Highland Perthshire, the area west of the A9, was one of the first areas that Rural Wisdom worked in between 2017 and 2019. Within this area, the main communities we worked with were Aberfeldy, Kenmore, Fortingall, Glen Lyon, Kinloch Rannoch, Grandtully, Strathtay and Amulree.
How it all began
The project began by telling people about the Rural Wisdom project and that we wanted to hear from them. As well as sharing information on community noticeboards, e-newsletters and through Facebook, we put a piece in the local magazine the Quair as people said this was the best way to reach people across the area We met with 17 community groups, 8 groups of local people attending group activities, attended 4 gala days, Highland Games and 4 Community Councils. Overall, we met over 175 people who live or work in this community, as well as people from other rural locations, all of whom raised similar themes.
Feedback from those we met made clear that Highland Perthshire was a welcoming and friendly place that values the strength of its communities. Older people wanted to be heard, to continue being an active part of this and to remain independent. People wanted to have better access to more flexible support in the area. Community facilities were good and people valued them, but there were barriers of use and older people were looking for more access to computers. Informal routes for information and communication worked well but poor access to broadband was a major problem for the area. People wanted to be part of building connections in the community, including between people moving to the area and those already living there, and between older people living in settings like care homes and the wider community.
Activities to provide social connection
Locals wanted more ways for people to have company so we delivered activities in the community where people could meet regularly including community wide intergenerational events at the weekend. We also delivered more structured support through a befrienders scheme. There was a specific focus on including those living in the local care home in activities, as well as designing events that would appeal to men in the area and get them involved. Local groups like Bridge for Beginners and the Men’s Shed were encouraged to implement taster sessions and sessions for beginners, to get more people along and involved.
Making the area work better for residents
Local shops and businesses were asked to review access to their building and parking to ensure that facilities were as accessible as possible for people of all ages and abilities within the community. We also designed and delivered a lift share scheme to improve options for local transport. The scheme also focussed on raising awareness of the mobility challenges of older people even though they do not have an official Blue Badge. As part of this initiative we also collaborated with Living Streets to raise awareness about making the centre of Aberfeldy safer and easier for pedestrians.
Access to important information
We ensured important information on managing fuel allowances, how to protect yourself from con men and other money matters was issued. Information was prepared and shared on practical ways to open food packaging and prepare food to help people stay independent. The initiative also provided support for people when they wanted to apply for Blue Badges.
What we achieved
The developments in Highland Perthshire ensured that the community became one that works for older people and has a positive impact on everyone living in the area. By improving communication and access to services, older people were better supported and able to live fuller lives more independently.
To find out more about the work of Rural Wisdom across Scotland and Wales, check out our Blog page or contact the team on firstname.lastname@example.org.