Today a group of students and I set off to meet with a group of older people who regularly attend the Nan MacKay Memorial Centre in Pollocksheilds.
The centre is tucked away at the end of St John’s Road – and was set up after one of the original tenants to move into the area, Nan, realised that many of the tenants were lonely and elderly and that the new council estate did not have a lot to offer.
With help from other enthusiastic residents, Nan went on to organise trips, parties and eventually started a campaign for a Hall. The hall has now been running for 30 years, continuing to serve older people and arranging a variety of daily activities.
We arrived at the centre at 9.30, just as the art class was about to start. As well as talking to the older people there about their lives, we were able to get a better feel for the centre and its importance to the local community. It was great to meet the people who were at the centre today – many of them commented that they’d be lost without such handy community facilities and many of them attended over 3 times a week.
We have been encouraging the students to take a more posivitist approach to their service design and this was a useful opportunity for them to learn from an example that is working well, where people are happy and content – rather than focusing on issues that need to be fixed.
Also, the older people that attended are fit, well and independent and commented that they often participated in the activities for the social rewards of engagement in that activity, rather than for its own sake. As such I reflected that we might begin to think about different strategies for promoting healthy activities and keeping people well/ independent that might use this social element as a hook.
Among other things, it was clear from today that:
• On the whole, ageing is a positive experience for the majority of people
• The majority of people did not think of themselves as old.
• Future health status seems to be the most important concern
All comments and thoughts welcome.