Step up for Age Scotland

Are you a runner, jogger or general challenge-setter whose looking for a new target to aim for? Then Alisdair Caulfield, Age Scotland’s fundraising manager, may have just the ticket for you – and you’d be helping us at the same time.

It’s the time of the year again that thousands of serious athletes, running enthusiasts and superstar fundraisers have been waiting for. Entries for Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2015, Scotland’s largest running festival, are now open!

Now in its 13th year, this popular and ever-growing marathon festival takes place in Scotland’s capital city on 30/31 May and continues through East Lothian offering stunning views and an unforgettable running experience. With its fast and flat route, this marathon is one of the fastest in the UK so can deliver that elusive personal best for runners! Edinburgh Marathon joined the world’s elite road races in 2012 by becoming the first marathon in Scotland to be officially recognised by the IAAF, the athletics governing body. The IAAF bronze label puts the race among the top 75 in the world, making it a pivotal part of the sporting calendar for runners.

The Edinburgh Marathon Festival is Scotland’s largest running festival of its kind with more than 30,000 runners expected to take part in 2015. There are seven races on offer over two days including the marathon, half marathon, team relay, 10k, 5k and junior races. So there really is something for everyone.

thinkstock photo_running family 14_07_14 (2)

Have you ever dreamt of completing a marathon? Do you and friends fancy taking part as a team? Do you want to make a difference to the lives of older people in Scotland? Do you think you have what it takes to tackle the Edinburgh Marathon Festival?

If you answered yes then why not join team Age Scotland and make a real difference to the lives of older people in Scotland today and take part in the Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2015! Entries are now open and to register your interest in joining Team Age Scotland you can sign up now or you can speak to our fundraising team on 0845 833 0200 or email

Day out in the Scottish Borders

Morag Halliday, Development Officer, and Martin Munro, Legacy Officer, recently visited two very different groups in the Borders, where change has recently been a major factor

Hawick Senior Citizens Association

Hawick Senior Citizens Association’s Evergreen Hall is tucked away on Dovecote Street overlooking the River Teviot – but you will have no trouble finding the group with the clear shiny new sign that the group has just put up.  This is just one of the many recent changes that the group has undertaken – which together with larger structural changes for warmth and weatherproof – have created an inviting flexible space that is in constant use by the local community.

Evergreen HallWe were welcomed by the large friendly group into the newly insulated and plastered hall, to see phase two of the renovations which included new colour co-ordinated chairs, window and stage curtains that Age Scotland has helped fund.  We were fortunate to visit just before lunchtime on a Thursday – which is when  the Social Group meet for a nourishing and enjoyable lunch followed by a cup of tea and a blether.

Evergreen Group, HawickThe enthusiasm and energy which we witnessed over our meal – as we heard of the dances, indoor skittles and various events and activities the committees and volunteers run – was infectious; as were the inventive ideas for the usage and hiring of the hall and other fundraising ideas that have kept the group running since the 1960’s.

With commitment and enthusiasm like this it’s clear this group will continue to run and run…

If you would like to find out more about the group’s activities or get involved contact George Brown,  Tel No: 01450 373829 email:

Find out more about Age Scotland’s work in the community

Galashiels Men’s Shed

Galashiels Men’s Shed has been set up in record time by a hopeful bunch of people who sat together last November with the enthusiasm and commitment to create a place where men could come together share skills and interests, pursue hobbies and pastimes and have time for coffee and a chat.    Gala Mens ShedIn January this year they started operating from just one small room – making bird boxes and planters for a new sensory garden for people who are blind or partially sighted.  But it soon became apparent interest in the group meant this room was too small and they persuaded the local council to give them a local premises which had been earmarked for demolition.  Gala Mens shedThe group then took ownership of the premises in May this year and the Shedders have been working tirelessly to create a working space and socialising area, when we visited there were over a dozen men, some painting the building and some busy making their workshop benches.  Already they have a range of products that they have produced including garden chairs, bird tables, bird and bat boxes, and are also repairing bicycles  – and the local council has commissioned them to create planters for a common area in the Town Centre.

Its early days but this band of men – with ages ranging from 18 to 82 – with support from the Volunteer Centre Borders – have proven they have the drive to take things forward with an official launch event planned soon.

If you would like to find out more about the group or get involved contact: Nigel Sargent at Volunteer Centre Borders, Tel No: 0845 602 3921 email:

Find out more about Men’s Sheds on the Age Scotland website.

Luminate, Scotland’s creative ageing festival, is back this October…

After a hugely successful year in 2013, with 400 arts and creative events taking place from the Scottish Borders to Shetland, plans are now well underway for Luminate 2014.

The festival showcases projects and events run by communities and arts organisations nationwide – including theatre, dance, music, visual arts and community projects – and offers a chance to celebrate creativity, share stories, and to explore what ageing means to all of us.

Old Skool Graffiti Projec

Old Skool Graffiti Project, Luminate 2013

The 2013 programme included a wonderfully diverse range of performances, screenings, exhibitions, workshops and events, all capturing the spirit of the festival. From an art installation at Royal Observer Corps bunkers on Shetland, to a design label created by an over-60s art group in Banchory to an intergenerational graffiti project in West Lothian.

This will be Luminate’s third festival, and, working closely with Age Scotland, the team are gearing up for another programme of exciting and inspiring events and activities that will embrace the length and breadth of the country from 1 – 31 October 2014.

As in previous years, Luminate includes an independently run programme from artists, cultural organisations and community groups, and there is still time to submit a proposal to be part of this year’s celebrations.

If you are planning arts events or creative activities anywhere in Scotland this October that are aimed at older people or have a theme relating to ageing, Luminate would love to hear from you. You can submit your proposal online where you’ll also find guidance notes and frequently asked questions to help guide you through the process.

And if you’re looking for some inspiration, the 2013 programme is still available to browse online here  or on the website at

The 2014 programme will be available by early September.

Leith at War: Memories make History

Last year’s Age Scotland Award winners; Citadel Arts Group are proud to promote their latest inter-generational project. Author Laure C. Patterson tells us more about the project, from the script through to performance week! Thanks too to Director Liz Hare for the pictures and background.

Leith at War Flyer

Yesterday I was in Leith’s Hermitage Court sheltered housing complex with a class of Primary 6 children mixing with residents old enough to be their grandparents. The children were performing scenes from a play based on the living memories of these and other residents. The laughs and tears and shouts of appreciation were for real. Many were mine!

Dress Rehersals

Mark Kydd as Grampa, Angus Skakle as young Eck at Dress Rehersals

As a kid I loved listening to stories. The best were true, told by my dad and my great-aunt, who talked of their adventures in earthquakes, train wrecks and perilous sea journeys. My mum created fairytales full of magic and dreams. Now, in my sixties, I’m listening to stories again: stories of excitement, daring and courage. And they’re all real! They were told to me by Leithers who lived through blitzes, blackouts and bombs in the Second World War, right here on the Leith Home Front.

Pupils from St Mary's Primary and residents of Hermitage Court

Back in March, children from St Mary’s Primary came along to Hermitage Court to enjoy the reading, socialise together and give us their thoughts about the play.

When I joined Citadel Arts Group some years ago I learned a great deal about courage, patience and humour from helping run living memory sessions with Leithers up to 91 years of age. Citadel Arts, with a history of producing community dramas from living memory, kindly offered me the chance to write. So I wrote ‘Leith At War’. Three classes of primary and secondary children have come together to share these stories with their tellers, and one of the pupils stars in ‘Leith At War’. So I was really proud when Age Scotland honoured Citadel last year by voting us Member Group of the Year in a Parliamentary presentation!

Living Memory Group

First read through with our script advisers whose ages ranged from 70s to 90s.l They advised us closely about the events of the play, the way people spoke, details of dress and RAF uniform, to achieve authenticity.

Thank you to all the lovely people who shared their stories with me, to Citadel for taking these stories onto the stage, and to Age Scotland for the great work they do with the older generations who enrich us every day. I hope you can all come and see the play.


‘Leith At War’ is being performed in the Leith Hub (foot of Leith Walk) on 19, 20 June at 7.30pm and 21 June at 2pm. Tickets £7/£5. Click on to reserve tickets.



Hospital to Home

Supporting the transition from hospital to home for older people across Scotland

This latest Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services (IRISS) project is concerned with the design of a positive pathway to improve the transition of older people from hospital to home. The project is exploring the process of achieving a smooth transition for older people and how this can be improved using a person-centred approach that focuses upon improving older people’s journeys back home following a hospital admission.

Hospital to HomeThis involves taking a co-production approach, ensuring older people and their families are engaged with health and social care practitioners through on-going group discussion and input. This will enable all key stakeholders’ voices to be heard throughout the process.

The project is taking place over the course of 20 months (July 2013 – March 2015). Stage 1 has recently finished and you can see the outputs here:

1. Connect: providing creative, open spaces for people to come together from diverse backgrounds to look differently at challenges facing the sector.

  • An Advisory Group was established to include expert practitioners and professionals across Scotland.
  • A working group of older people (and their families or carers) has also been established. We are running eight Workshops with them to share their personal perspectives and experiences of the current pathway in their area (Stage 2). In addition, this group contains practitioners and professionals working on the ground in Tayside.

2. Inspire: finding, sharing and encouraging possible responses to issues facing social services by drawing on ideas and knowledge about what works elsewhere and testing new ideas ourselves.

  • The information generated through experts working on the ground and discussion within the Advisory Group has been extrapolated to generate a visual map of what pathways already look like in Scotland (see link above).

3. Inform: building evidence about innovation and creativity to improve the understanding and confidence of people in this sector.

  • The Advisory Group and Workshop discussions have been guided by design methodology in order to establish a creative, co-produced and person-centred approach that everyone can engage with comfortably.

4. Support: developing projects to test ideas practically and to contribute to our understanding about how innovation and improvement can be sustained and scaled.

  • Guided by the Advisory Group’s expertise, and the Stage 2 Workshops, an existing and proven service identified during the Connect and Inspire phases will be developed as a pilot study. The pilot study will be tested and evaluated within a Scottish health board over a two-month time frame.

Read the Hospital to Home blog to see find out more about the research process so far and find out more about whats next.. .

IRISS is currently seeking people who can help build an understanding of what is happening already in Scotland to improve older people’s experience, care and service provisions during their pathway from hospital to home.

If you are working in an existing pathway or helping to develop a new pathway and would like share your stories and experiences please get in touch for an opportunity to write a guest blog post or to have your story recorded for an IRISS FM show.

Your Rights as a Carer

There are more than 660,000 carers in Scotland, collectively providing care worth more than £10.3bn per year, an average £18,473 per carer. Shifting the balance of care will mean family members providing more care in the home, more often. By 2037 it is projected that there will be one million carers in Scotland, almost a fifth of the entire population. Many of these carers will be older people themselves; currently 40,000 older people in Scotland provide 20 hours of social care each week for their friends and family members. It is essential that account is taken of their needs.

Increasing incomeThis year nearly 5,000 carers shared their experiences in the State of Caring 2014 report, to building a picture of what it is like to be a Carer in 2014 and its not a happy picture. Spiralling costs of caring, coupled with devastating cuts to support, which are leaving families caring for loved ones in serious hardship.

The report shows:

  • Almost half (47%) of carers are in debt as a result of their caring role, with 1 in 6 being in debt over £10,000
  • A fifth of carers are relying on an overdraft or credit card to make ends meet
  • 1 in 3 over £20,000 worse off as a result of caring
  • Almost half are cutting back on essentials like food (44%) and heating (46%)
  • 59% of carers are in fuel poverty
  • Savings of 1 in 10 carers are bring totally drained by basic bills and everyday living costs
  • 170,112 people in Scotland had given up work to care at some point, while half of working-age carers are in a household with no-one in paid work.

And, Carers Scotland says, carers not only feel they are not recognised or valued but also feel victim of increasing public criticism for claiming their social security entitlements.

Simon Hodgson, Director of Carers Scotland said: “Those caring, unpaid, for loved ones save society vast sums, but at huge personal cost – a cost this Inquiry shows is pushing families to the brink. Caring is often a dual blow, with household incomes hit by reduced earnings, and bills rising as a result of the extra costs of ill-health or disability. With an ageing population, more of us will care for loved ones – yet a blizzard of cuts to social care and benefits mean there is less and less support available. This is unacceptable and unsustainable. This country’s carers are being badly let down. Unless Governments act to stop the cuts to support for carers there is the risk families will be pushed to breaking point and left unable to care for their own.”

What are Carer’s rights?

Carers Scotland guide: A guide to the law relating to unpaid carers
Carers and their Rights is Carers Scotland’s definitive guide to unpaid carers’ rights to support from health and social care.

Contact Silver Line Scotland for information and advice about caring for an older person. 0800 4 70 80 90.  Silver Line Scotland can also do a benefit check to find out if there are benefits you are entitled to that you are not already claiming.



Age Scotland has partnered with autodotbiography to help you share your precious memories in a beautiful book. A donation* is made to Age Scotland on every purchase via this link:

Here we find out about one happy customer, Liz Robertson tells us about getting her father to write his autodotbiography.

I had seen an advert in a magazine for Autodotbiography and it totally hooked me right away! I had thought it would be so special to have my dad’s autobiography.  I then went on to the website and read about it and watched a video clip of someone getting their book delivered and I was totally convinced that this would be an amazing thing for our family.

What I really wanted more than anything else was to get was my dad’s thoughts and opinions about it all, and to find out how he views the life he has had, with all its ups and downs. I also wanted to know about different events and relationships and how these affected him….Does he have any regrets, would he have done anything differently, what does he think is important in life? etc.

My dad is always up for a challenge. He has always been like that. He’s always got a project or something on the go. He always keeps himself busy with hobbies and activities and still plays golf and bowls, dances regularly, sings, took up playing the keyboard about 10 years ago, etc.  He definitely doesn’t waste a minute.  My dad was 79 when he wrote his autobiography.  I knew that he would be able to do it at this point and felt that it was important for him to do it when he still has a good memory etc.  When people ‘put things off till later’ sometimes things happen and then you don’t get the chance to do it later.  I didn’t want to have that regret.

I told my brothers, Alan and Billy, about Autodotbiography and suggested we buy this for my dad’s Christmas. I can’t say they were totally convinced but went along with it.  We hadn’t mentioned it to my dad so it was definitely a surprise Christmas present!

What attracted me to Autodotbiography was the fact that it looked like you get a really professional, high quality book. I liked the idea that you could easily upload your own photos, and that you got a whole year to do it!

Another huge deciding factor was that there was a telephone number you can call and get support as often as required.  I thought it was also good that it gave you ideas of what to write and things that prompt you and jog your memory.

Instead of following the recommended format, my dad as usual did things his own way.  He never seems to take the easy route.  Although he can type, he found it much easier to hand write his story and then I typed it all up for him.  I can honestly say we enjoyed doing this together. On completion, we got my brother Alan over to help input all the text and the photos.  Again, Bryher was at the end of the phone and gave us all the help and support we needed.  She was always patient and explained things well to us.  It was obvious that she is very passionate about helping people write their autobiographies and wants to help them achieve this as easily as possible.

My dad received his book though the post and phoned to let me know.  I knew he was really pleased and excited about it, and I couldn’t wait to see it too!  As I had typed it all, my dad and I were the only ones who knew the content, and I was just so curious to see what it all looked like in print.  I was also so excited to know what my other family members thought of it when they read it.  The book was fantastic.

One minute you were laughing at something Dad had said, then the next you were filling up, and tears were coming down your cheeks.  It is a real emotional rollercoaster.  We bought additional copies so my brothers and I and all the grandchildren have their own copies to keep. My dad wrote a personal note on each of them and signed and dated them.  I’ve sent you a photo of mine.  What can I say?….To me, these are absolutely priceless….  I am genuinely indebted to Autobiography, as without their format, affordable price, and all the support and expertise, this would never have happened for us.  We could never have done it on our own!

At my dad’s 80th birthday party last October, he made a speech and showed people his book, telling them that he had written his life story and if anyone wanted to read it, they could borrow it.  It has now been circulating around many friends and relatives.

Everyone who has seen my dad’s book has said it’s incredible and how lucky we all are to have this.  However, they also all say that they could never do it themselves.  They say they could never remember everything.  However, having journeyed with my dad through this I think that once you get started and get into it, then all the memories seem to come tumbling back.  My dad found that when something came into his head that he wanted to include, he would take a note of it right away so he didn’t forget it again.  Then a friend gave him a dictaphone and he started using that.

t felt like such a relief when it was finished and such a tremendous achievement.  I would without doubt encourage others to do it.  Don’t worry about it, just jump in there and put down things as they come, and it will somehow just come good in the end and turn into something amazing!  Thank you Autodotbiography!

Fancy doing something similar?  Go to for more information

*For each book purchased via Age Scotland, autodotbiography will donate £50 to the Charity, so by recording your life story you are also helping to improve later life for people across Scotland.