Sporting memories project aims to help Sunderland dementia sufferers

Eric Lisle and daughter Erin with Coun Peter Gibson, right and Tony Jameson-Allen, of the Sporting Memories Project.
Eric Lisle and daughter Erin with Coun Peter Gibson, right and Tony Jameson-Allen, of the Sporting Memories Project.
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A project which uses memories of sporting glories to help people fight debilitating dementia has scored a £5,000 funding boost.

Sunderland Sporting Memories Project uses people’s shared love and memorabilia such as photographs, match programmes and replica shirts donated by fellow football fans to stir memories and stimulate debate in ‘reminiscence’ projects which can then encourage them into exercise sessions.

Setting up these local Sporting Memories groups will help us reach a lot of people and encourage them to get involved with conversation, activities and socialising through their love of football and sport.

Coun Peter Gibson

It is part of the national ‘Sporting Memories Network’ scheme, which has the ​​​​support of organisations such as the Premier League and Professional Footballers’ Association and is nationally recognised by mental health groups, including the Alzheimer’s Society for its work.

Now Sunderland’s West Area Committee has provided £5,000 to fund two community-based sporting memories groups. Twelve library staff will be the first to begin training next month, with other voluntary and community groups including Sunderland AFC’s Foundation of Light attending future sessions.

Chairman of the West Area Committee, Coun Peter Gibson said: “Setting up these local Sporting Memories groups will help us reach a lot of people and encourage them to get involved with conversation, activities and socialising through their love of football and sport.”

To promote the scheme, the project held a recent event in Barnes Park where memorbailia on show included SAFC programmes and tickets from when Roker Park hosted 1966 World Cup games.

Activities included a ‘spot the ball’ competition to win a replica SAFC Kevin Phillips shirt, won by Eric Lisle from Blakeney Woods.