The Football Memories Programme has been running in Scotland since 2009 and is now recognised as an internationally leading form of reminiscence therapy in support of older people and those of all ages affected by dementia, loneliness, social isolation, mental health issues and other conditions. In Aberdeen a strong partnership between Alzheimer Scotland and Aberdeen FC Community Trust has been in place since the beginning of the programme, enabling volunteers from organisations to deliver sessions at Pittodrie Stadium. Groups began to meet again recently after the covid-enforced break of two years, with the monthly calendar now including three Pittodrie sessions and one at Balmoral Stadium, home of our new partner Cove Rangers FC.
Materials including programmes, books, film clips, photographs, newspaper clippings and a memory box provided by Football Memories Scotland are used to trigger personal memories in a welcoming and relaxed environment. Meetings attended by up to a dozen service users last for ninety minutes, with a refreshment break, and everyone enjoys a “good old blether” about all things football-related, often moving into other areas such as places of work, cinemas, dance halls, shops and transport. There is no set agenda – the afternoon goes where the conversation takes it. Former players often made guest appearances, which makes the whole experience even more special.
The beneficial effect on members is clear to see and assess, including periods before and after meetings when behavioural improvements are fed back by carers. Football memories helps people’s sense of wellbeing, takes them into an environment which improves their self-confidence by taking part in group discussion and contributes to an atmosphere of positivity. Above all, participants enjoy fun, laughter and the banter.
Joe Harper and Drew Jarvie attended a recent meeting, sharing many stories of their careers and bringing along a selection of Scotland caps and cup final shirts. The photograph includes all who participated that day and shows how service users, volunteers and guests all leave with a smile on their faces.
The sessions are free of charge but booking a place is advised as numbers must be managed at a comfortable level. For more information please contact Alan Johnstone, Football Memories Scotland Regional Coordinator, on 07753 749219 or firstname.lastname@example.org.