By Jim Purvis, Group Delivery and Practice Coordinator, Sporting Memories Foundation Scotland

Jim Purvis holding a photo of a runner
10 September 2020

From early in lockdown, my team and I identified the need to keep in contact with our Club members by whatever means available. We embarked on a programme of making regular keeping-in-touch (KIT) phone calls. Because of our members' age demographic, many have no internet access through lack of technology.

Of course as the days and weeks passed it became clear that personal and business communication was increasingly being conducted through Zoom, Skype, Teams and so on – and this was no different for Sporting Memories Coordinators, staff and volunteers.

I will admit to having reservations at first about how our members would cope with such applications. However, inspired by the great success of the groups brought online by my Sporting Memories friends in Chorley, Preston, Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes, I attended a number of these meetings as an observer and participant.

I soon saw how quickly our members got to grips with the technology – often with valuable assistance from family members. It was also clear that while the Zoom groups couldn't match the 'real thing', members, staff and volunteers were clearly enjoying the experience and new innovations were being introduced as the weeks passed.

Not least on the basis of 'anything they can do we can do better', my colleague Yvonne Friel and I vowed to make it happen for our areas: Lanarkshire and the West of Scotland. We found that significantly more of our members than in other areas lacked the basic technology to be able to join in, but our first trial group nonetheless attracted 19 participants.

We brought on board David Gallagher to help bring our members (and us!) online. He has been invaluable in this given his youth and corresponding tech 'savvyness' – something somewhat lacking in some of his older colleagues!

There were some technical hitches over the first few weeks but these have always been overcome and members and volunteers all seem to be greatly enjoying themselves. It is a learning experience for us all and is bringing together as many of our people as we can manage – with hopes of including more – and perhaps splitting into two or more groups, with the increased availability of family assistance during the easing of lockdown restrictions.

If you are interested in finding out more about our online groups or how to join, please send me an email, to [email protected]