Plymouth University has teamed up with Plymouth Argyle Football Club to help the club re-connect with its supporters who live with dementia by creating a number of new initiatives.
The club has been working since last year to give all Home Park staff – including players, coaches and 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 range of new football-related initiatives and opportunities including:
• 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 around supporters whose condition means they need additional support
• A ‘football café’ where challenges and fun activities 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 also plans to connect some of its initiatives to local schools where children are involved in learning about dementia and understanding its impact. The club also plans to review its HR policies to ensure support is in place for any employees diagnosed with dementia, and for staff who have care responsibility for a family member.
Martyn Starnes, chief executive of Plymouth Argyle, 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.”