How sporting heritage is helping tackle loneliness and dementia

If you're a sports fan your past will no doubt be littered with the highs and lows of your favourite team or sporting hero. Whether it's Andy Murray winning his first Grand Slam, Jonny Wilkinson's world cup winning kick or (in my case) John Hewitt sailing through the air to glance home the winning goal for Aberdeen against Real Madrid in May 1983; Sporting Heritage is in our blood.

As it happens, September 30th is National Sporting Heritage Day. And there's a serious purpose behind it, aiming to celebrate the power of sporting heritage by helping people and communities learn more about the past, themselves, and each other. Sport provides a bond and sense of identity that can span age, gender and class differences. As the National Awareness Days website states:

'Sporting heritage engages non-traditional audiences with both culture and sport, re-engages children, young people and adults with learning, and supports new and exciting community partnerships in the long-term...

...Sporting heritage connects communities and is fundamentally important to many as part of their own identity.'

replay-sporting-memories-networkOne organisation that places Sporting Heritage at the very core of its activities is the Sporting Memories Network (SMN). SMN supports a UK-wide network of free groups aimed at the over 50s and using Sporting Memories to tackle loneliness, dementia and depression.

'We support older people across the UK living with dementia, depression and loneliness by engaging them in social activities and helping them to recall memories of watching or playing sport. By sharing memories of sporting moments and tapping into a passion for sport we help people to connect with others and with their past, reawakening positive thoughts and feelings that otherwise remain hidden away.'

SMN is looking to expand its reach by partnering with local groups and individual volunteers to start up and run new Sporting Memory groups. Hall Aitken are helping SMN to identify and quantify need through a short survey of potential partners and volunteers.

You can find out more about the amazing work they do by visiting their website and watching the short video: