‘TeaSet’ – highlighting loneliness at the Edinburgh Festival

There are many ways to raise awareness on the effects of loneliness and isolation. Will Searle from Age Scotland’s Communications Team recently attended a play called ‘TeaSet’ in the Edinburgh Festival that aims to highlight social isolation among older people.


One of my favourite things about the Fringe is finding wee shows that have managed to cut past the hype of the huge behemoths everyone’s heard of and grabbed your attention. The team from Teaset did so by getting in touch with us at Age Scotland to see if we were interested in coming along to see their play. Simple and very effective!teaset

The play is a one-woman show performed superbly by Amy Malloy.  It tackles the incredibly difficult issues of loss, violence against older people and the heated debate of dying with dignity.  Using the medium of intergenerational interaction, Amy tells us how she came to meet Mrs A, an older lady, who is living in her daughter’s house.  Amy’s character, we never learn her name, is charged by Mrs A’s daughter to look after her whilst they go on holiday to the Carribean.

The story beautifully intersperses humour with the raw grief of loss that Amy and Mrs A have both experienced.  With the intimate setting of the venue, Pleasance That, you experience the emotion that Amy expresses so viscerally, whether as her own character or when she is voicing Mrs A.  You can feel the pressure as her eyes begin to well up and you really do forget that you’re in a show and not sitting opposite someone who is reliving a harrowing moment.

teaset3

As a member of the Age Scotland Communications Team, I’m regularly faced with the job of being one of charity’s press team and answering the press phone.  Journalists will call us for comment on the latest court case or issue that affects older people.  I’m reminded on a far too regular basis of the violence that is unfortunately targeted at older people.  This play tackles the difficult aftermath of how that can affect an older person but also someone of Amy’s age.  It highlights the importance of building safe communities for everyone but also how we deal with the effects.  Violence, when it happens to anyone, is something that needs to be managed in a sympathetic and supportive way to ensure that you can move on from that point and stop it from consuming your whole person.teaset2

I had a coffee with Amy along with the director and producer after the show and chatted to them about their experience of the show.  The show had a very personal element to Amy as her own Grandmother passed away last year.  It was heart-warming that the Teaset team were really concerned about the isolation facing older people and how they could use the show as a catalyst to spur people into action to make a difference.  As such, they will be promoting Silver Line Friends in their programme, a volunteer opportunity with Silver Line Scotland.  By donating just an hour a week you can transform the life of someone who feels they have no one to speak to.  It seems such a simple concept but it really does make a life-changing difference.

I would very much urge you to go and see Teaset, it’s on at 2pm, Pleasance That, 6-23 and 29-31 August.  And once you’ve done that, take the time to contact an older relative or friend.  Be it a parent, a grandparent, aunt, great uncle or an old acquaintance, in doing so, you may just make the difference in their lives.

Amy and Douglas’ Adventure

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. 


Hello everyone! This guest blog follows on from my recent ‘Day Out With Douglas’ blog, where I told you about our visit to Age Scotland member group, Age Concern Cupar. Have a wee scroll down if you missed it and would like to catch up.

After a lovely visit with Age Concern Cupar, we hopped back in the car and drove to St Andrew’s, where we were lucky enough to visit HayDays Fife. They were having their summer concert, a highlight of group’s event calendar. It’s their last event before they break for the summer, which some groups do (although many run throughout the year).

HayDays take over the town hall every Tuesday. They have a large choir and hold lots of wonderful activities, everything from bridge to curling, even yoga! The choir were performing at the concert and they were great. They sang some lovely songs, but also some funny ones, such as their own rendition of The Jeely Piece Song. It was clear from watching them all that they get a lot out of attending HayDays. They have formed their own community and it was wonderful to see.

HayDays Concert

It struck me that this is what life should be like for everyone when we are older. We should all have fun and friendship in our later years. Sadly for some it’s not always possible, but if anything this motivates me as a Fundraiser and it makes me proud to work for a charity that helps combat loneliness and isolation for older people.

After the concert we headed off to East Neuk Lunch Club, another member group of Age Scotland. They are far smaller than HayDays and they meet in a tiny village hall. There were only eight ladies there, along with their Project Officer Ruby and volunteer, Daisy.

Douglas and Ladies - East Neuk Frail Elderly Project

I had a nice chat with all of the ladies and when I asked them what they liked best about coming along to group meetings, they were all in agreement: “Company…and food!” They love their chats and lunches.

One lady said: “We’re all from the same Sheltered Housing. A bus comes and picks us up, to bring us here, or perhaps to café where we all have lunch together. They spoil us here. They go out of their way.” It was lovely to hear about the fantastic work that Ruby and team do for these ladies. It’s clear that their work is incredibly important for the community

.Ladies at East Neuk Frail Elderly Project

It was getting on so Douglas and I had to leave for Edinburgh, but I had really enjoyed my day. It was great to see what a brilliant support Douglas is to our member groups in the East and I’m really looking forward to getting “out and about” with some of our other Community Development Officers. It was also really interesting to see how our grants programme has helped some of our member groups, and the great variety of groups we have. Large or small, all of our member groups play such an important role in helping older people to Love later life and they should all be celebrated.


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.

Your Home in the Summer – July’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 July is looking after your home in the summer. Robert Thomson from Care and Repair Scotland gives us some tips about repairs that can prevent longer term problems with the property.


 

1. Think Ahead

Take advantage of the better weather and start preparing for autumn and winter. Consider carpet cleaning, gutter cleaning, window washing and have your central heating checked out.

2. Prevent water damage

Summer can bring heavy rain to some areas. Prevent water damage by having the roof, windows, gutters, foundations and doors checked. Anywhere there is a trim need to be inspected to make sure there are no cracks or leaks. Checking this early can save you a lot of money on repairs from damage in the future.

3. Freshen up paintwork

Summer is the best season for painting doors, windows  or fences. It can make your house look fresh and helps protect wood from rot.  Preventative touch up jobs can save you a lot of money you would have to spend on repairs later on.

4. Trim shrubbery and trees

Have trees and shrubs that touch your house cut back. Wind and rain can cause these to rub up against and damage the roof or sides of your home. The upkeep of gardens can be a problem for many people and in some areas there are volunteer groups who can assist with this.

5. Think about security and safety

Do you have door locks that jam? Do your windows open and close? The summer months are a good time to have these items fixed. Many local Fire and Rescue teams and Scottish Police services offer safety inspections and advice. You may find that your home is as safe and secure as you can make it but there is no harm in asking the advice of professionals.

6. Think about the future

Perhaps the summer months give an opportunity for us to reflect on whether we think our house will continue to be suitable for us. Maybe we could explore some options for the future.  Perhaps we could think of using some of the equity in the property to finance adaptations that will make life easier later on.

Care and Repair Scotland


 

Care and Repair has 35 offices throughout Scotland that can give you advice and assistance about maintaining, improving or adapting your home. For further information, contact: 0141 221 9879 or visit our website.

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