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Community

Dementia Action Week: Lead Volunteer Reflects On One Year Of Sporting Memories Online

20 May 2021

Preston North End Community and Education Trust’s lead Sporting Memories volunteer Martin Atherton has highlighted how the three core issues which the programme aims to tackle – dementia, depression and loneliness – can all be interlinked.

The Sporting Memories programme supports people living with dementia, depression and loneliness as well as those people’s carers, by engaging them in discussion relating to sport and other topics with a 90-minute-long meeting every Tuesday, which has now been running via Zoom for almost a year.

From June to December 2020, 33 online Sporting Memories sessions took place, engaging an enthusiastic group of participants and volunteers every week to talk about a whole variety of topics, while also being engaged in quizzes and guest speakers being welcomed.

Martin, lead volunteer on the programme and also club statistician, said the programme is equally important in providing support to people who are caring for those with dementia, suggesting that depression and loneliness can arise as a result of being a carer.

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“The whole aim of Sporting Memories is to support people with dementia, depression and loneliness. It gives people the opportunity to meet other people, even if it’s online, you’ve got that human interaction which is so important.

“We get to stimulate memories through the activities we put on, the guests we have and the quizzes. Stimulating memories is one part of it for people who are living with dementia and equally important, for people who are caring for them. It gives them some time off.”

“Depression and loneliness can arise from dementia. For people who are living with the people who have dementia, it gives them some contact outside the house, it gives them the opportunity to speak to someone.”

He added that meeting online, while not the same as doing so in person, still provides endless benefits for Sporting Memories members – who now convene from far and wide in a virtual capacity.

“It might be online, it’s not as good as face-to-face, but it’s a lot better than nothing,” he added.

“It’s really important that they have this contact and they can see friendly faces and they have the opportunity to have a laugh without feeling guilty about it.

“This is something people can do together and they can do it together as a couple, a carer and somebody living with dementia, but also in the company of other people who understand what the situation is like – either through personal experience or just through having been around other people, even in an online setting.

“One of the real positives of being online is the geographical reach; you are not confined to people who can get to Deepdale on a Tuesday, which we were before.

“It’s really important that we are giving people the opportunity to just talk and not necessarily to talk about depression, loneliness or dementia – talk about something else.

“We all need to be able to get outside rather than just look at the screen, then the same thing happens when you’ve got the screen – giving people different faces and different topics to talk about.”

For more information about the Sporting Memories programme, and to register an interest in joining the session for you or someone else, please contact hannah.white@pne.com.


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