5 thing you need to take to a charity ball

Friday 11th November sees the return of Age Scotland’s Silver Shindig – our glamorous charity ball. As this fantastic night approaches, we’ve pulled together five things you need when heading to a charity ball.


  1. Your glad rags

As the name suggests, a charity ball is a bit more glamourous than your average fundraising event – not a running shoe in sight! Arriving at the Hub on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile you will walk the silver carpet – yes silver – to have your photo taken before heading in to a Champagne Reception in the Grand Ballroom Foyer. So brush off that kilt, look out that little black dress and get ready to make your grand entrance.

  1. Your appetite

A glamourous charity ball requires an equally impressive menu. After a short introduction to Age Scotland’s work, out comes the first of three courses, along with selected wines. We won’t spoil the surprise by telling you the whole menu but you best bring you appetite, you won’t want to miss out.

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  1. Your Christmas list

One of the most exciting features of a charity ball is the charity auction. Here you will find one off experiences and gifts, things you literally cannot buy anywhere else. This year we have some incredible things on offer, from a Velodrome Experience with a GB Gold Medallist at the London Olympic Velodrome to a Pickering’s Gin Tour for 6 with a Limited Edition hand-signed collector’s bottle. Find something unique for a special someone this Christmas or perhaps just treat yourself!

  1. Your dancing shoes

What would a charity ball be without dancing? We have the superb ‘Corra’ joining us to put on a selection of music alongside a wonderful Scottish ceilidh that will have you dancing into the wee hours. Their name literally means rare or extraordinary and once you’ve seen them live we think you’ll know why! Not a dancer? Not a problem! Just sit back and take in the atmosphere of some traditional Scottish music with a twist!

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  1. A smug smile

This one may well be the most important. You can feel good about attending our charity ball because through attending this glamourous evening you are supporting Age Scotland’s work with older people and fighting loneliness. And all while having a ball! Well done you.


For more information about Age Scotland events, just visit our website or contact our Fundraising team directly on 0333 32 32 400 or by email at fundraising@agescotland.org.uk 

Time for a wee ramble

Ramblers Scotland has 56 walking groups across Scotland and the number is increasing. So what is it about walking that’s got so many people heading outdoors?


Wouldn’t it be great if there was an easy activity that would improve your physical and mental health, lower your risk factors in a range of illnesses, give you a chance to enjoy quality time with old friends and to make new ones, and that you could do throughout most of your life? Well, there is, and it’s as simple as going for a walk.

Walking is an excellent all-round exercise. Almost everyone can do it, anywhere and at any time – and it’s free. You don’t need special clothing and it’s easy to fit into your daily routine. Older adults should aim to walk for around half an hour on most days of the week, but doing any exercise at all is better than nothing. If you’re unfit you can start slowly and build up gradually.

There are real health benefits from being more active; it helps protect the body from many illnesses and conditions, such as heart disease, strokes and osteoarthritis, and also helps to lift depression and improve mental health. But never mind all the health benefits, it’s also enjoyable. Walking helps you to collect your thoughts and appreciate the changing Lochwinnoch BP photo
seasons as you walk throughout the year, and it’s also a sociable activity. 
Walking in a group helps reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation and increases social contact. It also means you may be more likely to turn out on a cold morning, and to keep up the activity over time.

Ramblers Scotland has 56 walking groups across Scotland, all with walk programmes led and organised by volunteers, and they often also include social events. Non-members are welcome to go on a few walks for free before deciding whether you’d like to join us. You can be sure of a warm welcome and a good chat with like-minded people. As Dot, one of our members in Dalgety Bay, says, “I joined the Ramblers when I first retired as I was looking for something to do. I never expected I would get so much pleasure out of walking with my group. As well as being much fitter now and making lots of friends, I’ve loved getting to visit Scotland’s fantastic countryside.”

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If you want to explore your local neighbourhood, our Medal Routes project has gathered over 600 short, circular routes of 15, 30 and 60 minutes – bronze, silver and gold medal routes – from Dumfries to Shetland, which help you to get out and about. They are all available from our website. We also have a routes database, Ramblers Routes, which has route suggestions across Scotland, with shorter walks free to download for non-members.


For information on finding your local group, call 0131 472 7006 or email scotland@ramblers.org.uk. or visit our website

Meet Rebecca: Events & Community Fundraiser and Radio Celebrity!

Rebecca Dickson, our new Events and Community Fundraiser, has been with Age Scotland for two and a half years and has filled a variety of roles. Here, she tells us more about herself and her plans in her new role.


I’ve worked with Age Scotland since October 2013 as an adviser within Silver Line Scotland, our helpline, providing information, advice and friendship to older people, their family and carers. Keen readers of the Age Scotland blog will also notice posts I have written about the Power of Attorney campaign that I led as Project Officer in 2015.

My experience working with older people as part of Silver Line Scotland, and with communities as Project Officer, puts me in a unique position as Age Scotland’s Community and Events Fundraiser. Not only am I able to give an honest and real account of the positions that older people in Scotland may find themselves in, but I can tell you first-hand about the difference Age Scotland has made and continues to make to the lives of older people across Scotland.

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Snazzy new business card!

In my first few weeks I’ve been connecting with local businesses, giving them collection cans and discussing how they can work with Age Scotland. I’ve been meeting with some of our wonderful fundraising volunteers to support them with their upcoming events and I even appeared on the radio promoting the Loch Ness marathon!

I’m excited to continue to get out and about and demonstrate why the work we do is worthy of your support. I want to let you know about how we help older people, their families and carers to make informed decisions, how we tackle isolation and loneliness, and how we seek to effect change to the benefit of older people. Our aim is to enable older people in Scotland to love later life.2016-07-21_1120

If you would like to organise a fundraising event, volunteer, take part in a challenge or if you know you want to get involved but are not sure where to start, just get in touch! We want to support you and I’d love to hear from you.

Email me at fundraising@agescotland.org.uk or call 0333 323 2400

What’s it really like to abseil from the Forth Rail Bridge?

The Forth Rail Bridge is one of Scotland’s most iconic features and on the 26th June a group of brave souls will be abseiling from it SAS style to raise money for Age Scotland!

We caught up with two of our wonderful fundraisers – one who took part in the abseil event last year and one who is about to take the plunge.


Sheila Herron took part in the 2015 abseil for Age Scotland along with some friends. We spoke to her to find out a bit more about the experience.

So what made you decide to sign up for the abseil?

My elderly mum had received valuable advice from Age Scotland and this alone was worth fundraising for. It was great that she could get help and advice from folk who understand at the end of the telephone. I have worked and fundraised for other charities previously (and still do) but felt Age Scotland’s work is something important enough to do this for.

And what was it like on the day?

The organisation of the day is excellent. There’s lots of helpers and volunteers which made it feel very safe and the day go well.

I am terrified of heights, just getting onto the gantry at the bridge was challenge enough! The crew at the top were brilliant though. Climbing over the bars was ok, the letting go was the hardest part, but the guy in the climbing crew was fab; nice, calm and patient. I had loads of support on the ground from family and friends, which just added to the buzz.

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Getting to the bottom was a relief but it was so worthwhile. I’m really pleased that I managed to do it. I found it really challenging but everyone involved was so good and you get swept along with the whole feel of the day so it ended up being a really good, fun day!

Do you have any advice for someone thinking about taking part this year?

I would absolutely recommend it to anyone – it was an amazing day, good fun and had a good community feel to it. And what a relief at the bottom!

My friends and I had a great time fundraising for it. We held a coffee and cake afternoon in the garden asking for donations and folk were really generous. I’d say to anyone that signs up it’s a good idea to get the Just Giving page started early on – it is amazing how the £10s soon add up!

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You can watch a video of last year’s abseil here.

Tamlin Wiltshire (better known as Tam) has signed up for this year’s abseil.

The event is on his 45th birthday so he and his family are making a day of it. Tam has signed up for the morning abseil then they will head for a nice lunch in North Queensferry and some drinks to celebrate.

Tam has always wanted to do an abseil but he chose Age Scotland as his charity to support because he lives in a small community in Inverkeithing and is aware of how important it is to provide support for the older generation. Tam’s wife told us “Tam is excited about the abseil and of course nervous – our daughter has a word for it Nervecited!!!”


If you’d like to take part in our Forth Rail Bridge abseil event on 26th June, we still have some spaces available. Just contact Stacey at Stacey.kitzinger@agescotland.org.uk or call 0333 32 32 400

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

Getting Online at 85

The 13th – 19th of October is “Get Online” week! Our Digital Communications Officer Emma Bisset visited a computer club held by Keeping in Touch Edinburgh (KiTE), to find out how the organisation is helping older people overcome their fears of technology and getting them online.


Technology has been part of my life for some time now. I’ve had to use email and the internet for work for years, and I regularly do my banking and shopping online. For many people going online is second nature, so it’s easy to forget that some older people never used a computer during their working lives. As an increasing number of services move to being more focused on their online activities, there is a fear that these people will be left behind.

That’s why organisations like KiTE are so crucial. KiTE work with older people to introduce them to the benefits and fun of being online, and work to alleviate their fear of technology. They offer a structured beginners course, 1-2-1 sessions and a more relaxed computer club. Viewpoint Housing Association provide funding for Old Farm Court Sheltered Housing to host a regular computer club, which residents can attend for free. I went to visit them recently to find out more.

Computer club members ably helped by EleanorI first spoke to a lady in her mid-eighties called May. She had never used a computer while working but is now a regular attendee of the computer club, having had a 1-2-1 session to get over her initial reservations.

She has now signed up to Facebook, which she uses to stay in touch with a friend in Ohio and share information with other older friends who are also members. “My hearing isn’t what it was and I need the telly on really loud, which probably disturbs my neighbours. I got free headphones for the telly from DeafAction which have really helped, so I put on Facebook that they did that so my friends knew as well. It’s great for letting people know your news and what’s going on.” May’s next goal is to learn how to make Christmas cards online so she can personalise and print off cards for everyone this year.

I also spoke to a gentleman called Jimmy who said the club has helped him find his way online. He goes online to plan trips down south. “I got a better deal on train tickets because I checked online so it’s good for that.”

Gina, 75 has found being online helpful for sharing things with her granddaughter. “She’s five and visited one day when it was raining. There wasn’t much to do and she was bored so we went online and watched the live camera of the panda in Edinburgh Zoo. She loved it and it’s something we can do together.”

One lady who was attending the club for the first time still had her reservations and said she found the session rather overwhelming. I noticed how the other members rallied round, reassuring her that they had felt the same on their first visit.

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There is a real sense of the members being supported as they find their own way, with some members bringing their own laptops and even iPads. Some had clearly built up some confidence, only calling on KiTE volunteers if something unexpected happened, while others sat with a volunteer, being talked through a process.

People of all ages differ in how much they use technology and what they go online for. It’s great to see organisations like KiTE working to tackle the fear some older people have, and explain the benefits of the internet and digital technology to generations that are just discovering them.

One lady approached me at the end of the session to say “I always ask a lot of questions, but these volunteers are worth their weight in gold.” She chatted with the volunteers before packing up her laptop to leave, shouting as she left “Just remember, don’t get old!”001

Visit KiTE’s website to find out more about their work.

 

Volunteering at the Commonwealth Games

John Stewart, 69, shares his experience of volunteering at the Commonwealth Games and why he would encourage others to volunteer.

When I was young, men slightly older than me who had enjoyed or endured National Service would offer the advice “never volunteer”. Perhaps that stuck with me, because up until the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, I had never volunteered.

Because I was retired and widowed and looking for things to do, and not least because it was in Glasgow where I live, I decided to put my name forward. When I heard that 50,000 had done the same and 25,000 were to be interviewed for 15,000 places I assumed that being 69 would rule me out.

However I was called to interview in early 2013. The process was very slick at the Commonwealth offices in Glasgow.  My passport was scanned, my picture taken and I responded to a standard set of questions. After that, I received a number of newsletters but heard nothing back so assumed that was that. Then in May of 2014, I found out I had been selected as a driver which had been my first choice. So I became a Clyde-sider.

Me and my grandson Ryan

Me and my grandson Ryan, who loved the mascot Clyde!

I attended two training days in June at the place that was to be the transport depot.  I was amazed to learn that there was to be over 1,100 cars available and 1,500 drivers, some of whom would be on shift and all of whom would be doing 10 hour shifts.  My rota extended over sixteen days with two days off.  At first that sounded a lot but they explained that during the ten hours would be broken up while we waited for clients that were attending meetings or events.

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Outsize Pipers in George Square in Glasgow

My role was to be what was called a T1 driver.  This involved being assigned to a specific car and a specific client who would be part of what was called the Games Family.  For the most part these were representatives of the Commonwealth Federations of the 71 countries competing.  Before the Games started I had most of three days driving between the various locations in Glasgow where events were to be held until the routes were well known.

HRH Prince Tunku Imran, his wife and I

HRH Prince Tunku Imran, his wife and I

Clients were arriving at different times so I had some days at the beginning of the Games where I was a support driver, waiting for my clients to sign on.  During that time I chauffeured for the Bahamas, Swaziland and Australia until my client from Guyana arrived.  As well as driving there was time for me to chat to the other drivers at the depot and everyone had a story to tell.  Many had volunteered at the Olympics in London and had travelled from many parts of England and stayed at their own expense, simply because they had enjoyed the experience so much.  Meeting other drivers and sharing their experiences all added to the enjoyment.

Most of the driving was taking the clients from their hotel to a Games venue, moving between venues or to the Athlete’s Village.  A massive bonus was that with my type of car pass I could park close to the venue and my personal pass allowed me into the events to watch from the back.  I saw Rugby at Ibrox, Boxing, Netball and Gymnastics at the Scottish Conference Centre and the icing on the cake was three evenings watching Athletics at Hampden.

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Panoramic view of Hampden on 28th July 2014

So what have I taken away from the experience? I found I could speak easily to complete strangers and I intend to keep that going.  I now find I will engage people in conversation in queues and in cafes.  During the games the uniform gave that licence but I realised people are often happy to chat. I found that I was still able to do a full 10 hours without getting weary and I am now avoiding daytime telly in favour of doing things. I golf twice week and my son and daughter have found lots of D.I.Y. to keep me amused!

I found volunteering gave me a great sense of worth. One of the Glasgow clients I had in the car works for a local hospice and invited me to get in touch about doing something for them so I did.  I have a set of forms to fill in and hopefully they will find a role for me which may well involve driving or perhaps administration or IT which was my work pre-retirement. I would thoroughly recommend volunteering. Although there is a commitment, it is on your own terms and, as I have found, there is something for everyone – whatever
your age and capability.

To find out about volunteering opportunities in your area, visithttp://www.volunteerscotland.net/