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Steven Naismith joined a host of former Everton players at Goodison Park this week to help raise awareness of the Blues’ new dementia initiative.

The Scotland international was united with players from as far back as the 1950s to support Everton in the Community and Mersey Care NHS Trust’s programme known as ‘Pass on the Memories’, which supports patients with memory loss and also their carers.

Former players: Tony McNamara from the 1950s; Derek Temple from the 1960s; Cliff Marshall from the 1970s; Graeme Sharp from the 1980s; Ian Snodin from the 1990s and current first-team player, Steven Naismith, took part in a special workshop designed to help participants share memories and create new ones.

A significant moment from each players’ career was played to the patients and their carers, the players then recalled their memories from that moment and took questions from the floor.

Speaking after the event Naismith said: “Today’s event was really special. I loved hearing the stories from the older players – it was brilliant. Initiatives like Pass on the Memories are really important and offer a great deal for the people who attend. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.”

The weekly scheme, which launched in January, uses a range of interventions, including sporting reminiscence workshops, custom-made life story memory books and calendars, day trips to local places of interest and social activities, to help people to share important memories and create new ones.

One particular tool used in the sessions is an audio CD containing interviews and stories from past Everton players, including Dixie Dean and Graeme Sharp.

Speaking at the event, Everton in the Community Ambassador Sharp said: “It’s fantastic to see Everton using its history to help people in the present.

“Unfortunately, my mother suffered from dementia during the last couple of years of her life and I realised how difficult it is for people who have it and their families. It’s important that the football club, and people in general, realise what dementia is all about.

“But when you’ve had it first hand and been involved with family or friends who have suffered from the disease, you realise how bad it is. If we can help in any way then that’s what we want to do.”

“Everton Football Club holds a lot of memories for people, if we can bring people along here and help them in any way we can, then we’re more than happy to do that,” added Sharp.

Everton in the Community and Mersey Care are supporting Liverpool PCT and Liverpool City Council’s Year of Dementia Awareness campaign, which also launched in January of this year.

There are 800,000 people living with dementia in the UK and by 2021 this number is set to rise to over one million. More than 60 per cent of all care home residents, aged over 65, have a form of dementia, which is a terminal condition. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting 62 per cent of those diagnosed.

The Year of Dementia Awareness campaign aims to develop an understanding of dementia and work towards creating dementia-friendly environments in work places, public areas and communities, with Pass on the Memories being just one initiative to help achieve these goals.

Mersey Care's project manager, Matty Byrne, said: “This programme will help people with mild to moderate memory loss. It enables service users and their carers to meet weekly at Goodison Park where they are supported by our health professionals and group facilitators from Everton in the Community.

“It is a unique opportunity to use memorabilia from Merseyside’s sporting and cultural history for reminiscence therapy. We are delighted to be working in partnership with Everton in the Community on this innovative new approach.”

Everton hope that other clubs will follow its lead and a similar programme is already being developed for North Sefton residents to be hosted at Southport Football Club.

The Sporting Memories Network was instrumental in helping to develop the sporting reminiscence resources and expertise that are utilised in the Pass on the Memories dementia programme, following their pioneering work in Scotland.

For more information about Pass on the Memories, call 0151 530 5253.

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