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. Over the summer of 2017 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
Local people wanted more options for social connections so we supported the delivery of activities in the community where people could meet regularly including community wide intergenerational events at the weekend. 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 and beginners’ sessions, 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 money matters, managing fuel allowances, and how to protect yourself from scams was circulated. 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.
Following on from our ‘Let’s Talk Transport’ event the Upper Tay Transport Group was created. The group went on to host a follow-up ‘Shout About Transport’ event; increased training opportunities for volunteer minibus drivers; and developed a transport survey. They also produced a film, timetable, and leaflet called ‘Having Fun on the 91’ to inspire people to use the existing bus service.
Along with the Care and Wellbeing Co-op we supported the development of a new project called Support Choices. They offer a free independent service in Highland Perthshire, helping to support people through the process of getting Self-directed Support. Support Choices have gone on to become an independent organisation and is a member of Self-Direct Support Scotland (SDSS). For more information about Support Choices or Self-Directed Support you can visit www.supportchoices.co.uk
If you would like to find out more about our work in Highland Perthshire, or other areas, you can read our Rural Wisdom Blog or get in touch with Ruth Wright and Kate Robertson at firstname.lastname@example.org