Sporting memories being used to help lonely

The Sporting Memories session at Woodhouse Community Centre. Group leader Lisa Hutton with Chris Newmarch. ''Picture: Scott Merrylees.
The Sporting Memories session at Woodhouse Community Centre. Group leader Lisa Hutton with Chris Newmarch. ''Picture: Scott Merrylees.
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THAT FEELING when Geoff Hurst’s hat trick helped secure victory for England in the 1966 World Cup, the pride when Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile or even the excitement when Leeds won the 1957 cup final at Wembley.

Unlocking sporting memories has become a powerful tool to help tackle loneliness, depression and dementia among older people across Yorkshire.

Founded by former psychiatric nurse Tony Jameson-Allen and business partner Chris Wilkins, Sporting Memories uses traditional ideas of reminiscence activities to bring together like minded people to discuss their love of the game, and currently has a weekly session at Woodhouse Community Centre.

Whether it be rugby league, football, boxing or athletics, by using old photographs, newspaper articles and memorabilia, discussion is helping people forge new friendships.

“The people who come along might be lonely, or have a problem with depression, but the one thing they have in common is a love of sport. Any health problems or social issues are put aside for a couple of hours so people can have fun, laughter and reminiscence about great sporting moments,” Mr Jameson-Allen said.

The first Sporting Memories project launched in 2011 in care homes across Leeds, and soon expanded after securing a grant to train up people from 50 organisations across the city.

The charity has won high profile support from the likes of Prime Minister David Cameron, Olympians Sir Steve Redgrave and Katherine Grainger and even AC/DC singer Brian Johnson.

Mr Jameson-Allen added: “A lot of reminiscence draws people to talking about what they’ve lost, but sport is a subject where there are a lot more happier memories.”

Visit www.sportingmemoriesnetwork.com

THE VOICES of people who are lonely and living in isolation are being used to force change in tackling the issue.

The Yorkshire Evening Post’s sister newspaper, The Yorkshire Post, has been running a campaign highlighting the issue of loneliness and the way it blights the region’s communities.

It is building an audio archive of real people telling their experiences of loneliness - and needs your help.

It wants to hear your story, whatever age you are.

Nicola Furbisher, managing editor of both newspapers, said: “We think this project will be hugely impactful - and will perhaps bring about changes in attitudes and provoke action far more quickly than statistics ever can.”

If you would like to be involved, please either email lindsay.pantry@ypn.co.uk or call 01132 388422. All calls will be treated in confidence.