The Bowls Development Alliance have been working in partnership with Age UK, to get the elderly and disabled more active. By utilising the Bowls Development Alliance’s Just Bowl product, many Age UK sites across the country have introduced their clients to the sport of Bowls – for many, this was an opportunity to get back in to a sport which they could no longer participate in through the club structure.
Age UK’s Aimee Day, Hub Manager at Horsham District, found out about Just Bowl through her local County Sports Partnership: “We have been engaging with the Bowls Development Scheme since December 2014 and have been privileged enough to have been lent the equipment for this time and are currently desperately trying to raise the funds to purchase the equipment.
When we first got the equipment on loan I worried that it was quite bulky and that the members would not be interested in using it, how wrong I was!! Since December we have been running a bowls afternoon twice a week with up to 20 members participating, after using the equipment for a few times I realised that we had a male and female county champions amongst our members.
Both these people suffer from frailty and early onset Dementia, although the gentleman takes part in the chair exercises and card games, he sometimes finds it hard to manoeuvre himself around the club. We ran a few bowls sessions and they were the first there taking part, they shared their stories about their previous experiences of playing bowls and took charge of teaching the other members (and me) how to play. He is now really keen to get a bowls league running out of our club, he is pushing for us to work with other local charities and to go and play against other teams.
The benefit of the bowls equipment has been hugely apparent within our club, it is social, fun, engaging, you can see that it has increased the members confidence and is helping them to keep active and brings us all together, they love it when I go and take part (all trying to push my bowls out of the way!) so often you will hear whooping and cheering coming from our games room and I know then that it is a bowls afternoon”
Horsham District have introduces 22 participants over the age 55 as well as 10 disabled participants to the sport. This has been achieved through the use of adaptive equipment, such as New Age Bowls and bowling ramps, enabling participation from a seated position.