Plymouth University is teaming up with Plymouth Argyle Football Club to help the club re-connect with supporters living with the symptoms of dementia.
The club has been working since last year to give all Home Park staff – including players, coaches and the Board Directors – a greater awareness and understanding of what dementia means in people’s lives.
With the help of researchers and students at Plymouth University, it has embarked on a wide range of new football-related initiatives and new opportunities to be offered by the club include:
- Direct involvement in the operations of the football club for people with relevant experience – from retail and commercial to improving customer experience.
- Joining Home Park coaches to contribute to training sessions at the club and in the community.
- Match-day experiences built individually around supporters whose condition means they need additional support.
- A ‘football café’ where activities – from challenges to pure fun – will be based on research identified by Plymouth University.
- Encouraging and supporting people to take part in existing club and community activities, e.g. walking football, new-age curling, and social events.
Argyle will be looking to connect some of its initiatives to local schools where children are involved in learning about dementia and understanding its impact.
The club is also committed to a review of its HR policies to make sure support is in place for any employees diagnosed with a dementia, and for staff who have care responsibility for a family member.
Chief Executive Martyn Starnes said:
“We know that people living with dementia symptoms are at higher risk of becoming isolated, and that many lose confidence in what they can do and the value of what they have to contribute. As a club, we want to focus on bringing our ‘lost’ supporters back into the Green Army, and reminding them of how important they are to us and to our connected community.”
Ian Sherriff, Academic Partnership Lead for Dementia at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, added:
“The University is very keen to provide its knowledge and expertise to Plymouth Argyle to support these immensely exciting initiatives. We will be spending the coming weeks and months working out the details with the club and other link organisations. In the new season, we are looking forward to seeing this innovative project in action. It will provide an exceptional model, and one that we hope other professional and amateur clubs throughout the UK will follow.”