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Highland Senior Citizens' Network powers ahead with spread of information – via old-fashioned newsletter

By John Davidson

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Anne McDonald of HSCN with the first newsletter.
Anne McDonald of HSCN with the first newsletter.

People without access to a computer or smartphone across the Highlands are being supported with information thanks to an electricity network provider's fund.

A grant from SSEN’s resilient communities fund is helping Highland Senior Citizens’ Network (HSCN) ensure that elderly people in the region who are not online can still keep in touch with the latest help and advice during the coronavirus pandemic.

HSCN is committed to improving resilience among the older members of its Highland communities and, prior to the current lockdown, the charity was planning to use the grant to support its face-to-face meetings and social events.

At these events, members and friends of HSCN could benefit from advice provided by the emergency services, and organisations like Trading Standards raising awareness of potential scams in their local area. The events also offer connections with a wide variety of services, along with social, learning and volunteering opportunities.

With the introduction of social distancing guidelines, all of these plans have had to be re-thought, and this has seen the HSCN team go back to basics and put all of its useful content into a traditional newsletter format.

With nearly 100 groups across the Highlands and 300 individual members spread out across the region, part of the grant from last year’s fund has helped with the publication of the newsletter as well as the postage costs.

Jo Cowan, HSCN co-ordinator for the south of Highland, said: “Before lockdown was announced, SSEN’s grant had been helping us develop our plans to work with community groups, libraries and community radio stations across the Highlands to share essential information that can really make a difference to our members.

Jo Cowan of HSCN hopes the information will have a positive impact on the group's members.
Jo Cowan of HSCN hopes the information will have a positive impact on the group's members.

“We’re looking at a variety of ways to share tips and practical information with our members, topics such as home safety advice from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, details on our partnership with Home Energy Scotland, the free help and support that is available through SSEN’s Priority Service Register, basically anything that will help our members develop their own personal resilience and have a positive impact on their day-to-day lifestyles.”

Anne McDonald, HSCN co-ordinator for the north of Highland, added: “The first few weeks of lockdown saw our team busy producing the newsletter for our groups and members, getting them enveloped up and ready for the post; it was quite a task, but it’s all been worthwhile when we started to get the positive feedback from people who were pleased to be hearing from us.

“We’re already working on the latest newsletter as it’s important to keep in touch with our members and friends at this time.”

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