International Relations, Corporate Affairs and Co-Partner for Equality Diversity and Inclusion, said:
‘We were really pleased to present our employees and players with an excellent range of charities that were committed to using the power of football as a force for good.
‘We wanted our teams and staff to have a voice in our charity partner selection, so we gave them an opportunity to vote for the one that they are personally and professionally passionate about alongside recognising our organization’s strategic objectives.
‘With further research, early treatment and support, many people with dementia will be able to lead full and active lives. Together, we hope to make a significant difference to all those impacted by dementia and to ensure that the football community is aware of the signs, advice available and can access support when they need it.’
Kate Lee, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Society added:
‘It’s been brilliant for all of us to enjoy an incredible few weeks of football after the year we’ve all had. For so many fans and former players living with dementia, that passion and common interest is their form of escapism after a diagnosis.
‘Our partnership with The FA is a huge step in changing how people experience dementia within the sporting industry and couldn’t have come sooner.’
‘Following a catastrophic time for people with dementia, this is a massive opportunity to help support those who have never needed it more.
‘Together, we can help ensure that the millions of football supporters and their families know our services are here, change how fans and players receive support and create a dementia inclusive industry, so people with dementia can continue to remain part of the game.
‘Together, we can showcase the power of football to change lives for the better.’