IRISS.FM spoke to Fiona Johnstone and Rikke Iversholt, the project leads on the Creative Care and Support project in Pitlochry, which has been underway since the autumn of 2013 and is now in its third phase. It is a project to assist the community to develop better supports for people who use social services and forms part of the Creative Quarter programme of work.
What follows is a direct transcription of the audio recording, made by Iriss specifically to assist people with hearing difficulties. Because of the differences between spoken and written English, the transcript may contain quirks of grammar and syntax.
Michelle Drumm: On the 29th of April, IRISS.FM spoke to Fiona and Rikke, the project leads on the Creative Care and Support project in Pitlochry, which has been underway since the autumn of 2013. They tell us where the idea for the project originated and what it aimed to do.
Fiona Johnstone: I am Fiona Johnstone, I am the Community Engagement Worker for Highland and Perthshire and I am funded through the Reshaping Care for Older People in Polgreen.
Rikke Iversholt: And I am Rikke Iversholt, I am Project Manager with Iriss, I work in the Innovation and Improvement team. Quite a while ago there was an idea at Iriss to do a project around micro commissioning, and Lisa did quite a lot of discussions with various people that she met on her way, and once she met Andy Moir, from Perth and Kinross Council, I think they met at a train station or something, at Perth train station and that's kind of where that idea was born. He was quite interested in it from the Councils side, simply because Perth and Kinross Council is quite large and has an awful lot of rural areas, lots of unique service requirements in rural areas that they were finding it difficult to meet. So he went away with the challenge from ... Lisa said to him, you know, find us a place and we will see if we can make a project.
FJ: One of the challenges that we have within very remote and rural highland Perthshire, is that we only have the local authority that provides health and social care provision, and what we really wanted to do with the introduction of Self Directed Support, was to actually see if we could be more creative and have more flexibility and more choice for individuals. For example, we have got a case whereby someone is living in a very remote area of Glenlyon, and their carer is coming from Crieff, now it takes an hour and 20 minutes for that carer to come from Crieff to Glenlyon and then back again, and that is happening twice a day, so that's quite costly and not a good use of resources, so the Creative Care and Support was to try and see how creative we can be in terms of looking at alternative ways of providing that support and also giving opportunities to local communities to get their first foot really on the ladder and testing the water, and increasing the individuals confidence and capacity to deliver that.
MD: We hear about who was involved in the project.
FJ: Initially there was a core steering group of partners involved in the kind of planning and preparation of it, we had ... obviously Iriss was involved, we had Perth and Kinross Council, we had NHS Tayside, we had Growbiz, which is a social enterprise group that help to support people to set up businesses, we had the Atholl Centre, which is almost like a Community hub, it was quite important to include them from a community perspective and we wanted to include them as well. And I was involved through the Reshaping Care for Older People programme as a community engagement worker for Highland and Perthshire. Later on, the students of Duncan of Jordanstone also came on board to do a community mapping exercise, we had ... they were with us for 3 weeks.
RI: The main partner is Pitlochry, and everybody who lives, works and cares for everybody within a 10 mile radius, so that's our audience, so we are trying to keep it reasonably local but realising that because it's such a rural area, Pitlochry has a lot of land around it that requires the use of the town as well, so that's where it starts. What we then did, was letting everybody know that there would be a process of searching for relevant information to inform both the project partners, but also the towns inhabitants themselves on what their needs and requirements for the area was. But that was the very initial work that the students did, they looked at what's good about living in Pitlochry, what could be better, what needs to really change, and just kind of worked at ground level, they infiltrated pretty much everywhere they could, shadowing Policemen, visiting all kinds of volunteer groups, going shopping with people ...
FJ: Retail as well, they went into shops and the tourist trade ... Pitlochry is quite a touristy area, and actually they requesting tourists as well to why did they come to Pitlochry.
MD: They tell us about some of the gaps in support and services in the community.
RI: There are some obvious ones, for example, transportation needs, there are buses go through the town but they stop at 8 o'clock at night, so you can't really do much in the evenings if you are reliant on public transportation. There's a lot of lack of stuff for people to do, especially around kind of secondary school age and there is a really big disconnect between age groups, so intergenerational relationships. They wouldn't say they were suffering if you just looked at the town, but people just didn't benefit from any kind of ...
FJ: They didn't feel connected, yes. Also, for me, it kind of highlighted some of the gaps in terms of much more softer outcomes, such as befriending, people felt quite isolated, they would like to have someone to chat to or ... and carers issues came up quite a bit as well in terms of the provision of support for carers and for bereaved carers, and for carers whose cared for person had moved into alternative care, were struggling with that transition, and they had no way of talking to someone who had a similar experience. So for me, that was quite interesting, and we have continued some of the work, some of the themes from that into other areas.
RI: On a plus side though, I want to add that there's more than 130 volunteering organisations in the town. They are not so well connected, which was one of the gaps around identified, but they exist, so there's a real volunteering spirit, people would say that it's quite a neighbourly place ...
MD: We hear about the workshop activities that took place.
RI: We did loads of workshops, well we did 4 workshop days, we ran every workshop quite loosely, I mean it's been structured from our side, but we have been very happy to change things if it wasn't working for the people that came along, so we did that between November and April this year. What we did is run each workshop twice, so we ran one during the day and one in the early evening, simply for the purpose that older people are really quite determined to go, but concerned that they couldn't get out and back home while it was dark, you know we were running this through the winter months, so it was really important that they could be out and about while it was daylight, they felt safe and the transportation routes were still working. And at night, we did run, albeit with smaller groups, but for people that are working.
MD: They tell us more about the third phase, which involves a Seed Fund of £10,000 to support the development of micro enterprises.
RI: Because at the very end of this, which is something that we launched yesterday, it's not really the end but it's the start of phrase 3, the end of the workshop journey, there's a fund of £10,000, which is not a lot of money, but it's a seed fund, so it's a lot of money between people if they have a seed of an idea they want to grow, the money will provide the soil and the water essentially, that's about it and then the funding can come from elsewhere. But the four workshops were very gradually working from an all inclusive community, let's get all our ideas together methodology, to working towards shaping ideas for micro enterprises. So the first 2 were very asset based, very gaps and needs related and then gradually filling in those gaps and needs with what are opportunities for businesses, what are our ideas for fulfilling the needs that are in the community, and then very lately we have been working on business plans with people, in order for them to essentially already have thought over and worked through the things that are asked for in the application form for the fund.
It's really important to point out though that although we were getting to the business stage, there were still people coming along who didn't want to make a business, they just wanted to have a say in how those businesses were shaped, so it was very collaborative in small groups latterly ...
MD: And is the fund just for one business to take on, or is it to be for a number?
RI: It will be for a number, we are willing to sponsor services, products, our new approaches, our new models of provision, so there's already room for 3 here, but we know that everyone is quite keen on sharing the money that's available, so I think most people will be quite humble in what they ask for, and what's been really wonderful about this is that very initially people had business ideas or ideas for things that really needed to change that they would go, we need money for that, and then once they spoke to other people in the group and worked out their idea, they realised that actually what they needed was community resource, it wasn't about money, it wasn't about marketing, it was just about having access to community resources that already existed, so some projects have already kind of fallen off the journey and gone and done something on their own.
FJ: Connection for the right people as well, that has been quite useful in the process and term, particularly when some of the ideas that are coming forward we have been able to signpost people and say maybe the best person to speak to and they have been able to further advance their ideas. But interestingly enough, the creative care and support had been supported by the Pitlochry Community Health and Social Care Forum, which is picking up a lot of their ideas about the befriending and carers, because although we might not be able to take that forward as a business idea, we can certainly take it forward as a community initiative. So we are picking these things up and we are taking them forward through the forum, which is attended by some of the voluntary groups and local residents that live in the local area, so it's really quite nice that they are now starting to feel empowered to respond to some of the challenges and opportunities that are presenting themselves.
MD: Fiona says a few words about her overall experience of the project to date.
FJ: It has allowed individuals to feel that they can make a difference in their local community and it's been a lovely process to be involved in and it's not finished, it's continuing on, we have got the challenge fund, we have got the forum there, so a lot of the stuff is going to be ongoing and developing, which is really quite exciting.
Note: The copyright of this transcript belongs to the speakers or speaker. It may not be copied or re-used without permission.