Group to help community’s most vulnerable

Some of those already involved in the independent advocacy scheme.

Some of those already involved in the independent advocacy scheme.

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A project which aims to give a voice to the most vulnerable people in the community is being established in Kirriemuir.

The Citizen Advocacy Project is run as part of the Angus Independent Advocacy scheme, but targeted work is being carried out in the area as the service currently receives few referrals.

Citizen Advocacy is for people who are over 55 and suffering social isolation due to learning disabilities or mental health issues, or are older or have dementia. Its aim is to pair clients with volunteer citizen advocates to develop a trusting relationship so that if issues do arise, the advocate is well placed to support the partner.

Advocates are local people who believe that everyone has the right to have a say in the decisions affecting their lives, and to be connected within their community.

Heather MacMaster, who is leading the Kirrie project, said she has been working in the area over the last year to identify other organisations in the town with which the project can potentially form links.

The next step will be to hold drop-in sessions in Kirrie for anyone who thinks they would find the service useful. Heather said: “That work is ongoing and I’ve worked quite closely with KirriemuirConnections and I’ll be holding drop-ins there for anyone wanting to find out more. I’m hoping to extend that in other community spaces too but haven’t organised that yet.

“Once people have been referred, if they meet the criteria, it will be a case of me building up a picture of the kind of person they are and matching them with the correct person in the area. Obviously, appropriate checks will be carried out with volunteers and training is given.

“It’s a case of building a trusting relationship with the advocate so they have someone in their lives who can speak up for them, an ally and friend that they might not otherwise have in their network.”

Initial drop-in sessions will be held at the KirriemuirConnections community hub, 5 Bank Street, on Tuesday, April 19 between 10am and 12pm and Tuesday, May 17 at the same time.

Anyone interested is welcome to meet with Heather to discuss it further.