25 LEAP years that made big difference
A lifeline charity which has made Rutherglen and Cambuslang better places for older people to live celebrated its 25th birthday.
Lightburn Elderly Association Project (LEAP) was an idea first mooted in 1992 by locals who found themselves fed up with little to do in retirement.
But what started out with an initial meeting in a car in Halfway has transformed into an organisation that offers an endless stream of services that allow older people to lead fulfilling lives in their local community.
The group initially started with some adult education classes, with funding supplied by the old Urban Aid Programme.
In the months that followed the ambitions of the group grew and within a year a project manager was employed to develop the ideas of older people across Cambuslang and Rutherglen.
LEAP executive director Stuart McGregor came to the organisation as a shiny-faced youngster 22 years ago and has driven the charity forward.
He said: “As an organisation we have never stood still and have continued to grow in popularity.
“We have a strict ethos to only build services around older people’s needs and desires for their community and this is what I believe is the key to our fantastic long-term commitment within the community.”
Under Stuart’s leadership LEAP’s commitment to the elderly and wider community has never wavered.
Its commitment to support an ever-growing aging population saw the launch of the Hands On Project, which reduces the isolation of older people through a volunteer-led befriending and handyperson service.
The adult education classes have also continued to flourish to offer 35 fun and engaging opportunities for older people to learn and develop every week. From art classes, tai chi and badminton to iPad classes, LEAP’s activities are developed to meet the learning needs of a changing older population.
The most recent project, R:evolve Recycle, was developed from concerns about a throwaway culture. Older people wanted a platform to teach young people about mending and sharing their clothes to reduce the environmental impact.
The project has been a runaway success and currently has three swap shops, sewing classes, a schools programme and clothing bank.
With all aspects of the project delivered by volunteers, it has proven a great place for older people to showcase their experience and skills in their community.
LEAP chairman Gilly Feron said the endless roll-out of new and innovative projects has resulted in numerous awards for the charity and its volunteers.
“I have had the pleasure of being involved with LEAP for the last 23 years and seeing the impact it has had on folk’s lives,”he said.
“I have attended classes, board meetings and volunteered across all LEAP activities as well as having the pleasure of picking up numerous recognition awards, including The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, Investing in Volunteers, Quality in Befriending Excellence and EFQM Committed to Excellence awards.
“These awards were received on behalf of a huge team of volunteers who make our projects the success they are and we should all be incredibly proud of what we have achieved for older people in our communities together.”
LEAP’s many volunteers gathered as the charity marked its 25th birthday with an extra-special AGM hosted by sports commentator Archie McPherson.
The renowned broadcaster heaped praise on the organisation, which he described as “invaluable”.
Speaking after the AGM he said: “It was a real pleasure for me to endorse an organisation that is doing such invaluable work with older people.
“LEAP promotes independence, encouraging people to live outside of themselves, to get to other people and giving that sense of achievement that their contribution to society is invaluable.
“It goes beyond people’s perception of old age and beyond what individuals think that they are only capable of doing as they get older.
“I know all too well that old age comes with its problems but it is organisations like LEAP that break down these barriers and prove that age is in fact simply a number when we consider the contribution older people can make within our society.”
Anyone interested in volunteering for a LEAP led project can log on to www.leapproject.co.uk or call 0141 641 5169.
Old age comes with its problems but organisations like LEAP break down these barriers
Partnership Oldest board member Isobel Banks with director Stuart McGregor and Jane Logue
Supporter Archie McPherson
Birthday Marking the milestone