Over the Summer,  Good  awarded our project their Good for Nothing award, to brand and co-design a website for us. The Good team have confirmed that they are coming to Lewis on 14th December to work with us on the co-design process and get a feel for the islands, the place and the people.

We are all looking forward to our formal project launch with events, a website and a new brand identity next year.


We’ve been quiet on the blog recently but there is a great deal going on behind the scenes. We’ve all been off the island for varying tasks and the wild weather has scuppered a few plans and meetings but we have been pushing forward with meetings and making important connections nonetheless.

Good, the branding company are planning to come out and see the islands and the project very soon, in order to create our brand and officially launch the project.

Planning is underway to collaborate with other organisations on working throughout the South Isles.

Planning is underway for further funded projects within the project (relating to Gaelic, hand memory and sound research).

Our volunteer team is developing and tackling important intergenerational work and skills sharing.

Our Gaelic Toolkit is in progress, to support carers with learning Gaelic without trying too hard.

Our blog pages now include a video page, linking to our new Youtube channel, plus a recipe page for the foods we have created throughout the project.

Come along to our special Christmas screening of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ on Dec 14th at 2pm – meet our lovely volunteers and enjoy some festive refreshments at the An Lanntair Auditorium. It’s free to anybody living in the community with dementia and to those in their formal and informal circle of care. Contact Paula:

Little library session last night

WP_20151113_001 WP_20151113_002 WP_20151113_003

The team enjoyed an intimate library cafe session last night where we presented the project and shared the words of the people we have been working with. Ian Stephen shared his personal experience of working on the project and what it has meant to him as well as relatives of participants, through spontaneous feedback in the local shops. He spoke about the poetry, films and workshops and told several stories and shared his own poetry and the work of Frank Thompson. Ian explained that one relative told him that a session he was involved with immensely improved the quality of what turned out to be his father’s very last week. And that a poetry reading brought a much loved and missed relative back to life for a precious time.

Maggie told some wonderful collected stories in Gaelic and English and Jon offered a projection slideshow of images from the project.

We shared cyanotype images from Mhairi Law’s workshop, word portraits and collages and these were very well received.

The daughter of one of our participants read her mother’s word collage poems and shared with the group that her daughter was so excited about them that she shared them on Facebook with all of the family.

Absent Friends Festival Workshop with Dawn Susan

DSCN1477 DSCN1482 DSCN1483 DSCN1485 DSCN1490  DSCN1493 DSCN1495 DSCN1499 DSCN1501 DSCN1503 DSCN1504 DSCN1507 DSCN1511 DSCN1512 DSCN1513 DSCN1519 DSCN1520

Dawn Susan ran a very absorbing workshop at Shawbost Old School today, demonstrating how to weave a willow decoration for an absent friend, which is very befitting of Remembrance Day tomorrow. We chatted about absent friends and one lady I took along met up with many past friends and neighbours, which made the session even more worthwhile for her. Her fingers worked neatly, creating very intricate and neat patterns into her fish. The entire group was immensely welcoming and very glad to see people living with dementia out of their care settings and participating in community workshops based on a common heritage and cultural interest, rather than the event being about dementia. We were even invited to Bragar Old School for coffee another day. One gentleman I took along was able to exercise both hands, without giving it as much thought as a physio session and this was very successful.

Cabraich was the organisation holding the event, hosted by Maggie Smith. And now I’m going to embarrass her by saying how very honoured I am to be working with her on this team as well. Please also check out Woven Communities, a fantastic project which Dawn Susan has worked so very hard on and has great resources and a very informative website.


Dementia Practice Group meeting, Stornoway 10th Nov 2015

I went to the Dementia Practice Group meeting today. It was brilliant to catch up with people working in the same field locally and to hear about triumphs and challenges in practice. We enjoyed a video link with two men from the Dementia Working Group for Scotland. They talked about the kinds of challenges and obstacles in everyday life and how dementia has brought new joy, such as the shared time together with people they really enjoy the company of, the joy of having children (now grown) calling every day and the rediscovered joy of walking. We had lots of chat with them afterwards and I was particularly interested in what we can do as a project to make our events as accessible and enjoyable as possible.

Presence and Noticing

Something Cathy Lane’s ideas and thoughts brought me back to this week was mindfulness. In a previous ‘life’ I worked with people who had problems with substances/alcohol/addiction and I found Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) to be very helpful for many people. It is based on mindfulness, on noticing the present, active noticing if you like. Rooting oneself in the present moment to relieve stress and be more logical about reactions and responses, about thinking or slipping into auto-pilot.
Cathy spoke about deep listening, active listening as opposed to allowing sounds to seep in without noticing them.
I have found this very useful in conversation with people slipping into the past with dementia. I talk about the clock in the room, the season outside, what is on the radio, who is presenting, what is in today’s newspaper, looking at today’s diary entry. Simple things but so relevant to dementia, much as it was in my working past.
I’m so interested to see how deep listening might support people and how this might work for people experiencing auditory hallucinations or hearing loss.

Angus McPhee

Angus McPhee information

Another story that cropped up while at Sacred Heart was about Angus McPhee, who died in 1997 and was resident at some point at the old hospital opposite Sacred Heart home in South Uist. This is now a bunkhouse and it is where the team stayed for a couple of nights on our trip.

His story of wartime trauma, his silence of voice and his weaving of grass had echoes of our project themes and hand memory woven through it, excuse the pun. It formed an interesting side discussion with Cathy Lane over a lunchtime meeting too.

related blog link

South Isles team trip

The team trip to the South Isles was very successful on many levels. We all felt that we embedded into the project and made strides in it’s development. We made some strong connections and shared thoughts and ideas with key people and projects. The next few months are going to be very exciting.