About North Angus
North Angus shares borders with Aberdeenshire to the north and Perthshire to the west. Southwards it faces Dundee, with many accessing services there such as Ninewells Hospital (also a Teaching Hospital and Medical Research facility). The area has a mix of rural farming and coastal communities.
Angus is marketed as the ‘birthplace of Scotland’ since the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath at Arbroath Abbey in 1320 marked Scotland’s establishment as an independent nation. It is an area of rich history from Pictish times onwards.
Rural Wisdom is currently working in the settlements of Brechin and Edzell and surrounding areas which collectively has a population of 11,396 (2016 figures), approximately 22% of whom are pensionable age.
Brechin is often described as a city because of its cathedral, approaching its 800th anniversary which will be celebrated in 2020 and its status as the seat of a pre-Reformation Roman Catholic diocese. However, that status has not been officially recognised in the modern era but the designation continues with the local football team called Brechin City Football Club.
Edzell is situated 5 miles north of Brechin by the River North Esk and is a Georgian era planned town with a broad main street with a grid system of side streets. A former Royal Air Force airfield was situated 4 miles from Edzell by road, but only one mile directly east over the North Esk. It was active for over fifty years, first as a RAF station during World War II and later on leased to the United States Navy until its decommissioning in 1996.
The area of North Angus has experienced significant changes over the years since the closure of two major factory businesses in Brechin, closure of shops in the High Street as well as a much loved Day Centre in the middle of the town providing activities and information to Older People along with the USA Navy base at Edzell. However strong links remain with friends and family across the pond.
What are we doing?
Our first six months has been spent out and about chatting to as many local residents as possible, along with community group co-ordinators and volunteers to gather a sense of the issues that older people feel are important to them, and what support will help them live independently to continue to enjoy their neighbourhoods and support networks.
We used a creative approach to engage with people called “The Potting Shed”. This encouraged local people to “imagine your community is a garden” and asking specific questions using the following framework, using pictures and sticky notes to gather the responses;
Blooming – what is working well?
Nurturing – what exists but needs a bit of support or development?
Sown – what do we need to add/make happen?
Challenges – what do we need to watch out for?
This method proved popular with many enthusiastic about the approach and willing to offer their views; read about what we heard.
We are building on what we heard in the following ways:
– Older people are part of the discussions about a possible Development Trust or Partnership. We have started this by organising a meeting to discuss the proposal of setting up an Older Persons Hub in Brechin (see below). This is a partnership approach in conjunction with the Communities Team, Angus Council.
– Older Persons Taster sessions; a programme of one off sessions offering a range of physical activity, arts, crafts, music over the winter months. These will give people a chance to try out different things and to have conversations about what works & what else people would like to try.
– Develop intergenerational activities along with existing groups in Edzell. A project that will bring the whole community together, have stronger connections with each other and their local area.
– Find more locations for community activities and talk to local Community Councils about charging policies, how this is preventing local people from using halls close to their residences and the impact this may have on people’s wellbeing and social connections.
Rural Wisdom is working alongside people to find ways to learn what works and find solutions to the challenges we’re hearing about. In North Angus, your local worker is Shona Laidlaw and can be contacted via the details below.
Keep up with what’s happening
Rural Wisdom Development Worker (North Angus)