Young at Heart Deeside is a small voluntary organisation that serves the communities of Aboyne Ballater and Braemar and their surrounding villages. It started 4 years ago to help connect older and isolated adults in Deeside with each other through events and activities. These activities are based on three themes Creativity, Active Lifestyle and Learning.
When lockdown hit these activities stopped. It became increasingly difficult to connect with their members as
many lived very rurally and were not able too or could not afford to connect digitally. Digital connection in Deeside is particularly poor. With other avenues of communication shut like villages halls and libraries they had limited chances to contact people.
When Storm Arwen hit Deeside in December 2021 in particular things became more desperate. With some people without any power of any description for well over a week. The worry regarding the welfare of their members became paramount. Christmas Cheer bundles which were hand delivered with knitted items, handwarmers, food, books and optimism (a pot of spring bulbs) were delivered to over 350 older people in Deeside by hand, involving intergenerational working with local primary and secondary school. The struggle to keep going was hard for many. The volunteers at Young At Heart Deeside took time to chat to their members and to listen to them. Many of them who had been cut off from the outside world during the power cuts.
One year on, with the terrifying rise in fuel costs the organisation has looked again at what they can do to help their members and the wider public. Working with the local academy and community centre as well as a local housing association they want to launch Warm Spaces on 1 November. Some of you will be familiar with the word the Danish word ‘Hygge’ which means “the quality of cosiness that makes a person feel content and comfortable”. Here is Scotland we have ‘Coorie Doon’ meaning “snuggle down, settle in”. These warm spaces are meant to make people feel relaxed and content. A place which is already heated and lit with facilities to make hot drinks and heat meals. A place to come together to chat, eat, read the newspaper, do a jigsaw. Taking it a step further it is hoped to be able to offer the use of hot showers, somewhere to wash and dry your clothes. These warm spaces will be in libraries, day rooms at sheltered housing, cosy and comfy places to sit and relax.
If Warms Spaces can offer and few hours a day for people to feel that they are not alone and that we are all in this together that would be fantastic! www.youngatheartdeeside.org.uk
Connecting with Communities (CwC) is a mobile food service developed by CFINE in partnership with Aberdeenshire Council. Launched in September 2021, the project supports rural locations across Aberdeenshire which may have limited food access and/or transport links for accessing food.
The key purpose of CwC is to ensure residents in Aberdeenshire - particularly those in more rural and remote locations, can access fresh fruit, vegetables and eggs at a low cost and additionally receive good quality FareShare produce to ensure easier management of their household budget.
The project does not only focus on food but has the intention to ensure that individuals and families in the communities we serve receive additional support to address other factors which contribute to other challenges they face, including social isolation, loneliness, mental health, and financial difficulties. This includes providing access to other services including Aberdeenshire Council’s welfare rights team, and access to free period products and recipe cards.
The staff and volunteers involved in the organisation and delivery of CwC have successfully developed a valuable and dependable service across the communities of Aberdeenshire. The residents of each community look forward to the van arriving and it has proved to be a dignified lifeline in communities where access to produce is restricted.
Due to Aberdeenshire being a large geographical area to cover, the service visits the communities it serves on a fortnightly basis. This includes Aberchirder, Auchenblae, Banff, Drumlithie, Edzell Woods, Fettercairn, Macduff, St Combs and Turriff, with several new locations launching in the next few months.
A volunteer reflects on their experience supporting CwC:
“My role involves helping the staff to load the van. As a volunteer at CFINE it gives me great pleasure to meet up with other the volunteers doing work to help people experiencing difficulties. Everyone is happy to receive the food that we deliver to them, and it also gives us the chance to exchange stories about what a difference this service is making in the different areas we visit.
What has been heart-warming to me is being involved in the process of being able to supply free food to people who don’t have a lot of money. I have always been very active, and the deliveries help me to keep fit with all the lifting and shifting of bags of potatoes, boxes of eggs, fruit and vegetables and other food that we need to distribute on arrival at each local location.
On a personal side I find it great to be able to volunteer for such a worthy cause. I have now retired and was finding it difficult to fill in my days due to the lockdown and I now find myself very motivated to keep volunteering for this organisation and I am looking forward to getting out into more areas across Aberdeenshire.”
For more information about the service or volunteer opportunities please contact us at email@example.com.