Jul 142017

With thanks to Future Choices.

A local Voluntary Charity is to recognise one of their dedicated volunteers.

Future Choices, based at Inchgarth Community Centre, Garthdee, which supports adults with a Physical Disability will have one of their youngest volunteers lead the charity on the forthcoming Celebrate Aberdeen Parade on Saturday 26th August.

The young volunteer, Lewis Bannerman, is currently working through his Saltire Awards, a programme that recognises young people volunteering within their local community.

David Forbes, Chair of the charity said:

“Since Lewis has started volunteering with Future Choices, he’s already reached his 25 hours stage so far and is actively involved in various tasks, a shining example of the good things young people can achieve. It is with this dedication that Lewis has shown, I have chosen him to lead the charity down on the parade with pride and I’m thrilled he accepted the request”.

Lewis, the Saltire Award achiever said:

“Future Choices has given me opportunities and has helped me to gain skills and how to work with others and leading the charity down on the parade will be a great opportunity to show off Future Choices”

Lewis’s mum, Diane also added:

“Since Lewis has been volunteering with Future Choices, he’s been very active, so to hear from the Chairman, that in order to recognise Lewis’s amazing efforts, he’ll lead the charity down union street for the upcoming Celebrate Aberdeen Parade. His Dad and I are incredibly proud of him”

Future Choices will turn 10 years old next year and have a busy programme from now until next year in which Lewis will play a key role.

David concluded:

“It’s always amazing when young people come forward and want to help support others and I feel through the Saltire programme, this is hugely beneficial, Lewis is going to go from strength to strength and he will inspire others and I congratulate him on that”

For more information of Future Choices, visit www.future-choices.org.uk or to get in touch, email info@future-choices.org.uk 

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Jun 022017

With thanks to Future Choices.

Local Charity Boss, David Forbes is calling on city Councillors to bring back the much loved Taxi Card Scheme.

Mr Forbes who is Chair of Local Voluntary Disabled Charity Future Choices is hoping something can be done.

David explained:

“Since the scheme ceased in 2010, so much has changed, disabled people are struggling even more, so if the council can relieve some financial pressure to help disabled people, that can only be a good thing”

Mr Forbes is in the process of contacting Local Councillors to see what they think and if they back his calls

David added “Disabled people can find themselves extremely isolated and prisoners in their own homes, if the council can find a way to make things better, im all for it.

Mr Forbes has set up a Facebook page, for those wishing to support his campaign, you can find the link here


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May 192017

With thanks to Future Choices.

Future Choices, which is a local, voluntary charity based at Inchgarth Community Centre, Garthdee, supporting adults with a physical disability to gain social inclusion, has launched a new fundraiser, where everyone can get involved, to support such a vital cause.

David Forbes, Chair of the charity explained:

“One of the main jobs running a charity, is raising much needed funds to keep funding what we do within the local community”

Future Choices is in it’s 9th year now and is growing from strength to strength by continuing to reach out to more people within the community.

David added,

“I would encourage as many people to get involved, the first prize we have up for grabs is superb and it’s only £5 per number”

If you wish to support Future Choices, please follow the link https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/futurechoices/bonusball-2017

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Apr 012017

With thanks to Future Choices.

Local voluntary charity Future Choices, which supports disabled adults gain social inclusion, have had the help of a new volunteer in their bid to attract more young people to get involved on a voluntary basis.

Lewis Bannerman takes the lead role in the Charities new promotional video, which is telling the story of what Future Choices is all about and how people can get involved.

David Forbes, Chairman explained:

“Having Lewis involved with this exciting project was so amazing, to see someone young and energised and happy to help should be an inspiration to all, and show the public that not all young people are “bad””

Diane Bannerman, Lewis’s Mother said:

“As Lewis’s mother, im bursting with pride that he has had the opportunity to participate in a lead role aiming to inspire other people, particularly the young generation to help out good causes.”

Watch the promotional video.

The Charity is in it’s 9th year and is looking for not only Volunteers but also Volunteer Drivers, to help keep their 2 buses on the road.

Can you help support Future Choices? check out www.future-choices.org.uk or email info@future-choices.org.uk

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Aug 042016

With thanks to David Forbes.

David Forbes with Devon ThompsonVoluntary Disabled Charity Future Choices Celebrates it’s Eighth Year this year with the introduction of it’s youngest committee member taking up the role of Vice Chairman.

Devon Thompson (21) joined Future Choices a few years ago and then had to leave to pursue others life commitments before recently returning to help out with many of the Charity’s key projects.

He works tirelessly to make sure the members are catered for when the group meets up every Tuesday from 11-2 at their base at Inchgarth Community Centre in Garthdee.

Charity Chairman, David Forbes explained:

“Having Devon on my management committee has been a tremendous asset to running the group and now he’s taking the role on as my deputy, he’s the perfect man for the job, young, energetic and very inspirational. In my view this is the greatest motivation to many young volunteers out there – that you can achieve success with hard work and determination.”

Devon said:

“I am deeply and truly honoured to be elected as Vice Chairman of Future Choices. I have served in the care sector for four years now and have never come across such a dedicated and hardworking Charity, with a constant hunger to grow and develop as an organisation that puts the emphasis on the well being of their members, I am truly humbled that they have shown support and faith in my abilities.”

David added:

“Devon taking up this role is very humbling to me as the Charity heads to it’s biggest milestone of 10 years in 2 years time, so to keep the group vibrant and progressive is something Devon will be involved with alongside me and the rest of my team.”

Devon Concluded:

“It is my deepest desire to rise to the challenge and develop. In my experience, collaboration is the stuff of growth and I look forward to working further with the committee to provide for our members greater choices, for the future.”

For more information on Future Choices, visit www.future-choices.org.uk

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Jun 272014

Aberdeen Based Charity Future Choices had the best news lately. Apache Oil have donated a brand new bus. With thanks to David Forbes.

bus12cThe bus donation came after the Disabled Charity was featured in a BBC2 Documentary last year called “Auction Hero”, in which Presenter/Auctioneer Andrew Lamberty went all across Europe to buy and sell antiques, then donated the profits to the Charity.

The self funding charity is run by volunteers and helps provide social inclusion and recreational activities at Inchgarth Community Centre in Garthdee.

Representatives from Apache Oil saw the Documentary and were extremely impressed by the groups work and dedication within the community and wanted to help their cause. The new brand new 17 seater bus, equipped for disabled access, has now given Future Choices a better chance of helping more disabled people, most of whom are stuck in their homes, limiting scope for social contact.

David Forbes, Chairman of Future Choices described the news as:

“The turning point to the Charity, knowing Apache Oil has helped give us the tools to carry on with our hard work, it just means everything. So many people, especially those who just want out and have fun with friends, can now do that. Future Choices is there to help put those smiles and laughter back on the faces” 

The Charity is always looking for Volunteers to help out at their group gatherings on Tuesdays from 11-2 at Inchgarth Community Centre.

If you want to become a volunteer or simply want to join the charity to meet new people, then contact David on 07821700046 or email info@future-choices.org.uk or visit their website at www.future-choices.org.uk 

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Apr 252014

With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

ALL_SHAPES_FINAL_CS_SQ2 North 4 South is a fundraising event to raise money for individuals with learning disabilities in Aberdeen.

On the 31st of May & the 1st of June, a group of around 70 people will be walking non-stop, or with minimum stops, from Fraserburgh to Aberdeen over 24 hours.
The money they raise will be used to provide ‘fun’ for learning disabled people, such as musical instruments, movies, arts & crafts materials, and so on.

One of the organisers, Frederick Sarran commented about people with learning disabilities in our area, saying:-

 “We, All Shapes And Sizes (ASAS), believe they need more than just ‘care’.”

 The charity’s Facebook charity page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/asascharity; its aims are set out as:

 “Our aim is to enrich the lives of ALD’s by promoting social inclusion by means of outings and activities such as Arts and Crafts and more.”

Many of those doing the walk work with people with learning disabilities, young and old, but anyone who is up to the challenge is welcome to get in touch with the organisers and join in.

ASAS sets out its principles on its website:

 “Our vision is to enhance life of Adults with Learning Disabilities/Difficulties (ALD) and mental health issues by promoting social inclusion to those individuals and to raise awareness & understanding to the public. By enhancing their lives & sense of wellbeing is to become a valued member of society via inclusion in all things.

 “We aim to use a person centred approach directly to one individual and/or within a group, in order to aid & help facilitate crafts, arts, outings and other future activities within Balnagask Court (Aberdeen) and in the wider community. To enhance a sense of personal well being is to educate with a therapeutic approach and fun means, this results in building trust and confidence.

“Our values are to treat all individuals with respect and courtesy regardless of colour, gender, religion, etc… We act with dignity & care in a non-judgmental way towards all individuals, no matter of the level of difficulties they may have. Those values also apply towards each other members of All Shapes And Sizes.

  “Our goals are to branch out and liaise with other charities sharing our values, for the good of all Adults with Learning Disabilities/Difficulties and mental health service users within the wider community. We aim to introduce further activities and continuous improvements to Balnagask Court communal area.”

There is a Facebook page for the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/237388926444110/
Tickets for the event are available here: http://asascharity.org/buy-tickets-for-2-north-4-south/

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Feb 142014

By Jonathan Russell.

Homeless manThe idea of criminalising begging takes us back to the dark ages. Laws are already in place to deal with aggressive begging and Breaches of the Peace and obstruction.

Criminalisation will only increase the problems of those begging, their inability to pay fines will just increase the numbers in our prisons and it is not cost effective.

The problems of Union Street declining has not been caused by beggars, as in the past begging took place whilst the street flourished.

The decline of Union Street is primarily due to planning decisions to increase the amount of retail outlets beyond Union Street, with its inevitable consequences. We do need to deal with the challenges that begging brings but good interagency work and alternative provision by homelessness agencies is the way forward.

Not all begging is benign but, at a time of austerity and food banks, the issue we should be tackling is poverty not begging.

In the current climate, where thousands of families are reliant on food parcels handed out by the churches, and social problems caused by austerity policies are increasingly on the rise, many cases are genuine.

It is hard to see what new legal measures could achieve. The law already covers begging which is obstructive, or causes fear or alarm

 Obtaining money with threats or intimidation could lead to charges of robbery

There is a climate abroad which is making scapegoats of the poor – this is no different than the persecution of Jews, Blacks, or Gays in the past and must be contested  the introduction of such a law compounds this climate.

To explain my interest in this area I would explain the following. I have lived in Aberdeen since 1975 and spent 10 of my early years in Aberdeen working in the homelessness and drugs and alcohol fields. This included working with Aberdeen Cyrenians, VSA leading an inter-agency project re: Solvent Misuse, and Albyn House where I was responsible for the outreach service for problem drinkers, many of whom where homeless.

I was involved in setting up Drugs Action and helping to set up the now closed Aberdeen Stop-Over project for the young single homeless. I had previously worked with Homeless people in Glasgow in the Simon Community. I also worked later with Health Promotions re: Drugs and Alcohol including at a strategic level and in helping to set up the initial pilots of the methadone pharmacy scheme in the city.

As Development officer for Turning Point I helped set up the Glasgow Drug Crises Centre and produced a proposal for such a development in Aberdeen supported at that time by Social Work but not by the Health Service.

most of the people of Eastern European origin in the city are hard working

I have nearly always lived in the city centre and, as in any other city, begging has always gone on – it is nothing new. In fact, I would suggest that at earlier times the begging was of a more aggressive nature and this has already correctly been tightened up on.

What we do no longer have is the group of problem drinkers who used to hang around the statue and the arches in UnionTerraceGardens.

I suspect that without the prescribing of methadone the begging situation in the city would be much worse.

What has developed, over approximately the last 10 years at least, is the begging that takes place by individuals sitting by buildings. We have, however, also seen an increase in begging over the last few years by a group of people from Eastern Europe of Romany background.

We must remember however that most of the people of Eastern European origin in the city are hard working. Without their presence the population in Aberdeen would be much lower with an increasingly ageing population. There are sure to be some challenges in such changes.

The demise of Union Street has nothing to do with begging but is the result of retail and planning decisions. The Bon Accord Development in the 70’s led to the decline of George Street; similarly the recent Union Square development has been the prime reason for the decline in Union Street.

In both cases this led to empty shops and to a change in nature of what shops provided, with the more upmarket retailers moving to the new centres. Retail units in Union Street have increasingly become aimed at the poorer end of the market with charity shops and shops selling goods cheaply.

I would suggest that any shopping developments linked to the AWPR will potentially have a further general detrimental effect on retail outlets in Aberdeen. On-line shopping will also increase and lead to a decline in retail outlets in the city, as in other parts of the UK.

Even if Aberdeen continues with its present high levels of affluence there are only a certain amount of goods that people will buy and this affects the number of retail outlets that can operate.

People who end up homeless (which includes those who are not sleeping rough but have no settled address) do not in my experience fit neatly into deserving and non-deserving. They all have problem backgrounds of some kind, but many also get involved in activity which is labelled as anti-social.

As well as the Jews, they were also a group who were targeted by the Nazis

Many of those using drugs and alcohol are masking mental health difficulties, which of course increase by their circumstances and continued use. Others come from broken families or from families that are chaotic and where crime is the norm. Many in my experience have lived in children’s homes.

Living in the situations that rough sleepers do is a nightmare and for those that are rootless, things are not much better – we should never forget that.

An example of a positive way of dealing with public anti-social behaviour was (and still is, on a reduced level) Albyn House, where rather than taking people who were publicly drunk to the cells and courts the police took them to Albyn House, where they were dried out and given advice or rehabilitated. This was an example of progressive public policy which rather than criminalising was aimed at decriminalizing.

The influx of the Romany population to Aberdeen is not surprising and is common across the UK.  Following the end of the Communist Block this grouping lost their jobs and income. There are many, more of them begging on the streets of Eastern Europe and this is causing sharp divisions in Eastern European society.

As well as the Jews, they were also a group who were targeted by the Nazis. This problem is a European one but, unfortunately with the world-wide recession, it is unlikely to be tackled and will only get worse. Intervention needs to take place with this grouping to work with them to engage more productively with society – criminalization is not the answer.

The Big issue has taken a positive stance in this area by encouraging Romanys to sell the Big Issue

I realise from speaking to a variety of people in Aberdeen that there are very mixed feelings about people begging on the streets and many would support the idea of them being banned or even criminalized, though others are appalled at the proposal or do not see this as one of the major problems facing Aberdeen.

It is, in my mind, potentially helpful that this debate is taking place, however, I would ask councillors to think more about this challenge. Given the cuts that are yet to be implemented UK-wide it is certain that, as family breakdown accelerates, there will be increased numbers becoming homeless.

This in turn will lead to more people begging and, if the law is put in place, this will lead to more people becoming criminalized, being unable to pay fines and ending up in prisons and then, after their sentences are completed, being in an even wore situation and re-offending again.

Cuts have also been made to services for the homeless and other vulnerable groups

This will make people who are not happy about begging even more annoyed and calls will come for even more extreme action. This to me is a worrying as it will lead to an increasingly less tolerant divided society.

Aberdeen has its own dynamic compared to most cities in the UK  most people are comparatively affluent but those with basic incomes are often worse off due to prices generally being higher for a variety goods. There are also areas in Aberdeen were levels of poverty are high and this contrasts markedly with the overall wealth of the city.

Cuts have also been made to services for the homeless and other vulnerable groups in the city or re-commissioned, often inappropriately. Lack of support to these other vulnerable groups could lead to homelessness and these groupings will be even less able to deal with the rigors of being homeless and criminalizing them would be inappropriate.

A major problem we are facing is a lack of resources however the costs of incarcerating people are far higher than any money that would be spent on community resources. The approach needed is one of developing relevant resources which encourage better integration, interagency work and the fostering of a more caring attitude in society.

We also obviously need to see a redistribution of wealth in this country. If not, begging on the streets will become only the tip of the iceberg.

Criminalisation is not the way forward. It may gain some support in the community in the short term but others will see the City as heavy handed in its thinking and it will cost the public purse more rather than less in the long term. We need to see a much more positive interagency proposal.

Image: Homeless man – flickr Creative Commons. Credit: Fran Urbano.

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Jan 242014

JAL Tony's high res photo x 19Due to the success of this year’s event, ‘An Evening with Lady Claire Macdonald’, JCI Aberdeen is delighted to be hosting another cookery demonstration in January 2014 to raise funds for Friends of ANCHOR.

Cordon Bleu cook and published food writer Jane Lovett will be joining JCI Aberdeen to tantalise the taste buds of cookery fans across the North East at The Marcliffe Hotel & Spa on Thursday 30th January 2014.

Jane, author of ‘Make it Easy’ is a former tutor at Leith’s School of Food & Wine, has produced numerous recipes for magazines such as Home Economist, as well as running her own successful London catering business.

JCI Aberdeen President David Derbyshire spoke of the success of this year’s event,

“JCI Aberdeen was overwhelmed by the charitable support for our cookery fundraiser with Lady Claire Macdonald in February. Through ticket sales and funds raised on the night, we were able to raise £4,000 for Befriend a Child. 

“We look forward to another special evening in January when we will welcome Jane Lovett to Aberdeen for an event which promises to inspire and entertain budding chefs, whilst raising funds for Friends of ANCHOR.”

Tickets for the event, which will include a drinks reception and raffle, can be purchased by contacting the project team at events@jciaberdeen.org.uk or project lead Kim John on 07717 307503.

JCI Aberdeen is part of the JCI international federation of young entrepreneurs and leaders, for people aged 18 – 40. A range of personal development opportunities are offered to members, including business, social, community and international events and projects. For more information, please email membership@jciaberdeen.org.uk or visit www.jciaberdeen.org.uk or www.jci.cc