Visiting our Member Groups – A day out with Douglas

Age Scotland’s Events and Community Fundraiser Amy Telford tells us about her recent visit to some of our member groups with Community Development Officer for the East of Scotland – Douglas MacNaughtan. 


In my role as Events and Community Fundraiser, I’m really keen to get out into communities, meeting with supporters and volunteers, but also getting to know some of our wonderful member groups. Recently, I was lucky enough to spend a day out with Douglas MacNaughtan to do just that.

Amy - Age Scotland's Events and Community Fundraisers

Amy Telford – Age Scotland’s Events and Community Fundraisers

Age Scotland has over 1,000 member groups across the country and we offer a small grants programme that they can apply to annually. This could be to fund a day trip in the summer, for a group of older people who don’t get out of their houses very much; or it could be to help organise a festive party in a care home at Christmas, or even Halloween! We also provide small grants to fund things like equipment, or to help upgrade a facility that the group members use for their meetings.

However, another of the really important things we do for our member groups, is the direct support on offer from our fantastic team of Community Development Officers.

I met Douglas just over the Forth Road Bridge at Ferry Toll, where we started our adventure. Our first visit was to Age Concern Cupar. Douglas told me that we have a very close relationship with this group. Just last year, for example, Age Scotland provided the group with a grant of £1,248, to help buy some comfortable chairs for the day centre. Some of the members were finding it difficult to visit as often as they’d like, as the chairs needed replaced urgently.

Age Concern in Cupar

Age Concern in Cupar

Aside from being able to help the group with small grants, Douglas has worked very closely with them for a number of years – almost 20 in fact! He introduced me to Anne Ronaldson, who is the Manager at the day centre and has worked there for 21 years. It is clear that Anne and her team are doing a fabulous job and with limited funding too. Douglas helped them to organise an Open Day about a year ago, which helped them to increase their core funding; a great example of the important work our Development Officers do.

Amy, Bett and Marlene

Amy, Bett and Marlene

The group is for anyone aged 55+ and their oldest member is 100. They play dominos and bingo, and they hold “TV and ice cream” sessions and quizzes. I spoke to group member, Marlene Melton, who said: “It’s a great way to meet people and it’s the best thing I ever did coming here.” Her friend, Bett Ainslie, told me that she also loves coming along and has attended the group for over 17 years.

After having a lovely chat with Marlene and Bett, I went over to speak group member, Jane Russell, who was busy knitting a snazzy pair of socks. She was clearly a talented knitter because when I admired her jumper, she told me that she’d knitted that too! Jane lives on her own and she really enjoys coming to the day centre. She lost her husband two years ago, so it’s been great for her to meet new friends. She went on the group’s recent trip to Ireland, which sounds amazing! She has also really enjoyed that last two Christmas parties.

Jane knitting away

Jane knitting away

Douglas pointed out that I was having far too nice a time chatting, as we had to get to our second visit of the day. He took me to HayDays Fife, which was a whole new and wonderful experience. Look out for my next guest blog to hear a little more about that and also the third group we visited.


If you’d like to find out more about how to support the work of Age Scotland please do contact the Fundraising team on 0333 323 2400 or fundraising@agescotland.org.uk for materials and lots of support. You too can help everyone to love later life.

Taking the Plunge

Allied Health Professionals Jane, Lorna and Pauline of NHS Ayrshire and Arran share their experience building relationships between the third sector and the NHS.


 

Hi, we are Jane, Lorna and Pauline, three Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) working for NHS Ayrshire and Arran who took a plunge into the unknown. In 2014 we put our size 10 walking boots on to take a romp into what is now known as the ‘Third Sector’ but which was previously known as the ‘Voluntary Sector’.

We had keys links with Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, Health and Social Care Alliance, Scotland (ALLIANCE) and Age Scotland who welcomed us in – as did all the Third Sector organisations we approached.

Background

What led us to dip our toes in? We successfully applied for a NES AHP Career Fellowship which allowed funding for practicalities like funding our time to learn and develop. This meant while we were involved in learning activities with the Third Sector, we knew the people who receive our AHP services were not being left without a service. The aim of the Fellowship was to improve AHP’s knowledge, understanding and relationships with the Third Sector to support more effective cross sector working, facilitating co productive working.

What did we do?

  • We asked lots of questions.
  • We met with many people who work or are closely linked with the Third Sector.
  • We went to cross party working groups at Scottish Government.
  • We met and listened to people who benefit from the Third Sector.
  • We attended conference events.
  • We embraced technology by blogging and podcasting.

What did we learn?

  • The depth and breadth of expertise that lies behind the ‘charity shop front’.
  • The Third sector is out there delivering first class and innovative person-centred care and often when other services have finished.
  • The Third Sector is embedded at a strategic level, for example in shaping policy at Scottish Government level and in developing National Guidelines.
  • The range of key roles and opportunities available for AHPs in the Third Sector.
  • As AHPs and with our service users we can all benefit from truly working co productively.

Moving forward

As a result of our improved links with the third sector we have already been able to develop a number of initiatives which will continue in to the future, supporting our service users to live fuller lives in the community, this has included a new an Inreach Communication Group in affiliation with CHSS as well as a Multi Morbidity bid to the Integration Fund to improve access to physical activity and self management options for the people of Ayrshire and Arran.

As our fellowship draws to a close we need to keep our walking boots on with an embedded foot firmly in the Third Sector. Our role will be to share our new knowledge, encourage others to dip a toe in and to initiate change.

We all need to find out what is happening on our doorsteps, take time to build new relationships and develop meaningful partnerships.

We need to see it as our job.

Take a plunge with us.


 

If you would like any more information please do not hesitate to contact us by e mail:

Scams: Let’s end the stigma and end the silence

Guest blogger Peter Kirwan, Communications Officer at Neighbourhood Watch Scotland, calls for an end to the stigma surrounding being a victim of scams.


“In the whole of the United Kingdom you are the one and only Big Winner of the Bank Cheque for 20,500.00”

“There’s over £1.4 million pounds at stake and you’re a guaranteed winner”

In the UK we lose billions every year to scams just like these with half the people living in Britain having been targeted at some point in their lives. Often scam mailers are persuasive and target the more vulnerable members of society who are added to a “suckers list” when they have responded to one scam. Once on this list, they are targeted by yet more scammers and may receive up to a hundred letters a day.

Today I want to ask you to help end the silence and the stigma around these scams.

Neighbourhood Watch Scotland

End the Silence

Many of these messages tell the reader they are in line for some huge windfall (through inheritance, lottery, a get-quick-rich scheme and so on) but to claim this they must pay a fee or give bank details. Crucially they often advise the person reading them to “tell no one,” claiming that other people would be jealous or try to steal from them.

Widow Ann McCorquodale was conned and then bullied into spending £40 a week on useless vitamins from a company called Vitamail. She was told that she was guaranteed a pay out of £10,000 but to participate in the prize draw she needed to make a purchase from them. There was, of course, no prize. Over the weeks that followed she received more letters assuring her it was on its way. In total she spent £6,000.

So how did this go on for three years?

A key part of how Vitamail got away with this is that they persuaded her not to discuss the letters with friends or family. This is typical in such cases.

“I didn’t tell a soul about what was going on, not even my family, it was my secret. I felt horribly guilty.”

We need to talk with our friends and family about these scams to uncover the cases where this is going on so that what happened to Ann doesn’t happen to others. We need to end the silence because it only helps the scammers.

Stop the Stigma

When having these conversations with friends and family, it’s important to make it clear that you will not be angry or think them foolish. A lot of people targeted by such scammers feel ashamed at being “taken in” by the first scam and worry about the reaction of friends and family. This increases their isolation which is exactly what the scammers want.

““I feel so stupid and ashamed that I could have been sucked in by this scam

So that people like Ann do not become repeatedly targeted in this way we need to change the climate in which scams are discussed. The reason people like Ann feel ashamed is simple: society openly shames people like them on a regular basis.

Wherever such scams are discussed there is always a vocal minority of people who cannot believe that they would ever fall for such schemes. In their minds, whoever does deserves their fate. This leads to comments like this (and far worse) which are all too common on social media.

Social Media

We need to stand up and challenge this message everywhere we encounter it.

Further information

Neighbourhood Watch Scotland has recently produced the latest edition of our Safer Communities Safer Scotland booklet. You can download a copy here

This contains, amongst other things, information on how to stay one step ahead of scammers who may try to contact you by phone, email, post or at your doorstep. If you’d like a print copy, these are free for registered Neighbourhood Watches. Registering a Neighbourhood Watch is also free. Go to our website, click join and follow the instructions.

For more information on spotting and stopping scams

To report fraud:

Follow Neighbourhood Watch Scotland: Please consider following Neighbourhood Watch Scotland on Facebook and Twitter

Neighbourhood Watch Scotland

Volunteers Week 2015

Volunteers Week is an annual event which recognises the contribution volunteers make to organisations across the UK.

We took the opportunity to celebrate our volunteers and the difference that they make to Age Scotland by holding a tea party at our Head Office in Edinburgh. Volunteers were treated to hot drinks and cake, including a special cake made by Team Member Jenny Whyte!

Volunteers Week CakesMargaret, Volunteer with Brian SloanOur Chief Executive Brian Sloan said a few words and presented those attending with their Certificates of Appreciation.

Volunteers with Brian Sloan

We thought we would share just some of the messages from across our organisation to our volunteers – we really couldn’t do with you!

Volunteer Thank you

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thankyou

Untitled design (21)Silver Line Scotland

Bathgate staff

“We would like to say a massive THANK YOU to all of our 25 volunteers. Our volunteers range in age from 16 to 87. Everyone has an important role in the smooth running of our fabulous shop. Each volunteer has a different strength from merchandising, customer relations and our eldest volunteer Betty who can’t be beaten on the sale of tombola tickets! They have risen to the challenge of any changes made to the shop in recent months. They show great support for each other in and out of the shop environment, making friends for life due to their volunteer work here.

Our volunteers take great pride in their roles and this shows in the support we have from the community. They meet and greet the customers with enthusiasm and are an asset when dealing with over the door bags and asking about gift aid. In conclusion the shop can’t function without our wonderful volunteers, they are indispensable.” – Jane, Carol & Neil – Bathgate Shop

thank you

If you would like to join Age Scotland as a volunteer, visit our website or contact Cat at volunteering@agescotland.org.uk

Thank you volunteers

Financial Resilience – May’s “Hot Tips”

Our free calendar “Hot Tips” aims to ensure everyone in Scotland knows about the organisations and services available to them, and provides information on how to make the most of later life.

Our topic for May is financial resilience and provides some simple tips for managing your money. Geraldine Day, our team member who focuses on Money Advice, introduces us to some of the recent changes to pension rules.


The rules around pensions have changed significantly over the last few years and will have a major impact both on how you save for retirement and access your money once you retire. New pension rules introduced in April 2015 have given people far more choice over what they can do with their pension pots.

These new rules only apply to people in defined contribution schemes (personal or workplace pensions where you build up your own pension pot). If you are in a defined benefit pension scheme (also known as an employer’s salary-related pension scheme such as a final salary or career average scheme) you will not be affected by the new rules.

You need to be 55 or over (or in very poor health) to access your pension pot.

There are several ways you can now use your pension pot. You can:

  • Buy a guaranteed income for life – an annuity.
  • Invest your pot in funds designed to provide you with a flexible retirement income – called drawdown (the income is not guaranteed for life).
  • Take small cash sums from your pot when you want them.
  • Take all your pot as cash in one go.
  • Mix the above options.

If you take cash, 25% of the withdrawal is tax-free (the other 75% is taxable). If you choose the annuity or drawdown options you can take up to 25% of the amount used for this option as tax-free cash. The rest is used to buy an annuity or goes into drawdown. You then pay tax on the income you get from these.

Any cash you take from your pension pot is added to the rest of your income for the year and you pay Income Tax on this in the usual way. If you take a large sum of cash you could push your income into a higher tax bracket and end up paying higher-rate or even additional-rate Income Tax on the lump sum. This increase in income may also mean you are no longer eligible for benefits you’re claiming.

Everyone aged 55 or over can have a free and impartial face-to-face or telephone guidance from Pension Wise. Pension Wise is a government service that helps you understand what you can do with your pension pot money. Before you decide what to do we recommend you make it your first port of call and then get financial advice.

Information included in this blog was provided by “Tax Help for Older People”. Visit their website for more information.

Download your 2015 Hot Tips Calendar here and get information and advice throughout the year. Here’s what you’ve thought about Hot Tips so far:

  • “Thank you for the calendar – useful & attractive”
  • “Invaluable, great help – used daily, all year”
  • “Brilliant information that I will pass onto family and friends”

Download yours today!

Irn-bru and an Iced Biscuit

Amy Telford, our Events and Community Fundraiser, shares her recent experience visiting some of our Member Groups and seeing firsthand the fantastic work they are doing in their local communities with help from Age Scotland.


I was recently lucky enough to meet with four ladies who form the committee for Age Scotland member group, The Carron Connect Partnership. They run SOFIA Project, organising social events in the local community for people over the age of 50.

I was bowled over not only by their commitment to helping those in later life, but also by their support of Age Scotland. Chair, Val Hunter, told me that they would love to do some 50/50 fundraising this year as they “…appreciate all of the support that Age Scotland has shown them and want to give something back.” This was so lovely to hear.

Ladies enjoying themselves at the tea dance

I was also delighted to attend one of their recent tea dances, which was well attended with members ranging from age 55 to 95. It was a real honour to be able to speak with some of the group members, finding out what they get out of coming along to these events. It was very apparent that without SOFIA Project, many of its members would feel lost. Member, Marilyn Kennedy told me, “I have new lease of life. We’ve made new friends and the girls that run it work hard.”

I was made to feel really welcome and was treated to a can of Irn-bru and an iced biscuit – I try to eat healthy most of the time but this was the perfect excuse to have two of my favourite things! I even had a dance with one of the members, although I can’t say I was any good at this. Live music was provided by singer, Katy Hart, who had a lovely voice and kept us all entertained.

As well as tea dances, the SOFIA project committee members also organise coffee mornings, bingo, day trips and special events, such as this year’s strawberry fair (where there will be a prize for the best bonnet and bunnet), a Scottish Evening and the annual Christmas party.

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I also recently visited a member group in Edinburgh, the social committee at sheltered housing development, Old Farm Court. Age Scotland’s Individual Giving Fundraiser, Alison Payne, accompanied me and we had a lovely visit. We met with three members of the committee who organise social events for residents. Jimmy, Diane and Ellen made us feel very welcome and we were amazed by the creativity of their fundraising. I think we actually learnt a thing or two!

Old Farm Court have offered to organise a Soup and a Sandwich event in aid of Age Scotland. It is really lovely that they want to give something back and we are incredibly grateful. I am so much looking forward to working with more of our member groups in the coming year and having met just a couple of groups since I started, I feel incredibly proud to work for such a fantastic charity.

Action on Hearing Loss Scotland – April’s “Hot Tips”

Our free calendar “Hot Tips” aims to ensure everyone in Scotland knows about the organisations and services available to them, and how to make the most of later life.

April sees us team up with Action on Hearing Loss Scotland to bring you information about taking care of your hearing. In this guest blog, Delia Henry, Director of Action on Hearing Loss Scotland, explains how having your hearing tested is a vital first step towards getting the support you need


Delia Henry Action on Hearing Loss Scotland

Delia Henry – Action on Hearing Loss Scotland

Recognising that you have hearing loss can be an uncomfortable truth which many don’t want to deal with and people often confide in me that they are having difficulty hearing but are not sure what to do.

71 per cent of people of over 70-year-olds have hearing loss, with signs of deafness such as turning up the television volume, thinking others are mumbling and needing to ask people to repeat themselves.

With funding from the Scottish Government, Action on Hearing Loss Scotland and RNIB Scotland produced resources to help you recognise whether you have hearing or sight loss. The information cards and videos also provide useful deaf awareness and communication tips.

People can wait up to 10 years to take action from the point of first experiencing hearing difficulties but we encourage you to get your hearing checked regularly. Asking your GP to refer you to an audiologist for a hearing test is a vital first step on your way to getting the support that you need.

Good quality digital hearing aids are free on the NHS in Scotland and you can also choose to buy hearing aids from private dispensers too. Action on Hearing Loss and Which? have produced the ‘Best hearing aid providers: How to get the best hearing aid’ guide to help you to make informed decisions about which hearing aids are best for your individual needs.

Although hearing aids will help you to hear your conversations with friends and family more clearly, it can take time to adjust to wearing them. Community-based support from our Hear to Help volunteers, who have hearing loss themselves, in Tayside, Greater Glasgow and Ayrshire & Arran can make a big difference – especially for people who are housebound or have mobility difficulties. Our website has details of our drop-in sessions and contacts for home visits.

Hear to Help volunteer talks through the equipment

Hear to Help volunteer talks through the equipment

Learning to lipread can be also be a big help as the ability to identify lip shapes, patterns and facial gestures can fill in the gaps of conversations you have misheard. Details about what happens during lipreading classes, the benefits they bring and those running in your area can be found on www.scotlipreading.org.uk

There is also equipment such as personal listeners, hearing loops, amplified phones and flashing or vibrating doorbells to help people with hearing loss in everyday life. Visit www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/shop or call 0141 341 5330 to find out about the latest products.

I hope that I have reassured you about the range of support that is available for you, if you are diagnosed with hearing loss but, if you need more information about Action on Hearing Loss Scotland’s services, please visit www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/Scotland or email: scotland@hearingloss.org.uk

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Download your 2015 Hot Tips Calendar here and get information and advice throughout the year. Here’s what you’ve thought about Hot Tips so far:

  • “Thank you for the calendar – useful & attractive”
  • “Invaluable, great help – used daily, all year”
  • “Brilliant information that I will pass onto family and friends”

Download yours today!