October Project Newsletter

This is available as a Soundcloud recording.

October events

Looking for a fun free activity this weekend? Then come along to the Travelling Gallery this Saturday. The bus will be parked outside the Town Hall all day and is packed with a fun interactive exhibition for all the family.
The Travelling Gallery’s autumn exhibition Alt-w: Blush Response, is in partnership with New Media Scotland and part of the Festival of Architecture 2016. The exhibition focuses on artists making use of technology within their practice, exploring the exciting role that digital interaction can have on our lives.

Tuesday 4th October, the memory cafes at Western Isles Hospital on the wards will recommence from 2-3pm each Tuesday until March 2017.


Thursday 6th October 2pm An Lanntair Community Room (Upstairs) FREE Dementia Friendly Screening of Pocket Cinema No need to book but contact Oriana@lanntair.com to join the mailing list.

Thursday 27th October – Carers’ High Tea at An Lanntair, please book with Alzheimer Scotland Bells Road. If you care for someone living with dementia and you would like to come out for a free dinner at An Lanntair, check out the exhibition, meet some lovely people and soak up the atmosphere and the view at our Cafe Bar, please call Marion MacInnes and her wonderful team on 01851 702123. We will shortly be rolling this out across the South Isles with support from the new post holders that we are advertising for.

31st October Pocket Cinema at An Lanntair is hosting a special fundraising screening of Young Frankenstein, celebrating the life of Gene Wilder and raising funds for the local branch of Alzheimer Scotland. Please join the newsletter by emailing Oriana@lanntair.com

31st Oct – 2nd Nov 2016 Jon MacLeod is going to present our project poster at Alzheimer Europe Conference, Copenhagen. ‘It’s Good to See Natural Ground.’

If you would like to test the Sensory Memory Box, please get in touch with me – my email is paula@lanntair.com

Chris Hammacott is taking a quilting workshop to Solas Day Centre this month. We will be sewing personal images which have been printed on to cotton paper.

Chris is also working with one lady who lives in a care centre and has worked with textiles herself, to create a commissioned piece with her.

If you are caring for someone living with dementia and are keen out trying new skills, have a look at our new carers page on our blog for inspiration dfclanntair.wordpress.com . If quilting is something you have been wanting to try, please get in touch with me paula@lanntair.com because I have a small number of kits which Chris Hammacott has made to offer to carers across the islands, which come in a lovely hand made craft bag for this and future projects.


Our Soundcloud account (Arora An Lanntair) has many playlists for music, poetry, talks, items of interest as well as our own cultural podcasts and Gaelic language lessons. The spoken listings and newsletters can also be found there.

There will be a project celebration during October, news to follow.


September was quite a busy month for the project!

The Woven Communities Collaboration project team went on a Seatrek trip to look at where different grasses grow and how they are harvested. We took a small sample using traditional sickles and tried drying and plaiting with them.
The next day, we tried splitting a piece of root and weaving a coil using the root to stitch it together. Also, during this session, we planned how to pull together past and present knowledge to make the most of this collaboration and the intergenerational opportunities across the community.
The making session and recording of the session will take place in North & South Uist in the second week of November.
The team is currently looking into the prospect of an exhibition relating to this work and the relevant pieces that have been discovered and uncovered and which will be made.
Jon and I have been invited to present our work on this project at a Symposium at St Andrew’s University in January 2017.

On 21st September, the team presented at the Life Changes Trust First National Community and Dementia Conference. The theme for our two workshops was ‘Restoring value in a bilingual community: ceilidh culture, hand memory and other creative approaches’. You can see Maggie Smith’s film contribution and Jon Macleod’s slide presentation on our youtube channel. Find the link on our blog. dfclanntair.wordpress.com

The 22nd September saw the team attend Scotland’s Dementia Awards as a nominee for Best dementia friendly community initiative’ in Glasgow. And we won! Every single one of you listening, reading and involved in any way with their project won this award. Well done and a million thanks to all of you. I really hope that this award will support us as a wide team to support even more people across the Western Isles.

We launched our new website and brand identity this month.
wearearora.org is our website but our blog dfclanntair.wordpress.com is still updated almost daily. Our brand identity and website was designed by GOOD, http://www.wearegood.com We were fortunate to win the ‘good for nothing award’ for this year, 2016, which was worth £25,000 worth of branding and design time. http://www.wearegood.com/good-for-nothing

Chris Hammacott and I recorded how-to videos for quilting to go with the kits that Chris has made up for carers to have a go at making a cushion. These will be available during October.

I met with the team from the NHS and Alzheimer Scotland to recommence the ward based Memory Cafes from 4th October. These may have a new name such as Tuesday Ceilidh so watch out for the ward posters.

Jon Macleod was accepted for an exciting Project Research Residency in Senegal for 5 weeks from February 2017. This is sure to bring back some incredible global perspectives on memory, culture, language and community support.

The Western Isles Volunteer Centre has been working with us at An Lanntair to work through the WAVE Western Isles Award for Volunteering Excellence and we have started to work with young volunteers and developing our support system for volunteers.

We held our regular Carers’ High Tea event at An Lanntair in collaboration with Alzheimer Scotland on Thursday 29th September.

Our new South Isles Practitioner posts are being advertised now.

Our trial memory box was tested around the South Isles.

Our amazing ‘In Conversation’ recording between Jack Manchester and John Maher was edited and will be ready during October.

I met with our first potential volunteer for our new volunteer programme at An Lanntair. As a team, we are aiming to follow thew Volunteer Centre Western Isles’ ‘WAVE’ award, which is Western Isles Award for Volunteering Excellence.

We have joined the DEEP Network, which is the Dementia Empowerment and Engagement Project. The idea is that through this network, people living with dementia and their carers can have more of a voice collectively and the support of a national network to amplify that voice. There will be regular meetings and more information about this shortly.

Looking ahead to November and beyond

8th – 11th November, the Woven Communities team will be back in North & South Uist to undertake the making and recording part of the project, along with some intergenerational work. This will include some of our collaboration work with Remoage.

17th November, Life Changes Trust are holding an information session in Benbecula to support phase 2 applications for funding across the South Isles. Paula is supporting this.

Weds December 7th Paula has been invited to the Upstream conference, to present our Island Case Study for this Life Changes Trust funded Transport project in Edinburgh.

January 18th-20th 2017 Jon and Paula have been invited to present their part in the Woven Communities Project at a Symposium at St Andrews University

February 2017 Jon is undertaking a residency in Senegal to research for this project. He will be away for around 5 weeks.

Pause and reflect

Taking time to pause and reflect was the closing message from Henry Simmons at the Scottish Dementia Awards last week.

We certainly weren’t expecting to come away with the trophy for ‘Best Dementia Friendly Community’ against such stiff competition. Everyone nominated is doing incredible work to reconnect communities and reduce isolation.

Looking around the packed room, I knew that each person had undoubtedly volunteered many hours on top of their official role, as we do. And everyone looked fantastic – intricate hairstyles, ruffles and lace, some in dazzling reds and oranges. 

Some of the organisations nominated and winning were huge. Theatres, charities, partnerships much bigger than our own. But then thinking about the incredible range of programming at An Lanntair, courtesy of skilled programming staff alongside local, national and international artists of all media, such a rich resource to share, and which we have naturally emulated across our dementia friendly community, I thought about how much we have achieved in 18 months. 

I’m not sure that it can be considered a highlight but a particularly meaningful moment for me was coming back to the office and sharing with everyone that we had lost two of the wonderful people who participated in this journey with us but that our work had returned speech to one gentleman, the return of his voice, and that another lady had enjoyed the violin music she had missed so much. And that it was the last thing they did. I was there at the passing of the gentleman. Walking past by chance, I felt something was different and I held his big, weather beaten hand as the last thready pulses passed. 

I wondered how the panel knew about our work to select us as the best, being so remote and working so personally with people. And then I started to recognise faces. People I’ve Skyped with from the Scottish Dementia Working Group, people from NDCAN – Myra Lamont, who said she didn’t completely understand dementia friendly communities until she spent a day museum visiting with us and then made the effort to meet up with us to support carers and start to build a team in Uist last month, people we have presented to at Life Changes Trust gatherings, people cheering us on. 

I certainly don’t do any of this for recognition or an award. At times, I’ve cried and lost sleep for the things we can’t do, for the work that remains undone, for the heartbreak and loss that people I’ve come to know so well experience. 

But such a wonderful and meaningful award from the people who have watched us grow is something to shout about. I hope that it will support us to more of the wonderful collaboration and partnerships that have shaped this project – academic, charitable, community and volunteer collaboration has been key to this project’s success. This award, ‘Best Dementia Friendly Community’ is an incredible achievement. 

My heartfelt gratitude goes to Alzheimer Scotland on a national level for campaigning so hard for people and for this award shaped opportunity to showcase the incredible work cross Scotland, for bringing us together with inspirational people, whose words I share to try to effect local change, such as Archie Latta from the Scottish Dementia Working Group, who has helped me to reduce stigma and support people to ask for help and the tirelessly industrious Agnes Houston who’s Twitter feed is staggeringly full. 

Also on a local level, where would I be without my ‘wee pal’ Marion MacInnes, local Branch Manager, supporting us in collaborative and innovative change within the NHS and remote communities in the South Isles and for carers?

Heartfelt thanks also belong to Life Changes Trust, our incredible funders who nurture and support in ways which enable us to flexibly respond to the needs of the community and experiment to find the best ways of collaborating and working to achieve the most meaningful support. Their unswerving belief in us has been a powerful driving force.

An Lanntair is much more than an arts organisation, it is in the heart memory of the community, it’s a family. This project is successful on so many levels, and I couldn’t be more proud of every person who gives a part of him or herself to make it possible. I was going to photograph every person who earned this award with us and make a photo collage to show just how many people deserve it but I don’t think I have enough life left to do that, so let me just say this award is ours. ‘Nothing about us without us.’ Agnes Houston often says. All of us. 

Best DFC in Scotland! 

What a wonderful surprise to win today at Scotland’s Dementia Awards. ❤️

Thank you so much to our wider team, collaborators, funders and everyone involved. We couldn’t have done it without you and I really hope this raises our profile to make more of a difference. 

In Inverness now, asleep….

Community & Dementia Conference

On World Alzheimer Day, Jon & Paula had a moving and inspiring day sharing the project with 300 people at Life Changes Trust’s first  Community & Dementia Conference in Perth. 

From the insightful opening and wonderful hosting by Agnes Houston, through the words of carers and people living with dementia, through the inspiring sharing of ideas of fellow awardees and through our own sessions, where Maggie’s film enthralled along with John’s wonderful talk on oral tradition and hand memory and Paula’s sharing of the fantastic island voices we are privileged to hear, it was a brilliant but exhausting day catching up with everyone and we really did deserve that beer/mojito at the end of the day! 

Paula only cried once…at the Gie it Laldy performance. 

Travel day

I’m travelling today, to meet up with Jon and present the project to the first Community & Dementia Conference in Perth with Life Changes Trust tomorrow (21st Sept). I’m looking forward to reconnecting with all of the wonderful, inspirational awardees and our partners from Upstream and DEEP in particular.

On Thursday 22nd Sept, we will be attending the Scottish Dementia Awards in Glasgow as finalists, nominated for the best Dementia Friendly Community.

Exciting times!

Shortlist for Scottish Dementia Awards 2016
Community & Dementia Conference with Life Changes Trust in Perth
‘Restoring value in a bilingual community: ceilidh culture, hand memory & other creative approaches’ is our workshop session tomorrow afternoon. I’m presenting the unique voices of the people who connect with us and Jon is presenting our Woven Communities collaboration work with St. Andrew’s University and Hebridean Baskets. Maggie has sent a moving film about her Gaelic role and Heather will be with us in heart and spirit as she is unfortunately unwell. The entire An Lanntair team is supporting us and none of this would be possible without them and all of the wonderful Western Isles  community and our fantastic partners.

Test day on Thursday

The Woven Communities team got together on Thursday to look at the marram grass, to see how it curled as it dried overnight, to look at a small bunch which was cut in the summer and dried slowly and to look at how it plaits.

We also planned how to undertake the intergenerational sessions and how to record the project with school children. It is an immense responsibility to ensure we call in relevant local knowledge and experts in ecology, conservation, historical societies and designer/makers as well as traditional basket makers to offer something new to everyone and to preserve and celebrate existing knowledge and skills.

Setting diary dates was also a challenge! We have settled on the second week in November for the making sessions in North and South Uist. These sessions will be intergenerational and involve new and traditional trades and skills, contemporary crafters speaking and making with people who have first-hand knowledge of  traditional skills, much like our ‘In Conversation’ series.


Seatrekking for Woven Communities

The team went on a Seatrek today for the Woven Communities collaboration project between ourselves and St. Andrew’s University. We looked at a selection of islands and took note of the grasses growing there and sampled a handful here and there to try harvesting methods and tomorrow we will see how it dries and handles. The making part of the project will be in November in South Uist.