good life, good death, good grief

Truacanta

The Truacanta Project is supporting local communities across Scotland who are interested in taking community action to improve people’s experiences of death, dying, loss and care. On this blog, you'll hear from time to time from people associated with the project who wish to share their experiences.

Highland Truacanta – Moving forward in 2021

Anne McDonald, from Highland Senior Citizens Network, shares where Highland Truacanta are at following their activities being put on pause last year due to the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent restrictions.

In March last year we regretfully decided to postpone our Highland Truacanta activities. The partner organisations – Creativity in Care , Highland Hospice and Highland Senior Citizens Network – felt that being in the communities was key to our aim of supporting communities to have conversations about end of life. We were challenged to come up with a response that didn’t result in the exclusion of people who are not engaging digitally.

Over the last year we have all been very agile in our service delivery. Highland Hospice provided Last Aid training online to at least 120 people. Creativity in Care posted out creative kits and delivered virtual and telephone creative classes, working in partnership with organisations such as HSCN, Connecting Carers and Highland Hospice. HSCN organised weekly virtual tea breaks, emailed and posted monthly news-sheets, hosted a weekly coffee morning on local radio, ran the HIghland Hello social media campaign and sent 500+ 'Silver Star' postcards for our 25th Birthday.

This experience means despite ongoing Covid restrictions, we can now see ways of realizing some of our original aspirations for Highland Truacanta. It was really lovely to catch up with each other and Caroline in February, and start to look at what is possible for the coming year. We were inspired by the activities of other Truacanta projects, in particular the Selfie Wings, Reminiscence Trail and Armchair chats.

Highland Truacanta 2 is very much in the planning stage, but will start with virtual engagement, being very clear that we are aware of the limitations for those who are not engaging digitally, and planning to mirror the virtual sessions with face-to-face sessions towards the end of the year. Local contacts, word of mouth, local press and radio will be critical to reaching out to communities.

Our main focus will celebrating and remembering people who have died, as the absence of ways to do this has been extremely hard for people. Each community will have its own solutions, but where possible we will be facilitating the involvement of care homes and intergenerational contacts. Stories, food, and creative activities will be key; feathers, leaves and petals were all mentioned! Alongside this we will be linking people into the Last Aid Training.

It’s great to have something uplifting and exciting to be working together on after all the challenges of the last year.

If you live in the Highlands and would like to find out more or get involved, drop Highland Truacanta an email!

North Berwick Compassionate Community Launch with Series of Events

In early 2020, the North Berwick Compassionate Community Project Group, a sub-group of North Berwick Coastal Health and Well-being Association, was delighted to be successful in being selected as one of five Truacanta projects across Scotland. The project group had been very encouraged with the community support for our project proposal submission and to have won this status for the North Berwick community, so… we were very disappointed to put our work on hold, in March 2020, due to lockdown. However, despite this set-back, we have rallied and have been busy behind the scenes, preparing to launch the project with a number of events and initiatives set up for 2021, listed below:

Support Thread For Our Compassionate Community Project

We have been in discussions with St Columbas’ Hospice about a partnership with the North Berwick Community. The hospice is setting up a Compassionate Neighbours Project and we are pleased to say that we have a potential agreement to be a pilot community. In March 2021 the plan is that volunteers in North Berwick will be offered approximately six hours training, to become a ‘compassionate neighbour.’ This will be a fantastic development for North Berwick and the Compassionate Community group recognises that support and guidance from the hospice will be invaluable.

photo of an art installation in North Berwick which is an image of houses with decorations in the windows, including a rainbow

Members of Compassionate Community Project plan to undertake the EASE training (End of Life Skills for Everyone) that has been developed by Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care and we will then be able to offer local training next year.

‘Big Conversation’ Thread of our Compassionate Community

We had to put on hold our plans for author events at the 2020 Fringe by the Sea but we are pleased that our plans will be integrated into the 2021 Fringe by the Sea programme. As a lead up to a creative and new Fringe by the Sea, to be held in the Lodge Grounds, in August 2021, we are going to host online ‘Armchair Chats’. The online chats will be on a series of relevant topics, linked to the Compassionate Community initiative, from February to June 2021. The events will be available to be booked via Eventbrite and will be shown on Zoom.

Tuesday February 23rd at 7pm

Music and poetry alongside presentations from:

St Columbas Hospice on the Compassionate Neighbours Project

An update on the Truacanta Project

(book on on Eventbrite HERE)

Tuesday March 30th at 7pm

A presentation from Dorothy Kellas, a local solicitor, on the legal aspects of dying and death.

Tuesday April 27th at 7pm (face to face if possible then)

Soul Midwives Scotland - Jude Meryl on their ‘Tender Loving Care’ Programme for workers and volunteers who support people who are dying.

Tuesday May 25th at 7pm (face to face if possible then)

Kathryn Mannix, a palliative care doctor, with a passion for public health and the author of the excellent book, ‘With the End in Mind,’ (date provisional)

Tuesday June 29th at 7pm (face to face if possible then)

CRUSE bereavement Scotland on managing grief.


We have also supported pARTicipate, a community arts venture, in their devising of an arts installation that reflects the themes and concerns of Compassionate Communities, in the three telephone kiosks at the heart of the town.

More updates to come as we progress our plans, in the meantime if you live in the North Berwick area and would like to get involved please get in touch:

Lorna Sinclair: lorna@northberwickhealthandwellbeing.co.uk

Deborah Ritchie: deborah.ritchie@me.com

Fiona Watt: fiona.watt15@gmail.com

Truacanta Perthshire Grows Wings

Emma Oram from Truacanta Perthshire updates us on their compassionate community activity

When we held our ‘To Absent Friends’ event in November last year, it was lovely to sit together, meet new people and enjoy a collective cuppa. There was a warmth in the room, through shared stories and comforting conversations.

We could never have imagined how this would change. Over the past few months since Covid-19 appeared, we have seen and experienced so much loss, through self-isolation and cutting off physical contact with family, friends and colleagues to keep us all safe. We’ve also seen daily messages on the media of death and dying like never before. We became acutely aware of care, and how to care for each other at a time where we might become unwitting vectors of a killer virus. Our care workforce has faced the intense grief of watching people they care for die alone, and the devastation of families who were kept apart and unable to care for their loved ones or remember them with gathered friends and the closeness of a hug.

Perhaps we are still to discover all this loss and grief is going to mean for us. There is so much we don’t know. We have seen how communities have helped others, for example through collecting shopping and prescriptions for neighbours. Compassion in communities has flourished, but due to Covid-19 we are keeping within tighter circles, so we may not see or hear all of what is happening out there.

Although social distancing has prevented the Truacanta project in Perthshire from meeting as we have been drawn into

different work streams, we think that now more than ever is the time to hear stories from the community of what life has been like, gathering lived experiences around Covid-19, and what it means to people, especially those who have experienced isolation, loss of relationships, who may be grieving for the way things were.

We looked at the concept of ‘Bumping Spaces’ in communities where people naturally meet (for those ‘corner shop conversations’) to create a place where people can safely go to record their stories, photographs or messages of what life has been like living through Covid-19 in front of a pair of ‘selfie wings’. The wings are being designed by some PKAVS

young carers (the designs on the right are by young carer Sammi), and will be installed by the end of this month in the North Inch Park in the centre of Perth, which is an open space to allow for social distancing. The ‘selfie wings’ will also form part of the Recovery Week being hosted by the Perth & Kinross drug and alcohol team – we felt the wings represented renewal and recovery really nicely.

We will ask for people to share their hopes for the future, and we know that perhaps this might be painful. Stories resonate with all of us, and amplify our own feelings of loss and grief, but we need to listen before we can learn.

Get involved: email- EOram@pkc.gov.uk twitter- @truacanta

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Bereavement Charter for Scotland
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