Rotherham United have worked in partnership with hundreds of gnomes to tackle loneliness in their local community.
John Swift (81 years) was having a tough time at the start of the year. His health was declining and he was struggling to find motivation to do anything. With the addition of the COVID-19 lockdown, his daughter Jennie was concerned about the amount of time he was spending alone. She set about getting him some challenges to focus on which included being part of the EFL Trust’s Tackling Loneliness Together Programme and gnome making!
As part of the Tackling Loneliness Together Programme, John has had a weekly visit from Rotherham United Community Sports Trusts Health Coordinator, Ryan Canadine. Ryan said,
“Visiting John is the highlight of my week…we spend time chatting in the garden and he tells me all about the history of Treeton where he lives. We go for local walks, blackberry picking and the best bit is we get to work on John’s famous gnomes.”
John’s daughter Jennie said,
“My Dad had never done crafts before but he loves his garden so painting the gnomes was initially something for him to do at the start of the lockdown when my mum, his wife, went to Wales to stay with my sister. However, the hobby soon extended to bird boxes, frogs, pumpkins and zombie gnomes for Halloween.”
The gnomes have become a popular conversation point in the community with a variety of them lining the front of the Community Trust’s astro facility. Ryan continues,
“Not only have they given John a focus they have brought a smile to all the participants who visit the facility too. I’m really pleased to see how much he has progressed.”
John who was previously a Councillor for Treeton knows all about helping the community and has even secured a stall at Treeton Newsagents selling his gnomes. Money from the sales will be donated to the Mayors Charities which include Rotherham United Community Sports Trust, Shiloh Rotherham and Rotherham Hospice. As a former player of Rotherham Boys John has a real interest in RUFC and is keen to support the Trust through his volunteering.
“I can’t believe how my dad has turned his life around with the help of the Rotherham United Community Sports Trust. Dad really looks forward to his weekly visits with Ryan – going for walks, talking about football, and sharing his love of gnomes. Unfortunately the COVID lockdown has had a huge impact on people living alone and a friendly face calling in each week is a life saver. Thank you so much to Emma, Ryan, and the rest of the team.”