UTC students inspired by social enterprise helping people living with dementia

More than 50 sports students at UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park have benefited from a series of enriching guest lectures delivered by a social enterprise that works to improve the lives of the region’s ageing population.

Throughout February and March, Golf in Society, a Yorkshire-based start-up that introduces people living with dementia, stroke, Parkinson’s, loneliness and depression to the health and wellbeing benefits of golf, has provided workshops and lectures about widening participation in sport.

The virtual sessions have allowed students to broaden their understanding of the key skills and attributes that are required to work successfully in the sports industry. Golf in Society has also provided valuable assistance with examples, case studies and context to help students consider how physical activity might be adapted to meet the needs of specific user groups.

The sessions are facilitated by Sheffield Hallam University’s Wellbeing Accelerator, based at the world-leading £14m Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park. Golf in Society is one of a number of businesses on the Accelerator imparting real-world knowledge with students at the UTC.

Elena Whalley, Year 12 student at UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, said: “I have found working with Golf in Society really useful as it’s allowed me to see how what we are learning can be directly applied to an increasing participation environment and has provided us with a real-life example of this. It has allowed me to see how the content I’m learning can be developed into a way of helping others in our community. It was also good to hear from people who work for sports organisations that you wouldn’t normally hear from. And it’s been a nice change from the usual home learning!”

Dr Chris Low, associate dean for business and enterprise in the College of Health, Wellbeing and Life Sciences at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “Sheffield Hallam prides itself on making a civic impact in collaboration with valued partners. It has been great to see Golf in Society, an innovative company who have been great participants in the Wellbeing Accelerator, reaching out to inspire UTC students to show they can make a difference in their communities. We look forward to linking many more innovators with the UTC.”

Golf in Society is looking to make Sheffield City Region the first dementia-friendly golf region in the world. The social enterprise creates opportunities for people to discover how their local golf club can become an integral part of a happier, healthier life.

Anthony Blackburn, founder of Golf in Society, said: “I’m a great believer in giving back forward. That’s why I’ve enjoyed sharing my knowledge with the students. The unique way we engage some of the most inactive, disadvantaged and vulnerable people in society with sport, will hopefully inspire the students to consider playing their part in improving the health of future generations. As we launch in Sheffield, we’ll be giving the students a chance to get actively involved in our programme and gain some practical experience. It’s another reason why I’m really excited about the potential of our partnership with UTC.”

Jessica Stevenson, principal of UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, said: “One of the key features that distinguishes the UTC from other schools and academies in the area is our commitment to collaborating with those already working within the sport, heath and computer science industries, in order to provide a rich and relevant curriculum for our students. Growing this partnership with the AWRC and the Wellbeing Accelerator start-ups has been a real asset in this.”

Sheffield Hallam’s Wellbeing Accelerator works with start-ups, SMEs, founders and agencies to accelerate the development of health and wellbeing technologies and applications. The programme provides access to world-class research and development that allows for rapid prototyping, precision engineering, laboratories for product testing, support networks and a clinical research centre.

The Wellbeing Accelerator at the AWRC is one of 20 University Enterprise Zones (UEZs), launched with a £20 million investment delivered by Research England, part of UK Research and Innovation.

The AWRC is dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of the population through innovations that help people move. Its mission is to prevent and treat chronic disease through co-designed research into physical activity – whilst also attracting new jobs and investment to the region.