Latest Event Updates

Area’s natural history is the star in “The Wild North East – Scotland’s Natural Gem”

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A short film highlighting the wonderful wildlife and wild places throughout the north east of Scotland was launched last week.

“The Wild North East – Scotland’s Natural Gem” was commissioned by the North East Scotland Biodiversity Partnership, of which Aberdeenshire Council is an active member and supporter.

The film was the idea of Doug Gooday, one of Aberdeenshire Council’s Rangers, who wanted to create a short film to promote the wonderful wildlife and wild places we are so fortunate to enjoy here.
“As a Council Ranger I’m very privileged to spend a lot of time in the many wild places we have in Aberdeenshire, from the Cairngorms to the Coast,” he said.
“I wanted to inspire others to enjoy these wild places as well, to understand about the services nature provides and the importance of caring for the natural environment for the benefit of ourselves and future generations.”
The new film was produced by the nature media company Scotland: The Big Picture.
The collective specialises in producing high-quality short films which inspire and inform people on the importance of looking after our natural world.
The film was produced with the support of Aberdeenshire Council, Aberdeen City Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, Outdoor and Woodland Learning Scotland, the North East Biodiversity Partnership and Forestry Commission Scotland – Grampian Conservancy.
It was launched on Friday, April 13 at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen and is freely available for anyone to use and distribute for education and to promote the natural heritage of our region.
You can see the video on the council’s YouTube channel​.

Using Schools as Community Hubs

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Schools across Scotland should be used as community hubs to deliver a wide range of public services.

That’s the verdict of South Ayrshire Council and its partners following a pilot in north Ayr, which culminated in a community marketplace at Ayr Academy on 23 February.

A range of partners from NHS, Scottish Fire and Rescue service and the voluntary sector worked together to explore how this would work in practice.

Crucially, services were available to everyone living in the area – not just those with children in the schools.

Services provided included money and debt management advice, employability and skills information and advice, health and wellbeing support from school nurses and assistant nurse practitioners. Council Leader, Douglas Campbell, commented on the learning from the pilot,
“It’s been a terrific learning opportunity for all the partners involved and that’s been one of the key outcomes of this week – getting to know more about what each of us has to offer and how we can better link in and signpost to provide a more joined-up service for people.”

Read more at http://thirdforcenews.org.uk/tfn-news/schools-should-be-used-as-community-hubs#im6LrHufaQ4Ga4ce.99

Spare Chair Sunday

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Spare Chair Sunday first launched in 2015 as a partnership between national charity Contact the Elderly and Bisto. Expanding on the charity’s model of free monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups of older people aged over 75 who live alone, Spare Chair Sunday encouraged people to offer a ‘spare chair’ at their Sunday lunch tables to a Contact the Elderly older guest and their volunteer driver, to share a delicious warm lunch all together. The response to the award-winning campaign was amazing, with over 1,600 Spare Chair Sunday volunteers hosting Sunday lunches or becoming regular tea party volunteers in their local community.

Any host homes or venues must have a downstairs toilet and be easily accessible (generally we say no more than three steps where possible).

Any car used must be fully insured and drivers must hold a full driving licence, as well as supplying two references and completing a DBS check. This is for the safety and security of guests and host.

Interested?  Click on http://www.contact-the-elderly.org.uk/volunteer to apply to become a volunteer. Applications are dealt with as soon as possible, but please do be patient, all necessary checks must be made. In some cases, there will not be anyone near enough to you,  groups may already have as many volunteers as they require, or there may not be a group in your area. It may be the case that your application may enable work to be launched in the area for the first time, enabling more older people to benefit!

Fancy a Trip Underground?

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Some beautiful and unusual buildings and land are in community ownership.

A growing number of groups are getting together to rescue much-loved places from redevelopment or demolition – from castles and piers to public toilets.

Could your community take ownership of a local space? To inspire you, over the next few weeks we would like to share with you some of these. First up, The Burrow, Devon. 

The Burrow in Exbourne is a community-owned shop with a difference – it’s underground. Like something from The Hobbit, this little shop, café and post office is built underneath a field in the centre of the village, and is the UK’s only underground shop.

In December 2001 the village shop and post office in the parish of Exbourne with Jacobstowe in rural West Devon closed and was sold as a private dwelling. This meant that villagers would have to make a journey of at least 5 miles each way to reach the nearest town for shops and services.

Early in 2002 following a public meeting to discuss the closure of the community’s only store and post office, the Exbourne Community Initiative Committee was formed. The original mandate of the organisation was to try and re-establish a shop – a community-run shop – possibly with additional facilities alongside it. The great importance of such activities in safeguarding the quality of village life was keenly recognised and the initiative was supported by the vast majority of local residents.

The Association quickly established a temporary shop, cafe and post office in Exbourne’s Village Hall, opening 2 mornings a week and run (with the exception of the Post Office section) by volunteers.

The shop has grown and grown and with the support of local growers, plus a lot of hard work, they have managed to get together an exciting range of products, from fresh vegetables, canned food and even some hardware items. Each shop day freshly baked bread is locally sourced.

One of the most popular features of our current shop in the Village Hall is the café, where local residents and visitors can gather to swap stories and exchange gossip.
The success of the temporary shop/cafe allowed plans to move forward establishing The Burrow. The project raised over £185,000 allowing digging on the underground shop to begin. Upon successful completion the shop/cafe and post office moved underground. Formally opened in 2012, The Burrow continues to flourish and expand its role within the community.
Fancy a trip underground? Visit The burrow at https://theundergroundshop.weebly.com/

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF HAPPINESS

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A profound shift in attitudes is underway all over the world. People are now recognising that ‘progress’ should be about increasing human happiness and wellbeing, not just growing the economy.

March 20 has been established as the annual International Day of Happiness and all 193 United Nations member states have adopted a resolution calling for happiness to be given greater priority.

In 2011, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which recognised happiness as a “fundamental human goal” and called for “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples”.

In 2012 the first ever UN conference on Happiness took place and the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which decreed that the International Day of Happiness would be observed every year on 20 March. It was celebrated for the first time in 2013.

In 2017, the Smurfs joined the UN in celebrating the International Day of Happiness as well as the 17 Sustainable Development Goals – #SmallSmurfsBigGoals

The details of 2018 celebrations have not yet been announced, but whatever you have planned for the day, be happy!

How do you Communicate with your Community?

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It is only 2 or 3 decades since communication was done by telephone, mail or face to face and all documents were stored in paper or hard copy files. Today the internet and associated devices such as computers, laptops, tablets, mobile devices, etc, are seen as a necessity rather than a luxury.

Since the baseline year of 2007, the percentage of adults using the internet for personal use in Scotland has increased from 62.7% to 83.4% in 2016. The use of the internet (for personal use) is however strongly linked to age. In 2016, 99.1% of 16-24 year olds used the internet for personal use, compared to 71.6% of 60-74 year olds and approximately a third of people aged 75 and older. Adults with a physical or mental health condition lasting or expected to last more than 12 months are less likely to use the internet for personal use. Almost seven out of ten adults with such a longstanding health condition use the internet for personal use, compared to nine out of ten among the rest of the population. (Source: Scottish Household Survey 2017)

Within the UK of those without internet access, 64% felt they didn’t need the internet as it was regarded as not useful or interesting. A further 20% felt they lacked skills and 12% reported that they had access to the internet elsewhere. (Source:ONS: Internet access – households and individuals: 2017)

There are therefore sections of our population who either do not have or choose not to have digital access. Coupled with the fact that our use of technology is still evolving making it harder for sections of our communities to keep apace with the changes. For example, in social media Facebook, which only emerged 14 years ago is now being abandoned, by young people, for its little sister, Instagram. Reflecting the mobile engagement of the times. Figures from Nielsen Book Research UK survey of 2016 reveal that e-book sales are falling while sales of paper books are growing – and the shift is being driven by younger generations.

The advent of new technologies has changed how we interact, how we communicate and some of our reading habits. Within communities we need to inform and communicate with people both in digital and non-digital formats in order to reach all sectors. What do you find are the best means of communications with your communities? Share your ideas of what works. for you.

Community libraries

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The town of Chapelton recently welcomed its first community library just in time for National Storytelling Week 2018.

The books, which will be located in a quiet corner of the popular Teacake Café, will act as a community library corner, or a book swap, where it is hoped residents of all ages will be able to swap, read and discuss some of their favourite books and stories. So why libraries are so important in today’s digital world?

Many people believe libraries to be a thing of the past due to the digital revolution and the rise of a gadget enamoured society. However,

“The National Literacy Trust says that children who go to a library are twice as likely as those who don’t to read well. It is not just picking up a book. It is the social experience of reading, talking about the books, browsing, comparing what you have read with family and friends. Librarians are gate keepers in that process. They open doors to new worlds, new possibilities. They ask library visitors to evaluate the information on offer. Most importantly, they give access to narratives. Children and adults do not just need information to thrive as thinking beings, but stories. Libraries are the temple of story. They are not in decline because of some natural, historic progression, but because of the monstrous cultural vandalism of savage cost-cutting. We will pay a terrible price for the behaviour of our masters.” (Alan Gibbons)

Libraries are seen by many as a lifeline and a crucial public service, especially if you are elderly, socially isolated, poor, vulnerable, or all of the above.

So why are libraries so important and why must we protect and improve them?

  1. They’re accessible

 The obvious advantage of having a local library is that it is local. Accessibility is crucial if you have mobility problems and/or haven’t got the money for bus fare.

  1. They help to bridge the digital divide

People in rural areas face significant challenges when it comes to IT access, including infrastructure problems and set-up costs. The vast majority of public libraries offer free IT access and basic IT training to the public.

  1. They help to combat social isolation

Libraries are social places where people can chat, read and keep in touch with the outside world. For elderly people who can’t access a static library, mobile and housebound services can fill the gap. Sometimes a friendly smile from a library worker can make all the difference to an isolated and vulnerable persons day or week.

According to C.S. Lewis “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me”. So next time you’re in Chapelton pay a visit to the Teacake Café and sample what both have to offer.