Strong Communities

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.

Wheelchairs on the beach

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A visit to the beach or wild areas if you are in a wheelchair is generally problematic. However Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Scotland’s National Nature Reserves are providing such an opportunity. Working with Pony Axe S , four, free events including one at St Cyrus Nature Reserve on 26th February 2018 have been arranged in Aberdeenshire. There is no need to transfer to all terrain or beach wheelchairs, no need to leave your wheelchair behind they take people, who use wheelchairs to all the places where wheelchairs can’t take them. The trips with Pony Axe S are free, but booking is essential. To book your place, or to find out more, call Isla on 01224 266514 or e-mail

Aberdeenshire Council have launched a major survey so that they can improve communities and quality of life for disabled people. Your views will help inform future planning. They will be shared with relevant agencies who can take action to improve your community. The survey has been developed by the Physical Disability Strategic Outcome Group (PDSOG). This group includes disabled people, carers and people from Aberdeenshire Council, NHS Grampian (NHSG) and voluntary organisations in Aberdeenshire. This group leads the direction for planning, developing and delivering services for physically disabled people in Aberdeenshire. They are asking disabled people what it is like to live in Aberdeenshire.

So if you have a disability or you know someone who has, complete the survey to ensure that your voice is heard. Click on the link to take part Living with a disability in Aberdeenshire

Printed copies are available by calling the Council on 03456 081206

‘An Apple a day’

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Established as a community volunteer group in late 2013, Brighter Bervie does what it says on the tin – the group brightens up the environment and community spirit in Inverbervie and the surrounding district. The focus of the groups’ activity is around a gardening project, transforming neglected spaces and street corners into attractive locations for the benefit of visitors and residents.

In the autumn of 2017 volunteers from Brighter Bervie, along with Fiona and Kevin from our partners Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH), visited Bervie Primary School.

At the school’s morning assembly, in which all the pupils take such an active and enthusiastic part, Fiona engaged with them to share information about the work that SAMH does to help people cope with mental illness. Gardening is one of the therapeutic activities which SAMH promotes.

c4735d90d7c84c65922b23a43640fca4In the afternoon the Outdoor Learning Group came out to the school garden to plant 5 apple trees donated by SAMH. Now a patient 2-year wait is required until they can pick and eat the fruit.

This work is part of the Edibles Trail project which Brighter Bervie is implementing around our Royal Burgh. Brighter Bervie’s volunteers are continuing to plant more fruit, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers along the trail for folk to pick, (cook) and eat free of charge. The intention of the scheme is to connect people with natural healthy food sources as well as encouraging them to walk about and take a deeper interest in this wonderful community that we sometimes take for granted.

Bervie’s Edibles Trail is being developed along with trails in Portlethen and St Cyrus as the first three in South Aberdeenshire under the auspices of Aberdeenshire Voluntary Action (AVA).

Brighter Bervie Facebook

The impact of Burn’s Night

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Local events are a great way to bring communities closer together. Whether you want to raise funds for a worthy cause, bring about positive change in your area, celebrate something special or simply get to know your neighbours, a community event can help rally the masses.

A topical one today is the celebration of Robert Burns, born 25th January 1759, who is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland and is celebrated worldwide. A Burn’s burnsNight can be formal or informal, but most importantly it is a social event and a way for families, friends and communities to come together to enjoy some traditional fayre in the form of haggis (vegetarian options available), tatties & neeps and to celebrate the ‘bard’. However the most important ingredient is to have fun.

So in homes, village halls, hotels & restaurants all over Scotland people and communities will be coming together and enjoying ‘Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race’.

Are we just consumers?

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Living in a consumer society we are well versed in paying money and getting goods and services in return, but does this make us less appreciative of what we receive? Do we notice the skills involved in making something, the time & thought that has gone into its creation or listen for all the instruments that make up a tune. If we had to make something from scratch would it make a difference to how we viewed the things around us?

Have a think about all the things that you consume and love. Is it books, music, food, fashion, growing your own vegetables? Maybe you enjoy home cooked food, watching and listening to someone playing the guitar or singing. Or perhaps you admire someone who knows how to code, or builds shelves or fixes cars, but you’ve never thought you’d be able to do something like that.

Consuming is easy. Getting inspired is easy. Following instructions is easy. But when you go from a consumer to a creator, you may start to think about things you never thought about before. Instead of observing and consuming, pick something and try to become the creator yourself. As well as the satisfaction and pride from making something research has shown that creating or tending things by hand makes us happy and enhances mental health. So as the New Year starts why not plan to make something rather than buy it!


Strong Communities

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To build a truly effective community it needs to be stronger, wiser and more resilient, sustainable and engaged. The Community Empowerment Act seeks to enable this to happen in Scotland’s communities. Where communities are empowered we would expect to see a range of benefits: local democratic participation is boosted; increased confidence and skills among local people; increased community capacity; and more satisfaction with quality of life in a local neighbourhood. Better community engagement and participation leads to delivery of better, more responsive services and better outcomes for communities. Further, our communities’ strengths and weaknesses, such as quality of life, amenities, infrastructure, and workforce skills, determine the potential of our local economy to support economic growth, enterprise and opportunities for all.