Scottish Strings partners with weekly project providing support to dementia sufferers


On the first Friday of every month, St Cecilia’s Hall hosts a free event providing activities designed to stimulate dementia sufferers.

“People have the opportunity to socialise and participate in a meaningful, collections-focused talk and activity designed to make everyone feel comfortable and welcome,” Dr Sarah Deters, Learning and Engagement Curator at St Cecilia’s, tells EN4 News.

“Many of the participants have formed their own community, offering each other support, through the programme.”

Nadine, who takes her mother along to the events regularly, said that a lot of the other dementia programmes are too long and difficult for her mum to understand but this one is different.

“Being able to listen to the live music is fantastic,” she said, “they have the most amazing collection of instruments.”

Research shows that musical memory is one of the last memories that sufferers of dementia lose.

“Music has tangible, evidence-based benefits for people with dementia, such as helping to minimise the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, tackling depression and anxiety, and, importantly, helping to improve quality of life.”

This morning’s event began with tea and coffee, creating a social environment, followed by a talk on Scottish string instruments, given by Ms Deters herself.

The main activity was a performance of traditional string music, specifically clarsach and mandolin.

St Cecilia’s joined a partnership in 2017 called Social, a programme created specifically to cater for sufferers of dementia. The hall is the home of Edinburgh University’s musical instrument collection.

Ms Deters highlighted that the programme has demonstrated how cultural institutions and museums can have a positive impact on people suffering from diseases such as dementia.

Stacey Dooley criticised for Comic Relief trip

Documentary maker Stacey Dooley has defended Instagram posts from her recent Comic Relief trip to Uganda, after being criticised by MP David Lammy.

Lammy initially responded to the pictures of Dooley holding a young child, claiming “the world does not need any more white saviours. As I’ve said before, this just perpetuates tired and unhelpful stereotypes. Let’s instead promote voices from across the continent of Africa and have serious debate.”

Lammy criticised Comic Relief for sending white celebrities to African countries to raise awareness regarding the work the charity does, saying it gives a false impression of modern Africa. After being challenged by Dooley to “go over there and try to raise awareness”, Lammy said it wasn’t a personal attack on Dooley, rather the charity sending British celebrities to make films which “give a distorted image of Africa”.

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A post shared by Stacey Dooley (@sjdooley) on

Dooley has since been bombarded by messages from ‘No White Saviours’ activists, a group who criticise the ‘white saviour complex’ claiming that Africa is riddled with middle-class do-gooders. Stacey also faced backlash from fans on Twitter, asking her if she would “pick up random white children in Europe and force them to be in your selfies”. She quickly hit back at her critics, saying she has had “numerous photos with children from Europe. Last year I was with Roma kids in Hungary and no one had any issues with these photos”. She then went on to explain that she always gets consent from the guardians of the children – either written or verbal – before taking pictures.

Comic Relief, one of Britain’s biggest charities, defended sending Dooley to Uganda saying: “We are really grateful that Stacey Dooley, an award-winning and internationally acclaimed documentary-maker, agreed to go to Uganda to discover more about projects the British people have funded there and make no apologies for this. She has filmed and reported on challenging issues all over the world, helping to put a much-needed spotlight on issues that affect people’s lives daily”.

Dooley is the most recent Westerner to come under fire for going to Africa and posting pictures of her helping youngsters. Most that decide to volunteer in these third-world countries have good intentions, they genuinely want to provide these children with a better life. They want to build schools so children can gain a proper education, build better homes that will last for years to come, give the residents a source of drinkable water – something we all take for granted. On the other side, there are those who think that going to Africa and taking pictures with these children will give them a story to tell back home, brownie points for “helping disadvantaged children” but to these individuals, thats all they do. They don’t help better the lives of these children, they better their own lives.

Beating the boobie blues

Three local artists help to raise awareness of breast cancer

Left to right: Kathleen Moodie, Jennifer Colquhoun and Beth Lamont.

Step 1: Touch. Step 2: Look. Step 3: Check. T-L-C. While there is no definitive method for checking your breasts for signs and symptoms of breast cancer, UK charity Breast Cancer Now are asking you to try a little TLC. Early detection is crucial in treating and beating the disease – most cases of breast cancer are first found by women themselves.

This October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and fundraising events have been taking place across the country to support this issue. On 19th October, three Edinburgh-based artists got together at Custom Lane in Leith to raise money and awareness for a disease that one in eight women in the UK will develop in their lifetime.

The collaborative project, Boobzapalooza, headed by knitwear designer Kathleen Moodie is a ‘month-long celebration of all things breast’. Together with scientific illustrator Jennifer Colquhoun and ceramic jewellery designer Beth Lamont, they have designed limited-edition boob-related art that will be sold throughout the month with 40% of the proceeds going directly to Breast Cancer Now.

The Boob Arc Necklace, K.Boobs Booble Hat and The Boob Print are all for sale throughout October.

What made you choose this particular breast cancer charity?

Kathleen Moodie: “I have a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer at 24 and she’s an ambassador for Breast Cancer Now and she suggested to go for them. Partly because they are registered in Scotland as well, so the money is coming from Scotland and staying in Scotland, that for her is something that is really important. It was something that none of us had thought of. We just thought, ‘oh, yeah we’ll pick a breast cancer charity and it will be great’, and Victoria said, ‘you’ve got to make sure it’s a Scottish one’ and it makes so much sense.” 

Breast Cancer Now is the UK’s largest breast cancer charity.

The event is about making breast cancer less scary and approaches the disease in a fun and direct way. Why is that important?

Jennifer Colquhoun: “Last year, I found a lump in my own breast and I was terrified. I thought that was me because a few years ago my aunt died of breast cancer, so it was in the family. But it turns out mine was a fibroadenoma which is a benign tumour. It’s also commonly known as the breast mouse which I thought was hilarious. I really wanted to do a picture of the breast mouse but nobody really knew what I was talking about.”

A customer tries on Kathleen Moodie’s Booble Hat.

Why do you think the arts is a good way of talking about and addressing big issues such as breast cancer?

Beth Lamont: “I guess it just gives it a tangible thing. You can still donate money, but you get to take something away. The next time someone is wearing their pink necklace someone can be like, oh I like that’ and you can be like, ‘oh it was actually for this charity’ and you talk about it again. Though they are only on sale for the month that conversation will hopefully keep on going because of that product, that piece of art, that hat, is not going to go away.”

The Boobzapalooza event held at Custom Lane, Leith.

The limited-edition pieces are available throughout October and can be purchased online here.


Fast fashion, faster damage


Clothing and shoes collection bins will hopefully encourage people to donate their unwanted items to charity.

Fast food, fast cars and now there is even fast fashion – a contemporary term used for the cheap and trendy throwaway clothes we buy from budget retailers. These garments might be perfectly good at the time of purchase, but they soon both fall apart and out of fashion. According to Fashion Focus, it is estimated that we now buy 40% of our clothes at ‘value’ retailers. These fast fashion suppliers – the majority of whom solely allow online shopping – have not just stomped their stiff, faux-leather boot adorned foot down on the high street, but they have also left a muddy carbon footprint in their wake.

Recent findings from the Environmental Audit Committee show that Britons are the number one consumer of new clothes in Europe, and the number of items we are purchasing has doubled in the last ten years. Campaigners for sustainability Wrap have highlighted that 300,000 tones of clothing are binned every year. Of these easily re-useable clothes, 80% are piled in a landfill and the other 20% are incinerated, releasing toxic chemicals such as azo dyes, chlorinated solvents, lead and mercury into the air.

Last week, MPs reported that they are growing increasingly worried about the UK’s penchant for buying new clothes and the many repercussions this has on the environment. In their report, MPs said the fashion industry was now a leading producer of the greenhouse gases that are over-heating the planet. MPs have since reached out to a number of retailers, urging them to consider the various approaches they can take to drastically reduce fast fashions’ destructive impact on the environment.

Andrew Pankhurst, Re-use Campaigns Manager for Zero Waste Scotland, emphasised the importance of fashion retailers taking immediate action:

“We all know buying brand new products can be tempting, but we have to think about our limited natural resources and the impact of our waste as we fight the ever-increasing threat of climate change.

“With the public and businesses more attuned than ever to the problems caused by linear consumption, there has never been a better time to be making the case for making things last and getting maximum value from our resources.”


Clothes will a lot of life left in them can be found in charity and vintage shops.

In Edinburgh, steps are being taken to find solutions and alternatives to fast fashion, with its various sustainable fashion choices for shoppers. The capital boasts a vast array of vintage boutiques, natural wool knitwear stores and even shops such as Godiva and Totty Rocks, who use locally sourced fabrics to custom make pieces – which can take up to three weeks – ‘slow fashion’ is more fitting here.

Edinburgh & Lothians’ Regional Equality Council, who work to promote human rights and sustainability, have been hosting weekly clothing repairs and alterations drop ins. At 1:30pm on Wednesday 10th September, they have organised a swap shop event at Kings Church on Gilmore Place and encourage the people of Edinburgh to bring items in exchange for other items of their choosing. They also hope to launch a sewing club in the coming months.

Project Coordinator, Jean-Matthieu Gaunand said:

“The fashion industry is a great contributor to climate change. The industry emits as much greenhouse gas as all of Russia. At Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council, we encourage people from diverse communities to repair and re-sew their clothes rather than constantly buying them new.

“Our clothing repair service is run by an expert Kurdish tailor who has over 15 years of tailoring experience. She has done wonders and the feedback from participants has been excellent. I invite everyone to drop in.”


People can take their clothing to Edinburgh & Lothians’ Regional Equality Council’s weekly drop-in to ve

Elsewhere in the city, one student is pro-active in push against fast fashion. Edinburgh College of Art Jewellery and silversmithing student Daniela Groza is the curator of an annual ethically-conscious

fashion show, R Sustainable Fashion. She has recently been appointed the student ambassador for the Ethical Making Pledge, founded by the Incorporation of Goldsmiths. She explains what the group’s objectives are:

“We want to ensure that the materials used in our workshops not only come from ethically sourced roots, but also that we are creating a safe environment for ourselves, such as eliminating chemicals such as citric acid and finding substitutes.

“Also, thinking about recycling and reusing precious metals – re-melting and turning into a new piece, creating multi wearable jewellery, thinking about the material flow; where it came from, digging to its roots, but also considering where it will end up, putting emphasis on a circular economy.

“As a jewellery student who is interested in fashion, it is my responsibility to take these issues into consideration given the damages produced to our world by both the textile and the extractive industry.”

In the quick isn’t quick enough society of today where everything is available at the simple click of a button, the temptation of ‘buy now, wear tomorrow’ can be hard to resist. However, next time you are about to hit ‘checkout’, perhaps stop to ask yourself – do you really need another Boohoo dress? Your purse and the planet might just thank you for it.

1p and 2p coins could be scrapped thanks to a rise in electronic payments

The penny could become a thing of the past, thanks to the rise in contactless and digital payments.

Phillip Hammond has told of his controversial plans to get rid of the 1p and 2p coins, as well as the £50 note, in the Autumn budget.

This comes after the Treasury revealed that 60 percent of all 1p and 2p coins are used only once before being put away into savings. It was also revealed that in eight percent of cases these coins are just thrown away.

According to the Treasury’s consultation document, the government and the Royal Mint have:

“needed to produce and issue over 500 million 1p and 2p coins each year to replace those falling out of circulation.”

One of the strongest criticisms of these changes comes from charities, who believe they will be strongly affected by these changes.

1p coins may be scrapped due to proposed changes made by the Treasury | Image Credit: Gizmodo

According to Karl Wilding, Director of Public Policy Volunteering at the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), although there has been a massive rise in electronic payments, the majority of donations to charities are given in cash.

He said:

“Giving by cash methods remains, by some distance, the most popular way of giving to charity. 58 percent of donors give to charity using cash.

“Giving coins to charity is the starting point on a journey for lots of people. Direct Debits bring in more money to charities, but giving loose change underpins Britain’s culture of giving.

If we are going to scrap coins and notes then we need to think about ways to give smaller charities different ways to get people on the journey of giving to good causes.”

He added:

“Perhaps we should be thinking creatively about how we can encourage people to give them to good causes instead.

“As society moves from cash to digital payments we particularly need to help small charities get ready as the people who give pennies today are the people who give pounds tomorrow.”

Members of the public have taken to Twitter to express their concerns about the possible changes. Twitter user Jay believes that arcades, charities and homeless people will feel the impact of the scrapping of one and two pence coins.


Twitter use @wallin_08 believes that these changes will have a negative affect on many industries | Image Credit: @wallin_08 on Twitter

On the other hand, some believe that this could result in people donating higher amounts to charities instead, giving 5p or 10p coins instead.  Twitter user Alexander believes that “charities stand to benefit from this.”

Some members of public believe that getting rid of low value coins may result in charities receiving higher donations | Image Credit: @Xandyballs on Twitter

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Disabled Man Died Thirsty

Man with Cerebral Palsy dies from sepsis during bad weather.

On Saturday 3rd March, Cameron Mclean woke up tired and thirsty at approximately 8:30am. His mother was worried after finding him sweating and having difficulty breathing so she phoned an ambulance immediately. Paramedics arrived and proceeded to dig a path in the snow to get to Cameron’s house.

Cameron had Cerebral Palsy, so being wheelchair bound, he was unable to leave the house due to the severe weather conditions. He was then rushed to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary but doctors discovered he had developed the sepsis blood infection, they attempted to save him but tragically, he died at 8:30pm just 12 hours after he complained of feeling tired and thirsty.


Cameron Mclean – Scotsman

Cameron Mclean’s death has left his family in Port Seton devastated. Friends are rallying to raise money for his funeral. Fundraising ideas have included a trolley in the local Co-op Food supermarket collecting funds and a family fun-day and disco planned by the Cockenzie and Port Seton British Legion club, people are doing as much as they can to give Cameron the send-off he deserves. Cameron’s mum’s best friend, Tressa Cherrie, set up a JustGiving page to raise £5000 for the funeral and has been overwhelmed by support from the community.

Clearly, Sepsis can be an extremely serious infection. It is however, gaining more publicity with The Archers’ BBC Radio programme’s portrayal of a character who dies of sepsis raising awareness with regards to the disease.

According to the UK Sepsis Trust, 44,000 deaths in the UK are due to the illness. Ben Cooke, a staff Nurse at the NHS, said that,

“If it’s not treated quickly it can be deadly. Being thirsty is not a common symptom to have with Sepsis.

The UK Sepsis Trust set out guidelines which are specific to sepsis, which are slurred speech, shivering, no urine, severe breathlessness, a feeling of near death and discoloured skin. It’s not an obvious sign, but once sepsis identified, it’s a really dangerous thing to have.”.


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Out in the Cold

We’ve all felt the affects of the cold weather in the past few weeks, however for people without a home the snow and cold weather meant more than discomfort.

The bad weather highlighted the threat homelessness has become with few cases where it has taken the life of those on the streets.

Homelessness in Edinburgh and across Scotland has been at its worst the past couple of weeks, with temperatures in the country plummeting to below zero. The Scottish Government recently announced plans to increase funding to tackle rough sleeping, after an Edinburgh local homeless man died after spending a night in sub-zero temperatures. 

Though there is no official count of rough sleepers however charity Shelter Scotland estimate around 5,000 people sleep rough in Scotland throughout the year. With over 34,000 applications for homelessness assistance made to local authorities in the last full year, and this is only counting those who came forward for help.

Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, said: “It is completely unacceptable that people face sleeping rough at any time of year, but when temperatures plummet their lives are at even greater risk.

“In Scotland, councils have a duty to take homeless applications from those who come to them for help and to accommodate them at least until they have investigated their case. Shelter Scotland helps people access these rights every year.”

Image Credit: Shelter

Campaign group Social Bite, founded by Josh-Littlejohn, continue to tackle homelessness, and are using the money raised from ‘Sleep in the Park’ last November, to help move the homeless into new houses.

They aim to take 600 people out of homelessness over the next year and a half, with plans to invest £1.5million into funding support for the homeless in the first year, and the same again the following year.

It is reported that the first homes will be ready in the spring, with the City of Edinburgh Council offering 500 properties for the project, with other homes being made available through housing associations across the country.

The dedication by Social Bite is praised by many, Edinburgh local student Sam Henderson said: “I think the work of Social Bite is exceptionally kind and selfless, and hopefully all their work will continue to encourage more people to come forward and help the homeless.”

Social Bite’s work has previously attracted celebrity support from George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle also recently visited the cafe.

Their latest project is the largest commitment of this kind to help the homeless in the UK. 

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Edinburgh man’s effort to help the homeless this Christmas

This is the fourth year that Edinburgh man Jason Scott will be helping our homeless on Christmas Eve.

Each year, he takes donations from the public to make hampers containing food and items of clothing to distribute to those sleeping rough the night before Christmas.

Jason is hopeful that in the upcoming years there will be a massive decrease of people sleeping on the streets.

Jason, 27, first started this act of kindness in 2013, after a family grievance inspired him to give back to the less fortunate.

He said: “I’ve witnessed people sleeping in graveyards and rough on the streets. Four years ago I took to social media and asked everyone for donations. It was a massive success the first year and we just continued to do it.”

Having previously volunteered in homeless kitchens and soup drives, he knew the extent of the Capital’s homeless epidemic and wished to help more. Mr Scott estimates he has helped around 350 people over the three years.

He said: “People are so thankful and so happy to receive these things. It’s quite a shame because I get back in the car and they’re already in the bag eating, so they are hungry.”

This year he will hand out hot soup in flasks, along with the mini-hampers.

Helping Edinburgh’s homeless has been a popular topic these past few months, with charity Social Bite’s massive fundraising event ‘Sleep in the Park‘ having already raised over £2 million.

Shelter Scotland estimates around 5,000 people in Scotland sleep rough.

Jason is amongst many who are helping on a smaller scale, showing that a little help can go a long way.

The volunteer said: “I’m not a charity, I just want to give something back.

“I don’t do this sort of thing so people give me credit and give me thanks, I do it because I want to see other people happy. I don’t do it for the credibility factor.”

If you would like to donate items or help Jason, you can contact him via his Facebook or email him at

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It takes some tough cookies to talk as Scotland celebrates national Adoption Week

To celebrate Adoption Week Scotland, adoption agencies all over the country are holding different kinds of events to help bring more light to the subject.

Scottish Adoption is one of the many organisations taking an active role to help the community understand the issue.

Scottish Adoption gearing up for questions in Edinburgh. / Image credit: Scottish Adoption Twitter page

The agency held a bake-off charity event yesterday evening, at James Gillespie High School, in support of the week. The event allowed people to mingle and share their personal experiences, as well as being a fun day out for the family.

Taking care of a child is never an easy job. Around 5,500 children are adopted by families every year in the UK. The majority of adoptions are children in care that are: over the age of one, siblings, or children with certain disabilities.

Many children also suffer from significant neglect, trauma or abuse before being taken into care, which can lead to the kids developing a range of complex emotional and psychological difficulties.

Past research has shown that almost three-quarters of adopted kids have developmental issues and mental health problems of one kind or another.

Dr Sue Brown, of Adoption UK, believes that while many families are glad to help, they still lack the appropriate skills to face certain new challenges.

“Adoption is not a silver bullet. These children’s problems don’t just disappear overnight. Both adoptive parents and adopted children need skilled help and support,” she said.

The week looks to get communities to discuss adoption positively

Dr Brown noted that it was important to acknowledge the kids as non-threatening beings, even if some portray violent tendencies due to past traumas.  These agencies today aim to provide support and advice to both the children and new families through numerous workshops, sharing sessions and lectures.

Robin Duncan, director of Adoption and Fostering Alliance Scotland and manager of Scotland Adoption Register, told us that their main objective is to get the community to discuss about both positive and negative sides of adoption work.

He said: “There’s a worry that over simplistic accounts lead to polarised views. Adoption needs to be seen in context of the whole system instead.

“We have made the theme, or strap line for the week, ‘we need to talk about adoption’Our aim is to highlight the positives, but also to encourage discussion about some of the challenges and complications – properly appreciating these helps us make adoption work as well as possible for everyone involved.”

There are several other events happening in Edinburgh during the remainder of the week, including a conference with acclaimed speaker and author, Lisa Cherry. The conference will consist of talks, workshops and a short documentary screening and will be held on this Friday (24th November) at the Hilton Carlton Hotel from 9:30am.

Seats for the conference can be booked here.

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New research shows emotional impact of diabetes

Today marks World Diabetes Day. This was first started in 1991 jointly by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organisation.


Research unveiled today by Diabetes UK has highlighted the emotional and mental issues that comes with diabetes.


”Out of 8,500 people surveyed, three in five five said that their condition made them feel down, and only three in ten said that they felt in control of their diabetes.”


The charity has called upon the UK Government to radically improve health outcomes for people with the illness. This will by committing to sustain funding at current levels of £44 million, until at least 2021.


The chief executive of Diabetes UK, Chris Askew, spoke of the importance of being able to help sufferers with the emotional consequences of the condition:


“Effective diabetes care requires that a person’s emotional needs are taken into account alongside their physical care needs,” said Chris Askew, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK.


Diabetes is a lifelong incurable condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to go too high, of which there are two main types:


Type 1 diabetes is typically developed in childhood, and is due to a lack of insulin which means the body cannot control the amount of sugar that is in the bloodstream. In most cases of treatment, regular injections of insulin are required to help regulate blood sugar levels.


Type 2, the most common type, is where the body does not make enough insulin to work properly or when the body doesn’t react to insulin.

For more information on the symptoms, causes and further treatment of both types of diabetes.



Insulin allows the cells in the muscles, fat and liver to absorb sugar that is in the blood.
Source: Flickr


Diabetes is a key factor in causing disability and creates a greater risk of heart diseases and other health issues. The 2016 Scottish Diabetes Survey estimates that there were around 300,000 people in Scotland with diabetes at the end of 2016.


The main theme behind World Diabetes Day 2017 is Women and Diabetes, about broadening access for women for the healthcare options that they need. According to the International Federation for Diabetes:


‘’There are currently over 199 million women living with diabetes and this total is projected to increase to 313 million by 2040.’’


The IDF believe that more needs to be done to provide girls and women with the support they need in societies where men tend to find getting support easier and quicker, as well as tackling other inequalities such as dieting and physical activity.

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