A project that has been keeping older people across Glasgow active has returned since restrictions on Coronavirus (COVID-19) have eased.
Until the pandemic brought sport to a halt in March, Drumchapel Table Tennis Club were providing older people up to the age of 96 the opportunity to socialise and keep active.
With the sessions gradually returning, we look at the importance the project has had on communities across Glasgow.
About the project
Within its first year, Drumchapel TTC’s over-50s community project saw an increase in participation from 75 to more than 250.
Through support from sportscotland’s Direct Club Investment (DCI) funding, as well as Glasgow Life and Table Tennis Scotland, the number of sessions has steadily grown from four to 11 at nine venues across Glasgow.
The community sessions have been developed through partnerships with Glasgow Life and local community sport hubs, which have allowed the project to reach inactive people in new communities.
These sessions have been held at:
- Drumchapel Sports Centre (Drumchapel CSH)
- Scotstoun Sports Centre (Scotstoun CSH)
- Kelvin Hall Sports Centre
- Bellahouston Sports Centre
- Castlemilk Sports Centre (Castlemilk CSH)
- Darnley Community Centre (SAPC CSH)
- Phoenix Community Centre (Easterhouse CSH)
- Mount Vernon Community Centre (Baillieston CSH)
- Holyrood Sports Centre.
DCI funding has allowed the club to employ two part-time development officers to deliver many of the sessions across the city.
Drumchapel TTC chair Terry McLernon MBE said: "Our development officers Tommy McFadden and Charlie Brown have been a real catalyst in the success of the project.
"They are both ex-players in their 70s and have a real love for the game that rubs off on the participants.
"If we never had them then the project wouldn’t grow. They are that valuable.”
The DCI funding has enabled a further 10 volunteers to be put through their coaching and first-aid qualifications to help support and deliver the sessions.
Engagement during lockdown
The club continued to keep members engaged and updated on the clubs return throughout lockdown via email, texts and social media.
Terry said: “It was important to keep members up to date and engaged. We had made huge progress building the project up and didn’t want to put all that hard work to waste.
"There have been quite a few participants frightened to get out or in the vulnerable category, so we made an extra effort to check in with them regularly.
"Our mental health is hugely important during this time and so we have been making an extra effort to make sure they everyone is okay.
“Prior to our return we wanted to make sure our members were comfortable returning to the venue. We created a return to training procedures video so members would understand what protocols we have put in place and so they would understand how the new ‘normal’ sessions would operate.”
Members will now have to book in advance to allow the number of participants in the venue to be managed and can now enter and exit the venue without having to touch any doors or equipment.
Back to the table
The start of September saw a return of the sessions at Drumchapel Sports Centre with two sessions happening on a Tuesday and Thursday. Demand has been high with many sessions quickly booking up and members from other venues making the journey to have table tennis back in their weekly routines.
Terry said he was delighted about the club's return.
“I think it has been really good for me, the club and most importantly all the players to be back.
"We have worked hard to make sure the correct protocols are in place to follow the Scottish Government, sportscotland and Table Tennis Scotland guidance to allow a safe return to sport.
“The numbers have been growing steadily each week with more people finding out that we are back up and running. It has been very inspiring to hear that everyone is enjoying being back, as well as the positive comments on the procedures we have put in place to ensure our members stay safe.”
What they had to say
The sessions have been hugely valuable for the participants, with a reported increase in physical activity levels as well as their wellbeing, generated through new friendships and the sessions positive environment.
Participant Colin (54) said: “Getting back to table tennis has made a massive difference to my life again.
"During lockdown I became demotivated as I had no purpose to get up and do anything.
"Since being back, I feel so much better and motivated to be doing other activities too.”
Johnny (85) added: “It’s absolutely amazing to be back playing table tennis.
"During lockdown I really missed playing as it helps to keep me fit and healthy, both mentally and physically.
"I also missed the social scene, and to have that back in my life is great!”