25 LEAP years that made big dif­fer­ence

Cel­e­brat­ing suc­cess

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Edel Ke­nealy

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

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