Dementia Friendly East Lothian Summer Newsletter 2023

Welcome to the DFEL Summer Newsletter. It’s been a busy and exciting year so far with a new team,  the opening of the Musselburgh Meeting Centre, new Friendship Groups and our Training Workshops. We also have 2 new strategies – the Scottish Government Dementia Strategy and the draft  East Lothian Dementia Strategy.

The New Scottish Dementia Strategy” Everyone’s Story”

The  Scottish Dementia Strategy – Everyone’s Story  was launched in Dementia Awareness Week.  It’s a 10 year ‘positive, shared vision for dementia in Scotland’ aimed at ‘delivering a better experience for people living with dementia, families and carers’. The strategy is about all of us and everyone affected by dementia in all settings. The key themes are:

  • Better diagnosis  – inclusive,  rights-based, accessible and timely, connecting diagnosis and support to primary care.
  • Better post diagnostic support – integrating dementia services and support and giving people choices for where they get that support – Alzheimer Scotland Link Workers, Meeting Centres, Health Professionals and community services and support. There are also proposals for post diagnostic support for care partners and unpaid carers.
  • Community focus –  Meeting Centres, Dementia Friendly Communities and Peer Support

“We must embed and enable empowerment, including citizenship in all settings and stages.”

The strategy will be delivered through a series of 2-year delivery plans. There are challenges round high demand and limited resources and that this should make us focus on making sure that what we do works.

The East Lothian Dementia Strategy for East Lothian – under development 

Colleagues in East Lothian are out and about talking to people about the new East Lothian Dementia Strategy and getting their views.  Here are their initial proposals for dementia in East Lothian…

Encouraging people to get diagnosed 

  • Why diagnosis and getting advice early can help
  • Making the ‘diagnostic pathway’ clearer. more accessible and available in different settings, including the community. Working with GPs, heath and social care and communities

Better information and support throughout 

  • Accessible information at diagnosis and key transition points, including about community activities and resources
  • Improved Post Diagnostic Support – quicker and to end of life
  • A single point of contact to get help when we need it
  • Health and social care staff  trained in dementia
  • Digital and tech support, rehabilitation and advice on simple adaptations
  • Making Self Directed support work better
  • Training and support for people with dementia for employment, volunteering and leadership

Better support for carers 

  • Better options for respite & peer support
  • Support at evenings and weekends
  • More opportunities for mutual support
  • Advice & support on benefits

More community based support

  • DFEL Friendship Groups, Meeting Centres, Dementia Friendly Communities & businesses.
  • Developing Alzheimer Scotland’s Dementia Café’s
  • A possible Day Centre in Musselburgh.
  • Working to improve local services

Watch out for opportunities to find out more and have your say!

Friendship Groups

Friendship groups are informal cafe-style get-togethers with friends old & new.  We are based on the principles and approach of Meeting Centres, including adjusting to change, physical activity and cognitive stimulation and understanding dementia. We get together in a range of community venues and what we do is led by & for people living with dementia & care-partners living independently in the community. You don’t have to have a dementia diagnosis or be a carer to come along.

We meet weekly  for friendship, fun and mutual support – time with people in the same boat.  We do what friends do – chat, have a cuppa, do activities together, celebrate, have days out.

We work with local communities to ensure that we have string local relationships and support each other. We work together to oil the wheels so Friends can focus on what matters – living not existing.

There are currently 3 Friendship Groups in East Lothian – Port Seton, East Linton and Musselburgh with a Dunbar group due to start soon.

Each group welcomes people from surrounding areas and Friends also visit each other.

East Linton & Traprain 
The Stables, Prestonkirk, East Linton
Wednesday 10.30 – 12

Port Seton Friendship Group
Port Seton Community Centre 
Thursday 10.30 – 12.30

Musselburgh Friendship Group
Musselburgh Old Course Golf Clubhouse
Thursday 10.30 – 12.00

Please phone or e mail Sue before you come, we might be out & about!


The Musselburgh Meeting Centre  

The Musselburgh Meeting Centre is now open! Meeting Centres provide the benefits of friendship and community along with skilled advice and support from trained staff and volunteers. They provide support to enable people living with dementia and unpaid carers to adjust to the many challenges life with dementia brings. This helps people live well at home, participating in their communities, for longer.  The Meeting Centre is part of the community and has strong relationships with community bodies and organisations.

The Musselburgh Meeting Centre runs 2 mornings a week for up to 10 Members. The Centre does all the things  friends do to make life meaningful and fun. Members decide what they want to do and we help them make it happen.  The environment of the Meeting Centre is carefully designed based on what research shows works.

The Centre is more supportive than an ordinary community setting and than Friendship Groups. There is a focus on enabling people to maintain the skills and routines of daily living with opportunities for creative and physical activities designed for maximum therapeutic benefit.  Use it  or lose it!

  • The Meeting Centre is  for people living with dementia and unpaid carers/care partners
  • Members are actively involved in all aspects – planning, doing and improving
  • The Centre is an integral part of the community
  • We work to help people adjust to the changes dementia brings and activities are fun and therapeutic.
  • Staff, volunteers and sessional staff and Members are trained in dementia and the Meeting Centre model
  • The physical and sensory environment helps people get the most out of the experience

We’ll be having an open day soon – watch this space…

Meet the team

 Meet our Team: Fiona Barrett, (centre) is our Meeting Centre Manager.   Fiona works with Domenika Gadomski  (right) and Jennifer McKay (left). Sandiann Devaney provides business support for the Centre.

Members tell us they are getting a lot from coming along…..

“Thank you, I really enjoy coming here, it’s good to meet new people”.
“I love doing new things and I’ve done loads more new things since I came to the centre”.
“It (the centre) is not just good, its brilliant”.

Fiona  says

‘I’m delighted we’re open. We’re starting small, open 2 days a week with up to  10 members each day. My job is to make sure the Members have a great day.”

 You’ll hear more about them in future newsletters and they are planning a new blog….

Dementia Friendly Communities 

Dementia Friendly Communities are places where:

  • People living with dementia and unpaid carers/care partners are valued, included and respected
  • Everyone understands dementia and what they can do
  • Stigma and social isolation are actively challenged
  • We work with Health and Well Being Groups  and community organisations to support dementia-enabled communities and develop community led support including Meeting Centres and Friendship Groups.

In a Dementia Enabled Community, people are not just aware of dementia, they understand it and feel skilled and confident to make a difference.

And at the heart is getting to know each other, with mutual respect as equals. We want that to happen everywhere! So we work with communities at Community days, Dementia Friendly events and training, Health and Well Being Groups and local projects. Friendship Groups provide a great basis for  coming to together, building relationships and sustainable local capacity. We work so people with lived experience play a leading role.



This year we celebrated Dementia Awareness Week with events in Gullane, in partnership with Gullane Village Association, Gullane Day Centre and Gullane Library. Many thanks to everyone who made it a special and very yummy afternoon!

Getting Our Voices Heard 

People with dementia and care-partners have influenced policy and practice in East Lothian through Gatherings and meetings with ELHSCP staff. Thanks to their work, the Musselburgh Meeting Centre and  ‘satellites’  are part of the Integrated Joint Board’s new strategic plan.   We have also got together to give our views on the last 2 Scottish Dementia Strategies,  East Lothian Carers States and plans and the IJB Plan.

The Hub: If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far, go together

We love sharing ideas, skills and experience.  In particular we like to bring together people with lived experience, people who do research, delivery and policy to share, learn and create together. We all win that way.

  • Raising awareness – Learning starts with awareness. We attend community days and conversation about dementia, do talks and presentations and support Dementia Awareness Week
  • Training helps people develop understanding about dementia and the skills and confidence to make a difference.  DFEL runs informal half day relaxed workshops including:
    • an introduction to dementia
    • being a dementia friendly community
    • Dementia Friendly physical activities and yoga
    • Workshops are being developed for unpaid carers, an introduction to Meeting Centres and inter-generational working.
  • Working with local communities and services to build connections and support so people  get expert support and advice when and how they want it, regardless of whether they are diagnosed or not. We work with Health and Well Being Groups, Day Centres, schools and churches and others to support Dementia Friendly Communities and community led support, including Friendship Groups and Meeting Centres.
  • Innovative projects –  we love to support new ideas and ways of working. Projects done in partnership develop knowledge and skills round key areas including peer leadership, Intergenerational working and dementia friendly design
  • Gatherings bring us together to share and learn. Most importantly they are a tangible expression of ‘us’ changing the world together. Changing the world together.

DFEL – embodying our values and principles  

Our work has grown over the last year – the Meeting Centre has been a catalyst fir a new phase of your work. As an organisation we’e adapting and growing to ensure we are effective, safe, value for money and most importantly we make a difference. We’re ambitious about changing lives now and for future generations, but we must stay true to our values and principles, in particular becoming an organisation that is led by people with lived experience of dementia and unpaid carers.  We’re developing our Board and business strategy to strengthen the leadership and participation of people with lived experience at all levels, including the DFEL Board and embodying genuine co-production. We are also developing partnerships to deliver change.

And breathe….


Thank you

We can’t do what we do alone.  Thank you to the many people and organisations in East Lothian and beyond that work with us to change lives.  One day I’ll do a full list of names!

  • Friends who give their time to develop our work, deliver training and support each other and their communities
  • Communities of people and places  that support people living with dementia and unpaid carers in many ways – as neighbours,  inviting us to events, setting up groups and learning
  • DFEL Board Members – who help us grow, be ambitious and robust and stay true to our values and principles
  • Professionals who help us develop and deliver,  link us to decision making, share resources and knowledge and work in partnership with us as a community led enterprise
  • Networks – that support us – including the Scottish and UK Meeting Centres and Scottish DFC Networks
  • Funders – Who give so much more than money.

Thank you all 🙂

Finally …

It always takes longer to do the newsletter than I think! But it’s always good to get it all down and look at what we’re doing and share it with you.

I’ve a very big and very  particular thank you to Port Seton Friendship Group. who have helped to set up the Musselburgh Meeting Centre and are now back home at the Port Seton Community Centre.  Thank you Janet, George, Elizabeth, Roger and Isa.



Here’s to changing the world together!

Take care


Sue Northrop
Dementia Friendly East Lothian CIC
Mobile: 07727883881
Phone: 01620895571

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