Championing the rights of people living with dementia – the VERDe project

This blog was first published on the Mental Health Foundation’s website by Dr Antonis Kousoulis, Assistant Director of Development Programmes at the MHF. 

Antonis Kousoulis

In the past ten years, the landscape has changed significantly and the profile of dementia has risen in policy, research and practice. The Prime Minister’s challenge on dementia 2020 gave a further boost to the interest in dementia care across the country.

Certain organisations, including ourselves at the Mental Health Foundation, have also advocated for a more preventative approach to dementia, especially in relation to the inequalities faced by people living with dementia and the significant co-morbidity with mental ill health. A growing focus on the links between public health and dementia is promising in reflecting how dementia is beginning to be seen through lenses that go beyond the traditional medical model. But we are not there yet.

Progress in dementia has stalled for too long because of a substantial but narrow focus on developing new pharmacological treatments, confusion around the understanding of the wider public of the range of conditions involved under the umbrella term, and lack of systematic application of human rights approaches in the relevant practice and research.

Thus, we are still facing considerable challenges in taking dementia into wider policy spheres, which is why a focus on fundamental values, equality principles and human rights is still urgently needed. We have tried to address this gap with the VERDe project.

The Values, Equalities, Rights and Dementia network (VERDe) has connected people with dementia, carers, practitioners, policy makers, services, organisations and communities across the UK. Through a series of events, VERDe has aimed at increasing awareness and understanding about how values, rights and equalities affect people with dementia and can help improve dementia policy and practice.


VERDe has enabled productive conversations between experts by background and experts by experience. We have:

  • facilitated the sharing of positive stories of empowerment and hope
  • explored ways to support people in their transitions (e.g. into care homes)
  • recognised that people living with dementia should be treated as persons, not just patients
  • advocated for cross-agency communication and national policies informed by people
  • explained the human rights deficit that exists in dementia and how supported decision-making works.

But our collaboration and network does not stop here. We will keep working with our partners, including Innovations in Dementia and the Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project to champion the voice of lived experience and help sustain this active community.

Above all, we will strive to remember what one of our dementia activists stated: that people diagnosed with dementia are humans and the people who care for those with dementia are humans too. Therefore, a lot of the issues we want to discuss are, above all, human rights issues. And we know how human rights issues can impact on people’s mental health.

“Taking Local Action”

So, the simplest intervention we can start with is to make sure that the human contact and emotional support for people living with dementia is always there.

VERDe has been coordinated by the Mental Health Foundation, supported by Innovations in Dementia, and funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Life Changes Trust (which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund).


Empowerment Grants for Care Experienced Young People

Recently I had a planned stay in hospital. It was an eye opening experience in a number of ways.

I suppose the big thing I noticed was how quickly I lost my usual confidence. In the hospital environment, I had no real expertise, and I was in a vulnerable condition – dependent on others and temporarily unable to do even the most basic tasks for myself.

This was a shock, since I’m used to thinking of myself as a pretty competent person. I haven’t always had masses of confidence but I’ve worked hard, learned from my mistakes, listened to others and probably most importantly, I’ve just about conquered my fear of failure.

One of the things I have learned in this job is that, for care experienced people, even those well into adulthood, lack of confidence is a key issue. It can lead to feelings of self-doubt, of not quite being up to mark, which often never really goes away.

I’ve met people with care experience who are highly successful in their chosen field, inspiring role models, who still battle with feelings of inadequacy.  I recently met a young woman who left her first job after a few months, even although it was a great opportunity, because she was convinced that she would be fired anyway. This was despite the fact that she had all the right qualifications and had secured the job in a highly competitive process.

At the Trust, we’re aware of some of the reasons that can cause care experienced young people to struggle with confidence. I’ve been lucky enough to have supportive, caring adults in my life who have encouraged me. Care experienced young people often don’t have access to those kind of relationships.

Another challenge is that care experienced young people as a group don’t get the same opportunities as their peers to take part in activities like sport, art, drama and music. These informal activities are important in helping us to build social skills. They also provide safe spaces for us to make mistakes and to learn from them.

We want to do what we can to address some of these issues, and our current Empowerment Grants funding opportunity is one approach to supporting care experienced young people to develop their confidence and skills.

Empowerment Grants offer groups and organisations the opportunity to apply for up to £10,000. With this funding, we’re particularly looking to reach care experienced young people who may face barriers due to protected characteristics (e.g. disability; sexual orientation; race; religion and belief; sex), as well as young people who have experience of youth justice or are looked after at home.

Empowerment Grants can support activities for mixed groups which include young people who are not care experienced. We’re asking youth organisations, sports groups and community organisations to think about how they can include care experienced young people in their activities.

By including young people in this way, organisations can help young people to increase their social networks and develop positive relationships with adults which can be so vital to improving their confidence.

My hospital stay was an important experience – a reminder of how easy it is for hard-won confidence to slip away, and an insight into the impact of losing control (albeit temporarily). Care experienced young people tell us repeatedly that they feel important decisions about their lives are made without them, and they can struggle with inconsistent relationships with adults who are not always free to show them they care.

Empowerment Grants offer one route to supporting care experienced young people to grow their confidence, speak up and increase their connections to the wider community. Please take the opportunity to think about what you can do to get involved.  Read more about Empowerment Grants on our website






Carole Patrick, Programme Manager, Care Experienced Young People Programme


Travelling Well with Dementia

This blog was written by Andy Hyde from Upstream, reflecting on their conference ‘Travelling Well With Dementia’, held on the 7th December 2016.


Planning a journey. We’d all done it in order to arrive that day but maybe not really thought about it too much. We might have put up with a frustrating web site, weighed up cost-versus-convenience or different ways to get to the Festival Theatre. But what if you’re living with dementia and you’ve lost the confidence to even consider such a journey?  This was just one of the topics that we mulled over in discussion groups at Upstream’s Travelling well with Dementia event last week.

In recent months we’ve been bumping into lots of interesting people, hearing about their projects and initiatives and making connections around mobility, transport and travelling with dementia.

So we thought it would be good if Upstream could start joining up some of these conversations, connecting people and start turning talk into action.

Last week’s event at the Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre was our first attempt at doing this. Around 60 people travelled from across the UK to hear about Upstream and more. We’re busy writing up the outputs of the discussions and we’ll share these soon. In the meantime, here’s a brief summary of the day…

As participants arrived we drew our journeys and shared our stories of our trip to the venue – just like we do in our Upstream workshops.  Rich stories emerged about the highs and lows of getting out and about.

Tommy Dunne opened the event with humour, warmth and some hard-hitting truths about travelling with dementia.  After many years working in the transport industry, Tommy now co-chairs the Service Users Reference Forum (SURF) in Liverpool and works with transport operators to help them understand the realities of travelling with dementia, using his own experiences.  Tommy gave us some great context and insight to start the afternoon off, describing his experiences of travelling by train and bus and the need for a greater understanding from operator staff and fellow passengers alike. A key message from Tommy was the need to enable people to travel in order to reduce the very real dangers of loneliness and isolation.

It was stories like this that prompted us to start Upstream. Wendy Mitchell had also written a timely blog post the day before about her experiences of travel – unfortunately Wendy couldn’t join us but we shared some key points from her post with participants.

We shared what we’re learning at Upstream and talked about developing models for shared experiences which allow transport operators to work together with people affected by dementia.  We can only respond to the challenges of travelling if we move from dementia awareness to a deeper understanding of how a service currently works (or not) for people living with dementia and develop a vision for a new reality where transport always acts as an enabler rather than a barrier. Upstream could facilitate the experiences and conversations that can lead to this understanding and then help to make service redesign happen.

Paula Brown from the Arora Dementia Friendly Community based at An Lanntair in Stornoway, touched on the work that we’ve been doing together in the Western Isles, including the workshops at Stornoway airport that might hopefully lead to involving people affected by dementia in reviewing airport services. Oh, and some of those remote bus stops we’d visited on Lewis…

Similarly, Sarah Geoghegan from Alzheimer Scotland reflected on Upstream workshops in Aberdeen and our connections with Aberdeen airport. We have engaged with a range of staff there and, following an Upstream workshop and several Dementia Friends sessions, the airport terminal management are interested to explore how we can involve people affected by dementia in reviewing airport services.

Lee Glen from Dementia Friendly Dunbar gave some personal reflections on the shared journey we took with Virgin Trains from Dunbar to Waverley Station and noted how several people in the group had learned a good deal about the assistance that is available to them when travelling by train.

James McKillop told us about an experiendriving-with-dementia-front-pagece that we encounter on a regular basis in our workshops and discussions – giving up driving. James drove for a number of years after a diagnosis of dementia but after his application for an extension to his licence was refused he experienced a difficult time coming to terms with not being able to legally drive even though he felt capable.

He told of his experience of eventually driving again, under controlled conditions.

It was a powerful story, emotional and yet hopeful. You can read more about James’ story here.

We were lucky enough to have Samantha Berry from OCS at Gatwick Airport join us to talk about their lanyard scheme, an option for passengers with hidden disabilities to discretely alert airport staff to their need for a little more time or help. As Samantha pointed out, so many people at the airport wear a lanyard that another doesn’t really stand out although it’s distinctive design is known to staff. It seems as if the scheme is popular and there are plans for trying the lanyard in other airports. Samantha also pointed us to Challenging for Change – an OCS report on disabled passengers’ experience of air travel – and the imminent publication of the Civil Aviation Authority’s new guidelines on making air travel more accessible for passengers with hidden disabilities.

Jill Mulholland told us about the development of the Scottish Government’s Accessible Travel Framework ‘Going Further’, working with people with a range of conditions to set out a roadmap for mobility operators to include people with disabilities in the design of new transport services.

We then discussed a range of topics that can be a challenge when travelling with dementia. In addition to planning a journey, we considered going to a hospital appointment, making a connecting (flight/taxi/bus/train…), buying a ticket, going on holiday and others.

To finish up we heard from Chris McCoy, Head of the Accessible Tourism Programme, at VisitScotland followed by Terry Dunn CEO of the ESP Group. Both Chris and Terry reminded us that people want to continue to travel to visit friends, family and destinations. They want to continue to take a holiday … this is a market that transport operators and related organisations have an opportunity to develop products and services for. The key to creating sustainable businesses will be to work closely with people living with dementia to truly understand the challenges and develop solutions using an inclusive design approach.

We think this was the first time that people from transport, health, government, design, the third sector and more had gathered to consider the range of issues that are emerging around the need to enable people affected by dementia to continue to travel well. However, as Agnes Houston reminded us via Twitter that morning, it’s good to talk and listen but we need to turn our words into action if we’re to make a real impact.

This is the key aim for Upstream and, we hope, for those that joined us last week.


Aim high, dream big!


Aspirational Awards

We’re getting very close to a pretty exciting date for us at the Trust. On the 1st of November we’re launching our new ‘Aspirational Awards’ funding initiative, and I wanted to talk a bit about the development journey we’ve been on over the last six months to get to this exciting stage.

I should probably say with a bit of context first of all that, at the Trust, each of our funding initiatives are underpinned by what we call ‘theories of change’. In basic terms, this means that there is an idea which we believe when supported and acted on correctly, will support transformational change for the people we support: care experienced young people and people affected by dementia.

One of our theories of change is that when people are given genuine space, time and opportunity to shape and influence the issues that affect them, then something really special happens. This isn’t a revolutionary idea by any means, but it’s often only given lip-service by those in power, and less often seen in practice. And that’s something which clashes with a personal view of mine which is, if you believe in something then there’s no point in doing it half-heartedly – you might as well go for it.

It was with this in mind that we started to develop an approach for Aspirational Awards led by young people themselves.


Aspirational Awards are about providing care experienced young people with the opportunity to think big about their future and apply for grant funding from the Trust to support their ambitions in life. Again, a fairly simple theory of change here is that, when empowered to decide what they want to achieve and then provided with some financial support to help them along the way, care experienced young people can achieve anything they want to in life.

As this initiative is based on care experienced young people applying to us directly for funding, it felt essential that it be care experienced young people who would ultimately make the decisions on these applications. Not only that, we felt that young people should lead the design of the funding initiative from beginning to end; ranging from what should be the overarching aims and objectives of the initiative, right through to the nuts and bolts of designing an evaluation process and being there to support applicants when funding opens.

With this commitment in mind, we recruited a group of 12-15 young people from a range of care experiences and backgrounds who would become volunteer advisors to the Trust to work specifically on this initiative. We held our first ‘big’ meeting in April this year in the Prince’s Trust Wolfson Centre, and since then we’ve met over 20 times to develop something which I think has the potential to really transform the lives of care experienced young people.

Not only that, but those young people who have been part of the group have themselves really developed at the same time. I’ve seen first-hand a noticeable development in their public speaking, leadership skills and ability to resolve conflict. And that’s only in the first six months; this is a three year project, where some of them will go on to be trained as paid grant assessors as well as gain skills in areas such as evaluation, budgeting and application writing.

Since that first big meeting, the group have come on leaps and bounds and the workshops almost run themselves. That’s in part because we’ve developed strong relationships – another cornerstone of the work we do at the Trust – but really more of a testament to the sense of responsibility, maturity and pride that each young person has brought to the group.

One of my initial concerns was that it might take a while to get a productive discussion going around subjects that could be seen as dry (due diligence process anyone?) or abstract.  More fool me! It will come to no surprise to anyone who has worked with young people that, when given a platform to speak about something that’s important to them, they generally tend to take it. They’re also a huge amount of fun!

It has by no means been a completely seamless process, nor will it be, and we’ve had a few challenges along the way, but as we (rather frantically) prepare for the launch of Aspirational Awards, I feel a huge degree of trust that the group have developed something spectacular for young people. That’s not trust in them simply as ‘young people’ or ‘care experienced’, but rather, trust in them as competent, conscientious individuals who have been able to bring a level of insight and experience which I simply could not have.

It’s inexcusable thlisten-understand-actyat services for care experienced young people have followed a top-down approach for so long. However, I see a lot of hope that this tide seems to be turning and we’re beginning to see young people being empowered in many aspects of their lives – not least through the excellent efforts of some of the organisations we work with such as Who Cares? Scotland, our peer mentoring programmes, and, of course, our Champions Boards.

As a funder, it’s important that we set an example in this respect – by having the voice of young people at the centre of what we actually fund.  It’s being in the mind-set of ‘let’s ask young people about that’ and not assuming that the path we’re currently following is the right one.

This can be challenging, as it’s certainly not about shying away from the hard questions; but it means we are really asking young people, and taking the time to listen to and understand what they have to say.

This has co-production at its core. In developing our Aspirational Awards in this way, we have a stronger project because of it and I’m thankful for the commitment of each of the young people who have been on that journey with me over the last six months.

I started this blog to highlight the benefits of empowering young people to take responsibility and trusting in them to thrive in that environment, but have ended up with a tribute to the individuals who have actually embodied it – that feels very fitting somehow.






Paul Sullivan, Funding Manager


Love is a doing word

Nicola Sturgeon announces root and branch review of the care system, driven by those with experience of  care.


Since the First Minister’s announcement on Saturday of a full scale independent review of the care system, we’ve been on a bit of a roller coaster ride here at the Trust.

The announcement of the review in itself is obviously massively important, but it’s the language used by the First Minister to set the context for the review that has really struck a chord. She promised that the review will be driven by those with experience of care – young people themselves. Crucially, the First Minister was also unequivocal about love – to be truly engaged in a review of the care system, we have to acknowledge that every child, regardless of circumstances, deserves to be loved.

Here at the Trust, it’s difficult to find the words to capture the range of emotions we’ve been feeling – excitement, elation, expectation, pride – but regardless of the words, we have the sense that this is a seminal moment. Care experienced young people, and those who support them, have a once in a lifetime opportunity to re-imagine care based on this all important premise.

We’re inspired because from the earliest days of our Programme, we have believed that if young people are offered a safe place and are surrounded by people who are not afraid to show them love, they will find their voice and use it to transform not only their own lives but the lives of care experienced young people across the country. This belief has been at the root of all of our efforts to effect transformational change.

We saw this in action during the passage of the Children and Young People Act. Buoyed up by the success they had in influencing this legislation, care experienced young people dared to think big. They decided to go beyond campaigning for incremental changes to the care system. In the ‘Who Cares’ documentary aired by STV in September, five care experienced people showed enormous courage in openly and honestly addressing the challenges they faced growing up in care, and highlighted the importance of loving relationships in giving them hope for a different future. They took this message of love and hope directly to the First Minister and she clearly heard it.


Love isn’t a word that crops up often in political debate. In Scotland, we’re not always particularly comfortable talking about it in relation to the care system either. Every day, foster carers, residential workers, advocates, teachers, coaches and so many others show their love for young people in the care system in a thousand different ways. They wipe tears, make meals, listen, hug, encourage, motivate and do all those everyday things that can make such a big difference.

But very few of them will talk about love; in fact, going the extra mile for a child or young person is often something which happens under the radar, because professional boundaries can discourage a human response. In other words, sometimes the system forbids love.

We know some of the reasons behind this, but the key message is that life without love is damaging for children and young people. In the fast moving context of 21st century life, where individuals can increasingly feel the troubling weight of global events, love is something we all have the power to call on.

Loving others helps us to love ourselves, and engage with the world on our own terms. Let’s get behind care experienced young people and support their efforts to bring love and hope into the open, and join with them to re-imagine the kind of care that will consistently celebrate, sustain and nourish them wherever they live at whatever stage they’re at in their lives.

 A very happy CEYP programme team

 Carole 2015Catrionapaul


Meet MCR Pathway’s Young Glasgow Talent young heroes!

This blog is courtesy of MCR Pathways who run the pioneering programme ‘Young Glasgow Talent’.


Young Glasgow Talent – What is it?

Young Glasgow Talent by MCR Pathways is a schools based mentoring and talent development programme. They match top quality mentors with care experienced young people. MCR Pathways vision is simple; they want care experienced and disadvantaged young people to have the same educational outcomes, career opportunities and life chances as any other young person.

Recently, they have been celebrating some of their ‘Weegie Heroes’….. read on!

Weegie Heroes by David Sherlock

“Weegie Heroes has been an inspiring YGT experience. Throughout our celebration, we’ve heard incredible stories from every kind of person and organisation involved in our programme. They have all been fantastic, and show the fantastic work Glaswegians from all over the city are putting into helping the young people who live here. Some of the most moving stories have come from our young people. This one is no exception!

“Here we share an amazing story of commitment, motivation and resilience. This story was written by our Pathways Coordinator, Danielle. Based in every YGT school, each of our PCs support our mentors who are guiding and helping our young people. The young person in this PC’s school has just finished her exams and achieved some truly fantastic results. It’s a testament to the true power of mentoring. Here’s their story.”

“It is with great delight that I am writing about one of my very hardworking and inspirational young people, Chloe*. Chloe has recently shown astounding motivation, commitment and resilience when she performed exceptionally well in her recent exams, despite enormous pressure.  My young person is a carer for her mother.  Chloe also suffers from health issues herself, which cause her a lot of pain when she takes on too much at once.

Chloe was referred to me by her Pastoral Care Teacher as she felt that Chloe could really benefit from the support of a mentor. When I first met her, she was very down at the time and seemed like she had the weight of the world on her shoulders. To begin with, she was quite dubious about mentoring but with a little coaxing, she decided to give it a try. Shortly after that, she was matched with her mentor Jacqui, who Chloe feels has helped her massively. Being able to talk to Jacqui about her family and her school work has really helped Chloe to cope and to remain focussed on achieving her potential.  Jacqui helped Chloe with exam preparation and also helped her to look at courses which she hopes to apply to this academic year.

Being a young carer can be an extremely tough challenge at times, however Chloe balanced her responsibilities whilst undertaking four Highers and a NAT 5 last year.  Chloe also took part in a course at the University of Strathclyde called the Access to a Career in Teaching Programme which is a course that she commits herself to every week as she has her sights set firmly on a career as a Teacher when she finishes S6 in June 2017 (either Primary School or an English Teacher).  Therefore it is truly amazing that in the face of all of this adversity and enormous pressure that Chloe achieved a tremendous 3A’s and 2B’s for her Highers and NAT 5 for her 2016 exams… what an achievement!

Chatting to Chloe now, I see a huge difference from the girl who I first met. She has grown so much in confidence and she finally believes that she is capable of doing whatever she sets her mind to. This time last year, she predicted that she would perhaps manage to get C’s in her exams so she is so proud that she managed to do so well.  It is lovely to see her smiling and she has really come out of her shell and I really believe that Jacqui has had a lot do with that. I can’t thank Jacqui enough for the support she has given Chloe so far, and I can’t wait to see what they will achieve together this term.

I am so proud of Chloe and what she has achieved this year.  She persisted where many people would have given up and her triumph is a reflection of the inspirational young lady that she is growing up to be.  She has made so much progress since she joined the YGT mentoring programme and she continues to set herself more challenges. This year she has her sights set on achieving 4 more Highers within school and even Advanced Higher English at night classes at college.  Chloe is the epitome of Young Glasgow Talent and she personally demonstrates just how far you can go in life if you have motivation, commitment and resilience… you go girl!”

*Child’s name has been changed to protect their identity.

We have many more young people signing up for Young Glasgow Talent’s help. They need mentors to make a huge difference to their confidence, educational outcomes and future life chances. Can you help them? You’ll guide disadvantaged, but utterly deserving and ambitious, young people through their education. Find out more about Becoming A Mentor.

We’re always looking for new mentors to reach all the new young people who are coming on board with the programme. Help us spread the word by letting your friends and family know how worthwhile mentoring can be using the ‘share’ buttons below!

Can your organisation help? To become involved in our Talent Taster programme, alongside our partners such as Glasgow Life and The Herald, simply GET INVOLVED! We can’t wait to work with you to offer our city’s most needy a gateway to an expanding menu of opportunities and tasters of university, college and employment.


Summer baking at Solas

This week we welcome guest blogger Paula Brown, Dementia Friendly Communities Project Co-Ordinator at an Lanntair.  an Lanntair run dementia friendly projects in the Western Isles that are funded by the Life Changes Trust.  That means we get a free scone!

Summer Baking at Solas 2

We did a spot of summer baking at Solas Day Centre today.  Strawberries and clotted cream over fresh, warm scones.

I was quite surprised at how dementia strips confidence – I heard so many worries about feeling incapable. ‘Oh no, I can’t.’ ‘I used to but not now.’ ‘Oh no, you do it.’ ‘My hands can’t do it.’

But gently making a start, asking about how to do it – ‘do we add salt?’ ‘Should we mix the butter and sugar together first or rub the butter into the flour?’ – I found myself taking a step back as everyone joined in with quips ‘There’s a cow out back for the milk!’ and I played along with ‘I couldn’t catch the cow so I had to buy a pint of milk’.

Three ladies joined in with me weighing, measuring, discussing recipes, rolling, cutting, brushing with egg and the scones baked up perfectly so everyone could enjoy eating them. The conversation went into baking and fruit growing and it was a natural collaborative effort to clean up and wash up.

The recipe was (we made 17)

Summer Baking at Solas

  • 1lb (450g) SR flour
  • 4oz (125g) butter, a pinch of salt
  • 2pz (50g) caster sugar
  • we measured 350ml of milk but only used about 320ml of it
  • You need a soft dough that isn’t too sticky
  • 1 beaten egg to glaze

We rubbed the butter into the flour, stirred in the sugar and salt and mixed in the milk. We dusted the table with a little flour and gently flattened the dough to around an inch deep and then cut out rounds with a cookie cutter. A quick brush with beaten egg and they were in the oven for about 15 minutes.

They were not even cold before they were all gone!

Summer Baking at Solas 3

Language and Dementia: what’s the problem?


Today we have a guest blog by Kate Swaffer (@KateSwaffer) on (in)appropriate language use in dementia. Right in time for our #demphd chat today at 11 am British time! Your #demphd team ( Grant, Julie, Paul, Clarissa) 🙂

Dementia is heavily covered in the media. From Dementia Awareness Weeks to national guidelines and documentaries, dementia becomes ever more present in everyday life. With such a heavy media coverage of, it is likely that there are some issues that we people with dementia feel are inappropriate.

The problem is that too often, the rights of many people with dementia are not being respected when it comes to the way we are talked about, or referred to publicly, by people without dementia, such as journalists, health care professionals and care partners.

Yet again, during another two recent Dementia Awareness Weeks, we have been blitzed by articles and stories in the print, radio, television…

View original post 574 more words

MCR Pathways and Young Glasgow Talent

This blog is courtesy of Donna Cunningham, Project Director at MCR Pathways.  Here she talks about their pioneering programme ‘Young Glasgow Talent’.

Young Glasgow Talent – What is it?

Young Glasgow Talent by MCR Pathways is a schools based mentoring and talent development programme. We match top quality mentors with care experienced young people. MCR Pathways vision is simple; we want care experienced and disadvantaged young people to have the same educational outcomes, career opportunities and life chances as any other young person.

To achieve this, mentors guide their young person through their education so that they get the very best out of it. To be there, listen to and support them. To help them find, grow and use their talents. This enables our young people to discover, and proceed confidently, along their chosen pathway. To employment, further education or higher education.

Young Glasgow Talent also provides Talent Tasters. These provide a taste of jobs, careers and all that Glasgow has to offer in arts, culture and sport. Job Tasters are a radical new take on work experience in a way that works for our young people. Sports, Arts and Cultural experiences are a key part of our support to enrich and ensure our young people have every opportunity to experience, participate, learn new skills and perhaps even go on to a successful career in the field. The Taster feedback from our young people has been excellent, reflecting the invaluable opportunities these experiences guarantee. They return to school with fresh inspiration and aspirations!


MCR Pathways picture

What’s it like to work for MCR Pathways?

I am so proud to hold the position of Project Director for the MCR Pathways Young Glasgow Talent Programme in Glasgow.  Working with young people has always been the most rewarding part of my 32 years in education.   So when we discussed me moving to MCR from St Andrew’s Secondary School, (after 12 years!) I was apprehensive. Not of the new job, but of not working directly with the young people. However, 3 years on, being part of something transformational that is supporting ALL of our city’s most disadvantaged has more than compensated! I’m glad to say I still see and communicate with many of the young people I supported. It’s an honour to be a part of their lives and stories. I blag invites to other events that our youngsters are involved in just to see them!

Our Young Glasgow Talent mentoring programme was trialled at St Andrew’s Secondary School. It was a great success! It was all due to the fantastic staff, families, young people and many quality partners we worked with. We quickly found that what made the biggest impact on our young people was the introduction of one to one mentoring.  We knew we had something special from early on in the programme and it was just about nurturing and developing this with every other ‘additionality’ we could secure from partners. For four years we worked directly with youngsters and built the foundations of the programme.  The programme has gone from strength to strength since, as we’ve brought on an additional 9 schools and 250 mentors. We don’t for a moment think we are anywhere near where we will finally take this programme as we scale it over the next 3 years….it’s so motivating!  Everyone has something to bring and our diversity of mentors is even more significant than our diversity of each of our individual young people….all of them are amazing!

I am humbled and inspired on a daily basis. Especially listening to our Pathways Coordinators talking about the challenges our mentors are supporting our young people through and the fantastic outcomes they are subsequently achieving.  Nicole, one of our Ambassadors quoted “A mentor 100% changed my life, 100%!”  I absolutely believe that and have felt and witnessed it many times over.

At this stage of the academic year, approximately 61 of our mentored young people will be leaving our 10 schools. Of those almost 50% are leaving from S6 which means they’ll have much more confidence and the solid foundations to start their adult life.  This is testament to our schools and our mentors who have supported and encouraged them to return to school for a fifth and sixth year.  Lot’s of great stories are emerging regarding employment, college and university and we are really excited to be introducing our YGT Next Steps programme that will support our leavers in their transition and beyond.  This has been designed by our young people for our young people and mentors and will launch in June 2016.

I would urge anyone who even just ‘thinks’ they may be able to commit to our programme to come along to an Info Session and get on board. It’s such a rewarding experience!

You Can Get Involved & Make the Difference!


Can you help a young person realise their full potential and be defined by their talent not their circumstances?

One hour a week and a willingness to put a young person first are all you need.

You’ll make and experience a life-changing difference in helping a young person to find, grow and use their talents.

MCR Pathways will provide all the training and support you need.

For more information or to register, please go to, email or call us on 0141 221 6642. We can’t wait to hear from you.

MCR Pathways is a pioneering partnership of the MCR Foundation and Glasgow City Council and actively supported by an increasing number of Glasgow’s leading organisations including Wheatley Group, Glasgow Life, University of Strathclyde, Santander, The Herald, Glasgow Kelvin College, SECC and Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.  MCR is also supported with funding from the Life Changes Trust.



Living well with dementia: diagnosis is key

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Today kicks off Dementia Awareness Week in Scotland. Richard Baker, Team Leader of the Age Scotland Early Stage Dementia Project, which is funded by the Life Changes Trust, talks about tackling the stigma and how early diagnosis is key to living well with dementia.

This week Age Scotland will be joining Alzheimer Scotland and other organisations working for better support for people with dementia to promote the need for better support and early diagnosis.

This is a key concern for Age Scotland through the work of our Early Stage Dementia Project, supported by the Life Changes Trust. Early diagnosis for someone with dementia can make a huge difference to their ability to live well with the condition. The Scottish Government has made dementia a national priority, and as part of this has introduced a commitment to provide one year’s support for everybody who has been diagnosed with dementia for a year after their diagnosis. This support is provided by link workers who help people with dementia understand the illness, manage symptoms, maintain their connections with their local community and help them make plans for their future.

However, while there is a huge amount of work going on to raise dementia awareness and tackle stigma around the illness, there is still a huge amount to do. Depending on the measure used, either a third or a half of people who have dementia in Scotland have not yet received a diagnosis. A UK survey by the Alzheimer Society found that more than half of people seeking a diagnosis for dementia have delayed going to their GP by at least a year and nearly two-thirds of people fear a diagnosis would mean that their life is over.

But people can and do live well with dementia, and support in the early stages is crucial to ensuring this can happen. That is why it is so important to tackle myths and stigma around dementia and make more people aware of the benefits of early diagnosis. At Age Scotland we meet people with dementia who are still contributing to their communities and are the leading voices campaigning for improved dementia services. Their example shows that if people take early action if they are worried about their memory or struggling with other activities, they can still have a rewarding life even if they do receive a dementia diagnosis. Dementia Awareness Week is a great opportunity to highlight this message, and it is vital the work to make all our communities dementia friendly and dementia aware continues all year round.


Age Scotland’s Early Stage Dementia Team

To find out more about Age Scotland’s work around Early Stage Dementia visit their website or contact Richard Baker at

Age Scotland