NEWS

We’ve been bowled over by the sport initiative that’s helping to tackle loneliness and inactivity

…and we’re urging more bowling clubs in Merseyside to try it for themselves!

MSP is committed to getting older adults active, so we’ve been excited to see how a concept, piloted by Formby Village Sports Club and supported by our partner organisation Merseyside Sports Foundation, has been creating a quiet revolution here in Merseyside. ‘Bowl for Health’ was designed for older adults to learn the basics of bowls in a friendly and supportive environment, whilst also giving them the opportunity to meet new people and friends in a social setting.

The backdrop to the success of this initiative was a decline in the fortunes of bowls clubs over the past decade, (due to factors like increased maintenance costs and falling memberships) coupled with the higher prevalence of inactivity and loneliness in the 65+ age group.

Formby Village Sports Club developed an 8-10 week programme called ‘Bowl for Health’, which was designed for older adults to learn the basics of bowls in a friendly and supportive environment, whilst also giving them the opportunity to meet new people and friends in a social setting.  Merseyside Sports Foundation helped the club to promote this programme in the local community, by linking up with local charities, stakeholders and social services partners and also creating a referral pathway through local GP Practices and community organisations.

After a successful pilot, where the foundation monitored and evaluated the impact of the programme, they successfully applied to the National Lottery Community Fund to be able to take this learning and roll Bowl for Health out to more clubs in Sefton and Liverpool. The British Crown Green Bowling Association and the Merseyside Crown Green Bowling Association have also got behind the initiative, giving it their support. Whilst further investment has come from the Liverpool City Council Community Resource Grant fund and again from the National Lottery Community Fund, so it’s now been possible to roll out Bowl for Health across Liverpool and the wider Merseyside area.

Bowl for Health has so far been able to engage with:

276 unique participants from 9 clubs, of which:

  • 60% didn’t meet minimum physical activity guidelines
  • 47% were at high risk or very high risk of loneliness
  • 51% had also never previously played bowls

After taking part in the Bowl for Health programme:

  • 68% of participants improved their physical activity levels
  • 50% of participants at the greatest risk of loneliness reported feeling closer to other people
  • 84% of participants went on to join a local bowling club

And this touching testimonial from one participant really sums up the positive impact the initiative can have on individuals:

“I go to my local gym once a week, but I joined in with Bowl for Health for the possibility of a better social life.  Being on my own is very difficult – it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that you can’t turn around to speak to anyone.

I’ve only been a member of the club for a short time, but I’ve found the activity of bowling very invigorating – both from a physical and mental side, making lots of new friends and connections – so with this you get the best of both worlds!”

You can hear more about the project in the video that was made about it.

Clubs are seeing new memberships flourish on the back of implementing the initiative. So, we’re urging more clubs in Merseyside to get involved for 2020 by contacting Danny Woodworth via d.woodworth@merseysidesport.com

Lottery Funded and Sport England logos