Here in Fauldhouse, we are very lucky that there is a strong sense of community spirit. Every week there are various social events taking place here at the FCDT Hub, the Partnership Centre, the local churches and housing associations to assist local people.
What makes these events and activities so important is that it provides an opportunity for people to come together, socialise and make new friends. I think that it is important that there are as many opportunities as possible for people to reach out and connect with each other as loneliness and isolation is a growing problem in our communities.
Evidence produced by charities such as Age UK, the Campaign to End Loneliness and Action for Children shows that:
- Over 9 million people feel lonely in the UK – which amounts to almost one fifth of the whole population.
- A quarter of parents have reported always or often feeling lonely.
- 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with friends or family for over a month.
- One in four people with disabilities report feeling lonely on a daily basis.
Loneliness and isolation is something that can affect anyone and there are some fantastic projects out there trying to tackle the problem.
Last week, I had the privilege to visit Tynecastle Stadium to see the work that the Big Hearts Community Trust are doing with their Football Memories programme. The Football Memories project working in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland takes place on the second and last Tuesday of the month and invites individuals living with dementia and Alzheimer’s along to share their football memories of the past.
The sessions are run by volunteers and it was truly inspiring to see the difference that the project is making.
This was highlighted in a conversation that I had with one of the carers who said that her husband who has an extremely limited short term memory is always able to remind her when the group is meeting that month. She also added that after attending the group he is like a different person and is able to talk freely and fluently.
What was also striking was as well as providing benefits to individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia, the group was a great opportunity for their carers to meet and talk with people in a similar situation to themselves.
Here in West Lothian, similar groups are already running. The West Lothian Youth Foundation have worked closely with NHS Lothian and the local schools to encourage older people to produce memory books highlighting football of the 1960s and 1970s.
What makes these projects so impressive are their ability to reach out to people and provide an outlet where individuals can be themselves. It is clear that football has the ability to bring people together no matter what your age or background.
Fauldhouse Community Development Trust are currently exploring the possibility of starting a Football Memories group here in Fauldhouse. The group will be open to anyone and we would like to hear from you if you would be interested in attending the group or are perhaps interested in volunteering with the group.
You can contact me at The Hub, the phone number is 01501 773 699, my e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org or feel free to pop into the Hub on 10 Main Street to find out more.