The Musselburgh Meeting Centre Workshop – the full version!


Welcome to the Musselburgh Meeting Centre Workshop, designed and led by Members of the Musselburgh Meeting Centre. Members wanted to share a taste of what the Musselburgh Meeting Centre is like. Members worked with the Meeting Centre team – Fiona, Domenika, Jennifer, April, Faye, Norman and Sandiann, to create something really special. Definitely worthy of a longer blog!

The day began with a warm welcome and a big smile from Jennifer followed by a cuppa from Faye and Domenika and chance to talk to Members and the team. All round was a veritable exhibition of the Members’ creativity – a taster here…


Members designed the workshop to give us a taste of what The Musselburgh Meeting Centre is like and their secret recipe for what makes it work. We welcomed over 50 friends old and new to share the Meeting Centre experience. The word cloud in the title comes from all the stickies, notes and ‘thank yous’ we got from people who joined us.

Allan welcomed everyone on behalf of the  Musselburgh Meeting Centre Members. He said they were delighted to welcome so many people interested in learning more about the Meeting Centre model. Allan wished everyone an enjoyable morning.


Brenda told us about the day and introduced our guest speakers. Shamin Akhtar is a great friend to the Meeting Centre and Chair of the East Lothian Integration Joint Board which integrates health and social care for adults round East Lothian. Graham Galloway has been instrumental in bringing Meeting Centres to Scotland. Graham is interim CEO of the newly formed Meeting Centres Scotland.


Shamin celebrated Carers Week by thanking carers for all they do – we showed our support too with a heartfelt round of applause.

Coming to the Meeting Centre reminded Shamin of advice from the late Cllr Willie Innes  – ‘Never lose sight of the big picture.’ East Lothian is the fastest growing population in Scotland, especially younger and older people, making it even more important to bring different generations together and plan for the health and wellbeing of  young people – our older people of the future. East Lothian is rich in resources, in communities and organisations like Queen Margaret University, leading work on brain health, training health and care professionals and in education.  We have a lot of intergenerational working to be proud of too through the East Lothian Intergenerational Network. Bringing East Lothian together we can make a big difference to the health and well being of us all.

Shamin thanked everyone who helped create the Musselburgh Meeting Centre. The Centre is a partnership of equals, valuing and sharing our different skills and knowledge, changing the world together.  Shamin wished the Meeting Centre a Happy First Birthday and congratulated Members and the team for what they’ve achieved in just one year. The Musselburgh Meeting Centre is already making a difference to peoples’ lives,  inspiring other groups and communities to adopt this approach. It is a place of joy and hope.

Shamin thanked the Members and the Meeting Centre Team for organising the workshop and everyone for coming along  today to share in the Meeting Centre experience.

Graham Galloway is interim CEO of Meeting Centres Scotland, a new organisation supporting Meeting Centres across Scotland. Graham first heard about Meeting Centres in 2017 when he ran Kirrie Connections. It was a lightbulb moment, showing how Meeting Centres can help communities do more to create spaces and opportunities where people living with dementia are able to empower themselves.  

Meeting Centres started in the Netherlands over 30 years ago. Now they are international, open in 13 different countries. Meeting Centres are weekly social clubs for people affected by dementia where people with dementia, friends and family are welcomed as active members. They share 11 essential features,  providing expert friendly support from a well trained team to help  people manage the practical, social and psychological challenges dementia brings – the ‘adjusting to change’ model. In Meeting Centres, everyone is equal, everyone has a role to play.

Graham explained Meeting Centre are places where people can flourish, experiment and ‘be me’, with opportunities to do the things we love, learn new skills and have new experiences. Activities are designed to be good for brains and bodies, to be life affirming and fun. Meeting Centres are a valued part of the community, connected with a wide range of local groups and organisations. Meeting Centres can be the first step in the dementia diagnosis pathway, a place in the community  to get help and advice. They can also complement and support formal Post Diagnostic Link workers.

There are now 22 Meeting Centres in Scotland, each independent and different, supported by Meeting Centres Scotland and the UK Meeting Centre network. Ron Coleman who lives with dementia is the chair and people living with dementia, carers and professionals are equally represented.  The vision is for a Meeting Centre in each town in Scotland. We like the sound of that!

Graham said we could see all round us today what a Meeting Centre looks like and how people flourish. Members have designed today’s workshop to give us an experience of what a Meeting Centre is like and to share with us their special recipe for what makes a great Meeting Centre.  

The Musselburgh Meeting Centre – Our Secret Recipe 

Evelyn introduced the workshop.  A great soup is more than a list of ingredients and every soup is different, reflecting the person who makes it, where they live and their culture.  People adapt the recipe to suit different tastes and what they have available. People cook in different kitchens and add their own special ingredients to make their soup just how they like it.  Creating a Meeting Centre is very similar.

Kate explained that Members are sharing their special recipe today. But first we asked people to think of what ingredients people think are important to make a great Meeting Centre soup and to write their ideas on a sticky note to share ideas.

Evelyn told us the Members have already added their secret ingredients  for the Musselburgh Meeting Centre to our list  – Respect and Love.

As we talked about Meeting Centre Soup, the room bubbled with conversations and filled with laughter. Everyone added their ingredients for the Meeting Centre, creating  a recipe full of good things to feed minds, bodies and souls. 










The Workshop Soup

We got loads of stickies and notes about what a great Meeting Centre needs to have. We made them into a word cloud:


The Special Musselburgh Meeting Centre Recipe

Allan shared the Special Meeting Centre Recipe created by the Members:


A cupful of Jennifer’s creativeness

2 cupfuls of humour

A pinch of captured photos of happiness from Ian

A roomful of continued love and friendship

1 beautiful outdoor space to share and calm

A  roomful of full tummies from Dominika’s cooking

A cupful of respect and understanding

A pinch of jokes and poems from Allan

A scoop of pride in all we have achieved and are still achieving.

A bucketful of expertise in the indoor Kurling

A handful of willingness to try new things.

A splash of sharing experiences with young people

A cup of butter icing of Fiona to sandwich the ingredients together

To Prepare:

Bring together 12 people living with dementia and facilitators. Place them in a warm, safe welcoming place in the heart of the community.

Add respect, understanding and care along with sparkling conversation, tea and cake and stir slowly.

As the mixture begins to grow add some favourite activities:  tri-shaws , river walks, baking and painting and then mix briskly

Finally add in links with our community: young people from the Grammar school, Musselburgh Museum and its lovely volunteers, the Hollies for lunch, and our outings to art galleries, the races, Merryhatton and the Kelpies and mix thoroughly.

Bake at a gentle heat twice a week till cooked through and ENJOY !

John explained that having the right ingredients is essential and we have the best quality ingredients at the Meeting Centre. But what really makes a great soup is how our ingredients are mixed together – the baker’s skill.  

Faye who helps us with the Meeting Centre is an amazing poet. She transformed our recipe into a poem which was read out by John.

Faye’s Poem:  Our recipe for success!!  


Before we bake this cake for you

We’ll tell you what we need,

Ingredients you won’t find in a shop

Because they’re special indeed!

To begin, you’ll need a roomful of love

A cup of friendship and respect too,

You’ll also need a cup of understanding

To cope with all that is new.

Then add two cups of good humour

With a willingness to ‘have a go’,

A big scoop of pride in what you do

As you feel your confidence grows.

Take a cup of Jennifer’s creativeness

And a good measure of Dominika’s baking,

Mix them up with some jokes from Allan

Then soon with laughter you’ll be shaking!!

To calm yourself down, just go outside

To your beautiful, peaceful, green space,

Where you can sit quietly or have a chat

Or just enjoy that lovely, warm space.

Take Ian’s measuring jug full of photographs

That capture how busy and happy you’ve been,

Add two spoonful’s of the young people

Whose game of curling was a joy to be seen!

To finish off this caring cake

This will be as light as a feather,

You’ll spread on some of Fiona’s butter icing

That will hold it all together.


Now that you have all the ingredients

Just find a safe, cosy place to prepare,

With us dozen caring folk

With warmth we all like to share.

Add respect, understanding and chatter

Mix into the cake, nice and slow,

Have a wee cup of tea or coffee

And watch our mixture grow.

Add in our various activities

Painting, baking and river walks too,

Remember to include the tri-shaw trips

Then stir the mixture through and through.

Our cake is shared in the community

With Grammar School pupils and Museum staff,

They know about us at the Race Course

A great day out when we had a good laugh!

Twice a week we will be baking our cake

At a low and gentle heat,

That’s a taste you’ll want to have over again

A recipe that’s long-lasting and sweet.

© Faye Rolland 2024

We agreed that the the Member’s recipe and Faye’s poem captured the heart and soul of the Meeting Centre. Thank you Faye for this lovely gift.

Time to chat and mingle – mixing our ingredients 

A great soup takes time for the ingredients to mingle. So having agreed our ingredients, we mingled. Like the best creations, we allowed time for the flavours to blend into our soup – sharing ideas,  looking at the beautiful things Members have created together. We saw photos of the people who’ve visited the Centre, places Members have been and things they’ve done. And as importantly, we build new connections, getting to know each other and share ideas about what we might do together in future. There was a lot of laughter, a lot of connection and a lot of caring and sharing.

Coming together – what have we created?

After a lot of chat, we returned to our tables and had our final session for the day – a chance for everyone to have their say and to look what we had created together.  Here are some comments: 

“Everybody’s smiling, that’s what we need more of – happiness” Cathy, Musselburgh Health and WellBeing group 


“… everybody [at the Meeting Centre] gets on very well with each other, everyone cares about each other. If any of the Members are feeling not so well or don’t come, the next time you see them you’re asking how are you feeling today? And its good to see them when they’re back. Things like that. [It’s a] really very friendly place and everyone cares for each other very much.” Elizabeth, Meeting Centre


“This group and others are very much part of the antidote to the way society has gone. [There’s] huge problems with loneliness and isolation and deprivation and not just a money crisis, it all piles on top. Society should work like this. We need this to overflow into every area so Members can teach everyone else just how to relate to people and really love one another, be kind to one another.” Cher, Musselburgh Councillor


“Can I say something controversial? I think we should all work towards the day when every Meeting Centre has its own premises, which means we can control everything that goes on in the Centre. We can invite anyone we want into the Centre. We can let out the premises and make some money out of it. In every way we can be a unit that people can respond to rather than people say ‘oh they meet twice a week in a church hall’. That’s very good but not what it should be. It will cost a lot of money but we should be asking for it. It’s a political issue but we should aim for it.” John, Dementia Positive



“We are delighted to open our premises for the meeting place and ….  As a church we’re ambitious for the time the Meeting Centre will outgrow us and be somewhere else. The other thing, being in that space, the Meeting Centre has discovered the things that are important to you, that direct what you want from an independent self-standing building. We’re delighted to be able to facilitate that.   Musselburgh Meeting Centre has a very particular feel and the outside space is really important. You might not have picked that up at the start. … this preparation time has given you time to find out who you are and what matters to you and we’re delighted to be part of that.” Leslie, St Andrews High Church 



“Musselburgh Area Partnership has been involved right at the start and we see the Meeting Centre as part of our community. There are members of the Area Partnership here.  The question is, is there anything else you would like to see us doing?  What do you think would make a difference? We’d also like you to help develop our Area Plan, to give us some action points. We would love to support you.” Janice, Musselburgh Health and WellBeing Group



“Musselburgh has supported the Centre unbelievably well. The young people from the Grammar School volunteered, not knowing what they were going to get into. The Members didn’t know! All these young people coming down – so supportive. Musselburgh racecourse  when we asked about complimentary tickets and when we went there ….. Everyone has been so supportive in Musselburgh.  My wife has been lost on the High Street and has been helped home. We really appreciate the support we get from Musselburgh.” John, Musselburgh Meeting Centre



“One thing we could do with is our own bus. Can someone supply us? The council, something like that would be really good, our own bus on tap.” Ian, Meeting Centre.

“The Centre has a space for carers to get together. This is important. [Being a carer] can be traumatic. It’s important to have time to listen to each other.  When we get together we have lots to say.  Thank you for that, I particularly value it. Thanks to Carers of East Lothian and Anne from Open Arms Carers.” John, Meeting Centre

Graham told us that ‘Friendship’ is an essential ingredient and the Meeting Centre approach can work anywhere, even if we don’t have our own premises.  In Angus, Kirrie Connections own their own building, but in Forfar, the Meeting Centre is run by a cricket club as a social club during the week. In Montrose, it’s run by the Football Trust and in Arbroath, the Carers Centre facilitates the Meeting Centre. You don’t need a bespoke building, this approach ensures that every community can have access. Owning your own place  is the dream, but takes time.  Graham’s advice was “Don’t wait for the building – start now!

Graham told us that having outside space makes a great ingredient for the recipe. Kirrie Connections is reducing their car park to create a garden where people can read, be quiet, play skipping, put up bird boxes, and grow things.  

“Do you grow tatties?” Allan asked.  This sent members and friends into hoots of laughter and Fiona  told us us the tatties story.

“We wanted to be self sufficient,  so we started growing potatoes in bags.  It’s been like bringing up a baby! I’ve been out there, tending them, covering them with soil, reading the book. Everyone is getting fed up with me saying “Let’s go check on the tatties and see what they’re doing”. We have have 2 flowers… we’re getting there.” Fiona, Musselburgh Meeting Centre

A round of applause and lots of laughter for the tatties!


And.  ….  Ta da!!And we are proud to announce the arrival of the tatties. Here are Fiona and Allan with the first of the crop! Time for more soup recipes!

Thank yous and fond farewells

Evelyn thanked everyone for coming along and making the workshop a success.  Members hoped we’d had a good Meeting Centre experience today and a sense of of the support and strength we get from coming to the Musselburgh Meeting Centre.   Evelyn thanked Fiona and her team for all they do.  There was a big round of applause for that.

Evelyn said we’d had a busy morning and it’s now time for lunch.  Pat rang the lunch bell and Domenika and Faye welcomed us to a table of delights. Thanks to Faye and Domenika for wonderful hospitality and making sure our bodies and minds were well looked after and making the day really special.  And to The Filling Station for a very very yummy lunch…


What happens next…..

Today was a taste of what a Meeting Centre is like, how it supports us and what we get from being Members.

The Musselburgh Meeting Centre is a worked example of the Meeting Centre and Dementia Friendly East Lothian is working with community partners who want to develop the approach, either as a Meeting Centre or as a Friendship Group (a mini meeting centre that meets most of the criteria).

At our recent Co Pro workshop, we came together to set the direction for what happens next.

In Musselburgh

The Musselburgh Meeting Centre will continue to evolve to show what a Meeting Centre can do over the longer term and to inspire others.  We’re starting a new project bringing together a small group of volunteers with dementia to develop a new half day weekly Meeting Centre session, led by exerts of experience. Another new project will bring people together to develop a project on how to promote healthy brains for everyone on Musselburgh over the life time. Both of these are in the earliest of stages. We’re looking for people to get involved…..

Supporting the East Lothian Dementia Strategy

The East Lothian Dementia Strategy includes plans to develop the Meeting Centre approach across East Lothian as 5 ‘satellite’ centres, one for each ward. We’re working with communities round the county to develop the Meeting Centre approach.  If you’re interested in starting a Meeting Centre in your community or want to find out more or get involved get in touch, we can help. Including arranging visits to the Musselburgh Meeting Centre, and joining a workshop with Graham from Meeting Centres Scotland.  We can also provide practical help. You can also sign up with Meeting Centres Scotland to find out about Centres across the country. We’re also planning our next workshop and an Annual Gathering later this year.

Please keep in touch if you’d like to know more about Meeting Centres or want to explore possibilities in your community.

Take care



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