Living active, living well

Jim Ferguson’s life was completely changed when he became more active. He met with our Chief Executive Brian Sloan to spread the word about how getting active can improve your quality of life, even for those living with a chronic condition. 

DSC_0598Jim is a former local councillor who volunteers with a number of groups affiliated with Age Scotland and has given regular, valued help to our Community Development team. Jim was referred to a physiotherapist by his GP after being diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. When he was a young boy he had contracted pneumonia and this left an infection in his lungs. As he turned 30 medics removed lobes within his lungs and now, at 75, he is living with the long term consequences of this.

After a few weeks of physio, Jim was asked if he’d like to be ‘prescribed’ a regular exercise class that would give him the support he needed to help his breathing moving forward. Jim jumped at the chance and was referred to Live Active Leisure in Perth.

Jim began his regular Referral Classes and a simple 12 week programme followed that is designed to help inactive adults with any of the following: depression or other mental health issues, weight problems, high blood pressure, muscular / skeletal conditions, neurological conditions and pulmonary conditions – including COPD, like Jim.

“I was sent to Live Active Letham and started the classes with young Marcin – he’s a great guy! I really did get a lot of encouragement and I feel I was pushed just a little bit more every time. It was a huge benefit being part of a class that worked to my level but that was small enough for us all to get the attention we needed to move us on.

“When you can’t breathe you’re restricted in lots of things; it’s that simple. As you get older you have less physical strength and finding a way to start things off at a suitable ability level and work from there is a great thing. It’s made a huge difference to my quality of life and that means it’s also a very good thing for my mental health. “I’m passionate that people keep mobile and as fit as they can at all ages. It’s about mind and body – you have to keep it all going!”

If you want to know more about get fit options in your area, call Silver Line Scotland on 0800 4 70 80 90. If you live in Perth and want to get active, visit

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.”

Cunninghame - New Lanark

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 or visit our website

Food for Life Scotland – Bringing Generations Together

Good food is at the heart of happy, healthy communities, bringing people of all ages together. Soil Association Scotland’s Food for Life Scotland (FFLS) programme works to transform food culture and put good food on the menu, in the curriculum, and in all the places people live their daily lives.

In late 2015, FFLS set up an intergenerational project in Edinburgh which focuses on two settings – Inch View Care Home and Liberton High School. Both venues come under the management of the City of Edinburgh Council and both already have a commitment to good food through the Food for Life Catering Mark award.

When the idea of an intergenerational project was introduced, the school and the care home were enthusiastic. Both were keen to use the journey of their food –‘from soil to plate’ – as a basis for learning, sharing, and celebrating together.

Inch View polytunnel

Building a wheelchair-accessible polytunnel at Inch View has been one of the key projects. Volunteers helped with the construction and pupils from Liberton built its doors as part of their Craft Design & Technology work. Produce will be used in the home’s kitchen as ingredients for residents’ meals and scraps will also go to feed the home’s chickens.

Inch View chickens

As part of a dementia prevention project, Inch View decided to create a recipe book which involved residents reminiscing about childhood memories of food. The school’s art department ran a competition with S2 to design the cover, and pupils are now planning to produce the whole book, including illustrations.

In March 2016, a daffodil lunch was held at Liberton High School. Pupils from the school’s Food for Life Action Group worked with their school cook to look at nutrition for older people and consider what dishes they might like to eat. Pupils designed invitations, menus, prepared the tables and cooked up a fabulous range of dishes for their special guests from Inch View. Three generations sat down to eat together, sharing their experiences and getting to know each other.


Future events being planned include a strawberry tea and harvest event in autumn, as well as the on-going sharing of produce grown in Inch View’s polytunnel and the school’s raised beds. One pupil from Liberton has been inspired to consider a career in catering and another pupil who has expressed an interest in care work has been offered work experience at Inch View.

The project has been a real team effort, it’s a great example of generations working together and celebrating through food.

To find out more about Food for Life Scotland, please visit or email

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.


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!


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.


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 to see what groups are operating close by.

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.

Outsize Pipers

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.


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, visit

Congratulations to Food Train Friends, winner of the Services for Older People Award

On 1st October Food Train Friends received the Services for Older People Award from Age Scotland at its annual Scottish Parliamentary Reception.  See the video in which Regional Manager Helen McAnespie pays tribute to volunteers, and an Project Manager Scott McGill talks about the difference the service makes.

Food Train provides grocery shopping delivery and home support services to older people in the Dumfries and Galloway area.  Its Food Train Friends service was developed three years ago in response to evidence that social isolation and loneliness was a major issue amongst older people locally.  It offers telephone befriending, one to one matches, and group outings and activities.  It also runs reminiscence and IT groups and has established strong links with local High Schools in Dumfries.

105 older people are registered with the service and are supported by 60 trained volunteers.  The service has plans, funding permitting, to roll out across the whole of the Dumfries and Galloway area, in which there is no other befriending service for older people.

Brian Sloan, Age Scotland Chief, Executive said: “This Award is truly well deserved, as Food Train Friends has demonstrated dedication and dynamism in meeting the needs of isolated older people in the Dumfries and Galloway area.”

The Services for Older People Award is sponsored by Specsavers at Home. It is for groups and organisations which have given older people ‘that little bit of help’ they need to continue to enjoy independence and a high quality of life in their own homes and communities.

Congratulations also to runners up:

  • Tiree Resource Club
  • Midlothian Garden Services
  • Cowal Elderly Befriender’s SCIO
  • Keeping in Touch Edinburgh (KITE)

Luminate announces festival programme for October

Actors Libby McArthur & Johnny Beattie launch new Scottish Festival to celebrate creativity as we age.

Actors Libby McArthur and Johnny Beattie launch Scotland’s first festival to celebrate creativity as we age. © Drew Farrell

Today Luminate: Scotland’s creative ageing festival announced a nationwide programme of arts activities celebrating our creative lives as we age.

Age Scotland is one of the festival’s partners, along with Creative Scotland and the Baring Foundation, and we are very excited about what’s in store.

Throughout October, Scotland’s newest festival will throw a spotlight on over 200 inspirational arts activities – many of them free – with, and for older people, as well as events for audiences and participants across the generations.

The arts festival includes dance, drama and music performances; film screenings, literary events and exhibitions.  Many events are free or discounted, and opportunities are offered for people to become involved as participants as well as audience members.

At a glance, a section of festival highlights includes:

  • a six strong 70+ Finnish ladies rock band at Howden Park Centre in Livingston
  • actor Edith MacArthur’s star turn in a reading of Sylvia’s Dow’s poignant radio drama It’s Only Words at Perth Theatre
  • an afternoon in Brechin where children, parents and grandparents are brought together to share stories and memories over tea and cake
  • a new piece for twelve male dancers by choreographer Andy Howitt in which he explores what the ageing body brings to dance
  • a pop up Craft Café in a local  Age Scotland shop
  • and Libby McArthur’s take on turning 50 in the premiere of The F Word at Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock.

Festival participants range from nine years old to 90, and feature professional and non-professional artists alike.  Debates and discussions will explore current thinking on issues surrounding the role of creativity in our lives as we age.

Creative activities with people being cared for in residential homes and in their local community forms another strand of the festival programme and creative projects will take place in care homes from Edinburgh to Shetland. 

Needless to say, there’s a lot of events packed into the month of October, and we’ve only highlighted a selection in this post! You can read a very in-depth review of what’s happening on the Creative Scotland website.

Full Luminate programme listings will be available at from Monday 13th August and the printed festival brochure will be distributed across Scotland from Wednesday 5th September.

If you’re interested in keeping up to date with all the festival’s happenings, visit the website and sign up for the e-newsletter.

What’s happening with Luminate: Scotland’s creative ageing festival?

Luminate Web logo

Applications to take part in Luminate: Scotland’s creative ageing festival, have been flooding in ahead of last week’s deadline and given the wonderful variety of projects and ideas that have been put forward, we’re really looking forward to announcing programme details on Wednesday 25th July.

Luminate is a brand new festival which will take place across Scotland this October. Featuring events and activities celebrating and profiling our creative lives as we age, Luminate is part of a nationwide drive to increase the number of older people enjoying high quality arts activities – whether as artists, performers, participants or consumers.

There’s already an exciting range of creative work with and for older people taking place across Scotland and the festival looks to celebrate and build on this through new commissions, collaborations, and international projects alongside a wide range of independently-run projects, including work led by community groups, artists and cultural organisations.

Luminate will feature a wide range of projects aimed at older people as participants and audience members; activities that bring the generations together, work by older professional artists, creative activities with people being cared for in residential homes and in their local community, and work which explores themes based upon the nature of our creative lives as we age.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can keep up to date with all the festival’s developments:

Relationships Scotland: why grandparents are grand

This guest post is by Relationships Scotland. The charity has come together with Parenting Across Scotland and film-maker Martin Smith to produce four short films giving grandparents a voice to express what’s important to them. 

Granddad with grandson

We want to promote the importance of positive grandparental involvement to the well-being of all generations within families and spark conversation around what support is available for grandparent kinship carers and grandparents denied contact with their grandchildren.

We know grandparents can provide crucial emotional and practical support for their whole family, particularly during difficult times such as financial hardship or family separation. An estimated 1 million children in the UK are unable to see their grandparents because of family separation (Grandparents Plus).

Working with grandparent kinship carers, we understand the huge life changes that can come with this role. These grandparents can experience a number of practical and emotional challenges as a direct result of their caring role but often feel that this is overlooked. Watch the video below to get an idea of what kinship caring involves:


Our films look at some of the challenges faced by grandparents and their families but also celebrate the contribution that grandparents make to family life and the sense of well being this role can bring.

As part of our work in supporting intergenerational kin relationships we would like to have a day celebrating grandparents on Twitter. On the 13th of June we will be tweeting using the hashtag #theyregrand. We would love it if you would join in our celebration by:

  1. Sharing a memory of their grandparents
  2. Tweeting about what influence their grandparents had on them
  3. Tweeting about what it’s like to be a grandparent.

In our experience of supporting grandparents we often hear that grandparents do not feel adequately represented within our society. The families that participated in our filming not only wished to speak out for their own families, but also for those grandparents who don’t feel able to.

Watch the video of Dorothy and John talking about losing touch with their grandchild:


We hope that their films will be widely shared and help contribute to a better understanding of grandparents roles and increased support when needed.

Do you have any stories or thoughts about grandparents that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.

Impact Arts: Craft Café arrives in Edinburgh

This guest post is by Impact Arts tutor Tomasina Hurrell.  This community arts organisation has a project called Craft Café , which works with older people to tackle isolation and loneliness. Craft Café has now arrived in Edinburgh in partnership with Viewpoint Housing Association

A painting by an Edinburgh Craft Cafe member

A painting by an Edinburgh Craft Café member

Edinburgh’s first Craft Café has been set up in an unused chapel which is attached to the residential homes St Raphael’s and Marion House, both part of Viewpoint Housing Association.  The Chapel has been lovingly restored and brought back to its former glory, with many of the residents and care workers who knew the chapel previously expressing delight in the space being put to good use again.

Viewpoint Housing Association also has sheltered housing around Edinburgh, so one important aim is to encourage and support participation from tenants’ out-with the residential complex to attend.  This has already begun to happen and means that people from each part of Viewpoint are integrating and experiencing the chance to meet new faces, an opportunity integral to the Craft Café philosophy.

After just four weeks of taster sessions the workshops already have a strong following.  Members have stated that they are happy to know that the Café is here as they thoroughly enjoy coming for the company and the chance to learn something new.

So far through the taster sessions the members have been taught fine art practices – drawing, printmaking and painting.  They have also had the opportunity to experience craft activities such as jewellery making and textiles.

craft cafe edinburgh in action

Members of Edinburgh’s Craft Café in action

For some, the process of learning is therapeutic and confidence boosting and already we can see that there is a great deal of talent in the Café. For those who have more challenging issues, the process of mark making and working with colour and texture appears to have a calming effect.

For those who have skills from earlier life, the process of passing that skill on to fellow members can be very beneficial. One member from sheltered accommodation is a jewellery maker and at the Café he has had the opportunity to show his work and share his technique with others.

“I feel like the support craft cafe provides is like occupational therapy, if the mind is still active, then it is important to keep it busy” (Craft Café member)

“So good to know that my mother is getting so much pleasure from re-engaging with an old hobby” (Family member)

Edinburgh’s first Craft Café is already coming alive and has great potential for the future. The members make it a diverse and social space and as they start to develop more autonomy they should begin to feel more ownership of the café. It’s been a great start!

For more information about Craft Café in Edinburgh, please contact Jay McAllister, Impact Arts’ Regional Manager for Edinburgh and Borders on or 0787 5068259.