Thorny Assistance

The Thistle Foundation is based in Craigmillar, Edinburgh. It was established in 1944 to provide accessible housing and medical support for disabled veterans so they could remain in their own homes. Today, they provide support to anyone with a disability or health condition.

These houses still surround the Thistle Organisation today, but sadly are now in the hands of Housing Associations, as the Thistle could no longer afford to maintain them. As a result, many custom adapted properties no longer benefit those they were adapted for. They live elsewhere in Craigmillar, in less appropriate accommodation for their needs, and further from the Thistle.  That said, the sale of these properties has provided significant funding for the Foundation, in its quest to continue providing the many invaluable services it offers.

One of the key services the Thistle provides is Supported Living. It covers assistance with everything from running errands to more intensive support. This is normally paid for from benefits received by service users for this purpose.

Lifestyle Management workshops are also offered. These run over ten weeks, and are free for those who attend. The program helps people gain control over their situation. The course aims to boost confidence and self esteem. Each individual is given the opportunity to meet a member of the team to discuss their goals and best hopes before the course begins. These goals are linked to the “three C’s” of coping, control, and confidence.

There is a fully accessible gym on site, and available for just £15 annual membership. It has fully trained staff who are keen to assist, whatever the service user’s requirements. There is also a Garden Cafe, a lively community hub, which is partially staffed by volunteers from the local area. One day I was there a chap who was volunteering served me. His physical disposition puts many able bodied people in this country, who are less willing to get stuck in and help their communities, to shame.

Until recently, regular horticultural therapy opportunities existed for people in the Community Wildlife Garden. However, funding no longer stretches to supervision, and this activity has ceased. Like me, I’m sure you’ve all seen on television programmes the benefits such activity can bring to people.

The Thistle has many key sources of funding, including the Long Term Conditions Alliance Scotland, whose own financing by the Scottish Parliament is on the line, as we enter the New Year. If that organisation goes, or can no longer afford to support the Thistle, a much larger element of self funding will be required. As a result key services they offer may be lost. This will be harmful to good people who already find the challenges of life hard to negotiate.

My visits to the Thistle were moving and emotional, being affected by a long term health condition myself. As the pictures in this article clearly show, this organisation benefits thoroughly deserving people. Any support you can provide them would be welcomed most graciously. Indeed, why not pay a visit?

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About Fraser Paterson Fraser is 40 years of age, and has experience in many fields, including financial services, where he used to run his own business as an Independent Financial Adviser. He currently works as a freelance writer, specialising in golf and Scottish history. Fraser has served as a trustee of a registered charity, and held a very senior position in the Round Table. He is also a fully qualified golf referee. Fraser maintains a regularly updated blog, covering everything from local happenings to golf, snooker and various less well known charities in the Lothian. The website is He also has a golf website and a Scottish History site Reverting to the business front, Fraser successfully set up and established a strong networking group of small business owners, drawn from across the Lothians, with the assistance of the Scotland South and East franchise owners of Business Network International (mainly known as BNI). Fraser was awarded Member of the Year for his Chapter at the Scottish Awards in 2004, the recipient for which is chosen by fellow members in recognition of outstanding contribution. Aside from golf and snooker Fraser also enjoys excellent food, regularly dining in eateries across the Lothians. Scottish history is a more recent topic he has enhanced his interest in.
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