Mar 072013
 

With thanks to Claire McBain.

Last week Learning Opportunities students at Aberdeen College, some of whom are also young carers, raised more than £1,100 when they hosted a pop-up charity shop. The funds will benefit young carer services run by the local charity Voluntary Service Aberdeen (VSA).

The Aberdeen College charity shop will continue to fundraise for young carers until the end of this week, Friday 8th March.

Chris Sojka, Senior Carers’ Support and Development Worker with VSA, said:

 “I’m overwhelmed with the success of just one week in the charity shop. It’s fantastic. The money will go towards a school holiday respite programme, which gives young carers a much-needed break during their time off school. It will also help fund our education support for young carers. This ranges from helping them catch up with homework, to studying for exams, to making sure they get to College if that’s their goal. It’s all about fulfilling aspirations.” 

There are an estimated 2,240 young carers in Aberdeen, and far more that we don’t know about, who try to look after a sick or disabled relative without help.

Fiona Duff, lecturer in the Learning Opportunities department at AberdeenCollege, nominated the cause:

“Some of our students are young carers. I’m overwhelmed with what they do to help their families. It can take a lot for them to get to and stay in College. For students who don’t have direct caring experience, they can easily relate. They may have a friend who cares for someone. If not, they could imagine the situation. It could be them. It could be their brother, sister or cousin.”

“It went very well. We’re delighted with the amount raised: it would take us many weeks to raise that in the College charity shop. The students really enjoyed it and we got a lot of positive customer comments. Considering it’s something we’ve never done before, it went very smoothly.”

Chris added:

“We love to hear about people getting behind our young carers, especially people directly associated with the cause.  We’re so thankful to Aberdeen College for thinking of us.”

“Young carers are a phenomenal group of people, with some as young as five and others juggling Standard Grade study, who experience the struggles of growing up and their caring role. It might feel normal for them but they actually make a very special contribution to the community and their family. VSA’s Chill Out Zone gives them much-needed support, whether it’s respite, help with homework or a chance to have fun and just be a child.”

For more information about VSA’s Carers Services, visit their headquarters at 38 Castle Street, call 01224 212021 or visit the website at www.vsa.org.uk.

Feb 082013
 

With thanks to Claire McBain.

On Sunday 3 February 2013, Voluntary Services Aberdeen launched an appeal for athletic locals to support it at the annual Balmoral Road Races. Budding athletes have been invited to pick which part of the charity they want to fundraise for, from a selection of more than 30 VSA services.

VSA has spaces in both the Conoco Phillips 5k race and the Stena Drilling Tartan 10k.

Debbie Fotheringham, fundraising officer at VSA, is leading the quest for competitors:

“We’re delighted to be part of Run Balmoral again.  This year, we’re passionate about making sure our runners know that they can raise money for something that matters to them.  Asking people to sponsor you is never easy.  But if it’s for something important to you, it’s a million times easier.

“VSA is such a diverse charity.  I think that, for almost every person out there, there’s a service that means something.  We support babies, children, adults with mental health difficulties, children with additional support needs, carers, young carers and older people. 

“You might want to run to raise money to send our hardworking young carers on a well-deserved trip or to buy an iPad so that our older people can Skype their overseas relatives.  You could even run to raise money to buy a goat for VSA’s Easter Anguston Farm in Peterculter.  The list is long and flexible.”  

“Last year we attracted a variety of runners, including me and a colleague.  I’m taking a break this year but I’d love to hear from people of all ages and abilities.  In 2012 we had marathon champions, regular runners and first-timers trying to keep their New Year resolution of getting fit.  But it’s not just about the running.  The Balmoral Road Races is really fun family day out.”

To book a place or to find out more about running for VSA at Run Balmoral, please contact Debbie Fotheringham on 01224 212021 or e-mail Debbie.fotheringham@vsa.org.uk 

Feb 022013
 

With thanks to Claire McBain.

A new facility in Aberdeen, run by VSA, a social care charity that supports more than 2,500 people each year in the city and shire, has launched a plea to local people with unwanted memorabilia and accessories dating back to the sixties, seventies and eighties.

The project, funded by Aberdeen City Council’s Change Fund will be a community-based facility for adults aged over 50 who are cared for at home.  It plans to support around 150 people each week.

Scott MacLeod ( pictured ), manager of the new facility at 22 King’s Gate, Aberdeen, said:

“We’re aiming for a March launch but are just waiting on confirmation from the Care Inspectorate.  We can’t reveal too much until everything’s confirmed. 

“The project has been on the go for months now and we don’t want to jinx it.  But we can say that, as far as we know, there’s nothing else like it Aberdeen.  We’re so excited.

“But this doesn’t mean we can’t start getting organised.  Because it’s a facility for older people, the building and activities within it will be largely based around reminiscence.  We’re looking for a quirky selection of vintage items and hope that the kind-hearted people of Aberdeen can reach out to help us.  We have a wish list but we’re generally really open to anything from the specified eras. 

“We’re also keen to hear from people who want to volunteer their time to support the more vulnerable people in their community.  In particular, we’d love trainee hairdressers or beauticians who can offer a bit of pampering.”

The 22 King’s Gate wish list is based around memorabilia, decorations, wall-hangings and miscellaneous items from 1960s, 1970s and 1980s but specifically includes:

  • Old fashioned projectors
  • Old fashioned clocks
  • Old fashioned tea service
  • Picture books from these eras
  • Traditional scales for measuring sweets
  • Old glass bell jars to hold sweets
  • Vintage taxidermy
  • Wii games, especially keep-fit ones
  • A piano or full-size keyboard
  • Any CDs
  • Any DVDs
  • Any books
  • Games and activities dating from any time period, including current

If you have an item that may be of use to 22 King’s Gate please contact Scott MacLeod on 07720972377 or e-mail scott.macleod@vsa.org.uk

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Jan 242013
 

With thanks to Claire McBain.

This month, VSA is urging unpaid carers who look after someone with a mental health condition to come together for the Mental Health In-Forum.

The monthly group ( on Tuesday 29 January 2013) offers mental health carers respite, education, support and socialising opportunities.

Arlene Malcolm, carers’ support and development worker at VSA’s Carers’ Services, said:

“It’s open to absolutely any person who looks after someone with a mental health condition, such as schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.  You don’t have to be a full-time carer.  You might help out your parent or child, support your husband or wife or occasionally lend a hand to a friend or neighbour.  Anyone linked to someone with a mental health condition is welcome.

“I want to create a safe, informal place where people can share stories, tips and ideas.  It’ll be a knowledge exchange with social and support elements too.  The idea is to get in insight into how the illness affects the person they care for but also to encourage carers to monitor their own mental health.” 

A 2012 Carers Trust poll revealed that 60% of unpaid carers found their mental health was affected by their role.

“Each session will have a specific focus and staff from Cornhill will be on hand to advise too.  This month we’re exploring therapy options.  We want carers to know that, although medication is available, it can be combined with other helpful rehabilitation, such as exercise and art, to help recovery.  We’ll also help carers apply for new funding available for them and those they care for.  It ranges from short breaks to relaxation therapies.”

The concept follows successful Aberdeen dementia support group, Information XChange, run by Alzheimer Scotland in conjunction with VSA.

“Three carers of people with dementia wanted to share their stories to help and inspire others.  It’s evolved over almost three years.  About 20 carers come to each meeting, which is a lot considering their commitments, and we have a lot more on our books.  The carers really get something from it.  They enjoy the fact it’s information-led but love the social side too.

“People worry that joining a group like this means lots of admin work or being talked into running for chairperson.  There’s none of that here.  VSA does it all.  The group belongs to the carers but the administration side doesn’t.”

The January Mental Health In-Forum meeting will be the second so far.

“We had our first meeting at the end of November.  Numbers were small but it’s all about getting word out.  I’m hoping we’ll catch up with the dementia group in no time.”

According to Carers UK, there are nearly 6 million carers in the country.  The Scottish Household Survey, conducted by The Scottish Government in 2010 reported 657,300 carers north of the border, more than 25,000 of which live in Aberdeen City.

The Mental Health In-Forum meeting will take place on Tuesday 29 January 2013 between 7pm and 9pm at the Recovery Resource Centre, Royal Cornhill Hospital, Aberdeen.  For more information about the Mental Health In-Forum or Information XChange please contact Arlene Malcolm on 01224 557868 or e-mail carers.info@vsa.org.uk

 

Jan 182013
 

Vital conservation work, including the growing of rare trees, by award-winning charity Trees for Life has received a welcome funding boost thanks to players of a charity lottery.  With thanks to Richard Bunting.

An award of £7,443 to Trees for Life from People’s Postcode Trust, a grant-giving charity, funded entirely by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, has allowed the charity to expand and develop a tree nursery at its acclaimed Dundreggan Estate in Glen Moriston, near Loch Ness, in Inverness-shire.

Trees for Life has been able to invest in a much-needed new polytunnel, tools and equipment, increasing the nursery’s capacity to grow rare trees and plants to restore the Caledonian Forest in the Scottish Highlands.

Volunteers will carry out much of the work in the nursery, allowing them to gain new skills and experience, and to improve their health through outdoor exercise.

Trees for Life executive director Alan Watson Featherstone (pictured above) said:

“The opportunity to expand our tree nursery at a time of widespread concern about diseases from imported trees to the UK is a very positive development.

“Our new facilities will significantly increase the number of trees we can produce, and enable more volunteers to get involved in growing rare Caledonian Forest species, including dwarf birch, juniper, tea-leaved willow and twinflower.

“We would like to thank the Postcode Lottery Trust for its generous grant, which has made this possible.”

The expanded nursery will help the charity meet its target of establishing a million more trees by planting and natural regeneration within the next five years.

Trees for Life is restoring Scotland’s ancient Caledonian Forest to a spectacular wilderness region of 1,000 square miles in the Highlands to the west of Loch Ness and Inverness.

For more details, see www.treesforlife.org.uk or call 0845 458 3505.

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Dec 212012
 

With thanks to Claire McBain.

Aberdeen’s first festive luxury meat charity auction will benefit social care charity Voluntary Service Aberdeen (VSA) .
On Christmas Eve, Monday 24th December,  Aberdeen butcher Andrew Gordon will host Aberdeen’s first ever luxury meat auction. It’s in aid of VSA, which is the UK’s largest city social care charity, supporting more than 2,500 people in Aberdeen each year.

The event, at Andrew Gordon Butchery and Fine Foods on Chattan Place will see all remaining festive stock in the counters up for grabs.  VSA will benefit from 20 percent of each final auction price.

Andrew said:

 “Anyone who wants to stock up their freezer, create a last minute Christmas banquet or make up a last minute gift should come down to see what’s on offer.  We’ve got free range turkey, Aberdeen Angus beef roasts and lots of other surprises.

 “My auction is all about festive cheer, Christmas, goodwill and giving back to a very worthy cause.  I want to celebrate a fantastic year of food and drink innovation in Aberdeen by giving something back to the community.  VSA is a hardworking charity that transforms lives of young and old people, as well as supporting people with learning difficulties, mental health issues or people who are carers.

“I always try and keep some Christmas stock in reserve and this gives us the chance to completely clear our shelves as we make room for more fresh meat deliveries in the New Year.  Hopefully I can save a roast for myself and my family but also present a welcome donation to VSA.”

The Christmas luxury meat charity auction will take place on 24th December between 5 and 5.30 p.m. at Andrew Gordon Butchery and Fine Foods, 35-37 Chattan Place, Aberdeen, AB10 6RB.

Andrew Gordon Butchery and Fine Foods is an Aberdeen-based butcher shop that specialises in the essence of excellence through sourcing the best quality products and bringing them to customers.

Andrew is also exploring areas of healthier eating with The Food and Health Innovation Service, Scottish Food and Drink Federation, Interface and others.   Specialities include the areas of reduced salt and low fat, and lean produce.

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Sep 132012
 

On Wednesday 12 September VSA’s Easter Anguston Farm in Peterculter opened its annual one-week outdoor art gallery and sculpture trail.  This is in conjunction with North East Open Studios 2012 (NEOS), which runs a yearly event during which regional artists open their studios to the public over a one-week period. Suzanne Kelly reports.

Over 70 guests attended the preview evening, and were treated to guided tours of the artwork placed around the farm’s grounds.

Guests were also able to meet some of the artists – some of which are service users – and view the farm, farm shop, animals and education areas of the facility.

John Booth, Deputy Chief Executive at VSA, was one of several speakers welcoming the guests.  Thanks and floral presentations were made to several volunteers.

Alex Kay, a well-known name on the Aberdeen art scene, has a deep connection with Easter Anguston Farm’s NEOS gallery; she commented

“Every year it gets bigger and more interesting.  It brings a different dynamic to the farm and the work that’s done there. For the service users heavily involved in farming, it means developing a new skill set.  There are some real stars there.” 

Alex and her partner Simon led a tour around the site.

I was introduced to William Moir, who had made a wonderful sculpture of a Koala bear, which was situated in the perfect setting – a tree.  This beautiful sculpture and all of the other exhibits were extraordinary; the artwork on show radiates enthusiasm, optimism and colour; it is some of the happiest artwork I have seen in a very long time.

There is an Alice in Wonderland-themed area featuring a Mad Hatter’s Tea party section, a very winsome snail soft sculpture, and an endearing painting of a rabbit.

These works are displayed in two tiny summerhouses; nearby festive umbrellas hang upside down from trees, decorated with artwork and streamers.

Elsewhere there are colourful papier mache figures copying ancient Egyptian cat mummy styles, fabric wall hangings in the form of stylised deer heads, large and small knitted panda bears by Knit Wits adorn the garden centre area.

Participating artists include children, service users and artists from a variety of backgrounds.  The sculpture trail includes remarkable works in situ including a beautifully crafted miniature pond with fish and lily pads by Heather Ivers.  A pottery dragon sculpture called ‘The Watcher’ by Bibo Weber adds a fantasy element.

Nearby in a small glade of conifers were realistic handcrafted miniature mushrooms, while overhead a few giant dragonflies hung from the trees.  (Unfortunately by then it was too dark for photos of ‘The Watcher’ to come out well, yet too light to get the glow-in-the-dark effect from the dragonflies.

The appearance of a giant rainbow over the farmlands added a magical, happy touch to the event (and was a welcome distraction from the short-lived rain which punctuated the sunshine).

The artwork is in the farm’s grounds which is a most impressive wildlife haven.  The Royal Society for the Protection of Bird’s Claire Marsden was on hand and is the Red Kite officer.  Red Kites were severely reduced in number throughout the UK, but are being successfully reintroduced.

A sign explains the importance of hedgerows, what plants the hedges are grown from, and the kinds of wildlife which depends on these plants. Like the hedgerows, Easter Anguston Farm’s wildlife pond also supports biodiversity and is important to the area’s wildlife.

Graduate students from Total E&P UK, the Altens-based oil company, volunteered to make improvements to the pond such as building a small jetty.  These graduate students recently raised over £600 for the VSA at Total’s offices during a coffee morning fundraiser, and Total is matching this sum.

The graduates’ coffee morning also highlighted to Total personnel the many services the VSA provides.  The graduates have other fundraising and community volunteer projects in the near future, including ‘Le Tour de Deeside’ bicycle race based loosely on the Tour de France, with additional challenges added.

The organisers send their thanks to the attendees, and said:

“It was a brilliant event and we were delighted with the turnout… and even more delighted with the fact that most of the rain managed to hold off until the walk around was finished! ”

The VSA’s Easter Anguston Farm’  NEOS 2012 gallery is open between Saturday 15 September and Sunday 23 September, from 10am until 4pm daily with free entry, a café and free parking.

North-east social care charity VSA’s Easter Anguston Farm trains adults with additional support needs, and is also a tourist attraction.  The Farm has more than doubled its artists and exhibits from 2011 and boasts a new relationship with Scottish Sculpture Workshop (SSW).

Links
VSA:  http://www.vsa.org.uk/
NEOS:  http://www.northeastopenstudios.co.uk/home.asp
More E. Anguston Art here: http://oldsusannahsjournal.yolasite.com/

Stop press:

For those inspired by what they see, SSW will host a workshop for visitors to make their own sculpture, keepsake or piece of jewellery.  Participants will be guided through the ancient technique of cuttlefish casting, a form of metal casting, at the drop-in sessions on Saturday 22 September between 10am and 4pm.

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Aug 172012
 

As crucial Aberdeen City  Council votes loom large for the future of Union Terrace Gardens, Mike Shepherd considers the TIF business case and finds it lacking.

Just imagine you are the managing director of a big business.  An opportunity has come up to build a new development.

Private investors have promised you £70 million, but it means that you have to borrow £92 million and the government have said they could find £20 million of grant to fund the rest.
Half the shareholders are revolting as they think the venture looks far too risky and the existing company debt is humongous.

The time comes to make a decision on the investment and submit a business case for borrowing to the board of directors.  It turns out that the private investors can only come up with £55 million and now the grant funding has fallen through because the funds never existed in the first place.  

Calamity – the project now has a shortfall of £35 million.  What do you do?  The sensible thing would be to walk away.

Not Aberdeen Council.  I refer of course to the TIF business case written by council officials recommending that the council borrow £92 million for the redevelopment of Union Terrace Gardens and other city centre projects.

The final business case for TIF has been made public and will be voted on at the finance committee on Friday 17th August.
(The agenda for this meeting can be seen at http://committees.aberdeencity.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=146&MId=2668 )

A critical reading of the report makes one thing obvious – they haven’t got all the money!

Yet, it hasn’t stopped council officials from producing a business case where the critical points are buried in waffle and padded out to 187 pages.

Out of the badly argued case (with assumptions, inconsistencies and dodgy data) emerges this conclusion on page 141:

Underpinning the TIF business case is the requirement for £182 million of investment in enabling infrastructure.  At present the business case shows that there is a commitment for £90 million of investment from the private sector and the need for £92 million of public sector investment.

However, there is a shortfall of £35 million on the public sector funding required for the project.

£70 million is recognised as the private sector investment in the quote above, yet they are £15 million short.  As page 46 notes:

This includes £55 million that has already been pledged to the City Garden Project by private donors and a further £15 million still to be raised.”

So where is this extra £15 million supposed to come from?  Page 50 records that:

“Aberdeen City Garden Trust will provide capital funding, act as developer for the City Garden project …  ACGT have also undertaken to raise a further £15 million of philanthropic donations, to supplement the £55 million already pledged to this project from philanthropic donations.”

The begging bowl is going out for £15 million.  Chaps, you have less than a week to get the money.

The remaining £20 million of, “investment from the private sector” comprises “potentially £20 million of grant funding” for an Art Gallery extension.   But does this money exist?

Further reference to page 50 shows that:

The remaining £20 million of grants is attached to the Aberdeen Art Gallery Project.  Officers will pursue a variety of grants to secure the required funds.”

Note the use of the future tense, “will pursue” here.

Council reports show that officers have yet to apply for any funding and, with the exception of a possible £4 million of Scottish Heritage Lottery funding, no other sources of money appear to have been identified.

So what happens if they don’t get the £20 million grant funding for the Art Gallery?

To page 50 again:

Should there be a funding gap officers will need to consider how additional funds will be attracted, generated or secured via other fiscal arrangements.

Anybody fancy a Monet, Turner or a Cezanne?  Going cheap …

This isn’t a business case, it’s a bankruptcy case.

Last year, in a discussion with a council official, I mentioned the possibility of the City Garden Project proving a financial disaster and bankrupting the council.  I was cheerfully told that a public body can’t, technically, go bankrupt although it can end up in a state that closely resembles it (Greece comes to mind).

But make no mistake, Aberdeen Council are going to get burnt here.  Councillors are being asked to vote on borrowing £92 million for a project where there is a very large shortfall on external funding and no guarantee that any of this money will ever turn up.

It would of course be sensible to delay the vote until the money does actually appear.  Yet there is an insanely mad rush to progress with this project, even if it doesn’t make any sense to do so.

What is not discussed anywhere is the mechanism by which Aberdeen Council will guarantee the loan

Another problem with the report is that no detailed costings for the various projects are given.  For example, the £140 million cost for the City Garden Project is a nominal cost from the original technical feasibility study written over three years ago. It is certainly not the final costing.

This means that councillors could be committing to a multi-million basket of projects with no clear provision of accurate costs.  I find this situation alarming and hope for our sake that they do so too.

So who takes the risk on the borrowing?  This is made clear on page 50:

“Aberdeen City Council also recognise that the risk sits with them.”

The report mentions that the borrowing would be from the Public Works Loan Board.  What is not discussed anywhere is the mechanism by which Aberdeen Council will guarantee the loan.

The Scottish Futures Trust, operating on behalf of the Scottish Government, have provided guidance as to how a TIF business case should be submitted to them.
See http://www.facebook.com/l/QAQE16FGI/scottishfutures.ehclientsTIF

In Section 4.4 it is stated that:

“Economic assessments to be carried out:

  • By an objective economist with a recognised track-record of economic assessment for public bodies”

On page 72 we find that Aberdeen City Gardens Trust is identified as providing:

“Core expertise to assist in a robust TIF business case in order to support ACC’s efforts.”

Let’s remind ourselves who Aberdeen City Gardens Trust are again by referring to page 46:

“ACGT will provide capital funding, act as developer for the City Garden Project …”

An earlier draft makes it clear that the advisors to the ACGT were also involved in providing critical input on economic uplift that is supposed to result from building the City Garden Project and related schemes.

Thus a private company seeking to take over a lease and operatorship of council property have been allowed to influence a report justifying the case for Aberdeen Council borrowing £70 million to fund a project that the company has a direct interest in.

In a statement published by the Press and Journal last Monday I wrote:

“The Council would most certainly not allow developers to provide direct input into a report recommending planning acceptance; so why is it appropriate to allow developers to provide economic advice to councillors when the outcome could clearly act in their favour?”

I have complained vigorously to the Chief Executive of the Council on this matter.  It is very bad governance.  I have also drawn this matter to the attention of the Council Monitoring Officer and asked her to investigate this.

Councillors will vote on Friday as to whether this business case is approved or not.

It would be sensible to delay the vote until the business case can be proved to be robust.  Aberdeen Council also needs to find an objective economist, someone who is not directly involved in the project, to give advice.

Otherwise madness would lie in approving the business case and exposing Aberdeen Council to financial disaster.

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Aug 172012
 

The BiG Partnership’s Dave Macdermid advises Aberdeen Voice readers on the upcoming open day and other developments.

Friends of Duthie Park host their second Open Day this Sunday having received a boost with financial support from influential local group ‘Aberdeen 1st’.

Commenting on the support, Friends Chairman Tony Dawson said:

 “While many of entertainers are giving their time for free on Sunday, it does cost a fair bit to stage an event such as this as we are so grateful to Aberdeen 1st for this wonderful gesture. Sunday will be a fantastic day and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the weather will be kind to us.”

Aberdeen 1st’s Jeanette Forbes added.

 “Aberdeen 1st is delighted to support the Friends of Duthie Park open day this Sunday.

“All those involved in Aberdeen 1st are determined to encourage the residents of Aberdeen to take pride in this wonderful City.  The work going on in Duthie Park at the moment will bring this area up to a tremendous quality which will be enjoyed by all in the future”

Sunday will see festivities running between 12 noon and 4 pm with musical entertainment from The Twa Pipers, Megan McQueen, and Leanne and Estrella,  plus horse and cart rides, football coaching with AFC, fitness demonstrations, children’s entertainment, gardening workshops and many other stalls and attractions.

‘Spike’ the talking cactus, the park’s most popular resident, will be there too, following his reappearance at last year’s open day after being absent for a decade.

Further information from:-

www.friendsofduthiepark.co.uk
www.aberdeen1st.co.uk

Jul 262012
 

Following a very successful public appeal to fund a £1.5m refurbishment, Voluntary Service Aberdeen-owned care home Ruthrieston House, was officially opened by HRH The Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO on 24 July. With thanks to Claire McBain, Fundraising Officer, VSA

The Duke was welcomed to the city by international singing star Fiona Kennedy, Vice President of VSA who made a double dash from show rehearsals for The Kist at Glasgow’s Òran Mór theatre to be in Aberdeen.

A public appeal and legacies, along with proceeds from the November 2011 VSA Ball, has provided funding for ten new bedrooms and a major refurbishment of the facility at 199 Broomhill Road, Aberdeen.

Marjory Moran, VSA’s Director of Services for Older People said,

“Demand for our services had been increasing and our studies showed that it would be possible to add a further ten bedrooms to Ruthrieston without impacting on the homely feel of the building. The timetable was challenging but so was the need. We knew that with the help of our friends and supporters we could do it.

“The result is more than we could have ever expected. It looks so much better. It’s been modernised and truly refreshed. The residents are very pleased.  They’re so appreciative of the hard work that’s gone into improving their home.”

Kenneth Simpson, Chief Executive of VSA, commented,

“We’re delighted that HRH the Duke of Gloucester honoured us by performing the official opening of Rutherieston House and very pleased that Fiona Kennedy, a previous Chair of VSA, made such an effort to be with us on this great occasion.”

Fiona Kennedy added,

“This is such a special occasion, especially for the residents and all involved at VSA.  I took young Ruairidh McDonald who is in The Kist to Ruthrieston House last week to sing and give the residents a flavour of the production and they gave us the thumbs up.”

VSA itself is the UK’s largest city social care charity, providing the best of care to the most vulnerable people in the community.  It has been in existence for more than 140 years and looks after around 5000 people in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire each year.

VSA works falls in three main areas, education and lifelong learning, older people services and social care and wellbeing. It also incorporates services for carers.

These services help children and families to build better futures, older people to lead more independent, dignified and fulfilling lives, adults with disabilities and mental health problems to get the most from life, and carers, both adult and child, to juggle everyday life with caring responsibilities.

96p of every pound donated goes on direct charitable expenditure which sets VSA apart from other not-for-profit organisations. Money raised in the NE stays here. VSA encourages supporters to visit its services to see exactly how their money is being used.

For further information about VSA and its work in the local community, call 01224 358611

or visit www.VSA.org.uk

You can follow VSA on Twitter and like VSA on Facebook