Connected Communities Fund – Middle Barton Bowls Club: Combating Loneliness, One Bowl at a Time

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Connected Communities Fund – Middle Barton Bowls Club: Combating Loneliness, One Bowl at a Time

As Middle Barton Bowls Club celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, the century-old institution received a boost from the Connected Community Fund to help sustain its vital role in bringing people together and combating social isolation.

Founded in 1923, the club has become far more than just a sporting venue over the decades. As club captain Bob poignantly stated, “Without the club, people would suffer, lots of people are lonely.” One longtime attendee who has lived in the area her whole life summed it up: “This has become my community; we are more or less a family here.”

The Fund provided support that allowed the club to enhance its accessibility and extend an inclusive welcome to members of all abilities. Signs were installed to help those unfamiliar with the area locate the facility more easily. Funds also covered advertising and catering for open day events aimed at attracting new members to join the tight-knit bowls community.

But perhaps most impactfully, the grants facilitated purchases of specialised equipment to enable players with mobility or vision challenges to keep participating in the sport they love. Ball lifters allow those unable to bend over to continue bowling. Coloured mats increase visibility for those with fading eyesight. And customised folding walking sticks let members with hip, knee or other issues navigate the green safely.

Peter, the club’s safeguarding lead, summarised the club’s profound impact: “It is an antidote to loneliness.” The club welcomes all ages from teenagers to over ninety-year-olds, who bundle up to play indoors even in the winter months.

Stories exemplifying the club’s community benefits abound. A couple facing mobility and health struggles found their overall fitness improving after joining, to the point they could manage a steep hill walk they previously couldn’t. Members undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer or grief after a loss find solace in the support and camaraderie. As one member shared, “This sport offers friendship and somewhere they can be part of a team and club.”

With an ethos of inclusivity, Middle Barton Bowls Club has spent a century bringing locals together across generations. Thanks to the Connected Community Fund, this unique space helping to combat loneliness can continue that mission.

For more information about Middle Barton Bowls Club follow the link: https://bowlsoxfordshire.co.uk/index.php/affiliated-clubs/189-middle-barton-bowls-club

Written by Jaime Hewett

OCVA Development Officer

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