In the Autumn of 2014, two San Francisco therapists shared a vision: to help heal that which divides us through the fine art of skilled listening. They gathered 26 of their colleagues, practiced listening skills and came up with a curriculum and model for listening on the sidewalks together.
On May 7th 2015, for 2 hours in 12 locations throughout San Francisco, listeners set up chairs and signs, offering to listen to any passer-by who wanted to be seen and heard. The result was amazing. And soon after a group from Los Angeles asked if they could reproduce it. There was never an intention for this thing to grow. Every person met at Sidewalk Talk is just like you, someone who believes that human connection is the way to create healthy humans, healthy politics, and a healthy world.
Today Sidewalk Talk has 1700 volunteers world-wide. They have groups in 40 cities around the globe. They have grown but remain grassroots by design. The focus is creating an active, engaged community of volunteers who commit to a regular listening practice and who connect with each other, not just the people they listen to.
Is this a way to gather not only people’s thoughts and opinions, but also raise the important of what the man on the “sidewalk” has to say? Would this work in our communities? Worth a thought!
In 1930s Britain, lidos and open air pools were incredibly popular. Following a poll of Stonehaven householders in 1933, the Pool was built the following year at a cost of £9,529 and opened on 4th June 1934. Stonehaven Pool was built to competition standards, which at that time were for races of 110 yards and multiples of that, so Stonehaven Pool was, and is, 55 yards long – just a touch over 50m and 20 yards – just over 18m – wide. It was emptied and refilled every few days – at that time, filling took only 2¾ hours. Even considering operating costs and loan charges, the first season brought a large profit. Customer feedback was not all positive and so, for season 1935, not only was the sea water circulated, filtered and disinfected, it was also heated!
During the Second World War, the Pool provided recreation – and showers – for locally-based troops. Following the war, it quickly retained its former glory, and became a major attraction for visitors from a wide area including Aberdeen. Despite changing holiday habits in the 1960s and 70s, and the Pool requiring considerable work, attendances were still healthy, with 65,000 passing through the turnstiles in 1975, although that was a season of many lost days due to technical problems.
For a few seasons, the Pool was actually filled with fresh water because of problems with the sea inlet; however seawater – one of the Pool’s main attractions – was in use again for 1982, and has been used ever since. The 1980s and 90s saw a decline in numbers, seasons were cut to 8 weeks, and by the mid-1990s the Pool was threatened with closure. This prompted the founding of a community group, The Friends of Stonehaven Open Air Pool, initially to lobby for its retention. The Friends of Stonehaven Open Air Swimming Pool is now a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) and works in close partnership with Aberdeenshire Council. While the Council operates the Pool to the highest standards, the Friends maintain, enhance and promote the Pool.
Today the Pool is the focal point of Stonehaven’s summer and is an asset not only for the town and Aberdeenshire but also for Scotland. Only one other open air pool of the era still operates in Scotland, largely serving a local population, while the Stonehaven Pool is acknowledged as a 4-star Visitor Attraction and brings visitors from far and wide.
Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.
Quarriers – Aberdeenshire Carer Support Service are hosting a series of promotional events during Carers Week, in partnership with Aberdeenshire Library and Information Service (ALIS). Libraries will display the winning entries from the recent adult carer poetry and photography competitions and Quarriers staff will be going on tour with the central and south mobile library buses to reach out to hidden carers in rural areas. A presentation booklet of the winning entries and details on where unpaid carers can get support will be available for the public to take away. If you would like to find out the routes on their tour please visit:
Mobile Library Central – www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/media/22122/m1-central-mar-jun-2018.pdf
Mobile Library South – www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/media/22123/m4-south-mar-jun-2018.pdf
You’re not supposed to feel lonely while you’re young, but the truth is it’s a bigger concern among young people than any other age group.
In recent years youth loneliness and isolation has been increasingly identified as a matter of significant public concern. Research identifies that one in three young people suffer from loneliness (Red Cross, Co-op, Kantar, 2016) and 65% of 16-25 years old reporting feeling loneliness at times and 32% feeling lonely “often” or “all the time” (Majoribanks and Bradley, 2017).
“Loneliness is a recognised problem among the elderly – there are day centres and charities to help them,” says Sam Challis, an information manager at the mental health charity Mind, “but when young people reach 21 they’re too old for youth services.”
But what can young people do to combat loneliness?
While meditation techniques such as mindfulness and apps such as Headspace are trendy solutions frequently recommended for a range of mental health problems, they’re not necessarily helpful for loneliness, as they actively encourage us to dwell alone on our thoughts. You’re be better off addressing the underlying causes of being lonely first – what’s stopping you going out and seeing people?
Social media can be helpful. Helplines can also reduce loneliness, at least in the short term. One in four men who call the Samaritans mention loneliness or isolation, and Get Connected is a free confidential helpline for young people, where they can seek help with emotional and mental health issues often linked to loneliness. There are also support services on websites such as Mind’s that can remind you you’re not alone. Speak to your employer, value the interactions you have in the workplace. Counselling can be helpful. The BACP website allows you to search for counsellors in your area. “A problem aired is a problem shared and sometimes you need to talk to someone impartial and independent of your friends and family.
If recent research is to be believed, loneliness is killing the elderly and, with an ageing population, we should aim to reduce our isolation before it is too late. “Getting older doesn’t have to mean getting lonelier,” says Ruth Sutherland, the chief executive of Relate, in a new report. “But much of this rests on laying the foundations to good-quality relationships earlier in life.”
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!
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.