Sporting Memories Network (SMN) were presented the award for Best National Dementia Friendly Initiative by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt at the Alzheimer’s Society awards which recognise communities, organisations and individuals who have helped to make their area more dementia friendly. The awards were sponsored by Lloyds Banking Group and supported by The Telegraph.
Featured in the photograph from left to right: Angela Rippon OBE (Alzhiemer's Society Ambassador), Chris Wilkins (Co-founder Sporting Memories Network), Tony Jameson-Allen (Co-founder Sporting Memories Network), Jeremy Hunt (Secretary of State for Health).
The network are leading work across Bristol and South Gloucestershire to embed the use of sporting memories to promote the mental and physical wellbeing of people living with dementia and memory problems. Weekly groups are held at a variety of locations, including Gloucestershire County Cricket Club’s Bristol pavilion, Bristol City’s Ashton Gate, Bristol Rovers Memorial Ground, libraries and community centres.
Volunteers involved in facilitating the groups, that use iconic images of sport, reports and memorabilia, include former county cricketers, professional footballers and sports fans. Three ‘memories games’ have been held to raise awareness of dementia and involved local school children and young Memory Makers interviewing fans to get their own favourite sporting memories.
"The national award is testament to the fantastic effort of all the volunteers, clubs and partners involved in making such vibrant, fun, friendly and effective projects that really can make a difference. Whilst people initially come to talk sport, they frequently become engaged in playing sport, albeit on a more gentle basis and form friendships that can help tackle dementia, depression and loneliness."
- SMN Director Chris Wilkins
Emma Moody, Programme Manager for Older People at Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group added “The CCG are delighted to have been able to jointly commission this service with Bristol City Council, as part of our work to develop Bristol as a dementia-friendly city.”
"It is great to see people being able to access these groups, which enable people with dementia to discuss their sporting passions with fellow enthusiasts. The more we can do to encourage people to continue doing things that they have always enjoyed the more people will continue to enjoy a good quality of life. "
- Emma Moody, Programme Manager for Older People, Bristol CCG
Over 3,500 memories have been ‘donated’ to the Network, which in turn are used to trigger more lively debates and conversations in the groups. To browse some of the stories shared by stars, celebrities and fans, visit the Sporting Memories website and donate some of your own to support the work in Bristol and across the UK.
In March 2012 the Prime Minister issued a national challenge on dementia - one of the key aspects of the challenge is creating dementia-friendly communities. Since then communities, individuals and organisations have all risen to the challenge and made Britain a better place for people with dementia. Sporting Memories Network is chairing a new task and finish group on sport and leisure as part of the challenge.