Local Projects win National Awards

Two local groups have been recognised at the Age Scotland Awards for their work in making life better for elderly people. Volunteer Midlothian’s Community Links Dementia project and the Citadel Arts Group, based in Edinburgh, were presented with the Patrick Brooks Award for Best Working Partnership. And Edinburgh-based Milan (Senior Welfare Organisation) Ltd were presented with the Age Scotland Services for Older People Award.

The ceremony, held on Older People’s Day, aims to celebrate later life and our ageing population. It highlights the extraordinary efforts of voluntary and member groups, and reflects the diversity of projects and services run by and for older people which are making a difference in their communities.

Volunteer Midlothian’s Community Links Dementia project and the Citadel Arts Group, based in Edinburgh, joined forces to run a Living Memory Project, which aimed to improve health and wellbeing among people living with dementia by reducing isolation and giving them an opportunity to socialise and participate in a meaningful activity.

This resulted in a booklet based on stories and memories which was distributed to the local library, school, and family members. A play based on the booklet was performed by pupils from the local King’s Park Primary School, Dalkeith. Group members were also treated to a memory -based play called a Night at the Pictures performed by Citadel’s professional actors. The group also provided a space for carers to discuss issues and concerns.

Mags Bryan, of Volunteer Midlothian, and Cecilia Rose of Citadel Arts Group, said, “We’re delighted with the success of this project, and winning the award is wonderful news. The group is now well established and continues to meet, with many participants telling us it’s the highlight of their week. We were impressed by the enthusiasm of the group members, carers and pupils, who all worked hard to bring the stories and memories to life.”

Age Concern MilanThe Milan support centre, at Albion Road, Edinburgh, was set up to tackle isolation among older people in Edinburgh’s Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Mauritian communities.

The name “Milan” means meeting together in all four languages used in the group.

Set up by Pilmeny Development Project and Lothian Racial Equality Council, working with older people from the community, the centre offers shared lunches, exercise classes, gardening sessions, yoga and other recreational and educational activities. It also provides home visits and befriending services to elderly people who are housebound, lonely, isolated and may have recently been discharged from hospital.

Established in 1991, it now has around 300 members.

Neena Agarwal, Manager of Milan (Senior Welfare Organisation) Ltd, said, “Our aim at the centre is to reduce feelings of social isolation, and allow older people to meet others of their own generation who share much in common. Lack of culturally appropriate services can lead to low morale and depression, and Milan aims to overcome these barriers.”

Brian Sloan, Age Scotland Chief Executive, said, “These awards are a chance to highlight the amazing work going on around the country, both in support of our older population but also, often, being carried out by older people. Loneliness and isolation can have a serious effect on people’s health and wellbeing, so services like this fill a vital need.

“Choosing today’s winners has been a humbling experience. It is wonderful to see the amazing work going on around the country – both in support of our older population but also, often, being carried out by older people.”

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