The About Dementia’s grant request: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

About Dementia’s document that argued that they should receive the £1 million grant; one of the reasons is that they only got involved in November 2021, ie the month before. They had no prior experience of Meeting Centres, and had had no training regarding them



The Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care approved funding to Age Scotland About Dementia totalling £0.5m in financial years 2021/22 and 22/23 to support and enhance Dementia Friendly Communities work.This includes support to grow Meeting Centres in Scotland.

The following text from Age Scotland’s proposal to Scottish Government sets out their rationale on why they are well placed to take forward the work.

Age Scotland are the national charity for older people in Scotland and are well placed to undertake this work. Much of the activity to date within this area in Scotland to date has been made possible through funding from Life Changes Trust. The trust have named both Age Scotland and About Dementia as National Legacy Partners. We propose that, as with work around the Legacy Partnership, this work be led by About Dementia, Age Scotland’s Forum for Policy and Practice for people living with dementia and unpaid carers.

About Dementia are a five-year project, funded by Life Changes Trust to facilitate a forum for policy and practice for people living with dementia and unpaid carers. We do this through a number of thematic sub-groups covering topics as diverse as transport and housing to LGBT+ and BME inclusion. We have a wide partnership of supporting organisations, and a growing activist base who help to shape and inform our work. The main focus of our work is to empower the voices of people with lived experience to identify the changes that need to take place to improve policy and practice in Scotland. We also take a collaborative approach to making change happen. Our Human Rights Based Manifesto (About Dementia 2021) for the Scottish Parliament Elections in May 2021 was developed based on focus group conversations with our members over the course of two years.

We already have a strong partnership with the Scottish Government’s Dementia Policy Unit, and have worked closely with them to enable the voices of lived experience to be heard. This included setting up a meeting between our activists and Mr Stuart when he was first appointed as Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care. We have also supported recent efforts within the Dementia Policy unit to carry out engagement on the National Action Plan and on Post Diagnostic Support. In addition, we have collaborated on the development and distribution of a survey looking at experiences of Self-Directed Support in Scotland. Finally, we are actively engaged in submitting evidence on behalf of our members on the implications of a National Care Service for Scotland on people living with dementia and family carers. This background and experience means that we are well placed to lead this partnership and deliver on the work we articulate below.

Meeting Centres

Meeting Centres are a form of hyper-localised, community driven PDS. They are designed through coproduction with a range of different community members and stakeholders, and often involve statutory services though they are not driven by these. In contrast to day centres or more traditional approaches, Meeting Centres are not regulated services, but instead are community-led driven by the needs and wishes of the membership, who attend on a regular basis. The focus of support is also on both the person living with dementia, as well as family members.

The model emerged in The Netherlands in the early 1990s and has since gained international relevance with centres emerging on every continent (Brooker et al 2017). The approach has been so successful that the Dutch Government have recently committed to 80% of the population having access to a Meeting Centre by 2030. The creation of Meeting Centres in the UK has been supported by research taking place at the University of Worcester, England, with the first Scottish Meeting Centre opening in 2019 in Kirriemuir, Angus. The research in the UK and internationally has demonstrated considerable positive outcomes from involvement in meeting centres, including prevention, brain health, international cooperation and the provision of meaningful opportunities for people living with dementia through the ‘Demtalent’ volunteering programme.

Alongside the creation of the first Meeting Centre in Scotland, Life Changes Trust provided funding and support to Kirrie Connections, Scotland’s Meeting Centre Demonstrator Site, to enable the expansion of this model across other areas in Scotland. Since that time a Scottish Meeting Centres Network has developed with 14 members, under the leadership of Kirrie Connections. Much of the development work has been hindered by the Pandemic, however there are now two Meeting Centres open in Scotland (Kirriemuir and Dunblane) with funding secured for a further 5 (Arbroath, Forfar, Montrose, Musselburgh and Prestwick), and a commitment from Fife Health and Social Care Partnership for the creation of 7 centres across the Kingdom.

A recent summit involving people living with dementia, held in Kirriemuir demonstrated the potential for a Scottish network of meeting centres to be led and shaped by people with lived experience of dementia, alongside the professionals who manage the centres. This would enable people with lived experience to take a direct role in shaping the development of a Scottish model of Meeting Centres, as well as provide capacity building support to the growing numbers of new Meeting centres across the country. Given the existence of an embryonic network, as well as the skills and experience already in place in Kirriemuir as the Scottish Demonstrator Site, we propose to approach Kirrie Connections to apply for funding for 1 year to support the development of this network. This funding would be expected to achieve the following:

  • The development of a national network of Meeting Centres across Scotland, involving representation and involvement of people living with dementia, family members, and Meeting Centre managers.
  • Funding to enable the meaningful involvement of people living with dementia and family members within this network.
  • Quarterly, in person meetings of the network at a different Meeting Centre venue in order to share learning and best practice.
  • The development of a community of learning and practice to build capacity of Meeting Centre managers, and prospective managers.
  • Small grants funding and the provision of developmental support to new Meeting Centres in other parts of Scotland.
  • The dissemination of evaluation evidence and learning through international knowledge exchange.

While we have already identified the organisation we believe are best placed to carry out this work, we would wish to ensure that funding is awarded in an open and transparent a manner as possible. We would therefore request the submission of a detailed funding proposal with clear outcomes and an itemised budget, as well as a commitment to engage with sharing of learning from the resulting activity.

Estimated funding award £100,000
Expected date of award: February 2022
Expected term of funding: 12 months

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