DFEL Learning Event 31 March 2016: Communities are Doing it for Ourselves!




On Thursday we held our third learning event in Haddington. Sixty four folk from across East Lothian came together to hear what our different communities are doing to become Dementia Friendly, share ideas and aspirations and make new friends. We were very fortunate and honoured that Professor James Mitchell, from Edinburgh University and a Christie Commissioner, came to Chair the event for us.  Professor Mitchell said that Dementia Friendly East Lothian fits perfectly with the Christie Commission’s view of how things should be done:

  • People in communities, living with conditions like dementia, bringing their experience, knowledge and resources to the table and starting from that.
  • Working in a new relationship, in partnership with professional staff to find workable solutions and making things happen. Working with us not doing things to us.
  • Integrated, joined up and efficient services
  • Change driven by  real lives and experience.

James said that our  community-led Area Partnerships have great potential in helping us to do this.  Sue mentioned that the new Scottish Dementia Strategy is out now and it includes Dementia Friendly Communities and the Life Changes Trust programme which is supporting us. Proposals for the new Scottish Dementia Strategy



Tillie from Dementia Friendly North Berwick spoke about her work to set up a Dementia Friendly Business Scheme in North Berwick, inspired by the experience of a close relative who had dementia. Tillie and her husband visited every business and shop in North Berwick to talk about her plans for a DF business scheme, get their ideas and support. They found that everyone she spoke to, all ages were keen to get involved. She has designed a leaflet which has been distributed to over 250 people round the town. There is also a logo for shops to put in their windows to show they welcome people with dementia. Tillie has started to sign people up. The local Skipton Branch has had an awareness session and has offered to run an information session on Power of Attorney. The scheme will launch formally in September.



Roseanne from Dementia Friendly Tranent spoke about the work they’ve done over the last 2 years which has led to DF Tranent setting up as a charity. The hardest bit was getting a bank account but finally they are established and have 4 Trustees. DF Tranent has raised awareness and funding through a series of fun and inclusive public events across the town involving many people of all ages. They are now starting to spend the money to support people with dementia and their family and carers. They support paid and unpaid carers, which reflects the value that people with dementia put on the care they receive. Funds have been made available for respite, to cover the costs of a carer when someone needs to go to the shops or visit friends. One carer was “Over the moon” at the 6 hours care that DF Tranent funded which meant he could play golf with his brother.  DF Tranent also funds trips for people to go out and attend the local football and watch out for the DF Tranent Easter Bunny! There is also a Carer Support Group which meets at the Fraser Centre every month on the last Thursday of the month, all welcome. There will be charity meetings too – watch the DF Tranent Facebook page for information.





Elsie and Jane from The Good Memories Café in Haddington spoke about the Good Memories Café that runs every last Friday of the month in the Star Room at the John Gray Centre. It has been running for 2 years and brings people together for tea and cakes and a range of diverse activities from music, reminiscence, games and singing. It can get very busy. To date most of the people coming along have come from local care homes, but the volunteers are keen that there is more to be done for people who are living independently in the community and might benefit from more things to do and friendship. Jane and Elsie are keen that Dementia Friendly Haddington can do more to make the town better for people with dementia. They felt that they needed to catch up with what was happening in other parts of East Lothian and called on people in Haddington to get more involved.












Lee from Dementia Friendly Dunbar said it’s almost exactly a year since Dunbar held its information and open day. This was a great success and brought people together from across the area to find out about dementia, see what activities and support is available and share ideas about what Dementia Friendly Dunbar would look like. Since then there has been a lot of activity, much centred round the library which has become a dementia hub. Lorna Bunney in the library has compiled a list of books related to dementia and the library works as a resource centre. Lee was a nurse and spoke about the importance of friendship and support and laughter.  The Carers Support Group meets there every Thursday evening and there is also a very popular weekly singing group where around 25 people with dementia and their carers come together to sing together. There have also been events with the Reader in Residence at the library, the Scouts and knitting group. I forgot to ask Frances from the DF Dunbar to speak about her work with local GPs around how they support people with dementia.  We will develop this further. Dunbar has plans for doing more dementia friendly work over the next year. Already the Community Council and local groups are funding activities and the group is looking forward to what comes next.

Cathy from Musselburgh spoke about the activity in the local community that supports people with dementia. She explained that a lot of work in the community supports a range of groups including people with dementia. There is a lot available for people including local groups and support, for example the Hollies Day Centre does a lot to support people with dementia and there are groups for people who have had strokes. Cathy urged people to get involved in their communities and asked us to make sure people know what is available around them. Hazel who works for Alzheimer’s Scotland spoke about the D Café in Musselburgh and the work they do and said everyone was welcome to attend.



Suitable inspired we then went into workshops to talk about:

  • Getting About
  • Getting Active
  • Living With Dementia














And after a little lunch and a lot of chat and networking, we worked in geographical groups to talk about how we can link our ideas and hopes for our communities into our Area Plans. We discussed 3 themes:

  • What had inspired us today or made us thing things need to change?
  • What we think should do in our local Dementia Friendly Plan?
  • What are the 3 big priorities/wishes that we would like to see happen where we live.














I’ve not had time to type these up yet but will so soon!



It was  great day and lots of people told us they enjoyed learning and sharing ideas and asked us to run more learning events in future. We’re thinking about a learning event round creativity later in the year, but please get in touch with ideas, or help if you want to organise your own community learning event.

We’re writing a full report of the event which we will publish (thanks to SCDC and the Scottish Government Supporting Communities again for that).



Many, many thanks to all the people who made this work – everyone of the people who came shared their experience, ideas and friendship with great generosity. There was a lot of laughter.  A particularly big ‘thank you’ to the people living with dementia, their families and friends. You made the day very special and we look forward to seeing you again soon.

The day also wouldn’t have happened without Sandra King, Area Manager for North Berwick Coastal and Port Seton and Gosford Coastal Partnerships and Robert Cuthbert from the Scottish Community Development Centre for developing the day and making it happen; The Scottish Community Development Centre for funding the day and who will also help us publish a report of the event. The Area Partnership Managers – Stuart Baxter, Simon Davie, Stuart Gibb and Sandra King and our workshop organisers, Steven Cassidy and Andy Hyde from Upstream Project and Avril McKenzie for Ageing Well and Laura Craig from the Sporting Memories Network.

And finally our funders, The Life Changes Trust that have provided development funding for DFEL and The Health and Social Care Partnership (now the Integrated Joint Board). Thanks to Strive who manage the funding contracts.



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