"NOW MORE THAN EVER"
Festival of Remembrance
On the 1st to 7th of November, Perth and Kinross will host an event to encourage reminiscence and reflection of those we have loved and lost. This annual event is supported by the ‘Good Life Good Death Good Grief’ organisation and is also part of the ‘Truacanta Perthshire’ project, to support compassionate communities in encouraging us to share stories of kindness and care in our neighbourhoods.
Social distancing has presented challenges in hosting community events, so this years ‘To Absent Friends’ will be in the form of a Reminiscence Trail, using QR codes which people can use to download stories, images, quotes and poems around love, loss, remembrance and hope. The trail will start near the ‘Selfie Wings’ on Perth’s North Inch park, which were created and painted by young carers from Perth, funded by the Truacanta project to create a space for people to share their reflections of life during Covid-19 on social media.
Throughout this week, we will be adding some reminiscences of our own, through choosing poems, or our own remembrances of those who we hold dear. If you would like to share anything please email EOram@pkc.gov.uk.
Leigh from our team has shared some pictures and memories of her mum, sister and mother-in-law.
"My wee mum, I miss your beautiful smile, warm hugs and silly humour even after 30 years more than I can say but I know your beauty, love and grace are with me always.
To my beautiful big sister Rae or as to us she’s known as “Our Rae of Sunshine,” Your memory will live on forever in all our hearts and in the way we live each day.
To my lovely mother in law Sandra, you are sorely missed by us all but your incredible lust for life, fun and compassion lives on in our family. "
in our latest blog, drug and alcohol development officer Liam McLaughlin talks about what recovery means.
From the Heart to recovery
My name is Liam and I work in the Alcohol & Drug Partnership. On the 28th September, we are hosting our first recovery week. I am excited that this is actually taking place. Yes, it is online and socially distanced, but it is happening and that is great. Recovery is about people, it is about family and community. This year has been a strange year. I and possibly most people will say that they have never witness a year like it and to be honest, I hope we never see another one like it.
Through the trouble and strife of this year, people are not only battling the ever-present threat of a virus but are trying to stay strong in their own recovery. Many people are in recovery from alcohol, drugs to mental health issues and self-harming, as well as increased suicide ideation. As a compassionate community we have to look to the strength of society and look at what heals us. This year we have really seen the excellent side of human nature through the wonderful support that has taken place in many of our local communities.
Most importantly, recovery is about the individual.
I personally have battled depression and anxiety for many years, my family has a history of mental health problems as well as alcohol & drugs. I am fortunate to have had excellent support from my family and friends, and this has helped me stay strong. I realise that a lot of people don’t get the issues that we as individuals face, they hope for cures and even our employers and services we are in contact with sometimes see it as a ‘seasonal flu’ - something we get over with to become an upstanding member of society. These are my feelings, they are part of my coping strategy and rightly or wrongly they are part of me. We are individuals who live in a communal society, we live and work in a complex society, but as individuals we have our needs and wants.
Recovery is about strength and acceptance, it is about defining the you, and asking and sharing compassion and love.
HEADING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION?
Have you ever stopped to think about your career and why you do the job you are doing? Do you know how you got there? For some people, they know its their life's work or its their passion and what they definitely want to do , for the rest of us it can be a case of finding ourselves in a career or job by sheer chance. Opportunities come along and next you know you have been doing the same job for a number of years.
We are all in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic which means many of you are facing lots of changes within your role and the job you do, some of you have come forward to be re trained into a new re tasked role which is very different to what you did prior to the coronavirus outbreak.
Did you know that the Learning & Development team offer Career Analysis? That's it's technical name but we create a space for you to reflect about yourself and your career to date thinking about where you are now, where do you want to be and how are you going to get there? One of the key questions that we explore with you is what do you really want to do? What is your dream job?
In the session we will support you to explore your transferable skills, qualities and achievements as well as looking at your work related values and what options are available to you before finally creating an action plan on how you might do this.
If this sounds like something you would like to do and get involved in a session please contact Learning & Development on firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-production and Compassionate Communities
Co-production is a term used when talking about service design, and the transformation it can bring. It has been defined as “the public sector and citizens making better use of each other’s assets, resources and contributions to achieve better outcomes and improved efficiency”.
An assets based approach has been adopted by many organisations, for example the Glasgow Centre for Population Health presented 19 case studies in their report ‘Assets in Action Illustrating Asset Based Approaches for Health Improvement’.
But what does it look like? The photograph here is of a bag. The bag, once the ribbon is pulled out, turns into a comfort blanket (or superpower cape). The bag holds enough food and supplies to make snacks, meals and hot drinks. It also has a ‘welcome home’ card, and a wild flower bee bomb.
So how does this relate to co-production, and an assets based approach? The idea came for Compassionate Inverclyde, and their ‘Back to Home’ box for people who leave hospital and go home to an empty house. Remember Mary Poppins’ carpet bag, and how she could reach in to its depth and produce things that were needed to make life better?
The co-production part of this connects communities of all ages. The blanket was knitted by volunteers in a ‘Knit and Natter’ group in North Muirton, with wool donated by Zero Waste Perth. The card was designed by a Blairgowrie Girl Guide, and the food was donated from various sources. The ‘bee bomb’ has a link to Tayside Biodiversity group, with a guide on sharing where the bomb lands. This is a community effort in a bag. The intention is to run a trial with people being discharged home to Crieff, with Check-In Works Giraffe using existing assets to make it happen. If you want to find out more, contact us email@example.com
 Co-Production in Health and Social Care What is it and how to do it Loffler, E Power,G ed Bovaird, T & Hine-Hughes, F 2012
 https://www.gcph.co.uk/assets/0000/3650/Jan_2013_update_of_assets_in_action_report_WEB_SMALLER.pdf accessed 26/06/.19
 https://www.nhsggc.org.uk/about-us/health-news/2018/may/stories/boxes-make-going-back-home-that-bit-easier-for-irh-patients/ accessed 26/06/19
It’s Carers Week! Carers Week is an annual event to raise awareness of caring and to highlight the challenges unpaid carers face. It’s also a time to celebrate the contributions which carers make to individuals and communities through their own experiences. The campaign also looks to highlight the support which is available for carers across Perth and Kinross.
Carers week looks quite different this year due to Covid-19, however these challenges have meant that a more creative approach is being taken to ensure that there are still a range of activities and supports available throughout Perth and Kinross. More information is available at this link: https://www.pklearning.org.uk/docs/TGO7860_-_Pkavs_-_Carers_Week_Booklet_v6.pdf
The theme for this year is “Making Carers Visible. To access further information on Carers Week and to see the timetable of events, please visit the PKAVS Website https://pkavscarershub.org.uk/carers-week
The Perth and Kinross Council Website also has important information regarding carers, please visit https://www.pkc.gov.uk/article/14243/Carer-Strategies-and-Policies
Fitting in with support for Carers Week, the Adult Social Work Team have Re-Tasked certain staff to develop a Carers Sitting Service. This service is designed to support Carers for a short-term period across the whole of Perth and Kinross, whilst they are awaiting other services. The sitting service has been very well received and carers have remarked at how beneficial it is during such an uncertain time.
Blog by Social Prescriber Erin Martin
I am a Social Prescriber working within Perth City, and as the COVID-19 situation develops, me and my team have recognised the need for a resource which identifies community supports in the area.
This would provide individuals and workers in the community with information around practical and emotional support available throughout Perth. The document has been produced with the help of myself, Community Engagement and Community Learning and Development.
It is thought that if workers have access to a document with up to date information, this would be a great help, and save time when signposting community members. This is being updated daily and will be sent out to front line workers to share around teams. Communities are really pulling together at this time, helping one another out!
Here is the Community Support link which is now being updated twice a week
One Day Like This
A very Happy New Year to everyone.
Some of you may have read our December ‘Christmas Carol’ blog which celebrated the kindness we see amongst us each and every day.
At the beginning of a new year, and a new decade, some of us need this kindness more than ever. Stepping into a new decade can make it seem as if people we have lost from our lives are even further away. It is only the passing of another 365 days, but there is something about a new year which can make us catch our breath when we look back and remember.
Some of you were at our ‘To Absent Friends’ event in November, which was a celebration of people we hold dear. You can watch the video here
At the end of this month, we will hear whether we have been successful with our application for the Macmillan-funded Truacanta initiative, which aims to make living with loss, grief and bereavement better for us and our communities. ‘Truacanta’ is Gaelic for compassion. This is at the very heart of the project which is also supported by the Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief organisation.
Loss and grief is amongst us all, every day, with colleagues, clients, and in our own lives. We come to work, we go home, sometimes it’s okay, and sometimes it isn’t. Each of us manages loss differently, whether that loss is a child leaving home, a change of job, relationships ending or through bereavement.
What is remarkable is the resilience we see - people throwing those curtains wide to begin another day.
I hope we are successful with our ‘Truacanta’ bid. It will bring together colleagues from NHS Tayside, PKAVS and our health and social care partnership to help strengthen our bonds of kindness and compassion, support us, and let us flourish when we need it most.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
“So this is Christmas and what have you done? Another year over, a new one just begun.”
Yesterday our team did just that; we reflected on what we have done over the past year, where we are now, and what lies ahead.
Reflection is something that we are naturally drawn to as another year closes, and we begin a new decade with 2020. There’s a ring to this year - excuse the pun - 2020 vision. So that we can look forward to the coming year through a clearer lens, the team spent the day reviewing the successes and challenges of 2019 in our work with Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership. Sometimes reflection is hard - to think about things we might have done differently or feeling regret at lost opportunities. But there is joy in this too, in that we can learn which enables us to start afresh.
When Ebenezer Scrooge was forced to look at his bah humbug, parsimonious ways through the eyes of the ghosts of Christmas past, present and what could be in the future, he had the most wonderful transformation as he reflected how things had been, how they were and what he could do to bring about change. The story ends with so many hopeful beginnings on that snowy, Dickensian Christmas morning.
And what of the Grinch, with his heart two sizes too small, when he hears the beautiful sound of Christmas carols drifting up from Whoville?
He has a think to himself - a moment of reflection.
“He puzzled and puzzed till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.”
The real message we can learn from Scrooge and the Grinch is that around these flawed individuals lies a community of kindness. Kindness, that indefinable virtue which feels like a warm fuzzy blanket being placed on our shoulders when we are having a rotten day. Even when their Christmas was stolen without a trace, the community of Whoville still sang together, and it made the Grinch’s heart double in size inside his meagre, green chest.
Yesterday our team had an opportunity to think about the work we do across the partnership and reflect on the remarkable acts of kindness we see every single day between teams and across the services. People are looking out for each other, checking in, sharing, and nurturing. If the ghost of our past is the challenge of inspection reports, lack of resources, strains of services and volume of workload, our community of kindness is alive and well. It is here now and needs to be celebrated. There will always be days that we see the Grinch and the Scrooge amongst us, or even feel our own heart shrink just a little. If we can keep our community of kindness and compassion alive, our ghost of what yet might be seems a little less scary. As the Grinch himself said,
“Christmas Day will always be
Just as long as we have we.”
The learning and development team wish you all a joyful Christmas, and a 2020 full of kindness.
What is the role of a Design Intern?
How can I affect a huge organisation like the council in a positive lasting way? How can I demonstrate the skills and abilities to change an organisation made for sturdiness?
The answer is, by making a start.
A student entering the council will be immediately met by a wave of enthusiasm for collaboration and a willingness to affect change. The range of staff members from different departments willing to reach out is impressive and a valuable asset to the student. Staff will have a range of backgrounds, goals and ideas of what a Design Student does. This acts as a jump start for the student. Having that network immediately available and accessible means that there is no time wasted in settling in.
Why is there such an eagerness to affect change within the workplace?
It is a natural response for people to focus on the negatives of their life over the positives and sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can bring about that realisation that things are not that bad after all. It is equally plausible that staff have valid aches and pains regarding their work environment that require a fresh pair of eyes to solve the problems. It’s the job of a student to integrate themselves within the culture of the organisation to understand these complaints and to empathise with the staff. A passing complaint is nothing unless you feel the pain/frustration that led to the complaint. Empathy is a cornerstone of good design and shouldn’t just be part of a design process but rather the basis for all future work to stand upon. Gathering a range of perspectives and opinions gives you a broad base to build something strong and sturdy.
Empathy shouldn’t ever be a one-way service. It is irresponsible to expect someone to come in and fix all your problems without giving thought to their skills, resources & respective ambitions. That’s where the misconceptions of what a design student may play a part. Design is such a huge term that can mean everything yet, equally, can mean nothing.
Service Design, Product Design, Industrial Design, Inclusive Design, Co-Design & Universal Design are just a taste of what people associate with the word ‘design’. Managing expectations is something that you must be wary of. There should be a mutual agreement between staff and student that the design student may not have the skills required to solve every problem. It is about communicating effectively that although the student doesn’t have the skills to solve the problem, 90% of the time the person with the complaint has the skills to solve the problem given the right mentoring and access to resources. Each member of staff is likely to be an expert in their problem.
Real Innovation requires two things:
- Design Thinking
Design is just the vehicle for effective change. Experts understand the problem and can analyse solutions.
Innovation is caused by experts driving change through design.
You are the expert of your own problems.
My role is to connect knowledge of design tools and strategies to the council staff’s problems to create a partnership with effective and lasting benefits. Two directional knowledge transfer and effective, open and honest communication is key to the success of the project.
'Understanding Autism' - My personal Experience
Click here to see my full story
My Autism – Young Scotland Programme
I saw an advert for the ‘Young Scotland Programme’ which sounded really interesting. I thought and knew this would really help me improve my confidence, communication skills and broaden my horizons.
At first I was really excited about it but after submitting my application form, I started to fear the unknown – I just didn’t feel I was good enough do this programme and because of this I hesitated and was reluctant to attend the short listing. My thoughts were “what would the Young Scotland Programme expect of me?” “Would I manage, or am I going to fail?” I believed I wasn’t capable of completing the Programme. This made me feel so anxious. With the support of my Team Leader and Organisational Development Co-ordinator I attended the short listing.
The short listing interviews were difficult as I didn’t know what to expect. However it wasn’t long before I started to feel at ease. Everyone involved believed in me, my confidence started to grow.
At the Interview I was asked what I wanted to get out of the programme, and if I was successful what topic I would choose to do a 900 word essay on. I explained I would really like to share a story about my autism and my employment experiences so far. Later that day I got the well-received call saying I had been selected to take part in the Young Scotland Programme in Troon, on 20 – 23 November. I just couldn’t believe this was happening to me. The judges gave me some fantastic feedback. – Still can’t believe it!
Prior to the event I submitted a 900-word paper on the topic of my choice – My Autism.
Travel arrangements were made for me and a colleague. I’d never been to Troon before and felt very nervous. Two trains and a taxi ride later we arrived at the hotel where thirty-four delegates gathered together for 3 intense days of papers, discussion, group work and ‘Testimony’ speakers.
At the Welcome Meeting we all introduced ourselves, and we had to tell each other 2 truths and a lie about ourselves, this was good to break the ice and definitely helped my nerves as well as others. We then went on to do roleplay where we were put into groups and we were given a word which we had to create a scene with. The word my group was given was ‘Trust’. We had Day 1 to practice and a couple of hours on Day 2. We had to do our presentation after dinner on Day 2. At the end of Day 1; I felt it had definitely been a great start to my Young Scotland Experience.
Day 2 was filled with those who were doing their essay presentations, and some were also presenting their 2 minute talk about a topic of their choice without cue cards. This was a challenge to mainly test our confidence when remembering information. We then met back with our groups and worked on our scenes for the roleplay.
Day 2 was the day I was presenting my 2 minute talk which I chose to do on ‘Is mobile phones taking over our lives’ – I put my argument across and decided ‘Yes’ phones are taking over our lives.
After dinner we all went through to the Conference Room and sat in our groups and prepared for when our group was shouted out to perform our scene. We all thoroughly enjoyed it and managed to build on our confidence at the same time.
On Day 2 I personally felt it was good because I had managed to build on my confidence and communication skills through performing a drama scene.
On Day 3 I had to deliver my presentation. I had a lot of things going on around in my head including nerves but excitement as well because I had to present my essay; I was looking forward to sharing my story with everyone but really nervous for ‘what everyone will think about it’.
Throughout the morning we had speakers come in to give us a talk about a difficult experience they had encountered.
The first speaker told us about how she used to be a Heroin Addict, and the difficult experiences she had encountered in her life. She had spent several years in prison and how she still suffers a lot with not having her son living with her.
The second speaker was a gentleman who spoke about the loss of his young child in a plane crash, and he told us all about the struggle he had coping with this.
Then we had the third speaker who spoke about her experience of meeting a man on a dating website and how she found out that the information on his profile was different to who he really was.
After the speakers I presented my Essay on Autism. This is a very personal topic for me, and the essay I was presenting was all about my experiences living with Autism and how other people have coped with my difficulties in the workplace. When I stood up in front of the crowd I took a couple of breaths and then started to speak, it was difficult to begin with but then I realised everyone was in the same boat presenting their essays.
I really enjoyed going through my story making everyone more aware of employers who are working with those with Difficulties/Disabilities. When I finished my talk, the judging panel asked me a few questions on why I had decided to talk about my experiences living with Autism.
I was approached by the second speaker after I done my presentation, he told me about how he has a family member that has Autism and how he has never understood it. He said to me “That was so inspiring and honest and I really enjoyed listening to your experience in employment and how you are now getting on really well” This made me feel really good in knowing I have helped someone.
After dinner we went back through to the Conference Room, the panel summed up each presentation individually and gave each one of us feedback on our talks, whilst awarding us with a certificate.
Following the awards dinner we all sat in the sitting area as it was the last night and we all chatted away, this felt really good as living with Autism sometimes I find it really difficult to communicate with others and when networking I struggle to hold a conversation. This made me feel ‘normal’ and like others because a lot of the time I feel I am not, but this experience has helped me think otherwise.
I thoroughly enjoyed my experience of the ‘Young Scotland Programme’ it’s been hugely beneficially boosting my self-esteem and confidence as well as developing my presentation skills and communications skills.
Since attending the YSP I have presented my debate paper at the Youth Work Forum at Perth Concert Hall. I can honestly say there is no way I could have delivered this without experiencing the YSP journey. Again I’m in awe at the feedback delegates and others have given. It’s a fantastic experience to share my learning with others.
Reflecting on this experience I feel blessed to have had so much support through the whole process. Adopting the LIG philosophy my team leader and team, organisational development co-ordinator and PKC judges have been behind me all the way. This has been the perfect learning opportunity for me, enhancing my individual growth and development.
I’m so proud to be part of the PKC family and hope to continue on this upward journey.
My Modern Apprenticeship Experience
Modern Apprenticeships are becoming more popular in Scotland and are described as ‘Learning on the Job’ where you work and gain a qualification at the same time; anyone between 16-24 can apply for an Apprenticeship whether it is in Admin, Construction, Digital Skills or any of the other available qualifications.
My Modern Apprenticeship in Perth & Kinross Council has been so much more than just a learning experience. It has been a year filled with Team work, learning experiences, laughter, networking and many achievements.
On my first day of being part of the Modern Apprentice Programme, I was really nervous, due to the lack of confidence I had. I knew I was going to be networking with many different people internally and externally and wasn’t sure how I would cope with this.
Most of my difficulties were down to my Autism, but this didn’t stop me from following my goals.
Once I was settled into my job my SVQ Assessor contacted me asking me about when I was free to meet to begin my SVQ, I was so looking forward to beginning my journey here. My assessor met with me fortnightly or sometimes weekly to support me in completing my SVQ Level 3 in Business & Administration, this entailed 7 different modules. I had several questions, statements and observations to complete. My Modern Apprenticeship was spread over 12 Months, I managed to get it finished within 6 months as I had such a variety of jobs to complete on a daily basis. Over the course of my journey whilst my assessor was meeting with me it was clear I was struggling in some areas i.e. understanding questions and processing information I was being told. When my Assessor noticed this, things were put in place to support me such as, I would get things explained to me in more detail, and I would get everything that was said in our meeting sent to me in an email for me to look over. I felt like I could approach my assessor any time to ask questions. My team and all other colleagues I worked with supported me through my whole SVQ by writing me Witness Testimony’s when needed and helping me understand parts that I maybe didn’t understand.
There are 11 members of the Learning & Development Team. I have learnt things from every single person, and I have used skills to complete work. I am regularly asked to support the team, whether it is creating a poster for an event or training session, upload a session onto the website or Eventbrite or even printing, photocopying and laminating. I have managed to gain valuable experience whilst working in the Learning & Development Team and I have appreciated all that has been done to support me this year.
Whilst being a Modern Apprentice I have had so many great opportunities. One of my main opportunities which I really enjoyed was being part of The Modern Apprentice Charity Group; my favourite thing about this was the charity we were raising money for was ‘Perth Autism Support’. This charity means a lot to me because of my background. We raised money by doing a charity book sale, raffle’s, Tombola and numerous different bake sales. So many people made donations when we done our fundraisers whether it was donating things for our raffle, book sale or baking us cakes for our bake sale. Then each time we done a fundraiser we raised great amounts because of all the support we had. Every year the Modern Apprentice group form a charity group and raise money for a charity of their choice.
Other opportunities I have had whilst being a Modern Apprentice, I got to spend the day with 22 German Exchange Students. Myself and numerous other Modern Apprentices learnt them all about the history of Perth, We done variety of different activities which was so good in getting everyone networking. We were also lucky to learn facts about Germany. I have had so many great opportunities, too many to tell you about. There is just one more I want to talk about because it was one of my favourites. It was when I got to go and visit Perth Sherriff Court with a group of other Modern Apprentice’s. We got the chance to tour the Courthouse and we then met the judge who told us the duties she would carry out day to day and she gave us an understanding of how a court works. We then got the chance to sit in on some trials.
As well as many opportunities I was offered as a Modern Apprentice, PKC has so many great opportunities to offer employees. Some which include Learning Lunches, Career opportunities and many different discounts throughout Perth & Kinross.
There was an opportunity that was advertised that any PKC employee could apply for, the ‘Young Scotland Programme’. This was a 3 day course filled with Presentations, discussions, group work and Testimony Speakers, this course was in in Troon, South Ayrshire. Myself and 8 other employees applied for a place, myself and another member of staff got picked to attend this course. I was awarded a certificate for my attendance and participation in this course.
With my last day as a Modern Apprentice is fastly approaching, I am looking for where to go next. From working in the Learning and Development Team I have been so lucky to learn skills from every individual. I feel so much more confident in myself and I will take all the skills and experience I have now got, with me on my Journey.
The whole of the PKC family has been so supportive to me during my time here, I am so lucky to have had the chance to experience this programme.