Sunday, 23 June 2013

12 months of collaboration across the twitter nation

Following on from my last musings of 21 years of nursing and perhaps inspired by the Department of Health's dementia roadshows in Newcastle and Leeds that we had the pleasure of presenting the Sporting Memories work at, a few thoughts on collaboration,  knowledge sharing and a celebration of 12 months of the Replay Websites

I believe it was no coincidence that all the ten minute presentations show casing excellence in developing dementia care across the North East & Yorkshire all included common themes: partnership working, knowledge sharing and collaboration. These encompass an approach and value I hold dear and one that we have built into the very heart of the work we are developing at the Sporting Memories Network 

A quick tot up of people who have attended training sessions for city wide or county wide projects, shows that in the last 9 months alone we have engaged with over one hundred organisations, whose staff and volunteers are now involved in promoting the mental and physical well-being of local older people, including those living with dementia and depression, through sports based reminiscence. This figure is set to double in the next couple of months as the new projects in Leeds & Bristol/South Gloucestershire come to life.

In addition to the involvement of health and social care providers and the 3rd sector, we've been blown away by the response by professional sports clubs, Premiership football clubs, Football League clubs, Super League, Cricket, Rugby Union, Motorsport bodies and individual sports men and women. Over 20 clubs/teams and sports bodies are now working with us, in addition to the 52 supporters listed on the website, over 400 stars, celebrities, journalists and writers have come together to share memories to support older fans. There is a real momentum gathering, reflected in the wonderful conversations we have been able to have with commissioners and senior public figures, who are recognising the multiple benefits of becoming involved in the network. Of course there are always challenges to overcome, it is perhaps natural given the financial climate we are living with, that not every organisation wishes to collaborate or create partnerships, competition for funding is becoming ever more dog eat dog. My own thoughts on this is that through collaborating and involving multiple organisations, the projects we are commissioned to plan and deliver become ever more sustainable if there are multiple stakeholders included and therefore wider community 'ownership' in the work. What also comes from the approach is an amazing exchange of innovative thinking and approaches, a platform to test new ideas and a brilliant opportunity to share success.

Away from the 'day job' of delivering the community projects, there has been a busy summer of sport with memorable victories at Wimbledon, the British and Irish Lions tour and The Ashes being amongst those put into the memory bank.  There are countless opportunities to continue conversations with sports fans about older people, well-being and dementia. One major event in July took place on the doorstep of our Scottish offices. The British Open saw golf fans arriving from across the UK and The World.

Whilst our 'on the ground' projects embrace more traditional approaches to collaboration, Twitter continues to offer another vibrant opportunity to connect with those who are determined to make a real difference. It will be 12 months tomorrow since we launched our suite of Replay sites to gather memories of sport. Thanks to the wonderful support of David Coulthard, John Inverdale and Sam Torrance, to name but 3 stars who helped launch the sites, over 2,000 submissions have been made since we switched them on on the first day of Wimbledon 2012. I'm constantly amazed by the generosity of people who offer articles, memories and to help promote the work, it really is truly humbling

Twitter has been central to raising awareness of the sites and network. Everyday the world of twitter has shown fantastic support, with people re-tweeting memories and news stories, helping us raise awareness of memories games or encouraging fans to add more stories. In one day alone, particularly through the efforts of all on Twitter, over 10 million impressions were made across social media of the Replay sites and memories, a statistic that I find simply astounding for a project with its roots firmly in dementia care.

Collaboration across the nation? Not arf.

Carry on Tweeting!


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