Mar 312015

Centrepiece ChoirA dementia friendly choir in North Berwick has been given a funding boost of £5,000.

Centrepiece Choir, which is part of North Berwick Day Care Association, was started two years ago by people with dementia and their friends who wanted to sing and perform, with money from a local Trust fund.

The choir have already performed a programme of successful events, and practice weekly in the local church hall under the direction of gifted choir master Andrew Brown. The choir themselves decide what they would like to sing, and where they would like to go to perform, and are supported by community volunteers who organise the music, venues, transport and outfits.

The funding will allow this community of interest to continue to come together, to meet in a familiar group with like-minded people who enjoy singing and performing in a dementia friendly space, and entertain their local community.

Funding has come from the Life Changes Trust, an independent charity set up with a Big Lottery Fund endowment of £50 million to improve the lives of two key groups in Scotland: people affected by dementia and care experienced young people. The Trust will be investing £3million in 14 different dementia friendly communities over the next three years.

Valerie MacAdam, one of the choir organisers and a member herself, said,

This funding is very important to our choir. Activities like singing help people rediscover old skills, build confidence and have fun. Over the years, many people in the choir have had dementia but they really enjoy singing because, for them, the memory of singing has stayed long after everything else goes. Our choir will continue to build on the positive outcomes that the power of music, and being part of a community can bring to people with dementia.’
Elma Danks, Chair of the North Berwick Day Centre Management Committee and also a choir member said, ‘It gives them huge pleasure and you can see such a positive change in their appearance each time you meet them and they have sung. They really enjoy entertaining others because they feel they are still able to give back, they are contributing, and taking part.

Anna Buchanan, Director of the Life Changes Trust dementia programme said

Many people living with dementia stop taking part in activities that may have given them great pleasure in the past, or which allowed them to mix with their peers. Initiatives like these bring people together in a dementia friendly community of interest where they have opportunities to be part of something that is meaningful to them. This is a self-directed group who make decisions about what they do and how they do it. This funding will support them to continue to be empowered to do the things they love and make decisions about their own activities.

In Scotland:

  • It is estimated that around 90,000 people have dementia
  • The number of people with dementia in Scotland is increasing, because the population is getting older. Based on current dementia prevalence rates, the number of people with dementia in Scotland is projected to double by 2038*.
  • Much of that financial burden falls on family carers and friends, who may also experience social isolation, exhaustion and health problems associated with the demands of caring.
  • Dementia costs the country more than cancer, heart disease and stroke put together.

The Life Changes Trust is committed to funding and supporting the development of Dementia Friendly Communities across Scotland and to supporting transformational improvements in the quality of life, well-being, empowerment and inclusion of people affected by dementia – both those who have dementia and those who care for them.

Find out more at

Sep 242014

Dementia Friendly East LothianRadio Saltire had the pleasure of taking part in the Dementia Friendly Tranent event on Saturday 20th September and we spoke to lots of enthusiastic and friendly people. The event was spread between Tranent Day Centre, Recharge, The Fraser Centre and the area around the War Memorial.

Dementia Friendly East Lothian is a community led initiative aimed at making growing older great for everyone. Originally starting as a small group of local people who wanted to make life better for people with dementia, and after hosting two successful events in North Berwick they realised they had local support. Since then, Haddington and Tranent have started and other communities are interested too.

Dementia Friendly East Lothian encourage and support communities to bring people of all ages together to talk about making life better for older people and to have conversations about dementia and ageing. Dementia Friendly East Lothian have funding from Luminate for two events and are working with STRiVE and YoungScot to develop approaches to bringing generations together, recognising the importance and value of young people and helping them have a say about what their own later years might be like.

Businesses and the people who own and work in them are at the heart of our communities. Most people living with dementia have no formal diagnosis but may have symptoms, making it hard to live independently in the community. Thoughtful, informed, quality services from shops, business and others can transform the quality of life for people at all stages of dementia but especially in the early stages.

If anyone wants to know more about Dementia Friendly East Lothian please contact Sue Northrop at

We at Radio Saltire asked if any of the groups and businesses involved would like to speak to us and we had a steady stream of willing people (even a queue of people at one point!). This is a summary of who we spoke to and their contact details.

First we spoke to Kristin MacDonald, Head Music Therapist Lothians and Fife, from Nordoff Robbins Scotland. Kristin talked about how music affects people with dementia and helps bring back memories. For more information

We also spoke to Scott Glynn who was representing Tranent Sporting Memories Group. This is a weekly group that meets at Ross High Rugby Club in Tranent on a Wednesday morning 10.30 until 12. This is a friendly group where people can talk about their favourite memories and hear stories from others who also love their sport or to just to come in for a blether. Not forgetting the pie and bovril at ‘half-time’.

Next we spoke to Samantha, Hannah and Breige from Huguet Boogie, who kindly delayed the start of their first dance so a young girl could listen to her request for any One Direction song to be played (who would have thought that ‘Saltire Rocks Alan’ would have One Direction on his laptop!). Huguet Boogie classes are held in the Fraser Centre and in addition to dance classes the students also take singing and performing arts classes. Dance classes include ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop and a variety of other styles.

We also spoke to Michael and Sarah from New Beginnings Club East Lothian. The club developed from the Local Area CO-ordination Gardening Club which was a group of people with learning disabilities who had spent two summers together tidying up the gardens of people who were either too disabled or too elderly to manage their gardens themselves. This group wanted to do other activities together and the New Beginnings Club was set up and the club is run by people with disabilities and is open to all (non-disabled too) and involves it members in all aspects of the club focusing on everyone’s strengths. Activities have included cycling, horse riding, swimming, gardening, photography, arts and crafts, Barn Dance, Christmas party, coach trips and the clubs birthday party. Members opt in to what interests them even if it is just receiving the newsletter. Angie from Radio Saltire was very pleased to hear they have cakes at their meeting and that she would get a slice if she came along! The club have been chosen as one of Asda’s charities of the month and during September and October shoppers at Asda will be able to use the green coins given at the checkout to vote for the club to get £200.

Andrew Tweedie from Carers of East Lothian spoke about a carer is someone who, without payment, provides help and support to a relative, friend or neighbour who could not manage otherwise due to disability, illness or frailty. Andrew explained how most carers would still not recognise themselves under the term ‘carer’ as they are just people trying to cope as best they can and may also be juggling paid work with their unpaid caring responsibilities.

We also met Simon and Ness from Therapet. People find themselves deprived of companionship of a much loved dog as they may have had to go into sheltered housing, residential care or hospital or perhaps no longer able to care properly for a pet. It has been scientifically proven that the mere action of stroking a dog, or cat, slows down the heartbeat, reduces blood pressure and makes someone who has already suffered a heart attack much less likely to have another. The same applies to children who are mentally or physically handicapped or those suffering a terminal illness or a stay in hospital. Therapets come in all breeds, cross- breeds or mongrels and can be small, medium or large. The only standard trait is a steady and happy temperament. Therapets can also be used to help severe phobia of dogs too.

David Norris from the Fire Brigade spoke about raising awareness of the resources available for people with dementia and people needing assistance. The Fire Brigade can do a fire safety check and also fit fire alarms free of charge. To get your fire safety check and fire alarm call 0800 0731 999 or text ‘Check’ to 61611. Sadly, Rosanne did not get to sit in the Fire Engine as they were called away!

Our last interview was with Recharge and we spoke with Natasha, Kirsten, Crystal, Allen and Lauren. Recharge support young people between 11-18 who live in the Far side area of East Lothian. Recharge was established in 2005 as a result of community consultations and has been looking to support young people and the community since then, by providing high quality youth work.

For more info about Dementia Friendly East Lothian and their various projects, check out their Facebook Page

Sep 192014

tranentAn information day about making Tranent “Dementia Friendly” is taking place between 2 and 4pm this Saturday (20/9).

The event will be spread across venues including Civic Square, The Fraser Centre, Tranent Day Centre and Recharge.

So come along, find out more and give your views!

In Civic Square:

  • Pipers
  • Dancers
  • Ness and Simon from Therapets
  • Plus Radio Saltire!!!

In Tranent Day Centre:

  • Tea, Coffee and a wee Scone
  • A Knit and a Knatter

The Fraser Centre:

  • Share and Create Past and Future Memories
  • Find out about plans for the Muir Park Community Garden
  • Capture childhood memories with STRiVE’s Victorian Dolls House

In Recharge:

  • Silver Surfers Zone – Come in and learn about technology!

Additional Information From:

  • New Beginnings Club
  • East Lothian Local Area Coordination Service
  • Age Scotland
  • Therapets
  • Allan Ross
  • The Foodbank
  • Garden, Stirling and Burnett
  • Living It Up
  • Muir Park and Steading View Tenant and Residents Association
  • Carers of East Lothian
  • STRiVE
  • Royal Voluntary Service

Share your ideas – Where’s Great To Go In Tranent? What Would You Like To Be Changed? How Can You Make A Difference?

Pop Along And Make A Difference!