Dementia Friendly Outreach Tennis at CIYMS

Dementia NI members have been working with CIYMS Tennis Club, Belfast to develop Dementia Friendly Tennis Sessions. These sessions are aimed at people with dementia, however, carers and loved ones are also welcome to participate.

CIYMS Tennis formed an outreach department in Autumn 2017 to reach out to the entire local community, and in particular those who might not have thought tennis was for them, or even possible.

CIYMS Outreach Manager, Jane McComb explains how it all began,

“Belfast City Council provided funding to help us set up a stock of rackets and balls. Members were also very generous with donations. This means that participants only need a pair of trainers to come and participate.

We have been able to run two new groups this year and offer Blind/VI tennis on Tuesdays and Dementia Friendly on Wednesdays. We have a fantastic team of volunteers who are able to offer 1 to 1 assistance with these groups.

Our Dementia Friendly session started up after we contacted Ashleigh at Dementia NI, and we invited a few members to come and visit us at the club to talk about their needs and see if we could work on a tennis programme together. A workshop on Dementia awareness was held at CI, and we have been enjoying our Wednesdays together with an ever-expanding group of those living with dementia and their carers. We are indebted to Belfast City Council for funding this group for this term.”

Dementia NI member, Allison Batchelor encourages others to get involved,

“The Dementia Friendly tennis was an opportunity for me to do something completely different. It was proof that I was still able to learn and to develop new skills even after my diagnosis. I enjoy the gentle exercise and the social side with being given the chance to meet new people. The volunteers have learnt more about dementia and how they can help support people like me remain within the community. To me this gives me hope that another group of people see that those living with dementia are still trying to remain active and included within society. I would encourage others to get involved, the tennis is for everybody at any level, the volunteers are very accommodating and will adapt to suit each individual’s personal needs.”

Ashleigh Davis, Dementia NI Empowerment Officer shares the benefits Dementia Friendly tennis has brought to the charity’s members,

“Studies show that leading a physically active lifestyle can have a significant impact on the wellbeing of people with dementia. Exercise can be beneficial for both physical health and mental health, therefore improving the quality of life for people living with the condition.

People with dementia are users of local services and Dementia NI members play a vital role in influencing how to make Dementia Friendly communities. 

Our members are involved in many Dementia friendly initiatives throughout Northern Ireland, including here in East Belfast. Members regularly advise community groups, sports associations, shops, and organisations on how they can make their facilities or service more appropriate for people with dementia to access. Dementia friendly tennis is a wonderful example of how the views and opinions of people with dementia have been utilised into creating an environment where people with dementia feel socially included and integrated within the community. We are currently working closely with CIYMS tennis to develop a model that can be utilised and rolled out by other tennis organisations throughout Northern Ireland. Dementia NI is delighted to be involved in the development of dementia friendly tennis sessions and welcome others inspired by these wonderful achievements to contact us to learn more about how to make their organisations more inclusive for people living with dementia.”

CIYMS Outreach Manager, Jane concludes,

“We know that tennis has many health benefits, for both our mental and physical wellbeing, and have already found that even the sceptical or reluctant, will end up having a lovely morning hitting some balls, and then we always have the important cup of tea in the clubhouse afterwards! We hope to be able to continue these two groups and to integrate our new friends into our club. We will also continue to reach out to the local community to offer tennis for everyone.”

For more information on Dementia Friendly tennis, please contact Jane McComb, CIYMS Outreach Manager on 07833 721 865 or email to learn how to become involved.

Benefits of Dementia Friendly Tennis:

  • Provides opportunities for social inclusion for people with dementia within their communities.
  • Reduces feelings of social isolation and provides peer support.
  • Improves strength and balance by reducing the risk of falls.
  • Improves the confidence of people with dementia by improving their mood and increasing self-esteem.
  • Can improve the health of the heart and blood vessels, which can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

To receive more information, provide feedback, donate, or support us in continuing to develop our work please contact us. Dementia NI Media Enquiries:

Ashleigh Davis, Empowerment Officer - Tel: 07966 881 429 Email: or Tara Collins, Programme Manager – Tel: 07966 881 419

Address: Dementia NI, 54 Elmwood Avenue, Belfast, BT9 6AZ. Head Office Tel: 02890 68 67 68


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