Sporting Memories participant Colin Ward believes the programme is of great benefit to not only those with dementia, but for people who are caring for those who have the condition, too, particularly as someone who is speaking from experience.
The programme is approaching its second anniversary of running at Preston North End Community and Education Trust, having started in October 2019 to support those living with dementia, depression and loneliness and their carers, as well as anyone else wishing to engage in sporting chat.
Running online since May last year, the programme continues to provide support in a virtual capacity with Zoom meetings running every Tuesday from 11am until 12.30pm.
While Colin – who has attended our Sporting Memories meetings both in-person before the Coronavirus pandemic and continues to join in an online capacity – does not have dementia himself, he has experience of caring for his mother, who did suffer from dementia.
That has led to Colin having a natural understanding and interest in support services for those living with dementia, which has only continued since he became involved in Sporting Memories with PNECET.
Looking back on how he first accessed Sporting Memories, Colin said: “It all started with my mate Dave, who’s a volunteer.
“I’d had a stroke and he took me to Sporting Memories to get me out. I must admit that when I got there, I was surprised by how many people were involved and how well it was run. I got friendly with some people who had had dementia, carers of people who had had dementia, it was a good experience.”
Colin added: “My mum had dementia and being an only child, it was on my head to look after her. I know what people go through. They say that people who have dementia are suffering, but it’s also the carers, because they need support as well
“I feel sorry for anybody that has dementia because they sometimes don’t know what they’re doing.
“They do things off their own backs because it’s what they’re used to, they will reminisce for ages about sport and I think this is where Sporting Memories comes in, because it can get them to reminisce about things they probably couldn’t remember otherwise. It might just trigger something and that’s the really good thing about it.”
The programme includes a range of engaging activities to stimulate people’s memories, with themed discussions about past events as well as the ‘Sporting Week’, in which participants and volunteers look back on worldwide events in sport in the previous seven days.
On the benefits of Sporting Memories, Colin continued: “It gets the brain working.
“We have speakers, we have all sorts of different things going on, which is designed to help people with dementia and the lonely as well. I joined the face-to-face groups, and I’ll be glad when they’re back, but I also enjoy the Zoom meetings which we have now.
“The speakers they get on are very, very good, hopefully generating somebody’s memory who will say, ‘Yeah, I remember that’.
“It gives me hope of how things are going to be in the future. I’m not ill in any way, shape or form, but I enjoy them [the meetings] as well.
“It generates my memory and hopefully to generate my memory it will help me not get dementia and it’s a bit of a self-help programme as well.”
To join our Sporting Memories programme, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a Zoom link for the meetings, which run from 11am until 12.30pm every Tuesday.