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Badenoch Shinty Memories Group counters coronavirus setbacks

By Alasdair Fraser

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Shinty legends John MacKenzie and Donnie Grant are driving forces behind the memories initiative.
Shinty legends John MacKenzie and Donnie Grant are driving forces behind the memories initiative.

A Badenoch community group using shinty to help combat mental health issues is redeploying resources to better tackle the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

Badenoch Shinty Memories Group (BSMG) is part a Scottish-wide network using the sport’s archives and resources to help people with issues such as dementia, isolation, depression and loneliness.

Amid the Covid-19 crisis, social distancing requirements have brought a significant part of the group’s activities to a standstill.

But there is recognition that the project has only grown in importance given the harsh impact of lockdown on the general mental health and well-being of local people.

Building on a set of resources already developed with support from Life Changes Trust, BSMG has now purchased three computers for Kingussie’s Wade Centre and Abbeyfield care homes, and St Vincent’s Hospital.

The move will support production of shinty film and visual USBs, already in distribution, with nearly five hours of viewing.

Other support materials, including a second edition of the group newsletter, are being prepared for individuals in care homes unable to take part in communal activity because of Scottish Government guidelines.

Work is also continuing on production of a new set of 100 boxes of 100 cards in English and Gaelic providing discussion points and reminiscence aids for people who may be struggling with issues during the pandemic.

This has been supported by a Life Changes Trust award through its Creating Better Lives in the Highlands programme.

Shinty Memories ambassador John MacKenzie MBE, who is also chair of BSMG, said: “We are delighted to be able to re-allocate some of our existing resources thanks to the help and support of Life Changes Trust.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has made the delivery of our core project impossible, as we had envisaged in the short to medium term.

“That will quite rightly be the case until travel and social distancing recommendations are relaxed.

“If anything, after three months or so of lockdown, our community faces even greater challenges of isolation and increasing mental health pressures.

“This applies not only to the older generation, but also the younger folk who are now faced with many issues in terms of their education, employment opportunities and much more besides.

“We are some way off having any shinty as we know it. Therefore, we have to do as much as we can through new and adapted resources to help meet some of these challenges.”

Further information on Badenoch Shinty Memories Group’s activities is available at badenochshintymemories@gmail.com or on 07743 686270.

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