Memories help to give loneliness the boot

The County Ground, Leyland, headquarters of Lancashire FA
The County Ground, Leyland, headquarters of Lancashire FA
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Leyland is to host Lancashire’s first Sporting Memories group - supporting older people living with dementia, depression and loneliness by helping them to recall watching or playing sport.

The group will be launched at the home of the Lancashire Football Association, Thurston Road, Leyland, next month.

The Sporting Memories Foundation is a social enterprise that runs community-wide sports reminiscence projects throughout the country.

By sharing memories of sporting moments and tapping into a passion for sport it helps people to connect with others and with their past, reawakening positive thoughts and feelings that otherwise remain hidden away.

The Leyland project, beginning on June 18, is being launched in tandem with one in Chorley - at Chorley FC on May 30.

Andrew Whitaker Football Development Officer, disability and inclusion, at the Lancashire Football Association, said: “We’re running what Chorley are running at Chorley Football Club.

“The kind of ethos of the programme is exactly the same. We’ve got some Sport England funding to deliver these programmes.”

He explained that two 45-minute sessions would be split, with one to reminisence using the likes of visual aids to bring back memories for people, then ‘low level’ physical activity.

“We’re thinking of getting a Subbuteo table, some carpet bowls and looking at some table tennis, different things we can do,” said Mr Whitaker.

“With it being a football county FA, a lot will probably be football related. But we’ve been out to other organisations.”

He added: “We’re looking at reducing isolation and loneliness and linking people together in a safe environment where they can have a chat.

“They can bring their own stories and pictures

and share that with the group.

“We’re going to use our Presidents Suite which overlooks the pitch so it will be a nice backdrop.”

Andrew is the point of contact for bookings and anyone wanting to join the group.

“I think we’ll get to a point where some people will drop in and out, that’s fine. Weekly commitment might be too much. They might come once a month, it’s very flexible.”

The programme is aimed at the 55-plus age group.

The Sporting Memories Foundation, a registered charity, states: “Once sparked the desire to have a go at other physical activities can return and we encourage and facilitate physical activities, inclusive sports and games that everyone can take part in, to promote physical health as well as mental health.

“Our work aims to challenge stereotypical views of ageing and mental health issues, to reduce stigma around issues like dementia and depression and to help reduce loneliness and

enable older people to live well.

“The money raised from the foundation goes towards recruiting, training, managing and supporting volunteers working on Sporting Memories projects in the UK.”