Former SAFC commentator Guy Mowbray is backing a drive to use sporting memories to tackle mental illness.
Guy, who graduated to Match of the Day from being part of the popular ‘G-Force’ commentary team on Metro Radio – has donated his collection of more than 1,000 programmes to social enterprise Sporting Memories Network.
The business uses sport as a way to bring people together and tackle loneliness, depression and dementia and has recently received funding from Comic Relief to develop digital sports reminiscence resources and establish more free weekly groups across the North East.
Co-founder Tony Jameson-Allen said sport was a particularly effective way of uniting people in the North East.
“There is a real passion for sport, but there is also that whole thing around the community side of it,” he said.
“If you are a Sunderland fan, you are not just supporting the club, you are a part of something much bigger, walking to the ground, being part of the crowd.
If you are a Sunderland fan, you are not just supporting the club, you are a part of something much bigger, walking to the ground, being part of the crowd.Tony Jameson-Allen
“People may lose the confidence to go the match and gradually become more isolated – this is about bringing them back together again.
“Anyone over the age of 50 has who has an interest in sport is welcome to come along to the groups.
“It is fun, it is an opportunity to make new friends, and an opportunity to reconnect with old friends as well.”
The need to increase in the older population made it more important than every to find new ways to tackle mental health issues, said Tony: “There are 50,000 people living with dementia across the UK, there are more than a million people over the age of 75 who are living alone and say TV is their main form of companionship and one in four adults over the age of 65 will experience mental ill-health or depression.
“The chief medical officer has stated that loneliness has the same impact on health as the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day, so it’s critical we find ways of helping people connect.”
Now Sporting Memories is appealing to sports fans to dig out their memorabilia and bring it along this week to donate.
The business has joined forces with Sunderland West Area and Sunderland Libraries for a session at the City Library and Arts Centre in Fawcett Street between 12.30pm and 2.30pm on Friday.
“We are appealing to sports fans across Wearside to dig out their old programmes, shirts, scarves, rosettes & rattles and bring them along this Friday to donate to our project,” said Tony.
“We will be on hand to receive donations, along with information on the new project and on how people can get involved in the groups.”