This Bowling Team Strikes Isolation and Wins

The Swindon Bats make a real difference for those with sight loss.

This Bowling Team Strikes Isolation and Wins | The Swindon Bats make a real difference for those with sight loss.

A bowling team in Swindon, UK, offers love, support, and laughs. What makes the Swindon Bats so special is that members with sight loss are paired with sighted spotters. Their sense of community and belonging is so strong, the organization recently won an impressive award. 

In September, 2023, the Swindon Bats won the BBC Make a Difference Award, according to the BBC. This award celebrates “an individual or group of people who create real change by breaking down barriers and bringing together people from different walks of life for a common cause.”

The team’s focus is to bring people together, which is important work for the visually impaired community. According to a study published in Humanities and Social Sciences News, blind and visually impaired people may experience awkward and uncomfortable social interactions, as well as feelings of shame and isolation.

A fun and social event
The Swindon Bats bowling team offers support and makes a difference in each of their member’s lives. They meet weekly to play and also enjoy getting together every other Monday to chat and share how they cope with sight loss, according to the Swindon Bats website.

There is always a social aspect; the group also enjoys trips to the seaside, skittles, and indoor curling. However, their present claim to fame is the bowling alley! Here, sighted volunteers are paired with those who are partially sighted or blind for a fun game of tenpin. Even their service dogs have fun meeting and playing!

This team has been around for 17 years, according to the BBC. Accompanied by a sighted companion and a handrail for guidance, the visually impaired player rolls the bowling ball and is told which pins fall according to a numbering system. 

Both players and volunteers enjoy their social time together. Member Becky Harrison, who lost her sight a year ago explains, “It stops that isolation that sight loss can bring and makes sure that people feel connected and make sure that nobody's left us alone on that journey.” Harrison explained that losing sight can be very scary and frightening. As a result, connecting with a community is really important.

This community work makes a huge difference
Winning this award brings great joy and impetus to everyone in this group. Sue Mead, a member of the Swindon Bats for 16 years, explained to the BBC that this win was amazing and fantastic. “We were so lucky because we were picked out of so many people. It was just a real recognition for all the work that a lot of people have done as part of the Bats.”

This award also builds awareness about how to combat isolation, especially for those who are visually impaired. It shows others how community work can make a huge difference in people’s lives.

The hope is that the publicity will attract more volunteers and members with sight loss. Meanwhile, when the Swindon Bats are at the bowling alley, it is a time of hugs, laughs, and fun, one strike at a time.

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