Football Memories


Football Memories is a Scotland-wide project and has been running since 2008. The project aims to provide companionship, mutual support and a sense of belonging to men with Dementia through the use of archive photograph material. For a number of years, certain groups have been using football as a medium to engage with men who have been diagnosed with dementia. With the intent of giving some structure to these projects, the Scottish Football Museum at Hampden Park applied successfully to the Heritage Lottery for £25,000 for a pilot project. They worked with groups in Prestwick, Aberdeen, Falkirk and Edinburgh (Hibernian Football Club), which were already engaged in this work. The project ran for six months with visits to the museum and in the settings where the men lived – using memorabilia, old kit, photographs and old programmes to stimulate discussion. Some of the men created a special memory book about their own football reminiscences, either as a player or spectator.

The pilot project was evaluated by Glasgow Caledonian University with the findings being that the experience had had a dramatic beneficial effect. Alzheimer Scotland, impressed by its impact, offered the Scottish Football Museum a further £25,000 to develop it further. They are now working to develop a simple model which will be readily transferable and locally sustainable.

The next phase will see more volunteers being recruited and trained.The initial training will include information about the pilot phase and use of materials, input on dementia awareness, reminiscence work, and the role of the volunteer.

Volunteers will be matched on a one-to-one basis with someone living in their own home, a care home or in a day-care setting. They will work together in imaginative ways to create something which is a unique expression of each person‘s own football-related reminiscences. The volunteers will also take the men to visit places meaningful to them, and will help them to capture these in photographs as part of their portfolio. Throughout the project the volunteers will receive regular support, both individually and as a group. There are also several instances of successful small groups where a volunteer works with trained staff.

It is hoped that further sport-based reminiscence can be developed in the future. There are plans for projects in rugby, golf, motor sport and track and field athletics.

Benefits for the Community

The project works to increase the level of awareness and understanding of Dementia and the people who live with it. It is about learning about the different and creative ways of engaging with people in the early stages of dementia and the impact this can have on individuals and families.

Benefits for the Younger People

The volunteers are being offered the opportunity to learn more about dementia, and this, for some of the younger volunteers in particular, may lead to a career in a related service. It allows the volunteer to access the opportunity for work experience, qualifications and personal development.

Benefits for the Older People

The participants in this project are men aged between 50 and 90 with the diagnosis of Dementia and have been referred by GPs, Social Work Services and family members. The project helps to reduce loneliness and withdrawal from the community. It helps to improve the person’s mood, language skills, confidence and self–esteem.

This project contributes to the Scottish National Performance Framework (NFP):

Scottish NPF Objectives

The main NPF objective that this project contributes to is:

  • Healthier will enable people to live longer and healthier lives.

These NPF objectives could also apply:

  • Wealthier and Fairer will support activities that address inequalities and enhance skills, employability and job opportunities. It builds on the characteristics of solidarity, cohesion and sustainability to ensure that all of Scotland has an opportunity to flourish.
  • Smarter will focus on improving literacy, numeracy and attainment and on raising and realising ambition for all.

Scottish NPF Outcomes

We live longer, healthier lives: Securing longer healthier lives for the people of Scotland will always be a top priority for governments and individuals alike. There are significant challenges which can only be addressed by everyone in Scotland working together, pursuing this goal through improving lifestyles and life circumstances, and a shared ownership of an effective NHS.

Our people are able to maintain their independence as they get older, and are able to access appropriate support when they need it: Providing high quality care and support to an ageing population is a fundamental principle of social justice and is an important hallmark of a caring and compassionate society. Collectively we need to give priority to ensuring that older people receive the care, compassion, support and dignity they need and deserve.

Our young people are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens: To enable children, young people and (subsequently) adults to thrive from an early age, and make a positive contribution in the 21st century.

A football historian noted, “When I put the programmes on the table, the staff almost had to hold the men back; there was a sudden burst of energy in the room.”

‘For a few hours my husband is just like he used to be.’

Check out the “Daily Record supplement (May 2013) (external)”: called ‘Learning for Life’ which features the football memories project.