In the Scottish Borders, we have the exciting role of coordinating the sharing of learning among the various Creating Better Lives projects funded by the Life Changes Trust in the Scottish Borders.

Each of these groups is unique and has a different model, but all share in common the fact they are supporting people living with dementia and their family carers.

Part of our role as the Learning Coordinator is to support collaboration and shared learning not just in the Borders but across the Creating Better Lives Network.  The Borders projects are really keen to do this, what they really wanted was to visit other places.

Determined not to let Covid stop us last week we brought some of these groups from Borders together for a virtual visit at the inspirational ‘Kirrie Connections’.

Kirrie Connections is a community hub & meeting centre that serves as the base for the Dementia Friendly Kirriemuir Project. The hub is a place where people living with dementia and their family carers can get advice, form new friendships and remain an active part of their community.

Although some of our groups are very small and informal compared with Kirrie Connections, some useful learning was prompted by basic questions around funding, collecting evidence, volunteers, GDPR, personal care and practicalities of storage.

Connections were made with promises to facilitate further virtual meetings, for example Graham at Kirrie is going to put the Selkirk Church Memory Café in touch with Happy Highlanders, which is a similar size and like them, relies on volunteers.

It was also very useful to have in our midst a local councillor who promised to speak to people about storage facilities as one of the Borders groups is having storage issues!

Although not as good as a real-life visit to Kirrie (we missed the soup!) it was very useful to have a guided tour, to see simple things like doorframes in a clearly contrasting colour and to get a real feel for the very real community connections which were literally happening as we had a tour of the car park area.

Following on from the visit we now have practical sharing of contacts for further learning, potential follow-up visits between other groups, and ideas for our own future shared learning sessions.

A HUGE thank you to Graham, all the staff, volunteers and members who took the time to speak to us, we are feeling very inspired!