Hierarchy of Best Practice

Some personal reflections on this body of project work and an explanation of how I ‘test’ in my mind before proceeding.

We’ve always striven to work with the best ethics and best practice on this project work. Looking back over the project, at this point of evaluation of the past three years and looking ahead to the next two years, I’ve been reflecting on what we have learned from everyone along the way.

Thinking about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it is clear that before we are able to think about art and culture, playfulness and self improvement, we need to feel safe, secure, included and that our basic needs are met. This goes hand in hand with the feedback we have been receiving about the continuity of our team, familiar and trusted people, friendships maintained, peer support, Gaelic language (or first language) , regular contact, a welcoming and enabling approach.

So, thinking about what we are doing, how support is provided, I have been thinking about how I see this in the context of the history of care and even currently how it is sometimes provided, as a hierarchy.

I hope we are always at the level of the top two. This is what we aim to achieve. No fancy diagram but I have listed below how I have come to view a hierarchy of best practice in this project work. I’m not aiming to dismiss any of the levels, all have a place in society and medical care but it has been helpful for me to think about what we are aiming to achieve.

Doing things which inspire, facilitate, empower and enable each one of us to lead and shape our own health/life/care/projects/community, as individuals and connected to our community. (Person centred).

Doing things with people, together, as a community. (Community centred).

Doing things for people. (Altruistic, charitable).

Doing things to people. (Power/powerlessness).


Hierarchy of Best Practice


Maggie Pickie and seated dance

We went to the Irish dance session for over 50s today. It was great to see a flexible class that offered seated and standing sections. It was genuinely accessible.

‘Good for the brain!’

‘More of the same, please”

‘Oh this reminds me of my father, he was a wonderful dancer’

‘It’s quite mathematical!’

‘As long as you tap in the right places, I think you can get away with it’ were some of the responses.

There were Guinness cupcakes with tea and coffee afterwards and all for the sum of £2. Thanks to Kirsty at Isle Dance!

Memory Tree planning

We went to the Sanctuary space today and met with Helen from the Chaplaincy at Western Isles Hospital.

Chris Hammacott is working on a design for the memory tree in the space.

Coincidentally, Chris has been making baby gowns for a baby loss charity and this space is used once a month by a group of women who have lost babies. Chris is going to meet with the group and work with them on creating a memory tree wall hanging that will be supportive and meaningful, not only to their group but to everyone using the Sanctuary space, for all of the reasons that somebody might use it.

It was quite a moving meeting. Jo from Tagsa Uibhist was visiting and her experience of past work brought more to the conversation about emotions and support. We all talked about experiences of hospital, of worry, of helplessness, of a sudden change, of hope, of gratitude, of loss.

We talked about memories and how the need to remember a person or emotion does not diminish and that everyone has something close to their heart to remember.

Helen remarked ‘three girls, all with different perspectives all bringing something to the space, it’s lovely.’ And your lovely self, Helen.

Easter, selkies and deep sea diving

The Tuesday Ceilidh today saw some very interesting conversation, promoted by D.A.’s cards. What lives people are leading! We talked about the Faroes, about a father who was deep sea diving in a heavy metal helmet to build the Bernera bridge, and draping elegantly across a Grand piano in an evening gown with a spray tan. At one point I found myself wondering how we arrived at conversational places but it was a playful session today.

We decorated Easter biscuits and enjoyed Narcissi and hot cross buns.

Chris Hammacott started conversations about the new welcome sign for the wall and she brought her brilliant new selkie design of worry doll along, one of which went away with a lady who will make it on the ward.

Arora Spring Newsletter


During February, we heard that we have been successful with a new round of funding from Life Changes Trust and we have been successful with match funding from Big Lottery. This gives us two more years of funded work.

Team meetings have shaped the new project and we are going forward in much the same way but focussing on a handful of projects, which have proven to be successful in the first three years of work.

These will be related to dance, Intelligent Textiles, re-making projects, resources with other community-led events alongside. The work will be strongly tied to research and residencies this time but there will be plenty of events and gatherings across the islands every month.

Monday 12th & 26th Feb saw Scalpay craft group work with Mhairi Law and Lucy Robertson

Hospital day room reminiscence sessions took place in Benbecula and the vinyl image has been approved for their wall and in print right now. Did you know what a ‘caiteag of butter‘ was?


Duncan offers weekly sessions at Cobhair Bharraigh and St Brendan’s home in Castlebay, Barra, and he also offers reminiscence work and regular accordian ceilidhs, along with the Men’s group and he is putting together a Transport themed memory box.

On Feb 21st, we worked in the Gallery at An Lanntair with Dawn Susan, amongst the Lois Walpole exhibition ‘weaving ghosts‘. We created some mats and baskets with recovered marine flotsam and had a wonderful time doing so.


We have held a ceilidh singing session each Thursday afternoon at Dun Eisdean during Feb and March. Check out ‘Murdo Carpenter and the Free Milk Allowance‘ from Maggie here. We have also been working on cultural movement here, with Maggie and Louise.


There was plenty of delivery happening in February too, with cushions completed from the pre-Christmas sessions at Harris House and delivered to eager hands and delivery of completed cushion kits to Harris House, donated by the ladies of Scalpay Craft Group – deliveries of new Me Time cushion and worry doll kits from Chris Hammacott to Barra, the Uists and Benbecula, and across Lewis & Harris. There has also been a great deal of kit creation and distribution for the sonic flock project.


We held two dance sessions on Tuesday 6th March at Dun Eisdean and Dun Berisay! Usually, Maggie Smith bounces out of the room asking where will we go next but not this time, we were all exhausted. Muriel Ann from Rural Nations did some filming for the DEEP dance project this time.


On 10th March, Kate worked with Uist Dances to offer a Quadrilles ceilidh in Benbecula. Lots of people came together to make this a wonderful event, hosting around 100 people! Transport, baking, dancing, reminiscence, creation of the wonderful backdrops, so many people made this a wonderful event, so thank you to you all. This was filmed by Andy Mackinnon for the DEEP dance project film. There was a planning session earlier, with children, where the images are quite mathematical as well as artistic – have a look.

Also this month, the library memory boxes are coming together with stickers from Hebridean Graphics.

Screen Shot 2018-01-30 at 12.58.42

The intergenerational book between Cothrom Og and Sacred Heart was completed during March and we have some sneak preview images here.


Tuesday 6th March, our team in the Uists & Benbecula attended the Playlist for Life training

Lucy Robertson (our PhD student in sonic textiles) has been with us late Feb into March and she has been working on the Sonic Flock and learning about Island textiles. What fun we had, learning to spin with a drop spindle and spinning wheel, heading out to Scalpay and Harris, (where we caught up with Duncan), weaving in the gallery and demonstrating Intelligent textiles before making up the kits! We also met Gill Thompson in her studio and we went to her gallery opening at Talla Na Mara.

Monday 12th March, we went along to the Life Changes Trust Gathering in Perth. The gathering grows each time, with so many new projects being funded!

Monday 12th and 26th March – craft group at Scalpay Community Hall 10am-1pm.
Gill Thompson teaches Lino cut print making on 12th March and Chris Hammacott teaches textiles on 26th March.


19th & 20th March, we have a visit from Jo at Tagsa Uibhist.

Also, on Monday 19th, we meet with Katie Ann at Dun Eisdean, to talk about textile and print panels for the screens between the lounge and dining areas.

On 20th March, In the morning, 10.30-12 we are going Irish dancing at the dance studio.

In the afternoon, we go to the Western Isles Hospital with Chris Hammacott, to look at the new Sanctuary space as well as to support the Tuesday Ceilidh with a new welcome sign in textiles.

The Intergenerational guitar workshop group with Hadie Mansfield has been thriving on a Wednesday lunchtime throughout Feb and March.



Spring flower arranging in Ness Fri 6th April – details TBC
Scalpay Craft Group Monday 9th April – details TBC

April sees our long anticipated Cuimhne (memory) Symposium. 
Friday 20th April is our Art Exhibition opening at An Lanntair
Mon 23rd April sees our largely academic day of talks and workshops plus a session with Upstream, testing out Stornoway Airport and the onward journey for dementia travel support.
Tues 24th April is our day for making and workshopping and talks from Life Changes Trust, DEEP and people living with dementia.
Weds 24th April, there is a Craft Fayre in Scalpay
The event features related food, music, craft and film.

Cuimhne Symposium (link for tickets) with Sonic Flock bit.ly/Sonic_Flock 

Screen Shot 2018-03-13 at 17.28.30



Friday 4th May, Scottish Ballet are coming to work with two groups with us.

Harris Tweed Hebrides at Shawbost

Thanks so much to Margaret Anne at Harris Tweed Hebrides Shawbost Mill for showing myself and Lucy around today and for being so supportive of our memory box and #sonicflock projects.

We enjoyed a brilliant tour of the many processes on vast machines with highly skilled workers, which comes before and after the home weaving process to create the Harris Tweed brand.