ENTREPREUNERIAL ARTS CHARITY LAUNCHES GARDENING THEMED SOCIAL DEMENTIA KIT AND CREATING CONVERSATIONS COMPANY AT STIRLING UNIVERSITY
After an eighteen month design and testing programme, leading community arts charity, Artlink Central are ready to launch our new social enterprise trading arm Creating Conversations Limited, and our very first product into the care sector, the Creating Conversations Activity Kit: Gardening.
Creating Conversations Limited is one of the most recent enterprises to benefit from a social investment loan from Asda Community Capital distributed through Social Investment Scotland. The project is also supported by the Robertson Trust who have awarded support to Artlink Central.
The new social enterprise and brand will commercialise Artlink Central’s expertise in delivering participatory arts programmes by developing activity products for health, care and domestic markets, beginning with an activity kit based on the theme of gardening specifically for people with dementia. All profits from Creating Conversations Limited will go back into Artlink Central’s charitable projects.
There are approximately 71,000 people with dementia in Scotland, around 2,300 of whom are under the age of 65. As our population ages, the number of people with dementia will increase and we expect the number to double over the next 25 years. Prevalence of dementia increases with age; around 1.5% of the 65 to 69-year-old population are affected, increasing to about one in three of the 90-plus age groups.
The initial product idea was inspired by Artlink Central’s ongoing dementia programme in NHS Forth Valley settings, where artists developed a tablecloth based drawing and conversation project. With support from a wide range of local businesses and agencies such as Just Enterprise and with initial investment from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust to test the first prototype in over 20 care homes, the idea of a social kit which could easily transform the care environment into a stimulating space for talk and activity was realized with local artists Christine Hilditch and Rosas Mitchell creating visual and written content.
Artlink Central was then able to collaborate with researchers from the Dementia and Social Gerontology Research Group at the University of Stirling and in partnership with them, to secure funding from the Standard Innovation Voucher scheme to evaluate the impact of the revised kit.
The evaluation project was led by Dr Jane Robertson and Dr Vikki McCall of Stirling University working with Artlink Central staff to observe and evaluate the kits in use at a care home and a day care centre. A total of 21 people with dementia, 9 staff and 7 volunteers took part in 10 observation sessions across the two venues. Five staff who facilitated sessions and 2 team leaders took part in interviews.
Dr Robertson and Dr McCall produced a detailed report on the observations with recommendations on design elements of the kit, instructions and information within the handbook and marketing of the product. In conclusion they stated that:
“The project has established that the creative opportunities provided by the toolkit Creating Conversations: Gardening have the potential to increase confidence, reduce anxiety, affirm identities, support positive social connections and provide opportunities to engage in enjoyable and purposeful activities as evidenced through the observations.”
As part of its bid to become more entrepreneurial in the way it operates, Artlink Central has recently moved its base to Stirling University Innovation Park which has supported the development of the product and social enterprise and strengthened the work of the organisation across the whole campus. The formation of Creating Conversations Limited as a trading arm is strong evidence of the entrepreneurial influence of the University.
The launch of Creating Conversations will coincide with the British Society of Gerontology 45th Annual Conference at Stirling University.
There are three key elements to the Creating Conversations launch:
· Launch presentation and special event at the conference on 7th July
· Exhibition of the story of the product at Macrobert Arts Centre from 1st – 12th July
· Community Launch event in Macrobert Arts Centre on the 11th July
The company will launch sales and website to coincide with the launch. So far the project has been supported by Coalfields Regeneration Trust, NHS Forth Valley, University of Stirling with Scottish Funding Council support and Macrobert Arts Centre as well as attracting a social loan investment through ASDA Community Capital scheme distributed by Social Investment Scotland
Kevin Harrison, Director
Notes to Editors
Artlink Central is a charity and social enterprise that specialises in designing creative experiences in conjunction with artists, public bodies and led by disadvantaged or marginalised people particularly in health, social care and justice contexts. It operates within a wide range of institutional and community-based settings (from care homes to prisons) and across art forms, working closely with artists, statutory and voluntary sector and the people who access its programmes. For further information see: www.artlinkcentral.org
Adsa Community Capital scheme distributed by Social Investment Scotland
The Single Use Carrier Bags Charge (Scotland) Regulations, which came into effect on 20 October 2014, require retailers to charge shoppers in Scotland a minimum of 5p for every single-use carrier bag used. In partnership with Asda, Social Investment Scotland distribute the money raised through this levy, as part of the Asda Community Capital scheme. The scheme offers loans of between £10,000 and £50,000 to help provide investment capital to early stage social enterprises, allowing them to make a measurable difference to their communities. Creating Conversations Ltd is one of the most recent social enterprises to benefit from Asda Community Capital.
Stirling University Innovation Park
Stirling University Innovation Park aims to stimulate innovation, product and process development and technology transfer within firms in Scotland. Through assisting companies to establish a continuous improvement culture, the Innovation Park promotes enhanced growth, competitiveness, creativity, customer satisfaction and market share, both nationally and internationally. For further information on the Park please visit www.suip.co.uk.
You can also follow the Park on twitter @suipltd and Facebook.
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