Club H2O, Oban, Argyll
In 2003 Hope2Oban (H2O) started a project that offered physical, emotional, social and spiritual support to young people. It was the idea of lay people from different Christian denominations in Oban and Lorn to set up this registered charity with four members of staff. In due course the links with the community and with churches drew attention to a lack of provision, in particular, for vulnerable older adults.
In response to this need, Club H2O has been running a pilot project for this group for the past 20 months on Thursday afternoons. At the H2O's centre, called The Well, everyone enjoys fellowship, entertainment, activities, refreshments and home baking. Pupils from Oban High School are involved in the design and delivery of a varied programme, including meals cooked and served by pupils, an oral history project, arts and crafts and musical entertainment.
Club H2O aims to meet both the expressed wishes of the older participants and the criteria for the Curriculum for Excellence for S5 and S6 pupils. It also provides an experience for S3 hospitality students, giving them a chance to practise their practical and social skills. The group welcome the pupils and even the shy ones enjoy the opportunity to chat about their cooking.
Miss M. has recently moved into a care home, and talks about her frustration of not being able converse fully with the other residents. It would be too easy not to talk at all ... the staff do not have much time to listen and chat with the residents. This is the only trip Miss M makes out of the home all week. She describes it as a ‘life saver''.
A husband and wife attend each week but the husband, Sammy, had to go into a care home when Alzheimer's became more severe. Each week the wife wants to know if her Sammy will be there. During the ‘speaking and listening' project, Sammy spoke about his fishing trips to Mull. His wife said, ‘This is more than he has said in weeks!'
The H2O team believes passionately that youth work and youth issues cannot be resolved in isolation, and that the same applies to issues towards the end of life. Wonderful old characters pass away by the nature of things but this emphasises the importance of being part of the community at this pivotal point in someone's life. H2O believes in that well-known saying - ‘It takes a village to raise a child' and that this is also applicable to caring for society's oldest citizens. Bringing generations together helps to raise children and care for the elders!
H2O works because of the contribution of a team of volunteers, many of whom are retired themselves who collect and return the attendees, bake cakes and scones and staff ‘The Well'. Experience has shown that the community can come together in a way that benefits older and younger people. However, the more doors which are opened the more vulnerable people are discovered who could benefit. Further funding is urgently required to continue to sustain and develop this valued project, both for running costs, and for simple practical things, such as more armchairs.
Target groups include:
• very frail adults - some with dementia who need transport and one-to-one support
• the young-old who can encourage and support the attendees to communicate, participate and contribute
• residents in care homes who have lost touch with friends
• people living on their own at risk of isolation and depression
• people with physical disabilities who can develop confidence getting out in a safe group setting.
Click here for other Argyll and Bute projects.