2019 was an amazing year for Outside The Box. We welcomed some fabulous new staff members: Ruth W, Chris G, Heather, Liz, Derek, Angela and Fi. And the Outside The Box family has grown even bigger with the birth of the two youngest team members!

We opened up our office in Dunkeld, where Support Choices is now based with a fantastic new team in place providing essential support.

We’ve seen Community Connections, Garden Buddies, Denny Dementia Cafe, and Families impacted by criminal Justice System projects all get going. Rural Wisdom which works with older people in rural communities has spread into two new areas; Moray and the Scottish Borders. And we launched our Mums Returning to Work website and training.

The year in numbers

We estimate we’ve:

  •  worked with 110 community groups
  • worked directly with 2090 people, and the ripple effect has spread out having an impact on the lives of another 8,000 – 10,000 people, possibly more!
  • held over 20 public events.
We produced some useful new resources on

There’s so much we could have shared, but here are a few of our personal 2019 highlights from the Outside The Box team…

Giving people a voice

by Anne Connor, Chief Executive

One of our achievements over the past few years has been giving lots of people in communities the opportunity to contribute to the policies and decisions that affect everybody. We hear from people about the issues that are important to them  – what works, what they would like to change and the ways they see to make things work better for people like them and for everyone else.

These are not traditional ways of consulting with people.  It is listening to what people say over tea and cake at singing groups and lunch clubs, chatting to children and young people at activities that bring people in their village together, and going out with the Library Bus to find out what maters to people living in more isolated areas and opt people who don’t get out so much.

Sometimes we find out what people think about a particular topic.  We tell people when there is a consultation from the Scottish Government or one of the Committees at the Parliament: they can feed into a bigger response though us, or make their own response, or be part of a local response from their community.  We help people find out about the formal consultation meetings and get among to them.

Our Local People Linking resources have more tips on how people can contribute their views and raise issues that concern them, starting with the experience of people in local communities. We then tell people how they have helped make a difference and be part of shaping the wider conversation or the decisions that get made.

This year we saw transport and housing policies reflect issues that people we know had raised.  In April the Scottish Government published A Fairer Scotland for Older People, which is the framework for all policies across all parts of government.  The Framework includes points we had raised about the contributions older people make in our communities and our human rights as well as the types of services and supports we want.  It even included quotes from people who are part of the Rural Wisdom project.

We’re proud of working alongside thousands of people to contribute to the wellbeing of people now and in the future, and of showing that there are different ways for people to have a voice.

Celebrating Sisterhood

by Kate Robertson (Community Development Advisor)

In June of this year we supported the Moments of Freedom group (of New Scots women in Clydebank) to hold a ‘Women’s Wellbeing Event’ in Clydebank as part of Refugee Festival Scotland. They received funding from the Scottish Refugee Council which enabled them to book a bigger venue and connect with more women from Clydebank and across Scotland. The event itself was fantastic, with belly-dancing, yoga and relaxation, lots of good conversation and plenty of laughter. Check out the photos here. 

It stands out as a highlight because of what the event symbolised – women celebrating their strength and resilience, together working towards a brighter future for themselves and others around them. When thinking about the group and their events the phrase ‘sisterhood’ springs to mind. I looked up the dictionary definition;
‘Sisterhood (noun) – a strong feeling of friendship and support among women who are involved in action to improve women’s rights.’ 
It’s a privilege to work alongside, and learn from the women in the group.

Getting Outdoors with Life Changes Trust funded projects

by Louise Willson (Community Development Advisor)

I’m so proud to be part of evaluation work checking out a range of projects working with people with dementia and family carers encouraging and supporting people to enjoy and spend time outdoors more. We were appointed evaluators of Life Changes Trust ‘Get Outdoors’ programme which funds six different projects to encourage people living with dementia and their carers to benefit from being outside.

It’s a privilege to visit and participate in these projects and talk to so many people about the impact it has on their lives.  So often we can see the joy and the fun that people have from these projects, and this includes, people with dementia, their carers,  local volunteers and staff.

Hearing and sharing stories from people living with dementia and their carers about the impact being outside has on their day today lives and on their mental health and wellbeing.  By sharing the stories we will be able to show the difference it makes to people and will offer ideas and best ways of working for people working with people with dementia.

Impressing my kids!

by Christine Ryder (Community Worker)

Early in 2019 Rosie from Third Sector Lab and the Chair of our Board spent a day with us showing us how to make Animated videos using Biteable software. I am really not what you would describe as a creative person so this terrified me, but I could see the potential!

After the training and in the comfort zone of my own desk at home I started to play around with it and come up with ideas as to how I could use it to showcase the work I was doing in Borders. One of the first videos I made was for a Lets Talk transport event I was having in Gala, feeling very proud of my 52 seconds video I showed my boys – they were astounded “Mum you couldn’t have made that, it’s really good” and ” can you teach me so I can use it for school projects” was the response Now many videos later, I am much more confident and even showing others how to use it to make videos including a group of young people down in Newtown St Boswells who want to use it to make a digital newsletter!

It has made writing up events, showing the progress of projects much easier and more visual which people are liking. I did also show Aidan my youngest son how to make a video, which he did as his application to become a Penicuik Learner, which was successful and got him lots of brownie points at school for his creativity!

A Community Meeting in Aberfeldy

by Nicky, Ruth, Heather and Chris (Support Choices team)

In August, the Support Choices team co-hosted an event in Aberfeldy Town Hall with the aim of facilitating networking and information-gathering between community members, projects and services in the local area. We wanted to provide an opportunity for people to come together in collaboration to promote a future where a choice of quality care is available.

The event was supported by the Rural Wisdom project and The Care and Wellbeing Cooperative and featured a wide range of stalls by statutory, voluntary and private sector organisations and community groups all keen to provide individuals in the area information on the services available to them.

Providing lunch meant people got a chance to chat more informally and there were demonstrations of chair-based exercise and healing hands with some people receiving complementary Shiatsu massage. Allowing organisations to network with each other was also a valuable outcome of the event:

“The best bit about the event was the opportunity to network with other agencies and to provide information / clarify procedures with people who may require services’’

“It was very information friendly, well organised and with lovely people”

Highlights from our new Community Connections project

by Liz Highet (Community Worker)

There have been so many exciting developments with this new project working in the Eaglesham area of East Renfrewshire. Below are just a sample of my highlights.

  • “How Well Do You Know Your Area” Family Quiz.  Supported by local businesses.  Gathered information on the communities thoughts on what would be helpful for making them feel more included in their community also.
  • Chatty Café at Ian’s Kitchen Wednesday mornings.  Is a lifeline for one particular gentlemen who we have also connected up with the Intergenerational “Community Links” Club in Eaglesham Primary School and have introduced him to a neighbour who now visits him regularly.
  • Two successful Village Gatherings bringing local people together to chat about their ideas for improving the community.  One was a “pop-up” event over two days, and 1was staged at The BigER Lunch, which Community Connections was involved in organising bringing together people from Eaglesham, Waterfoot and East Renfrewshire.
  • Being asked to open Eaglesham Bowling Club’s first ever Christmas Lunch for local people who otherwise may have spent Christmas on their own.  It was hugely successful and 24 people attended.

A “Permission to Dream” come true

by Ania Sandland (Community Development Advisor)

Our Permission to Dream project has been a highlight of my year. We have been working with two groups of people with mental health challenges on building peer support to allow them to make their lives better.

We meet every week for a chat and some cake and sometimes we put on events to which the wider community can come. We had a swish party – where people brought clothes and accessories they no longer wanted and exchanged them with others, and a craft swap – where people swapped craft resources and materials. We also do some relaxation, pampering and craft activities – whatever the group decides. But everyone agrees that it’s the spending time together talking that’s the most important part.

The support form the group has given people increased confidence and new ways of coping with challenges. The weekly sessions have offered the participants a chance to relax, share and feel part of something. It’s been great to hear some lovely feedback:

“I would never have had the confidence to do this if it was not for the support I feel from the group.”

“The group makes me feel uplifted and like I am a part of something. I’ve lost that feeling since I stopped working a few years ago and now I’ve got it back.”

“This group is like a gift from the universe. It’s quiet, nice, you can be relaxed.”

Helping to Make Workplaces More ‘Mum-Friendly’

by Rhiannon Davies (Communications Coordinator)

There’s so much to choose from this year, but I think I’m most proud of working on the Mums Returning to Work project to help build a website and online training tool for both employers and employees to learn about maternity rights and best practice. We attended the brilliant Pregnant Then Screwed conference in Manchester where we met inspiring women with stories which highlighted how important this work is.

We worked closely with Rosie McIntosh from Third Sector Lab to develop animated stories that illustrate real life scenarios that mums face. And we launched the website: mumsreturningtowork.org

We piloted the training with two fantastic nurseries who became the first workplaces in Scotland to receive our ‘Mum Friendly Workplace’ tick. And we got media coverage in the Evening Times, Daily Record, Glasgow Live and CommonSpace. We’re now working on developing our training tools, guides and bespoke in person training even further.

Moments of Freedom recognised at an awards ceremony

by Jill Keegan (Community Development Advisor)
Moments of Freedom was the runner-up in the Community Development category of the Ethnic Minority Impact Awards. The awards ceremony was organised by the Council for Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations (CEMVO) Scotland and held at the Glasgow Crowne Plaza Hotel – to recognise individuals or organisations that have contributed to Scottish society or made a difference to their community locally or nationally. The keynote speech was given by Equalities Minister, Christina McKelvie MSP.
It’s been so inspiring to watch the women develop as a group, and see the impact it has had, not just on their own lives, but on the lives of other women in Clydebank. The fact that they were runners-up for this award is a worthy recognition of all the hard work they have put into trying to make their community a better place – for everyone in it.

With thanks to all our funders, partners and the community members who we worked with – none of this could have happened without you.