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Residents of the Western Isles suffering from social isolation or mental health issues can now benefit from a programme designed to get people together to talk about sport.
The Sporting Memories Foundation, with support from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, is launching social activity clubs across the islands.
Kevin Morrison, Uist Community Sports Hub officer and lead for Uist and Barra Sporting Memory Groups, said: ‘The Sporting Memories Foundation (SMF) was originally set up in the UK to specifically support people living with cognitive impairment such as dementia or Alzheimer’s,
‘Our sessions will of course cater for people living with cognitive impairment but we also want to support all community members who would benefit and would like to attend the sessions.
‘Following the Covid-19 pandemic we are seeing a secondary pandemic in the Western Isles around social isolation. The Sporting Memories clubs will hopefully contribute in a small way to alleviating isolation across our island population.’
This new opportunity for islanders has been made possible through funding from the Western Isles Communities Mental Health Fund (£7,750), the Uist and Barra Sports Council (£750), Lewis and Harris Sports Council (£750) and CNES Sport and Health (£500). The funding was used to purchase a lifelong social licence to deliver SMF sessions, resources such as physical activity kit bags, retro footballs and rugby balls, replay cards and pink papers (old newspaper resources).
Steven Munro, sports development officer, said: ‘The SMF have been great in supporting us to access funding, training and resources to develop this new initiative in the Western Isles.
‘We believe it could make a real difference to our community to be able to meet up again after a long absence of opportunities to do so.
‘We have a rich history of sport across our islands and hope people will come along and share their memories of playing, coaching and/or watching sport throughout their lives.
‘The benefits to mental and physical health are endless when we manage to come together and talk in a social environment.’
Face-to-face sessions will run across the Western Isles as well as some online sessions for those unable to meet in person. Venues and dates are still being finalised but anyone wishing to attend or get involved should contact Steven Munro on firstname.lastname@example.org (Lewis & Harris) or Kevin Morrison email@example.com