The Sporting Memories Foundation has been awarded £93k from the National Lottery to tackle rural isolation and loneliness in Suffolk.
The charity will use the funding to develop a network of Sporting Memories groups based in market towns and villages using small community halls and venues.
The project is supported by the Most Active County Partnership, Suffolk Community Foundation and Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils, with extra groups targeted in these rural areas, initially around Sudbury, Eye, and Woolpit.
The Sporting Memories Foundation is the world’s first charity dedicated to sports reminiscence and physical activities, supporting older people to come together in their communities. The groups are inclusive, social and enjoyable events, embracing people living with dementia, depression and loneliness by engaging them socially and helping to recall memories of watching or playing sport.
Open to everyone over the age of 50, Sporting Memories uses sports-based reminiscence resources and develops collections from local groups that rekindle those very special sporting memories and events. Sessions also incorporate appropriate promotion of gentle exercise and physical activity within a fun and relaxed environment.
Suffolk is already a thriving county for the organisation with six weekly community-based groups established, 11 care homes delivering sessions in market towns and local hero Terry Butcher (the former England and Ipswich Town defender) a charity patron.
The project will link with local facilities and groups to support training, resources, equipment and advice for local delivery of Sporting Memories sessions.
Charity Patron, Terry Butcher, is delighted the project is to be focused on Suffolk.
“It’s brilliant news that we are able to spread the great work of Sporting Memories volunteer teams across towns and villages in Suffolk. The groups are such a great way of bringing people together, and there will be so many sporting stories to uncover and share. Talking makes such a difference to our wellbeing.”
“We want to hear from people interested in helping to run or take part in groups in their towns and villages. Local sports clubs and village halls that can host groups should get in touch, and any local partners that may want to work with us.”
The first groups are due to begin in July, starting with local launch events, to be announced shortly.
Cllr Julie Flatman, Mid Suffolk District Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, said:
“Sporting Memories is a fascinating project that will help bring out stories that might otherwise be forgotten, and bring people of all ages together in the process. Not only will this project improve health and wellbeing, it will also help residents who might otherwise face isolation forge new links and discover new friends through their love of sport.”
Cllr Derek Davis, Babergh District Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, said:
“Rural isolation is a real challenge, and we’re always looking for imaginative and engaging ways to tackle it. This project from the Sporting Memories Foundation is a wonderful way to make a start, bringing communities together with sports and the memories of sport. It’s is a great catalyst for conversation and engagement, supporting community wellbeing, and I look forward to seeing groups thrive in Babergh.”
Cllr James Reader, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, added:
“We have been working collaboratively with the Sporting Memories Network for some time to develop Sporting Memories sessions in Suffolk. The news that the network of opportunities is to be extended across the more rural areas of the county is great news and supports Suffolk’s ambition of becoming the most active county in England.”
Sporting Memories would like to hear from individuals, organisations and facility providers who may want to get involved in the project. For further information contact Phil Lown on 07864 614979 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.