• Date awarded: January 2022
  • Awarded value: £3,000
  • Fund: NHS Charities Together Community Partnership Grants Programme
  • Location: Linton Lane Centre, Kirkcaldy
Participants of Pete's Man Chat, one of the weekly group sessions that meets at Linton Lane Centre, Kirkcaldy, supported by Fife Health Charity.

Fife Health Charity provided funding via the NHS Charities Together Community Partnership Grants Programme to support three weekly groups held at Kirkcaldy’s Linton Lane Centre to help local people overcome the social isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, increase opportunities for community contact and learn new skills.

Based in the Templehall area of Kirkcaldy, local charity the Linton Lane Centre is one of the town’s longest running community centres. A thriving hub of activity and widely recognised as the heart of its community, the Centre provides a wide range of services for local people of all ages and at all stages of life.

Pete’s Man Chat Movement meets weekly for two hours. The aim of the evening group is to provide a welcoming, sociable environment where men can get together, connect with others and chat about any difficulties they may be facing in their lives and find ways to overcome them. Rather than having nowhere to go and nobody to talk to, often just being able to have a chat each week can help people feel lighter and more positive about the future.

Also meeting weekly at the centre, the local group of national charity A Veteran’s Best Friend helps Fife-based veterans of the Scottish Armed Forces who are experiencing PTSD and mental stress by pairing them with former rescue dogs sourced from the Dog Trust. Being able to bond with and look after an assistance dog brings a range of benefits including getting outdoor exercise, helping to establish a regular routine and make new connections with other dog owners.  

The third group supported by Fife Health Charity is Cooking for Fun, a weekly cookery group held at the centre for adults to encourage them to learn basic cooking skills. The group alternates one week to help adults supported by their carers, and the following week to help other people from the local community.

Although the three groups based at the Linton Lane Centre focus on helping different members of the local community, each shares the aspiration to bring people together who are normally isolated and lonely and may even have experienced increased vulnerability as a result of the pandemic. To date, 40 members of the local community have benefitted from being regular members of the three groups supported by Fife Health Charity.

“At Cooking for Fun, it’s not all about cooking. There is a social side to the group too as a lot of the people who come along don’t often manage to get out and socialise. A few of the members say they would just stay at home watching telly and eating snacks and junk food if they weren’t here.”

Cheryl Clarke, Cooking is Fun instructor.

The Difference Our Funding is Making

Encouraging people to get out of the house and giving them something to look forward to on a regular basis, being welcomed into a relaxed, friendly space and meeting up with other people all bring significant improvements to mental health and a personal sense of wellbeing and confidence.

As centre development manager, Mandy Henderson explains: “In a group situation at times it’s about helping people to learn how to engage and chat with others, while respecting other people's feelings. It’s about ensuring every person feels their story is as important as the person next to them.

“People returning to the groups every week are for us the most important indicators of the positive impact that coming along to the centre has been having. People come back with stories of how their lives have changed and improved during the past year that we’ve been hosting the groups.”

As Mandy reports, every member of each group has their own story to tell and every story is uniquely important. For one person it was being able to attend an interview as a result of feeling more self-worth and confidence. For a few people learn how to make a pot of soup and then making it for their family at home was a big achievement.

“Covid was a major challenge which we hope we are now moving forward from but it has left an effect on normal living which we need to ensure we address by understanding and always having a listening ear. Thank you for helping us help people.”