A group that uses shinty to tackle dementia and other mental health issues is seeking new funding to help it extend its reach this year amid growing demand.
Shinty Memories Scotland had to move its activities online during the lockdown at a time when mental health and loneliness problems were exacerbated.
It hopes to relaunch core activities, such as walks, discussion groups, gatherings with other sports organisations and activity days when the pandemic recedes, but will continue with online activities in the meantime.
However, while the demand for shinty reminiscence activity is increasing steadily, the ability to meet the demand is being limited by inadequate resources.
Group chairman David MacMaster said: “Our current funding arrangements are coming to an end which is going to put more pressure on us and we are actively seeking support from charitable funding agencies. We are also open to engagement with potential sponsors or supporters.”
He added: “A global pandemic is not the best of circumstances within which to try to operate a community support system which is largely dependent on face-to-face contact and engagement.
“The 2020 season was as challenging for Shinty Memories Scotland as all other parts of society and shinty.
“Shinty Memories Scotland is always looking for help so that we can deliver vital support services within our communities and is keen to engage with areas where shinty is central to the community and would benefit from the work we can do.”
Support from the Life Changes Trust, Museums Galleries Scotland and Highland Folk Museum, allowed the group to re-adjust and use online material to provide support for many isolated people.
Despite difficulties during the pandemic, a new shinty memories group was established in Inverness and a link was developed with Kingussie High School to enable pupils to better understand how dementia and other conditions can affect older people.
A £10,000 support grant from the Life Changes Trust’s Creating Better Lives in the Highlands Small Grants Programme was used in 2020 to start new projects. These were in the Badenoch, Caberfeidh, Lovat, Lochaber, Ballachulish and Beauly shinty memories groups, including the purchase of digital equipment to show archive photographs, videos and audio files.
Key targets for 2021 include strengthening activity in Argyll and on the west coast and Skye, including Lewis and Glasgow.
It is also hoped to hold live quizzes as part of a programme of fundraising events and a repeat of a veterans’ challenge match of 2015, possibly linked to this year’s Camanachd Cup Final.
Anyone wishing help financially or donate materials such as match programmes and old yearbooks, can contact Shinty Memories Scotland.