Long Term Conditions Hebrides has seen a year of growth and success, its recent annual meeting was told.
Gordon Scott, who chairs Long Term Conditions Hebrides, told the meeting - held on-line - that "since our last AGM I am delighted to say it has been a very busy, exciting and successful 12 months for Long Term Conditions Hebrides.
"In that time, we were thrilled to secure core funding from The Alliance Scotland, delighted to win a prestigious, national award for our Self-Management work in the community, also from The Alliance Scotland. We have been able to increase our free weekly sessions to now offer five sessions per week, from Monday to Friday. We have been delighted to employ a coordinator who has organised many enjoyable local events. We were pleased to be featured on a BBC ALBA television and radio broadcast; our YouTube channel has recently launched, and we have been especially pleased to see many new faces join our group- to mention but a few highlights.
"Our core activities of self-management sessions, mindfulness, meditation practices and light yoga classes have had a beneficial impact with everybody involved. We have experienced very positive feedback from our base line questionnaires, which have allowed our participants to give their feedback on our session work. LTCH continues to listen and learn – from all our participants and others; we are flexible, adapting and changing so we continue to grow organically; LTCH continues to make great efforts to communicate well with users, partners and respond to identified need or barriers to participation.
"We continue to monitor our work, checking progress and reviewing outcomes, assessing if changes are required and acting to make incremental positive changes. Our organisation continues to take time to plan and evaluate, appreciating that time is essential to embed learning as the project adapts, grows and develops.
"We continue to enjoy the company of many regular participants and have been delighted to see many more join our group over the past 12 months. Since the beginning of this year there were generally 7-9 participants at each session. 16 beneficiaries attended regularly (most sessions) and 7 others attended frequently.
"We also offer a Whatsapp group, which has 40 participants and at least a dozen more who are forwarded our materials, daily. Our Whatsapp group is a very friendly and supportive community, where our facilitators and participants have positive conversations each day, this group also benefits from daily posts by our self-management and mindfulness facilitator, Dr. Gail Cunningham.
"Our weekly activities are delivered over online video calls, via Zoom. We are delighted to have our long-standing facilitator and committee advisor Dr. Gail Cunningham continue to deliver her popular self-management and mindfulness classes; while our weekly light yoga sessions are facilitated by experienced yoga practitioner, Mairi Thomson.
"Over the past 12 months we have increased our weekly sessions to five days a week.
"On Mondays we provide a mindfulness session followed by a light yoga practice.
"On Tuesdays we continue to provide our long-standing self-management and advanced mindfulness session, which lasts for 1 hour 30 minutes.
"Our Wednesday afternoon session is our Sunshine yoga class, which offers participants the opportunity to partake in light yoga practices.
"Our Thursday session provides self-management and mindfulness teachings at an easier level compared to our more experienced Tuesday group.
"And our Friday session offers a mindfulness and light yoga practice. We are delighted to have cultivated a safe, friendly and respectful environment, where our participants can relax, be comfortable and enjoy our sessions, together.
From April to August 2021 we delivered 54 sessions that were fully funded by the National Lottery Community fund. In addition, over the 5-month period LTCH also delivered 23 yoga sessions (18 funded by The Cal Mac Community fund and 5 funded by The Alliance) and a further 16 sessions in August funded by the Alliance.
"In August of last year, we were thrilled to secure core funding from The Alliance Scotland, now our sole funder. This funding has allowed our organisation to grow and evolve by offering new services to our current members and beyond. We look forward to continuing our relationship with The Alliance as we endeavour to reach as many people as possible who may benefit from our session work. I would like to thank all of our funders over the last 12 months, without your crucial support we would be unable to do what we do.
"In September of last year Long Term Conditions Hebrides was delighted to be the recipient of the Self-Management in the Community award from The Alliance Scotland. This award is testimony to the hard work and skilled delivery of our self-management facilitator, Dr Gail Cunningham. It also serves as recognition to our volunteer committee members, without whose valued contributions and commitment we could not do what we do. I would like to once again thank The Alliance Scotland for recognising the work our organisation delivers, we were all very proud and grateful to win this award.
"In August 2021 we were delighted to employ Mairi Thomson, as our co-ordinator. Since then, Mairi has helped to organise and promote many LTCH events. As the covid guidelines have permitted along the way, Long Term Conditions Hebrides has been delighted to reintroduce sessions, in person- which we believe are of such benefit to our group. We have since hosted three face to face group sessions at the Cabarfeidh Hotel (Saturday 28 August 2021, Wednesday 8 December 2021 and Wednesday 6 April 2022).
"Our event on 8 December 2021 was filmed by BBC Alba and was subsequently featured on a BBC ALBA television and radio production, which we were thankful for as it helped raise awareness and reach out to people across the Hebrides. Mairi has also organised two Annual group retreats – one at the Borve House Hotel (5 February 2022) and one at the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village (3 May 2022); our retreats were also streamed live on Zoom for those unable to attend in person.
"These events have been a great success with overwhelming positive feedback- consequently we endeavour to continue these events in the future. Since the beginning of December 2021, we have been delighted to host 3 guest speakers at our online sessions, including Flora Somerville (Shiatsu practitioner), Katie Vann (Life coach), and Fidelma Farley (Mindfulness practitioner). Mairi has also had the opportunity to undertake new training courses since joining as our coordinator, these include courses with SAMH, Breathworks, ALISS and Mairi is currently in the process of completing her final module 4 in counselling skills.
"Since February 2022 we were delighted to secure the services of Eric Smith, to help create content for our new YouTube channel. Eric is a retired television producer and kindly volunteered his services to create videos that accompany mindfulness practices that were created by Dr. Gail Cunningham.
"We were excited to launch the Long Term Conditions YouTube channel in May 2022 and we look forward to creating new content ongoing, which will also include self-management videos and light yoga practices. I would like to thank Eric for volunteering his time and skills and thus providing our organisation with excellent tools, that we hope will benefit an audience far and wide.
"Looking forward, Long Term Conditions Hebrides aims to continue to reach out to people across the Hebrides who may benefit from joining our group. We aim to continue to offer our free online sessions five days a week. We will aim to continue to offer our face to face sessions and our day retreats, and also host more guest speakers. We aim to regularly update our Youtube channel with new content, and going forward we hope to include content relevant to self-management and light yoga practices. We also endeavour to have a Long Term Conditions Hebrides website online in the near future which will feature information about our organisation and a host of materials relevant to mindfulness, self-management and light yoga practices.
"Our organisation can now be found on YouTube and Facebook with our website to follow. I believe our new digital platforms accompanying our weekly sessions and face to face events will provide comprehensive outlets for our self-management, mindfulness and light yoga practices.
"I would like to thank all of our participants who have helped create such a warm and friendly group, which also helps new participants feel welcome and comfortable at our sessions. We often refer to our group as the Long Term Conditions Hebrides family which is a wonderful sentiment and testimony to everybody in our group.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Gail Cunningham for her continued enthusiasm, hard work and outstanding delivery as our facilitator and also for her valued advice to the Long Term Conditions Hebrides committee. I would also like to thank our yoga facilitator and coordinator, Mairi Thomson for her excellent light yoga sessions, beautifully sung mantras and for her hard work organising our successful events.
"It is with great respect and gratitude that I thank our committee members for your continued volunteering efforts, without your time, hard work and due diligence, Long Term Conditions Hebrides could not do what we do. It is a real pleasure to work alongside each and every one of you and I look forward to the future as our organisation continues to evolve.
"Our achievements of the last year would not have been possible without the efforts of our committee members, facilitators, coordinator, participants and funders. Going forward we shall continue to endeavour to provide support and guidance that may enhance the life experience and well-being of people living with long term conditions and their carer’s.