Meet Maureen: one of our 2017 Abseil heroes!

The 28th of May sees the return of the iconic Forth Rail Bridge abseil – one of Age Scotland’s main events of the year. We’re delighted to welcome another group of brave souls this year to take on the challenge. In her guest blog Maureen shares with us why she decided to sign up to the 165ft abseil challenge. 


Hello, my name is Maureen Tait and I am 52 years of age. I am the Sheltered Housing Services Manager for Port of Leith Housing Association (PoLHA), and I have worked within PoLHA’s housing for older people’s service for 20 years, and with older people in various care and support settings for 38 years.

I have decided to abseil from the Forth Rail Bridge for two reasons. Firstly to thank Age Scotland and show my appreciation for all the work they do and secondly, as a personal achievement. I have a disability (which has never held me back) but what might hold me back for the abseil is that I am not terribly good with heights! Abseiling will certainly be a fantastic achievement and something struck off my bucket list!

886254_1073272299371001_300669945572103041_o

I am really lucky that one of my colleagues, Martin Hunter has agreed to abseil with me and I will value his support with fundraising and on the day – go team PoLHA!

IMG_20170413_113333

We plan to do lots of exciting things to fundraise, for example hosting a fun day for our tenants, which will include games, a lunch, a raffle and tombola. The Association, colleagues, our tenants’, families and friends have given us so much encouragement and are all right behind us in supporting our fundraising journey.

I am extremely passionate about the service for older people, and the service we provide in our Sheltered Housing. At our recent Inspection by the Care Inspectorate we maintained our graded of a 6 “Excellent” for our quality of Care and Support, and this is a credit to the sheltered team for the commitment and dedication they demonstrate in their work.

Over the last couple of years Age Scotland has kindly invited our tenants along to some of their events. We had a fantastic time visiting the Scottish Parliament for some lunch and to launch a new exercise called strength and balance bingo.

As part of PoLHA, I am committed to ensuring that we build and support a strong community in Leith. A key element of this is working with the different projects and local schools to encourage intergenerational activities for our tenants and younger people to enjoy and benefit from.

Through Age Scotland we were delighted to welcome the First Minister to our festive celebrations to see first-hand the real difference such group’s make to tackle problems of social isolation. We offer our wholehearted backing for Age Scotland’s ‘No-One Should Have No-One at Christmas’ campaign. Our tenants thoroughly enjoyed designing a gift of a tea pot, cup and saucer to give to the First Minister to show their appreciation of her visit.

I have decided to fundraise for Age Scotland as a way to show appreciation for all the support they give not only to our older people but all older people across Scotland

Lifelong Learning Matters

The Age Scotland National Conference is back for 2017, bringing together member groups and invited guests of a day of learning, friendship and inspiration. Community Development coordinator Elizabeth Bryan talks us through the plan for this year’s conference.


Learning, in all its forms, makes a great difference to the well-being and quality of life of people over the age of 50. That’s why the theme for this year’s Age Scotland’s conference is Lifelong Learning Matters.

Taking part in learning opens up new interests, puts us in control of lives and helps us to remain physically and socially active. Age Scotland member groups engage in a wide range of informal learning, and many groups are providers of an array of learning opportunities for their members and older people in their local communities. This year’s conference will provide an opportunity to find out what current research is telling us about lifelong learning and older people, and the difference participating in learning makes to our health and wellbeing.

Guest speakers, musical performances and participative workshops

The fantastic Pennie Taylor, award-winning freelance journalist and broadcaster, returns as conference chair and we have some fantastic guest speakers lined up to get our guests inspired.speakers

After lunch attendees can browse our exhibition and chat to stall holders or take part in one of our participative workshops. We have five workshops this year covering topics from table tennis to getting online to mindfulness.workshops

Attendees will then enjoy afternoon tea and a performance by the fantastic Shooglelele Ukulele band! Not one to be missed.

Celebrating those making a difference

The conference will culminate with the presentation of the 2017 Age Scotland Awards to recognise and celebrate the exceptional commitment and contributions individuals and organisations make to ensure Scotland is a good place to grow old in. We are joined by Dean Park who will be presenting the awards.

For those unable to join us on the day, the event will be live streamed so you can watch our guest speakers and discussion, musical performances as well as the Age Scotland awards ceremony. Full details will be posted on our website soon.

It’s set to be a tremendous day and we look forward to welcoming everyone on Wednesday 29th March!


If you have any questions about our National Conference, please contact our team on 0333 32 32 400.

Age Scotland launches Let’s Get Moving!

Let’s get moving is the latest campaign from Age Scotland aiming to promote the benefits of activity to older people by telling the stories of people from across Scotland about what they do to keep active and their motivation to keep doing regular exercise. 


Keith Robson, Head of Charity Services for Age Scotland, commented, “We all know that that we could do with getting more exercise, indeed, in a recent survey the charity conducted, we found that only 55% of respondents were getting the recommended minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week.  Instead of telling people off for not doing exercise, Age Scotland is taking a different approach and telling the stories of what people do to keep active and why.

mb2_4371

We’ve heard from 81 year old ladies who can plank for a minute, grandads taking part in Walking Football and hundreds more.  Whilst all the people who we spoke to knew the benefits of activity include helping to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and dementia this was never the first reason they gave for taking part in an activity.  Being social, keeping up with the grandkids and feeling a part of a community were more often quoted reasons for being active. So Age Scotland will be focusing on promoting these stories to encourage more people to get moving, and in doing so, get more people loving later life.”

Sandra White MSP is backing the campaign: “The importance of physical activity in older people cannot be understated. Be it to maintain a healthy body and mind or to combat loneliness, making sure we remain active is key.”

“Being the Convenor of the Cross Party Group on Older People, Age & Ageing I am acutely aware of the difference staying active can make in later life. Local support groups who work to promote and maintain physical activity with older constituents, as well as across all age groups, are important in these efforts.”

“As such I warmly welcome this scheme and wish it every success”

Anas Sarwar MSP commented “The Lets Get Moving Campaign makes clear that, whatever your age, keeping active is good for your health and quality of life.  The Scottish Health Survey published last week shows we still have much to do on issues like exercise and tackling obesity, so I congratulate Age Scotland on getting the message out there that there are simple things the great majority of us could do to be more active.”

Miles Briggs MSP also backs the campaign; “I commend Age Scotland for launching their Let’s Get Moving! Campaign and wish it every success.

“There is a mass of evidence that shows that physical exercise can help prevent a wide range of health problems such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and dementia, and can boost mood and confidence. It is really important that all sections of society and people of all ages, including our elderly citizens, are encouraged to exercise and are aware that even gentle activities like short walks can make a real difference to their health.

“I hope Age Scotland’s campaign will persuade many older people to consider taking up a new sport or rediscovering a physical activity they used to enjoy doing.”

Alison Johnstone MSP commented “There needs to be a greater promotion of the many benefits exercise can have for older people in Scotland. Not only that, we need to do better in explaining simple ways that exercise can be incorporated into peoples’ lives with little or no cost. It’s understandable that many Scots, old and young, struggle to exercise when transport policy in this country has continually prioritised private cars over public transport, walking and cycling.”

Willie Rennie MSP also backs the campaign; “No matter what your age is, keeping fit and active should always be at the heart of anyone’s lifestyle. When people get older, being active can be more difficult, but it is precisely for that reason that older people should be encouraged more to live an active lifestyle.

“Campaigns such as this one from Age Scotland are exactly what is needed to help older generations to keep moving.”


To find out more about the campaign visit our website.

lgm

 

Quality Matters – Our 2016 National Conference

On Wednesday 16th March invited guests and representatives from over 300 Age Scotland member groups came together for our 2016 National Conference.

Attendees travelled from across Scotland to take part in the conference held at Perth Concert Hall. It was a fantastic day with much discussion about what we mean by quality of life in later life. Read on for a round up of the day. 


 

Morning Session: Care Homes, Creativity and Urban Planning

Our conference chair, award-winning journalist Pennie Taylor, kicked off the day by posing two questions to the room: When is life good? When is it not so good?MMB_1377

Answers ranged from thought-provoking to funny to poignant and it was clear that quality of life means different things to different people.

Here’s just some examples of the hundreds of responses we received:

goodnotsogood

We were then joined by our guest speakers. First up we had Fiona Cook, Facilitator at my Home Life Scotland discussing quality of life in care homes. Fiona introduced My Home Life Scotland and its’ work to improve quality of life in care homes for those who live in, work in and visit care homes.

We were then joined by Andrew Crummy – Community Artist and Designer of the Great Tapestry of Scotland. Andrew argued that regardless of age, everyone is creative and has something to say, and went on to describe how art can bring communities together and improve quality of life for everyone.

MMB_1396

(L-R) Professor Greg Lloyd, Fiona Cook and Andrew Crummy take questions from the audience

Lastly Greg Lloyd – Emeritus Professor of Urban Planning joined us from Ulster University. Professor Lloyd provided a fascinating overview of how urban planning and our environment can directly impact our quality of life. He went on to consider how we may be able to play a more active role in planning in the future to ensure a better quality of life in later life.

Our speakers got the room thinking and we had many attendees posing further questions and ideas to the speakers and wider floor. You can watch footage from the live stream of the guest speakers and subsequent discussion here.

Afternoon Session: Workshops, Award Winners and Eddi Reader

MMB_1768

An attendee laughs taking part in the “Looking after you” workshop

After some lunch and further opportunity to visit our information stalls, many attendees headed into one of our interactive workshops. We had five in total on a range of topics
related to quality of life, including Men’s’ learning and well being, spirituality and looking after you.

 

 

Attendees then came back together to commence the Age Scotland awards. The awards celebrate individuals and groups that are doing great work for older people in their local community. It was certainly a tough year for the judges, with many quality entries. As our chief executive Brian Sloan said, we would love to have given everyone an award, but there can only be one winner!

MMB_1880

Eddi Reader presents Lynn Benge with the Volunteer of the Year Award.

Our winners are listed below. Click on the links to watch a 2-3 minute video about the great work they did that earned them the award.

MMB_1978

Award-winning singer and songwriter Eddi Reader joined us to present the awards and rounded off the conference with a fantastic performance that had the whole concert hall singing along.

It was a great day full of discussion and debate about what we can do collectively to improve quality of life for those in later life.

What do you think has the biggest impact on quality of life? What could be done to improve quality of life in Scotland? Tell us in the comments below!

All images featured in this post by Mihaela Bodlovic

Sporting Memories – how an old leather football is bringing people together

Sporting Memories is a charity that works to support older people living with dementia, depression and loneliness by tapping into their passion for sport. Through encouraging people to share memories of sporting moments, the charity helps people to connect with others and with their past. 

Will Searle from our Communications team visited the Sporting Memories Group in Belshill-Orbiston to meet the group and find out more about their work.


Once the group is settled around a large table with their cups of tea, Norrie Gallagher, one of the two organisers, starts us off. An old leather football is given to a member who shares a story of a football match they attended. The ball is then passed around the group, with whoever holding it sharing a memory of their own. Norrie expertly goes around the room to see if it has struck a chord with anyone – do you remember that match? Have you been to an International?

Everyone has their chance to say their bit and bond with the group. Norrie leads the conversation, ensuring everyone who has come along is engaged and taking part. It’s great to see attendees who were quiet and withdrawn when they first came in, come alive reminiscing about their love of the beautiful game.

DSC_0866

At one point, someone pipes up with the question – “Did I tell you my memory from Wembley? 1977…” And so comes a great story from when Scotland beat England 2-1 at Wembley. Fans had been told that the grounds were being re-turfed after the match and celebrating Scots took to the pitch to get their own piece of turf. The man telling the story recalled watching this all unfold and asking a fellow fan, who had his arms full of turf, what he was going to do if he was “stopped by the bobbies”. The fan’s response was that if the police stopped him, he would say it was his brother’s grass and he was just looking after it while he was on holiday!

DSC_0913

This was just one of the many great stories filling the room with laughter over the course of two and half hours. There was good-natured banter about Lisbon Lions and Rangers Bears, memories from the war and a quiz about football team names.

It was great to see just how much this activity helped to make those who came along open up. What was also evident was the amazing camaraderie and how the youngest members were supported by older members, first timers by seasoned regulars.

DSC_0899

Sporting memories groups are also not just great social activities, but have been really positive activities for people with dementia. The Sporting Memories Network even won Best National Dementia Friendly Initiative in 2014 by Alzheimer’s Society.

As Norrie and his colleague Margo were tidying up, they told me more about how the group works. They really emphasised how they couldn’t keep running the group without their valued volunteers. So if you love sport and are looking for a really rewarding volunteer opportunity check out www.sportingmemoriesnetwork.com to see what groups are operating close by.

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.

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.