Health Scotland Community Events

Health Scotland recently ran a series of public events in a community setting. This gave them an opportunity to capture opinions about a community people live, work and volunteer in.

This was a chance for the organisation to talk about a fairer, healthier Scotland with people in their own community.

You can see and hear what these conversations were about below:

Johnstone Castle

NHS Health Scotland worked with Active communities, a community health project based in Paisley delivering and supporting physical, community sport and health and wellbeing across Renfrewshire.

This video shows a conversation with people living, working and volunteering in the Johnstone Castle area.


NHS Health Scotland worked with Dundee Healthy Living Initiative whose mission is to promote positive health and wellbeing by delivering health improvement activities as identified by local people.

This video shows a conversation with people living, working and volunteering in the Lochee area.


NHS Health Scotland worked with Borders Healthy Living Network, a network involved in food and health work, physical activity, mental health and volunteering. NHS Health Scotland also worked with Burnfoot Community Futures, a charity aiming to improve the well-being, quality of life and opportunities of the people of Hawick.

The majority of people shown in the video do not live in Burnfoot but are associated with the local Healthy Living Network.

Building the Capacity of Parents

We recently showcased how the Early Years Collaborative is contributing to the Early Years Strategy in the Scottish Borders.

Here, Linda  Pople, One Parent Families Scotland Project Manager in North Lanarkshire highlights how local partnerships are helping to improve outcomes for children and families

“One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS), through delivering one to one and group work support services in North Lanarkshire, has identified that targeted parenting programmes to support the most vulnerable parents is required to help improve outcomes for children in the early years. OPFS has received over £1 million from the Scottish Government Third Sector Early Intervention Fund [2013-14 to 2015-16] and has recently been awarded funding for a further three years – receiving £354,000 in 2016-17. Peer led Mellow Parenting (MP) Programmes were developed to improve the parenting capacity of lone fathers and young parents and OPFS has received funding through the Early Years Change Fund to test this work In North Lanarkshire using Early Years Collaborative (EYC) Improvement Methodology.

“The MP family of programmes has been developed to support parents and their children to build good relationships. The foundation of the programme is attachment theory with particular emphasis on the transmission of attachment and relationship styles over generations.  This relationship based intervention promotes positive parent-child interaction and the strength of this programme is that it does not dictate how to parent but instead it aims to change parents’ philosophy.

“To enhance the MP programme a tailored package of support is provided by volunteer Peer Mentors to all families taking part, to address any issues or concerns quickly and encourage participation.   Peer Mentors are lone fathers or young parents and act as positive role models.   They co-deliver the programme alongside professional workers and their observations are an important aspect of measuring the impact on families.  Since September 2014, four programmes have been delivered with eight to ten parents participating in each.  Improvement, using EYC methodology tests and measures the effectiveness of the programme:

  • 79 per cent of parents felt a significant decrease in in overall stress levels ,
  • 83 per cent of parents reported a decrease in intensity of daily hassle such as shopping with and dressing and feeding children
  • 75 per cent of parents reported an increase in confidence when dealing with challenging situations.
  • 79% parents have reported improved interactions with their children – such as reading and playing with them and in turn they feel better able to recognise and respond to their children’s feelings.

“Peer and professional observations have also reported an increase in appropriate social behaviour and that children are more ready to take part in play and social activities within their home and in groups within their local community such as Bookbug and play groups.   Parents have also reported that they are now less socially isolated.  There has also been a significant increase in uptake of local services, for example Social work, Health and Addiction Services.  The programme has been extremely successful in allowing parents to share their life stories, address the root cause of their problem and seek the specialist support they need to move on in their lives.”

Stephen’s and Suzanne’s stories:


Stephen who took part in the MP Programme said:  “I feel a lot closer to my kids and more confident in getting my children to do things I have asked them to do. My children are so much happier and my oldest son Lewis doesn’t mind doing things with the dads’ group because it isn’t social work – as he has been involved with Social Work for most of his young life.  And since I have been working with Neil, my MP Mentor I feel I have a better relationship with my social worker.  Neil has made me realise they are there to help and are only there to look out for the kids.  I now have someone I can talk to and someone who will support me if I need help with anything that is worrying me, the kids, money, anything; he’s always at the end of the phone and always makes time for me.  My time keeping is so much better and I am going to all of my appointments and my social worker is happy with my progress

My middle child has now turned and told me ‘I love you daddy because you are really good at looking after me’. I now feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel.  My life is so much better and I am happy to wake up each morning. I no longer feel like looking after my kids as a job but as a blessing.”

Stephen continues to meet with his Neil regularly.  There have been significant changes in his confidence and his understanding of his children‘s needs.  His children are now tidy, clean and seem happier.  This has resulted in Home Care no longer being required to support the family.  Stephen and his children’s now have regular weekly outings accompanied by his mentor who has observed that the children now seem happy to take part in local activities resulting in increased interaction with their father and a decreased level of challenging behaviour.


“Before I came MP, I mostly sat indoors myself or with Kian, only leaving to take Kian to Nursery or to do a weekly shop. Before my son came to MP he could hardly speak, he had outbursts and tantrums daily and his behaviour was very erratic, up one minute and down the next. Right from the first day at PM, I made friends, something I hadn’t really had for a long time.   Kian’s behaviour always made me wary of getting involved in anything.  I had been very depressed for a period of time and getting out of the house had made a huge difference to me.  Kian was also invited to another participant’s son’s birthday party. This is something that had never happened before.  My family never wanted me or my son around them as they said he was a problem child.  It felt good to receive an invite it made me feel I was no longer alone and that people actual liked me and my son, He isn’t a problem child he is just different from other kids because of his autism.  Through MP, Kian has come on leaps and bounds with his speech and behaviour.  I have now set a routine and Kian is much calmer. The crèche staff were brilliant with him and helped me to understand Kian’s specific stage of development.  MP has made me realise that I am a good parent but just needed some help and support to understand how to deal with Kian and why he was having tantrums”.

Suzanne is currently sourcing autism awareness training and Kian is in a new nursery that has autism specialist staff to provide him with the best possible start in mainstream education.  Suzanne now has more confidence in accessing other additional support services.

Maggie’s Dundee welcomes Health Secretary Shona Robison for National Conversation

Maggie’s Dundee, the charity which provides free practical, emotional and social support for people with cancer and their family and friends, welcomed Health Secretary Shona Robison to the Centre to meet with visitors and staff for a Healthier Scotland national conversation event on Friday (22 January 2016).

The meeting at Maggie’s Dundee’s big kitchen table was part of a series of events and discussions about creating a healthier Scotland which are taking place around the country.  Maggie’s Centre visitors had the opportunity to ask questions and to share their experience of the treatment and support available for people affected by cancer in Scotland.

The event came about following a visit to the Centre last October by Chris Law MP and Joe FitzPatrick MSP.

Maggie’s Dundee offers a free programme of high-quality support for people with cancer, as well as their family and friends, which includes practical support such as nutrition and benefits advice or stress management workshops, emotional support such as one-to-one time with a psychologist and the social support of talking and sharing a pot of tea with people who understand what it means to be living with cancer.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “Earlier this year I announced my intention to hold a national conversation about the future of our health and social care services.

“We want to know what really matters to people and their families and what support they need to lead healthier lives, whatever stage of life they are at.

“We held the first national conversation in Dundee in August and I was very pleased that we were able to hold another meeting at Maggie’s Dundee, in response to a request made to Joe FitzPatrick.

“It’s important for me to hear first-hand the issues that people have when they engage with our health and social services provision.”

Joe FitzPatrick, MSP for Dundee City West, said: “I visited Maggie’s Dundee, together with Chris Law, MP for Dundee West, in October and from our discussions with Lesley Howells, the Centre Head at Maggie’s Dundee, we agreed it would be useful for Maggie’s Centre visitors to come along and ask questions directly of the Health Secretary.

“I am delighted that the Health Secretary was able to do this and I know the people who came along were very pleased to be able to speak to her in person and voice their views on different aspects of health and social care provision and what they’d like to see in the future.”

Lesley Howells, Centre Head at Maggie’s Dundee, said: “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to join the national conversation on the future of health care in Scotland.  The people who visit Maggie’s Dundee have an extremely valuable contribution to make to the debate, sharing their experiences and discussing with the Health Secretary what matters most to them when thinking about healthcare.

“In addition, this year marks 20 years since the first Maggie’s Centre opened in Edinburgh, and it was wonderful to have the opportunity to discuss with Ms Robison how Maggie’s can best help to support people affected by cancer in Scotland in the next 20 years.”

Built in the grounds of Ninewells Hospital Maggie’s Dundee is a warm and welcoming place, with qualified professionals on hand to offer an evidence-based core programme of support that has been shown to improve physical and emotional wellbeing.

Maggie’s Dundee relies on voluntary donations to support and grow its network of Centres and to develop its unique, high quality programme of support. The charity’s aim is to make the biggest difference possible to people living with cancer and their family and friends.

To find out more about Maggie’s Dundee and to see how the Centre supports people with cancer across Dundee and Angus please visit the Centre at Ninewells Hospital, Tom McDonald Avenue, Dundee or get in touch on 01382 632999 or a


Photo: (l to r) Maggie’s Dundee Centre visitors Bill Martin and Pauline Kinsman, Health Secretary Shona Robison, Centre visitors Rachel Gorrie and Arlene Fenton, Maggie’s Dundee Centre Head Lesley Howells, MSP Joe FitzPatrick.

For further information about Maggie’s Dundee please go to

Follow Maggie’s Dundee on Facebook for the latest news and stories and tweet us @maggiesdundee

Early Years Collaborative – Scottish Borders

Guest Blog by Anne Scott, Early Years Programme Manager at Scottish Borders Council who talks here about how investment in the early years contributes to a healthier Scotland.


“The purpose of our Scottish Borders Early Years Strategy 2012-2015 is to break the cycles of poverty, inequality and poor outcomes in and through the early years for children and families.  This continues to be a priority for us and reflects all that we are doing across health, education and social care in the Scottish Borders to improve children’s life chances and build the capacity and confidence of parents and carers.

“As the most recent Growing Up in Scotland report Tackling Inequalities in the Early Years highlights, supporting parenting skills can help protect against the impact of adversity and disadvantage and improving the physical and mental health of mothers is likely to have a positive effect on the health and development of children. And as the financial Impact of Early Years Interventions in Scotland highlights, investment in the early years improves the lives of current and future generations and makes the best use of resources.

“As part of our Early Years Strategy, we set up four Early Years Centres, with start-up costs funded through the Early Years Change Fund – a partnership fund between the Scottish Government, local government and health.  The centres are each based in schools within data zones of high Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation but are open to all.  Our school staff, health visitors and social workers – those most likely to recognise children in need of some extra support –  all work together to encourage families to participate in the activities of our early years centres.

Langlee Early Years Centre covers the Galashiels area, providing an open door, all year round service within a safe and relaxing environment, in a school setting. Families feel comfortable dropping in for advice and support and to participate in the range of activities that cover healthy pregnancies, breastfeeding, cooking and healthy eating, welfare and benefits advice, parenting support, play and literacy skills – for both parents and children.

“When Langlee first opened in August 2014, around 40 children and families attended. Using improvement methodology learned through our involvement in the Early Years Collaborative and our local networks, we have now achieved over 3500 visits by local children and families with around 130 now attending weekly.   In the future we hope to promote integrated delivery of parenting supports in other locations and schools in response to identified needs.

“At the core of all our services, is Getting it right for every child which puts the needs of children and families at the centre.  Langlee, like our other family centres, is effectively a ‘one stop shop’ where parents and carers can get the support they need before any difficulties reach crisis point. This is early intervention in action.  Parents have said that though Langlee, they have gained a better understanding of what they need to give their children the best start in life, that they understand their children’s health and educational needs better and that they are now more able to cope with the challenges of being a parent.

“As well as being the right thing to do, supporting families with children in the early years makes good financial sense.  Helping families become more resourceful, healthy and confident and children to learn though play and reading does improve outcomes and increase children’s ability to do well at school and beyond.  This means that more expensive interventions are less likely to be needed as children grow up or even later in life.

We all want to close the attainment gap and make Scotland the best place for children to grow up.  The Scottish Borders is full of opportunity a great place for children to grow up.  It’s great to see our Early Years Strategy making such a positive difference to the health, wellbeing and aspirations of our children and families.”

Towards A Healthier Scotland

Guest blog by John Beattie – Healthier Scotland Conversation Event attendee.

Scotland is the ‘sick man’ of Europe. It is well documented in academic research into our lagging health outcomes (McCartney, Walsh, Whyte and Collins, 2011). What causes this is largely debatable. For some reason, we seem to be worse off than our European counterparts. In areas of Glasgow, life expectancy is as low as 54 (ibid, 2011). Why is this happening to us?

After accounting for deprivation and all of the other usual determinants of health, Scotland is left with what is called an “excess mortality”, something that is contributing to our early demise (McCartney, Collins, Walsh and Batty, 2011). Even when we compare Glasgow to other areas in the UK that faced similar levels of deindustrialization, such as Liverpool and Manchester, we seem to fare much worse (Collins and McCartney, 2011). So our poor health outcomes are well documented and nothing new.

What must also be highlighted is that since the 1980s, we faced new emerging social health challenges in the form of drug and alcohol abuse, suicides and violent deaths. Research has shown the drastic increase in deaths from these ‘new’ health problems (Leyland, Dundas, McLoone and Boddy, 2007). There is no doubt that these newly developing social health concerns were exacerbating our already faltering health outcomes.

At the recent Scottish Government consultation ‘Towards a Healthier Scotland’, the public were given the opportunity to join in the conversation and give our opinions to the Scottish Government on the issue of health and what can be done to improve health in Scotland. I attended the event in Glasgow on the 23rd of November.

I arrived with skepticism believing this was just a ‘box-ticking exercise’ and that the Scottish Government would filter out all of the things that they don’t like and adopt the things they wanted to hear. Time will tell whether that skepticism will be proved right, but I must say I actually thoroughly enjoyed the event and the level of conversations that took place.

The first question was; “What support do we need in Scotland to live healthier lives? Personally, I approached this question from a viewpoint that we need to do more for various reasons. Firstly, literally over 117,689 people (we know about) in Scotland last year used food banks for an emergency three-day supply of food. The issue of food poverty is one that is only getting worse, with recent Trussell Trust statistics showing that more than 60,000 people in Scotland used food banks this year (2015) between April and September alone. Why is this important? This is important because in order to live healthier lives, people need to be able to afford good quality food, especially fruit and vegetables. A significant number of those getting fed via food banks are children. So what we have is a large number of people and their children barely being able to eat nutritious and healthy foods. This will only impact on their health and lead to health problems relating to poor dietary intake further down the line.

Towards A Healthier Scotland.jpg

My proposition was that the Scottish Government must ensure that all children, if not all then particularly those in low-income families in deprived areas, must be provided with fresh fruit and vegetables. This could greatly enhance their chances of leading healthier lives. In particular we need to catch those in nurseries and schools. The long-term benefits to their lives, society and the health service as a whole far outweigh the argument of ‘costs’ that we come up against. We cannot put a price on the lives and health of our children.

There were other issues brought up, such as personal responsibility, issues that tended to look at the problem from an ‘agency’ perspective. However, it can be strongly argued that we need to look at the problem from a structural perspective. People can’t buy healthy foods if they can barely afford to survive. Something had to be done and it is morally imperative that we act as soon as possible in these very difficult times for our families.

The second question, what areas of health and social care matter most to you?,  was clearly a more personal question. I won’t address this because the first question is of more fundamental importance to the collective than my personal preferences of health and social care.

The final question of the day was thinking about the future of health and social care services, where should our focus be?. I feel that health and social care should be more integrated. We need to look at health in this country from a holistic perspective. One of the big concerns in our country is the lack of and failure of mental health services. This ultimately impacts on the physical health of the individual. We need to ensure all government departments are working in tandem with each other to address all the social issues that can potentially impact on the health of the individual, be it physical or mental health. Having previously worked in the NHS and with the homeless, it was evident that mental health issues were a significant factor for people accessing these services. The problem was, there was not sufficient support for those who needed it, and what would happen would be a continuous recycling of the problem as people kept leaving and then re-entering the system.

From my time working in the NHS, I was always concerned that the NHS was virtually being ripped off by some of its suppliers. We hear talk of limited budgets and need to cut costs, but no one ever seems to speak about the gross overpayments at hugely inflated prices the NHS has to pay for drugs, equipment, and supplies. Anyone who works in an NHS hospital in Scotland that does the inventory for their ward knows exactly what I’m talking about.

The final issue I highlighted was the need to be more bold and radical in terms of planning ahead. We know that the population is getting older and that people are going to live longer. As of this moment there is no proper set up in our system to deal with this. Previously, the NHS had long-term elderly wards where those needing long-term care were looked after. They were disbanded when I started working in the NHS in 2003. What was expected to happen was the private sector e.g. nursing homes, would take on this role. In my opinion this has been a failure. What has since happened is elderly people now needing long-term care have to sell their homes to finance this care. If they do not have a home to sell, the State funds this care. So the private sector sucks up public money to provide very basic care at grossly over-inflated prices in the pursuit of profits. We need greater scrutiny as to whether the private sector is providing us value for money, not the other way round.

Overall, my final point was that we need to ensure that NHS services remain in the public sector. This is vitally important. We often take our NHS for granted. All we have to do is look over the Atlantic to America to see just how concerning privatization can be. It is estimated around 56 million Americans are uninsured and have no access to health care. That is ten-times the population of Scotland. As for social services, we also need to look at bringing these back into the public domain. Contracting out social services to private companies raises concerns over whether the emphasis is on quality of service or the need to make a profit. Some things are more important than money. We shouldn’t put a price on our peoples’ heads. If financing is the problem, then we need to look at ways of creating more revenue e.g. increased taxation. The benefits to society far outweighs the risks.


Collins, C. and McCartney, G. (2011) “The Impact of Neoliberal “Political Attack” on Health: The Case of the “Scottish Effect”, International Journal of Health Services, Vol. 41, 3, pp. 501 – 523

Leyland, A. H., Dundas, R., McLoone, P. and Boddy, F.A. (2007) Inequalities in Mortality in Scotland 1981-2001, Medical Research Council: Social and Public Health Sciences Unit

McCartney, G., Collins, C., Walsh, D. and Batty, D. (2011b) Accounting for Scotland’s Excess Mortality: Towards a Synthesis, Glasgow Centre for Population Health

McCartney, G., Walsh, D., Whyte, B. and Collins, C. (2011a) “Has Scotland always been the ‘sick man’ of Europe? An observational study from 1855 to 2006”, European Journal of Public Health, 1-3

Trussell Trust Food bank statistics;

A real good blether with the people at the community café in Gallatown, Kirkaldy

Guest post by Lynn Henni and Claire McKenna Primary Care Strategy and Innovation Team.

Last week we visited the Community Café in Gallatown, Kirkcaldy which has been developed as part of Inspiring Scotland’s Link Up Programme.

The Café grew out of a Link Up cookery group and is run every Wednesday from 12.00-1.30 pm in the Overton Mains Community Centre by volunteers.

The Café was started up at the beginning of 2015 year to provide an opportunity for people to come together (especially young and older people) to meet other people in the community, have a blether and enjoy something healthy and affordable to eat.

As soon as you step into the Café you can sense a lovely warm friendly atmosphere.  It now regularly attracts over 30 customers each week who come along to enjoy a delicious 3 course meal for the unbelievable price of £1.50! (eg a bowl of soup, a plate of mince and tatties followed by apple crumble and custard).  Ingredients to make the meals come from the Fairshare Charity and Link Up and any money made goes straight back into the café.  People can also feel relaxed in bringing their kids along too as there are plenty of toys available to keep them amused.

The Café is clearly developing into a ‘thriving community hub’.  Since coming to the café some people have gained the confidence to try out other community groups and are asking to be referred to other support services.

One lady who had recently experienced severe isolation and anxiety told us that the since coming to the café she had made some new friends and feels ‘more connected’ with what is a happening in the area. She explained that the interaction with people at the café is helping her feel happier and well.

Another explained the importance to her of maintaining eye contact with her GP when she went to see him. She felt his computer screen was a barrier to having an open, honest and more meaningful chat with him.

Details of The Nuka System of Care can be found here

This Café is a fantastic example of the community working for itself and making a real difference to local people.

Views highlighted:

  • GP Computer screens getting in the way of having a trustworthy meaningful conversation with patients
  • Need more health visitors – if you are not eligible – you will be in danger of having no connection with anyone
  • Good if we could talk to someone out with the medical profession to explain just how we are feeling
  • Should use pharmacy much more for advice
  • Wouldn’t feel comfortable going to a nurse for everything – would depend on their training
  • Happy to see the nurse if it relieves pressure of the GPs
  • Nurses should get paid more for the extra work they are doing
  • E-consultations – not for the older generation – confidence issue– perhaps younger ones will use it


A Sense of Belonging

Guest blog by Claire McKenna, Primary Care Division and Dan Morris, National Conversation team.

Last week, we chatted with participants of the Cooking Group which is one activity developed within the Inspiring Scotland Link Up Project, hosted by Crossroads Youth and Community Association based at the Barn Youth Centre in the Gorbals, South East of Glasgow.

The Cooking Group, started in February this year is already showing signs that it is making a positive impact to the lives of the people who attend.

Some group members who are amputees and new to the area describe the cooking group and other activities being offered at the Barn as being a ‘god send’ in helping them fit in and create a ‘sense of belonging’ to the community. They have made new friends, gained confidence to venture out of the house and are now learning new skills to prepare a proper healthy meal that can last a couple of days!!

It was great to hear that people in the group are now forming strong friendships and are beginning to support each other out with the cooking group.  Just recently they have been visiting one member of the group in hospital and making sure everything will be all right for him when he gets home.



This link provides some more details of the project:

Myself and Dan were touched by the enthusiasm and hard work that Eddie (volunteer) and Joe (Acting Link up Worker) puts into the project.  Already they have organised a day trip for the group to Ayr earlier this year and are now in the process of planning their Christmas night out.


Here are a few points highlighted from the conversation:

  • Camaraderie – new life
  • Saving NHS money
  • Everything seems to be focussed on money/cost – can’t put a price on the how my life is now
  • The atmosphere is electric at the Barn  on open days

Both Link Up Gorbals and the Barn can be found on Facebook: