Living not Existing
I was delighted to be invited to introduce Meeting Centres at the East Lothian Gathering which took place on the 10th and 11th October in Haddington. Sue Northrup is the driving force behind Dementia Friendly East Lothian and was inspirational from the outset in organising this event at the Maitland House Hotel.
40 people living with dementia and carers attended on Day 1 and discussions were facilitated by Paul from DEEP and Beau and Mark from TIDE. Participants came from towns across East Lothian – Haddington, Port Seton/Cockenzie, Musselbrugh, Dunbar, Aberlady, Longniddry and North Berwick. The photo above is of the amazing Agnes Houston who was busy here meeting and greeting.
The aim was to get together, share friendship, thoughts, talk about what matters to people and have fun as well as to open up the conversation around Meeting Centres. A range of priorities were collated and discussed in the afternoon with a view to taking them forward to Day 2 which is exactly what happened.
Some of the people from Day 1 continued to Day 2 and representatives from 25 organisations across the region welcomed them. I gave an overview of Meeting Centres, how they started, where they are now and the Big Lottery funded Meeting Centre support programme, how this can support people and organisations to set up Centres. After a question and answer session there was a workshop where each table discussed whether there is a desire and need for Meeting Centres, what opportunities and challenges there are and who you would invite to a meeting to take this forward.
Next steps include planning for a gathering as part of the Meeting Centre Support Programme in early Spring 2019 focussed on the outcomes and progress of community conversations.
I would like to extend a massive thanks for the enthusiasm and energy of everyone present and not least Sue Northrup for inviting me to this wonderful gathering.