Short Mat Bowls Club

The aim of this project was to engage the community of Peterson Super Ely into short mat bowls to increase physical activity levels and reduce social isolation.

The project aimed to appeal to people who:

(a) will be more able to handle bowls that are lighter than outdoor bowls
(b) people who have never played any sort of bowls or undertaken very little physical exercise
(c) will take place indoors all year round, be free from inclement weather and provide a safe and happy meeting place for people to meet and interact.

Peterston Super Ely is a rural village in the Western Vale. Insight undertaken by the local authority as part of the Wellbeing Assessment and through localised insight, has highlighted that access to services is more limited in the rural Vale, and a high percentage of older people report feeling socially isolated.

The limited access to public transport in this area has contributed to this, so the creation of more localised opportunities was identified to support increased activity amongst the residents in this village.

Discussions had taken place around the creation of this new opportunity amongst people of the village prior to the pandemic. Whilst the pandemic did impact on this, it also allowed time to consider the best way to progress this project and for the village to set up a new section within the Peterston Church and Community Hall Committee to drive forward the project.

A local resident was the initial driving force behind this project. When the Golden Activators project was promoted alongside the Golden Fund project in the Vale, this resident came on board with the 60+ project and became a great advocate for the scheme.

Through extensive local promotion in a variety of ways the project and the interest generated, was supported by the 60+ lead within the Vale Healthy Living Team to access the Golden Fund funding to introduce this new activity.

New Short Mat Bowls sessions were introduced into the Village Hall in Peterston Super Ely. The sessions were funded through the Golden Fund element of the 60+ Active Leisure Scheme, where a Short Mat and light weight bowls were purchased.

Outcomes of the project:

  • To date 30 people have signed up to this new activity with on average 18-20 people attending every week. The initial sessions were free as they were funded through the Golden Fund. Following the initial free sessions, participants pay £3 which includes the use of all equipment, tea/coffee biscuits and heating.
  • The Creation of a new activity in a rural village, supports increased physical activity and social interaction in a community with limited opportunities where transport links are limited.
  • Weekly 2 hour sessions are delivered – every Friday 10-12pm.
  • The creation of a new sub-committee of Peterston Church and Community Hall is now dedicated to this project – ensuring future sustainability and highlighting the importance placed on the provision.
  • The sessions are inclusive offering opportunities for people of all ability levels. E.g. one of the regular participants has Dementia and is supported to attend with her carer on a weekly basis, not only benefitting the participant but also offering support to the carer. It has also attracted male participants to activity in the area.
  • All fees minus expenses go into the village hall, who are providing the space and heating etc for free.

This is a positive example of a community led project, driven by a Golden Activator, that has benefitted from support from the Vale Healthy Living Team and Sport Wales funding.

  • It highlighted the importance of local residents and community facilities working together to benefit rural communities. The project used local community knowledge and access to non-sport opportunities/events to support gathering of insight and consultation to inform planning.
  • The sessions have brought the community together, acting as a social hub for the area. Many of the participants now participate in other activities/village events as a result of the confidence and friendship built from these sessions.
  • The increased physical activity is important to the participants, however equally or even more important to them is the social aspect.
  • Despite only being a relatively small amount of funding provided to the club, the Golden Fund has had a great impact on this project, highlighting the positive links between the Golden Pass, Golden Activators and Golden Fund elements of the 60+ programme in the Vale.
  • The club would benefit from more equipment including more lightweight bowls and a scoreboard, currently the club use a home-made score board.

One participant commented “the bowls help her with her knees as she can no longer take part in yoga” – female aged 83.

“There are so many benefits from participating in bowls as I now feel part of the community and feel included” – female aged 79.

“The Golden Pass scheme has not only engaged 60+ people into physical activity, it has helped with social isolation. Many of the participants of the bowls sessions now engage in other community activities, especially those who live on the outskirts of the village who live on their own. These people now engage in table tennis, badminton and bowls on a weekly basis many of whom would not have reengaged with the community if they had not taken part in the Golden Pass scheme. The photos show the social aspect of the bowls sessions where you can see the gentlemen in the background having a chat and a cup of tea something that often in other physical activity sessions is missing, as they take part e.g in walking football then leave straight after the session. For many of these participants this is the only social interaction they have all week. Bowls works very well in this aspect, as they have the social element whilst they are waiting their turn.

Feedback from Healthy Living Team – 60+ lead