Forget Me Not FC was a project established in 2019 as a community walking football activity-based project developed by Uxbridge Amblers Walking FC, following partnership work with Hillingdon Council and Disablement Association of Hillingdon.
The project consists of Walking Football based activities for residents living with dementia and their carers, focusing on cognitive and physical exercise, as well as reminiscence and social interaction. Following the success of the programme, Uxbridge Amblers Walking FC have expended the project to various other activities, including Golf, Tennis and Boccia. Over 30 participants have also had the opportunity to attend 4 dementia friendly match days at both QPR and Hayes & Yeading United which has given participants the opportunity to go and watch live football again.
Over the next two seasons, Middlesex FA, the FA and the Wembley National Stadium Trust have pledged funding to support the growth and expansion of the project, which will see programmes set up in other boroughs across Middlesex. These include two new programmes which have launched in the month of November:
• The new Brent programme will be delivered by Jason Roberts Foundation – in partnership with Age UK Brent, Brent Council and Wembley National Stadium Trust.
• The Barnet programme will be delivered by Barnet Walking Football Team, in partnership with Dementia Club UK, Barnet Council and GLL.
Mick Geraghty (Secretary at Uxbridge Amblers Walking FC and Founder of the Forget Me Not FC project) spoke about the success of the project so far: “Over 100 participants each month enjoy being part of a unique family. The members from the Dementia Friends project have developed a special social network through football. All our members, especially the carers, recognise the importance of the support and shared experience the sessions bring. A cup of tea and a chat is an integral part of our activities. All members living with dementia have various medical conditions and the key benefits the sessions bring to the individual is improved movement, maintained verbal communication and special awareness while exercising in a fun and inclusive environment.
"With over 3000 residents living with dementia in Hillingdon, our project has only scratched the surface. But for the group who attend our sessions, our key driver is to support the Hillingdon Council in ensuring that all those with Dementia live well in the community for as long as possible. Over the past 4 years we have seen 90% of our members remain in the family home and enjoy being part of the community in their own right.”
We asked Mick how he sees the project developing in the near future, to which he responded: “Forget Me Not FC has a strategy of growth in two key areas. The first being to offer a second session to Hillingdon residents living in the North of the Borough to access potential members who are unable to travel very far. The second being to continue to expand the Forget Me Not FC brand across the Middlesex FA family to ensure football reaches more of the Dementia community.”
Forget Me Not FC matchday at QPR
, Football Development Officer (Inclusion) at Middlesex FA, said: “The project has proven to have had a very positive impact on the physical and mental health of the participants and their carers attending the sessions. The NHS report that there are over 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, so the expansion of this project will be a step in the right direction in ensuring that residents in all our boroughs can access the programme and its benefits.
"We are very lucky to have a network of truly remarkable clubs who have been doing the work on the ground to support our community.
"Middlesex FA are committed to improving the services which we offer to residents living with dementia and their carers. We have signed up to the Alzheimer’s Society’s County FA referral service
, as well as taking steps to ensuring that Rectory Park is now a Dementia Friendly Accredited Venue
CEO of the Jason Roberts Foundation, said: “This programme presents a big opportunity not only for the participants, but also for their carers and families as it offers some respite. Through delivering this programme, we aim to raise awareness of the need locally for more activities and opportunities for those living with dementia and their families. We anticipate an enhanced intergenerational use of our community centre and hope to expand the offer locally through partnership work.”
Forget Me Not FC Hillingdon programme
, Founder and Chair of Dementia Club UK, said: “Dementia Club UK is delighted to be partnered with Middlesex FA and the over 50’s Barnet Walking Football Team to deliver this new project which is first in the Borough of Barnet. I have always promoted exercise as one of the very important components in all my sessions for keeping healthy. You don’t have to join a gym to exercise. It’s all about doing an activity you most enjoy. The Forget Me Not Football is all about low impact exercises suitable for everyone and making new friends in a social environment.”
We also spoke to Petrit Krasniqi
, Community Sports Manager at GLL Barnet, following the launch of the project at the Dementia Friendly Accredited Barnet Copthall Leisure Centre: “We want to support residents living with dementia and their carers to engage in regular physical activity and exercise in a safe environment. Research continues to demonstrate the benefits of exercise on those living with dementia, not only for physical health but for mental health too. Physical activity also creates valuable opportunities to socialise with others and can help improve and maintain a person's independence.”
For more information about symptoms, and how you can support someone living with dementia, head over to the Alzheimer’s Society website.
To find out more about the programme or to enquire about becoming a delivery partner, please email email@example.com