While fierce competition prevails, fun and importantly Fellowship are close behind, at a time when the country is in the grip of a loneliness epidemic. With its origins in the original Stoke Mandeville games, the Indoor Games was conceived to allow members to compete in adapted games including Boccia; Darts; and Kurling, with age and disability no barrier to taking part. Competitors qualify from heats in nine regions, which for the last three years has risen to ten, following the welcome addition of a team from Northern Ireland – meaning all regions of the UK are now represented.
“Leicester is a wonderful host city and the Indoor Games is the highlight of our annual events and social calendar,” said David Mitchell, National Chairman of The British Polio Fellowship. “A record 235 people attended in 2017 and we are hoping for another record breaking year in preparation for what will be an enormous celebration to mark our 80th anniversary in 2019. 2018 marks the 15th consecutive year that the games have been held in Leicester, well and truly establishing the city as the home of the British Polio games,” added David.
While the ten sports all witness intense competition, the Games weekend is as much a social event, which sees the forging of new relationships, renewing long standing friendships and sharing advice on how to manage Post Polio Syndrome (PPS), a neurological condition with no cure that affects 120,000 people in the UK. “Our charity recognised long ago the health benefits of Fellowship, regional events and the annual Indoor Games; so, you could say we have been tackling loneliness head on, for many years already,” said David.
“Our regional structure means members have help and companionship on their doorstep, but also benefit from fantastic annual get-togethers like the games. Only now are others starting to appreciate the real value of such events, not just for those living with Polio and PPS, but for millions in the UK who simply want of some human companionship,” concluded David. Anyone who has had Polio can apply for membership of The British Polio Fellowship and for a modest fee, join a branch or region and access a host of regional and national events like the Indoor Games, in addition to unlimited access to the Support Services team – offering everything from practical help to benefits advice.