Community Health

Green Infrastructure

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Home to over half of the planet’s population, urban areas are responsible for a significant proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions.

What is green infrastructure and why is it important?

Green infrastructure is defined as a “planned network of natural and semi-natural areas with other environmental features designed and managed to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services”. This term incorporates a huge variety of different ecosystems from parks, playing fields and woodlands to community gardens, green roofs and street planters. These spaces facilitate physical activity, relaxation and can be a refuge from the noisy city. Green spaces help to foster biodiversity and provide safe routes for people walking and cycling through the city thus contributing positively to population health. In fact, estimates show that physical inactivity, linked to poor walkability and lack of access to recreational areas, accounts for 3.3% of global deaths.

There is robust evidence to support the claim that green space has a positive impact on people’s wellbeing with features such as parks, rivers and trees creating more liveable and pleasing urban environments. Research has shown that having access to green space can reduce health inequalities, improve well-being and aid in the treatment of mental illness.

Importantly, green spaces also help to regulate the impacts of harmful emissions in the city. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and help to filter out harmful pollution while urban waterways such as lakes, rivers or even fountains moderate temperature and together with vegetation, play a vital role in cooling cities. In some areas, it has been estimated that evapotranspiration (the process of converting water in leaves to water vapor which is then transpired through the trees) can reduce peak summer temperatures by 5°C. Additionally, green spaces provide areas where runoff interception can occur, thus reducing the likelihood of flooding, an issue particularly pertinent to Scotland where winter rainfall is expected to increase between 10-35% in some areas.

Supporting the development of green infrastructure is becoming an even more prominent part of urban policymaking across the world. From street planters to citizen gardening, the following section describes a couple of examples  in which local authorities in Scotland are helping to create healthier, greener cities. Read the rest of this entry »

The importance of dignity

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Preserving dignity looks like it is being built into the design Scotland’s new social security system. It’s also the phrase that was at the heart of work undertaken by the Poverty Truth Commission and Nourish Scotland on the community provision of food.  Consideration of how something might impact on a person’s dignity, could really transform the way we think about the delivery of public services. Here’s a great example of a community project in Aberdeen which tackles food poverty but always with a keen eye on preserving the dignity of those they serve. 

A basket full of high-quality food for £2.50 may seem too good to be true – but that’s now the reality for shoppers at Scotland’s first food pantry.

The Woodside Pantry in Aberdeen provides people living in one of the city’s most disadvantaged areas a way to shop for a lot less.

It is an innovative, community-run project. The aim is to combat food poverty, and it has been hailed as a sustainable alternative to food bank use.

“I can get some really good healthy food at a very reasonable price”

For a small weekly charge, members get access to food donated by supermarkets and a local charity. Clare Whyte, one of the workers at the community centre where the pantry is based, told BBC Scotland’s The Nine: “Food banks are not a long-term solution. It’s an emergency food service, really.

“This could be a way to reduce food waste which is massive and a huge issue as we know and also tackle food poverty at the same time.

Food parcels from food banks are often only available to people who have been referred by frontline professionals like GPs or advice agencies. But membership of the Woodside Pantry was initially open to anyone living in the immediate area around the Fersands and Fountain Community Centre, where the project is based. It proved so popular that the catchment area has now been widened and the membership cap extended. Almost half of the people using the service receive benefits or Jobseeker’s Allowance. A quarter of the users are single parents. There are now 83 households with membership to the pantry, and more than 200 local residents – including children – are directly benefitting.

“I can get some very good, healthy food at a very reasonable price,” said Margaret Aisbitt, who was one of the first to sign up. Read the rest of this entry »

Volunteers of the future

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People volunteer for all manner of reasons and roughly half of the population do so at some point in their lives. While that might seem like a lot of people, equally it means there’s a lot of people choosing not to participate. Dig a little deeper into the numbers and it becomes apparent that around a fifth of those who volunteer do two thirds of all the volunteering work. Dig some more and you hit the problem of an aging population with its potential impact on volunteer numbers going forward.

On a local level, Stonehaven Learning partnership is hosting a volunteer event on 6th June. See picture for more details.

 

 

 

 

 

Volunteering For All

Volunteering in Scotland is already making a crucial contribution to building social capital, fostering trust, binding people together and making our communities better places to live and to work.

Action to increase volunteering participation for all and to address inequalities is vital to continue to expand opportunities for more people to volunteer and participate in society. Although an estimated 51% of the adult population in Scotland has volunteered at some point in their lives, 49% have not. An increase in volunteering will also make a considerable contribution towards our individual, community and national economic and social well-being, particularly in the face of demographic and societal change.

The annual value of volunteering in Scotland is estimated to be £2.26 billion.4 Volunteering is clearly of great social and economic importance to the people and communities of Scotland. Within these communities, there are often those who are more likely, or more able, to volunteer than others. Volunteers in Scotland are more likely to be:

  • female
  • self-employed/part-time employed or in education
  • from higher socio-economic and income groups
  • from rural areas
  • from less deprived areas
  • healthy and non-disabled

Read the rest of this entry »

Bottled gold – the unexpected side effects of recycling in Germany

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A German recycling scheme is proving to be a source of relief for those on low-incomes, but is it also having an impact on recycling levels as a whole?

For pensioners and the unemployed in Berlin, summer marks a particularly welcome time of the year for making a spot of extra cash. As Berliners head to the park to enjoy sunshine, barbecues and a casual drink with friends and family, the hunt for empty leftover bottles begins.

Introduced in 2003 by the then Social Democrat/Green coalition government, the ‘bottle recycling deposit return scheme’, known as the Deutsche Pfandsystem (or ‘Pfand’ for short) in Germany, requires large drink retailers to charge an additional €0.08 to €0.25 for every drink purchased at a store depending on the material of the bottle. The consumer can then redeem that money by bringing their emptied bottles back to the shop and recycling them instead of simply throwing them away.

The rationale behind the scheme is both to reduce waste and encourage recycling of single-use products, as well as to develop an environmental consciousness among the German population. In a world where more than 100 million plastic bottles are used everyday worldwide, and with only one out of five being recycled (the rest becoming litter buried underground or ending up in our ocean’s waters), mindfulness about current global consumption patterns is a vital step towards a sustainable future.

Thanks to Pfand, over 97 per cent of plastic and glass bottles are now recycled in Germany. At first sight, the scheme appears to be a resonating success. However, the motivation behind the bottle collection scheme has increasingly become driven by economic and social factors rather than genuine environmental concerns. As such, Pfand is bringing to light the challenges faced by the least privileged part of the German population every day.

When Pfand started operating in 2003, it was mainly homeless people, alcoholics and drug addicts that would rummage the bins in the search of this ‘bottled gold’. However, by 2005, unemployment rates had soared to 13 per cent and an estimated one out of every seven Berliners was said to be living on the verge of poverty. Since then, an increasing number of jobless people and pensioners have been spotted engaging in bottle-collecting activities in the hope of making ends meet. Sabine Werth, head of Berliner Tafel, a non-profit organisation that distributes food donations to local charities comments: ‘The number of unemployed collectors has probably doubled in the past few years. This is a symptom of an inadequate social system struggling to cope with a rising number of elderly people and unemployed.’ Recycling plastic bottles is being seen as a way to provide a cash boost to those with under-performing pensions.

Bottle recycling is being seen by Berlin’s unemployed as a cash resource (Image: Barbara Wheeler)Bottle recycling is being seen by Berlin’s unemployed as a cash resource (Image: Barbara Wheeler/Shutterstock)

However, fighting poverty does not seem to be the only reason bottle-collecting has become increasingly popular. ‘For the older generation it provides a sense of purpose,’ says Werth. ‘They see it as a reason to get out of the house and come into contact with people.’ Günther, a former mechanic who had to retire early due to illness, adds that this new-found activity helps him fight loneliness as people on the street often strike up conversation with each other. ‘I get to meet all sorts of people, which can be fun,’ he says. ‘I had a job in a museum for a while, but I nearly died of loneliness in that place.’

Many Berliners are supporting the practice. Residents and party-goers often leave empty bottles in lines along the pavements or in a pile next to bins, allowing collectors to seize the coveted goods without having to rummage through waste. Communication design student Jonas Kakoschke took things one step further. In July 2011 he set up the website Pfandgeben.de. Two types of people can sign up to this online platform: collectors and disposers. The site allows residents who have bottles they wish to dispose of to find details of local collectors in their area and to contact them to arrange for a pick-up. The initiative became so popular it ended up expanding to Cologne, Augsburg and Essen. However, Werth admits that this new system only targets those who already have certain means (such as a mobile phone), leaving the most marginalised and destitute once more on the sideline.

Bottles piled by rubbish binBottles piled by rubbish bin for collectors to easily gather (Image: Jacky D/Shutterstock)

This increase in collection numbers is turning bottle recycling into a competitive business. Nowadays, collectors are not only having to fight for resources among each other, but are also needing to stand up to government and industrial backlash. In Stuttgart, the city council introduced bins that keep waste underground, allegedly to increase storage capacity, but social workers have been accusing the authorities of implementing defensive architecture in order to to push certain parts of the population out of the city centre.

Another downside of the German bottle scheme according to environmental pressure groups is that it reduces the incentive to introduce genuinely green reusable drink containers to the market by framing the recycling of single-use bottles as a sustainable alternative. Finally, because discount giants such as Aldi or Lidl need to keep prices low to stay competitive, they have been reintroducing non recyclable bottles to their shelves in order to avoid charging their customers the extra green deposit. Consequently, it is estimated that the number of recyclable bottles on the German market has dropped from 80 per cent to 50 per cent since 2003.

 

Read the rest of this entry »

DON’T MISS YOUR CHANCE TO HAVE YOUR SAY!

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Grampian System Wide Mental Health and Learning Disability Services Review

I would like to invite you to participate in the Grampian Mental Health and Learning Disability Service Review. NHS Grampian, together with Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray Health & Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs) are reviewing the sustainability of the provision of local and Grampian wide Mental Health and Learning Disability (MHLD) services, building on local engagement in a number of areas. This includes services for children and adolescents (CAMHS), adults and older people spanning self-management, GP and primary care services, community services and specialist inpatient care.

The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE) has been asked to help support the review by facilitating a series of consultation events across Grampian throughout April/May 2019 where you will be given the opportunity to hear from NHS Grampian planners and give your views on what’s working, what could be improved and where there are service gaps.

There will be events taking place at various times and in different locations below. To reserve your place at an event, please follow the Eventbrite link and book the session that’s best for you.

  • Aberdeen City on Monday 29 April 2019 – Jurys Inn, Union Square AB11 5RG – 12.00 pm to 2.30 pm BOOK NOW
  • Aberdeen City on Monday 29 April 2019 – Jurys Inn, Union Square AB11 5RG – 5.30 pm to 7.30 pm BOOK NOW
  • Inverurie on Tuesday 30 April 2019 – Fly Cup, Blackhall Industrial Estate AB51 4FS – 12.00 pm to 2.30 pm BOOK NOW
  • Fraserburgh on Tuesday 30 April 2019 – Fraserburgh Community and Sports Centre, Maconochie Place AB43 9TH – 1 pm to 3.30 pm BOOK NOW
  • Stonehaven on Tuesday 30 April 2019 – Stonehaven Community Centre, Bath Street, Stonehaven, AB39 2DH 6.00 pm to 8.00 pm BOOK NOW
  • Elgin on Wednesday 1 May 2019 – The Mansfield Hotel, 2 Mayne Road IV30 1NY – 12.00 pm to 2.30 pm BOOK NOW

 

We want to ensure we capture the views of as many people as possible, therefore we would be delighted for you to share this invitation amongst your own contacts and networks as the events are open to all.

In addition, the ALLIANCE can provide a facilitation pack if you would like to host your own event to capture views. For any questions or queries please get in touch by emailing comms.coordinator@alliance-scotland.org.uk or phoning Gerry Power, Director at the ALLIANCE on 0141 404 0231.

Participative Democracy in Practise

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Democracy is always in the making: a never-ending project that requires constant rethinking and development.

Reclaiming and recasting politics and democracy is a core challenge for participatory democrats. The key argument is that citizen participation can reinvigorate democratic life by infusing diversity, experience and knowledge into official decision making. The question is what kind of participation?

In representative democracy, citizens are usually given a thin role in public life, and participation often means casting a ballot every few years, and being occasionally invited to consultations. It seems unsurprising that most citizens don’t grab such opportunities with both hands. Lack of public interest can then be used as an excuse for not supporting citizens to become more involved in governing themselves.
But there are alternative understandings of democracy where participation means direct influence for citizens on the decisions that affect their lives and livelihoods. Why citizen participation? Because our current political systems too often struggle to cope with the pressing issues of our time. We need more problem-solving capacity, better policy and decision making, and new ways of governing. In other words, representative democracy needs a substantial upgrade.
Although there seems to be broad support for democratic principles amongst citizens, there can be mistrust in how current institutions work. Representative democracy can suffer from low turnouts, political disaffection, public cynicism and loss of legitimacy. The answer to the problems of democracy must surely be more democracy, a more meaningful and engaged kind – a participatory democracy, perhaps.
Well-known forms of participation, including volunteering, voting, organising, campaigning and so on, coexist now alongside those that eschew traditional models of organisational affiliation. For instance, many engage passionately on single issues that matter to them, others are political in how they spend their money and time, yet others work to develop new forms of economic life through cooperatives or social enterprises. All forms of participation can contribute to develop a vibrant democracy.

One form of participation being used in Aberdeenshire is participatory budgeting(PB). Following on from PB exercises throughout Aberdeenshire in 2017 and 2018, Peterhead Decides is currently asking the people of Peterhead if they have an idea that would help improve the local environment in Peterhead?

Join us at K and M Communities next week to read more about what Peterhead have been up to!

 

New Website to provide support to anyone affected by alcohol and drugs in Aberdeenshire www.aberdeenshirealcoholdrugs.support

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Aberdeenshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP) have a new website to help support anyone affected by alcohol and drugs in Aberdeenshire. The online resource www.aberdeenshirealcoholdrugs.support aims to provide information and signposting to a range of support services and organisations across Aberdeenshire and nationally.

The website was developed in response to feedback that there was a lack of information in an easily accessible format on what drug and alcohol support was available and how to access help when it was needed. The ADP have worked with service users, family members and people in recovery to make sure that the information on the website is useful, easy to understand and access.

The resource aims to help people using any drug including alcohol, whether worried about their own drug or alcohol use, a friend’s use or family member’s use. www.aberdeenshirealcoholdrugs.support provides a one-stop shop for information on support, treatment and recovery. Within each section, people can find out more about a particular area of support and advice and then clearly see which organisations provide this support and their contact details.

The Aberdeenshire Alcohol Drugs Support website will always have the most up to date information on the Substance Use Service Gateway in Aberdeenshire. . The Gateway is part of the NHS and Council Substance Use Service team and provides confidential, non-judgmental assistance towards the right treatment, support or information. The GET HELP button either the Alcohol or Drugs section of the website displays phone and email details as well as arrangements for drop in facilities around Aberdeenshire.

Professionals and agencies can help any of their clients to engage with the Alcohol or Drug Use Service by calling 01224 558844 or email to nhsg.kessockclinic@nhs.net (North Aberdeenshire) nhsg.grampianscspa@nhs.net (South and Central Aberdeenshire)

Sci-Gateway and Track Care can also still be used for referrals from NHS.

Print materials, posters and cards, promoting the website and access to the Aberdeenshire Alcohol and Drug Service will be delivered to agencies soon. The ADP would be grateful if these could be displayed widely and offered to people who might need help with their alcohol or drug use in Aberdeenshire. To get a supply or resupply contact aberdeenshire.adp@nhs.net

The ADP have identified a wide range of information that they think is useful to people and communities however they welcome approaches from services, groups, community members with information to add or changes to make. Please use the website to share your own news. Send news items and suggested changes to the adp email above.