But it’s nothing new for the Sporting Memories Foundation – that’s the charity’s bread and butter!
While coronavirus has resulted in the closure of the Foundation’s 120 community memory clubs across the UK – 40 of them in Scotland – staff and volunteers are working hard to make sure members are still connected.
And the charity is also sending out an invitation for others to join in the fun.
Resources and activities that can be used at home, online or over the phone have been created, including quizzes, puzzles and videos.
And for the first time ever, the Foundation’s weekly publication Sporting Pink is available for everyone to enjoy, with a digital version now available online.
Usually only used in its clubs, the Foundation hopes that by making it more widely available, families and friends will use it with older relatives to help spark sporting conversations.
Maruice Donohue, the chief operating officer in Scotland, said: “Now that so many of us are isolated from our loved ones and friends, we want to encourage as many people as possible to talk about sport.
“The aim is to get people to engage with their family and friends of all ages, spark lively conversations and bring to the fore all those positive memories.
“That’s why we have launched #TalkAboutSport. We want to demonstrate to as many people as possible the health, well-being and social benefits of talking about sport.
“Using our Sporting Pink digitally is a good starting point as it has information which can help spark those conversations.
“It will give people all over Scotland a wee taste of what happens at our clubs too.
“But instead of meeting in group settings in the communuity or care homes, you can do it all from the comfort and safety of home – simply using a telephone.”
Staff and volunteers started working on the new resources ahead of lockdown, as co-founder Chris Wilkins knew how hard it would hit the charity’s elderly members.
He said: “In a bid to help our members, and older people across the country who have an inteest in sport, we set up an activities area on our website.
“Our staff and volunteers are working hard to turn more of their innovative ideas into reality and will be adding to these resources and our other online channels in the coming weeks.”
Sadly, coronavirus means members can no longer meet weekly to discuss sport.
However, the charity hopes that the online resources will serve as a buffer until our lives start to return to normal.
Luckily, with so much work still being done, the Sporting Memories Foundation team are all still gainfully employed and are also finding new ways of communicating.
Maurice explained: “I’ve never been involved in so many video conference calls in my life!
“I’m now well accustomed to Zoom chats and we’re as busy as we’ve ever been.
“We know our members still need us, probably now more than ever, as many of them are elderly and shielding due to underlying health conditions.
“We actually closed all of our clubs ahead of lockdown in a bid to safeguard our members, as well as our staff and volunteers.
“In that short period of time, we gathered as much information as we could about members so that we could stay in contact with them during the pandemic.
“Luckily, many of our volunteers already had firm relationships with their members which made the process a lot easier.
“So we’re still doing some outreach work with those members who can’t access the internet.
“Staff and volunteers are also calling them regularly or getting them involved in conference calls with other members so they don’t lose the connections they’ve formed in the groups.”
Maurice is also using the lockdown to form stronger relationships with the charity’s volunteers.
He added: “We couldn’t do what we do without them. They have been fantastic.
“We’re now holding a Zoom chat with our volunteers every week. It’s a great way to share ideas and the volunteers are making friendships too.
“We plan to continue with them after this is over; it’s a real positive which has come out of a negative situation.”
To sign up to the Sporting Pink, visit www.sportingmemoriesnetwork.com.
Memorabilia to stir memories
The Foundation has also recently launched another campaign, Sporting Memories in 100 Objects.
It is looking for people to record their memories of a sporting object to spark even more conversation.
Maurice said: “We know from our own members, there is a lot of good local sporting heritage out there.
“It’s amazing some of the memorabilia our members have shared with each other.
“By inviting everyone in Scotland to share their memories, we’re sure we’ll unearth some incredible stories that we can all enjoy, share and talk about.”
Members of the public are being asked to reminisce on film about an object that is of emotional value to them.
A piece of turf, their first ever match scarf, a signed programme, a sweaty wrist band, the skipping rope they used at school, a personal or team photo or even a matchday song or team chant.
Maurice said: “We will use these extracts of film in various ways, both immediately to raise general awareness of our work and in the future as resources.
“We hope to inspire members of the public to record their own short piece about a sporting object that is special to them – something they can show and talk about on camera.
“It doesn’t need to be linked to their chosen sport; it could be from their childhood.
“It just needs to be informal, chatty and recorded on a smartphone or tablet.”
Howard Mitchell, the Sporting Memories film whizz, is working on the practical side of the project – uploading them for people to enjoy.
Recordings should be sent to [email protected]
Visit www.sportingmemories network.com for more details.