Cosy Spaces – A warm welcome from the Community

PKC have a wonderful scheme of community centred support, where people are empowered to provide what they know will work well in their own community – We secured funding for the winter of 2023 / 2024 and it enabled the following:

1. Cosy Space Soup Lunches (Wed and Fri)

2. An extra day of service from the Town Bus (Wednesdays)

3. Family Art Sessions

4. Music in the Community event

5. Funding towards free sessions at the bowling club (Friday evening bowls and a family event)

6. Provision of Cosy Packs

7. Advertising all warm welcome sessions running in Auchterarder and Aberuthven (ie Mens Shed). These are funded separately but a linked approach meant that people had access to a warm space every day of the week with no overlap of events.

Cosy Space Soup lunches:

Cosy Places Soup Lunches ran from 26 October to 27 March on a Wednesday and Friday from noon to 1.30pm in the Institute, Aytoun Hall.  Friends of Aytoun Hall facilitated the lunches and oversaw all of them.  They have been extended one month to the end of April.  On Wednesdays the soup was made at Archway and serviced by volunteers from the Inner Wheel.  On Fridays soup was made by volunteers from Our Lady of Perpetual Succour RC Church.  When appropriate, soup makings and extras – bread, cakes, biscuits, etc. – have been provided by the Blue Door Food bank when surpluses occur. 

Number of volunteers who have helped set-up, heat and serve soup, then wash up from the Inner Wheel during the 6 months recorded numbers 8. Number of volunteers who have done the same, but also made soup from Our Lady’s Church is 17.

On a Wednesdays an average of 10 soups were served.  On Fridays an average of 21 soups were served. Over 900 bowls over the period!

In all, approximately 45 regulars attended the soup lunches, with a hard core of about 12 attending one of the lunches each week throughout. Everyone benefitting from the initiative has expressed sincere thanks – some with cards and gifts of chocolates for the volunteers, and one or two have brought home baking to share with their friends made at the lunches.

During these sessions, people were signposted to the advice hub at the health centre – enabling them access to learn about other vital support services available to them. An example of the success with this was a lady who learned about her entitlement to attendance allowance. This provides her an extra £3000 per year, an amount that’s life changing. 

Information about other activities, cosy space sessions, events, opportunities to participate in sharing opinion on topics such as rural transport futures programme were also shared here.

The main benefit is undoubtably the social inclusion. The sessions provide people a purpose for coming into town on a Wednesday and Friday. The warm welcoming atmosphere (and delicious soup) made a huge impact to people, reducing social isolation significantly. During the period, the volunteers noted a core group and also people attending who’d bring a friend or neighbour. It really is a wonderful thing to happen here and we’re immensely grateful to the volunteers providing their time, energy and kind nature for this.

Town Bus:

Auchterarder benefits from a charity set up to facilitate the provision of a town bus. ACBuG. Due to challenges with funding, the service was reduced last year. This had a significant impact on the users, the majority of which are elderly and many with mobility issues. It was obvious last year that many of the Cosy Space attendees (to the soup sessions, library, archway, men’s shed) used the bus to enable them to attend and to provide a vital link between home and town for shopping, health centre appointments, vaccinations etc.

Funding from the Warm Spaces fund facilitated 640 passenger journeys on Wednesdays between 8th November 2023 and end of March 2024. This would not have been possible without the Cosy space funding.

Family Art Sessions

Four family art sessions were held in January and February. These were facilitated by Creative Catalyst, a charitable organisation from Perth who have a wealth of experience in delivering such sessions. Each session was delivered at capacity, demonstrating a real interest in such activities. The sessions, as all sessions, were provided free of charge to ensure that cost was not a barrier to attending. The sessions were offered as a means of families being creative together (instead of children doing this separately from their parents) and the feedback about this was very positive.

Music in the Community event

During December, cosy space funding was used to compliment an existing regular date in the calendar – a collaboration between the Community School of Auchterarder young musicians and Friends of Aytoun Hall. This event was shared with attendees of the Cosy Space sessions and intergenerational attendance was very positive. 

Bowling Club Sessions

Initially, the bowling club had anticipated being able to provide games sessions on a Wednesday afternoon, but this was changed to early Friday evening carpet bowls. The president of the club was keen to support intergenerational sessions with young darts players meeting on the same night. The free access enabled 15-20 people to meet each week, some of whom have gone on to enjoy other aspects of the club. Funding was also used to support a no entry fee family evening in February. 

Provision of Cosy Packs

A mixture of Cosy pack and individual products (gillets, snoods etc) were made available in a variety of places – outpatients department at the hospital, on the town bus, parish church, cosy sessions and via volunteers taking them to known people.

Huge thanks to everyone involved in this winters project, you’re all amazing!