Update from North Berwick Compassionate Community

North Berwick Compassionate Community team have amended their plans, as many organizations have during COVID times. The team have worked to develop the opportunities to have the public conversations about ‘death dying and grief’ in our community, alongside the development of an ‘emotional support’ initiative. Below we have shared a little of what we have been doing:

Big Conversation Thread

Armchair online Chats

We have run a series of online armchair chats. The events have been very well attended with between 25-60 people registering for each event. Each online event has a theme linked to the ‘Compassionate Community’ ethos.  Our events have grown creatively, with live, ‘light’ music, poetry readings and book excerpts from local authors. The aim was to support live speaker discussion on some of the issues associated with death, dying, grief and loneliness.  There has been interest from other organizations on our creative approach to online working borne out of Covid restrictions, which has been shared through the ‘Truacanta ‘ network.

  • February 2021 – St Columba Care’s Compassionate Neighbour Project presentation; music performed by musician/singer Harley Louden and readings from professional poet, Hannah Laverey.
  • March 2021- Local solicitor, Dorothy Kellas, discussing legal issues, supported by readings from local author, Isla Aitken and professional singer, Ruth Stapelton
  • April 2021- Presentation by Jude Meryl on Soul Midwives and End of Life Doulas, supported by local author, Lucy Aykroyd and professional singer, Abi Meryl
  • May 2021- Dr Kathryn Mannix- renowned hospice doctor and author of the book ‘With the End in Mind’ and professional singer, Ruth Stapleton

August 2021 Fringe by the Sea

North Berwick Compassionate Communities will host two events:

  1. 12th August 2021 Delighted to welcome back both Dr Kathryn Mannix, hospice doctor and author who will be in conversation with Richard Holloway, the former Bishop of Edinburgh, writer and broadcaster.
  • 11th August 2021 Alan MacLean, Chartered Psychologist specializing in emotional and wellbeing will present two masterclasses on his model for emotional wellbeing for teachers, community workers, young people and the community. The masterclass will be based on his renowned book ‘Knowing and Growing’.

North Berwick Compassionate Community Support Thread    

The second thread is the support thread that aims to support individuals living with a life limiting diagnosis/terminal diagnosis in our community. It was fortuitous that the Compassionate Community team had contact with St Columba’s Hospice Care and realised that collaboration with their pilot Compassionate Neighbours’ project would enable us to take forward our goal of supporting people in our own community. We have now trained six volunteers in the Compassionate Neighbour’s Training, and we have a further six volunteers waiting for training. This will enable us to have a small hub of volunteers in North Berwick to offer support and to do the things that a ‘good neighbor ‘would offer to people at the end of their life. We are almost at the point of accepting referrals

In addition, two of the volunteers have undertaken the EASE training developed by Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief and the Scottish Palliative Care Network.  They are also now trained as facilitators of the EASE training and will commence training in North Berwick mid August 2021. 

We have also been considering the long -term feasibility of the project and are in discussions with the Community Connections Project to integrate our hub of compassionate neighbours into their project. In the meantime, St Columba’s Hospice Care will continue to train and supervise and carry out PVG checks on our hub of volunteers. We are hoping that the Community Connections’ worker will be able to shadow the hospice for a period of time before the project can transitions to be independent of the hospice.

The team would welcome any questions or further discussion on any aspects of the project. We would appreciate discussion with the Reference Group and in particular support in the following areas:

  1. Involvement with local organisations to share information about the project and potential referral routes
  2. A social media and publicity strategy
  3. Advice on developing a referral pathway and appropriate paperwork.
  4. Advice on lone working policy and practice
  5. Support for supervision of the volunteer hub.
  6. Advertising the events at Fringe by The Sea

If any members of the Reference Group would like to be involved please do email for further information or a phone chat.

Susan Woods
Senior Business Support Assistant
North Berwick Community Centre
Email: swoods2@eastlothian.gov.uk
Telephone: 01620 893056

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