A social enterprise that uses the heritage of sport and memories to help tackle dementia, depression and loneliness in the elderly has been awarded a grant of £483,373.00 from the Big Lottery Fund.
To date, Sporting Memories Network has helped hundreds of organisations across the UK deliver programmes for the elderly using the power of reminiscing and storytelling.
In England, 51% of all people over 75 live alone and two fifths of all older people (3.9 million) say the television is their main form of company. Loneliness is a comparable risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is worse for us than well-known risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity.*
The funding from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities programme builds on the Sporting Memories Network’s proven success. It will be used to train volunteers in communities in London, Bristol and the South West, Greater Manchester, and Yorkshire to establish 64 weekly groups over the next two years in partnership with sports clubs, libraries, housing associations, universities and third sector organisations.
Four new full time regional project officer posts have been created by the grant funding.
Tony Jameson-Allen, Co-founder and Director of the Sporting Memories Network, said: “At Sporting Memories we believe in the power of reminiscing to help combat the debilitating effects of dementia, depression and loneliness. We use tried and tested tools in group settings to engage with the elderly using memory aids and indoor sports games, to help promote healthy ageing and create new friendships.”
Specialist materials developed by the Sporting Memories Network will be used as a focus for reminiscing. The groups also offer the chance to enjoy gentle exercise.
Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, Tracey Crouch, said:
“It’s fantastic to see the Sporting Memories Network encouraging members to participate in gentle physical activities.
“Their work to help those living with dementia, depression or loneliness, is helping to bridge the generational gap by bringing people together to share their memories and experiences of playing and watching sport, while improving their own physical and mental wellbeing.”
Lyn Cole, Big Lottery Fund, England Grant Making Director, said: “We’ve learned that social isolation is bad for health, with links to chronic conditions and increased mortality. With more people living well into their eighties, it’s more important than ever that projects such as Sporting Memories can unlock precious memories of excitement, joy, near-misses and triumph, to help promote healthy ageing. This is an excellent example of the kind of projects we fund – people working together to help others in their community gain the skills they need to get the most out of their lives.”
Hundreds of stars of sport have shown their support for the work of Sporting Memories by sharing their own favourite memories. Supporters include Sir Steve Redgrave, Nico Rosberg, Katherine Grainger, David Weir and Chris Kamara.
Tony added: “Many of us have powerful memories from sport, whether it’s watching the World Cup with the local community coming together, singing, chanting, or being at a memorable Centre Court match at Wimbledon. There’s something about the communal and shared activity that creates powerful, positive memories. It’s about camaraderie, humour and spirit. Sport teaches us a lot about resilience as well as the uplift of winning; it can have such an inspiring, resonating impact in our lives, and we’re proud to help bring alive the past into the present, and bring people together.”
The Sporting Memories Network works in partnership with the Premier League and Football League clubs, the MCC, County Cricket Clubs, Rugby Union and Rugby League and are supported by the British Racing Drivers’ Club and the Professional Footballers’ Association.