Rugby club in Wareham gives community group new lease of life

A Puirbeck support group for people living with dementia and their carers has been given a new home – by a rugby club.

Swanage and Wareham RFC stepped in after the Covid pandemic put paid to meetings of the Forget-me-not group, which helps those across Purbeck including in Swanage.

Swanage and Wareham rugby club

The rugby club in Bestwall Road in Wareham is offering its facilites to local community groups

Thriving drop-in sessions

With activities able to resume, the rugby club offered space at its HQ in Bestwall Road in Wareham, free of charge.

And now the group, run by a collaboration between Dementia Friendly Purbeck, Age UK, Dorset Council and Dorset Healthcare, is thriving, with regular Monday drop-in sessions attended by up to 30 people and their carers.

Rachel Newman at Swanage and Wareham Rugby Club
Swanage and Wareham RFC

Rachel Newman from Age UK runs the Forget-me-not Purbeck drop-in sessions

“A lot of fun and laughter alongside the support”

Rachel Newman, of Age UK’s North, South and West Dorset branch, said:

“It’s a place where people with dementia and those who help them can come to find support from each other and from professionals who come to offer advice.

“As well as the obvious benefits of socialising, we organise activities and games that help brain function and dexterity, such as dominoes, and music that prompts memories.

“It’s amazing what the rugby club has done. They have given us a wonderful space in which to run sessions and we’re very grateful.

“Those with dementia seem to enjoy being here. There is a lot of fun and laughter alongside the support.

“Sometimes friends or relatives come with their loved-ones, which also improves understanding of the condition and what can be done to help.”

Martin Hill at Swanage and Wareham Rugby Club
Swanage and Wareham RFC

Chair of Swanage and Wareham RFC Martin Hill

“what’s the point of leaving the place empty…?”

Swans chair Martin Hill said hosting Forget-Me-Not Purbeck was an obvious course for the club given the Rugby Football Union’s ongoing examination of the links between the game’s players and early-onset dementia.

But the main motive for the offer of free space was to benefit the local community in general.

He said:

“We have these facilities here at our clubhouse but don’t use them during weekdays. So what’s the point of leaving the place empty when there are individuals and companies out there charging excessive amounts to local groups, trying to get as much money out of them as possible?”

Playin rugby at Swanage and Wareham Rugby club
T Foskett

Tackling more than just rugby at Swanage and Wareham RFC

“We just want to help the local community as much as possible”

The club also hosts Lewis-Manning Hospice Care sessions and an NHS cardio group for minimal fees covering just electricity costs.

And it is also involved in various ways with disability and multiple sclerosis groups, and the Wareham Lions Club.

Martin added:

“Making more use of clubhouses, grounds and facilities has to be the way forward for sports clubs.

“We just want to help the local community as much as possible. It’s important to us. We’re really proud of how much we do and if there are other groups that we can fit in, we’re more than willing to do so.”

Rachel Newman and Martin Hill at Swanage and Wareham Rugby Club
Swanage and Wareham RFC

Working together; Rachel Newman and Martin Hill

“Great to see everyone joining in”

Though he does not participate in the Forget-Me-Not sessions, Martin keeps an interested eye on them.

He said:

“It’s great to see everyone joining in the activities Rachel organises, especially the music games.

“It’s wonderful to see the pleasure they get when they remember a song or melody they may have forgotten.”

Forget me not Purbeck logo

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