Volunteers who deliver vital community reminiscence work, helping people living with dementia in Scotland, have been shortlisted for a prestigious UK-wide award.
The Scotland-wide Football Memories Volunteer Network is the only Scotland-based organisation in the running in the Volunteer Team of the Year category at this year’s Museums + Heritage Awards organised by M+H Media.
Headquartered at Hampden Park, the Football Memories Scotland project is a partnership between Alzheimer Scotland and the Scottish Football Museum. The project started in 2009 and is the oldest national football reminiscence programme in the world.
It encourages and supports volunteers to spend time with football fans who are living with dementia, other forms of memory loss or who are otherwise experiencing loneliness, depression and social isolation. The groups use old football images, artefacts and sensory objects to stimulate memories and encourage discussions.
Football Memories Scotland volunteers and facilitators operate across Scotland in more than 200 groups and provide a listening ear in a welcoming, friendly environment.
The winner of the Volunteer Team Award will be announced at an event hosted by Rev Richard Coles at a glittering ceremony on the evening of Wednesday, 16 May in London. The Church of England vicar is perhaps best known as a former member of 1980’s band The Communards with singer Jimmy Somerville, but more recently as a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing and as a journalist and broadcaster.
Earlier this month, Football Memories Scotland announced match funding from the Scottish Government to create 50 Memory Boxes, enabling more communities across Scotland to benefit from vital reminiscence work. Football Memory boxes contain a range of football related items, from old footballs and shirts, to carbolic soap and liniment oil. The items are utilised as part of reminiscence work to stimulate memories using all the senses.
The project is initially targeting the creation of 50 Memory Boxes, which would ensure that all 34 senior clubs who currently host Football Memories Groups will receive a box. Furthermore, organisations/ individuals (e.g. supporters’ groups, rotary clubs etc) are being encouraged to donate £250 to create a Football Memory Box in the name of their organisation or an individual. Boxes have already been delivered to Ayr United FC (in the name of Ally MacLeod), Hampden Park (in the name of West of Scotland Tartan Army), Big Hearts, Kilmarnock FC Supporters' Trust, Hibernian Historic Trust and Carnoustie Panmure F.C.
Robert Craig, Chair of the Football Memories Scotland and Chair of Sports Heritage Scotland, said: “We are delighted that the incredible work of our Volunteer Network is being recognised at the Museums + Heritage Awards.
"Our pioneering project would not be possible without the hard work and capacity of our volunteers.”
Minister for Public Health and Sport Aileen Campbell said: “I am delighted Football Memories has been shortlisted for Volunteer Team of the Year. It is an innovative and inspiring project which uses the power of football to unlock memories and deliver positive outcomes in dementia, mental health and social exclusion. That is why we are directly supporting the delivery of Football Memories resource boxes.
“The contribution of the network of volunteers across Scotland are crucial to its success. I am pleased their hard work and dedication has been recognised and I wish them all the best in the awards next month.”
Individuals or organisations wishing to donate £250 to sponsor a Football Memory box in honour of their club or an individual should visit www.sportsheritagescotland.co.uk or call 0141 616 6112.