Orkney Islands Council 2015-16 budget recommendations, made by the council's Policy and Resources Committee, includes a proposal for a 1% increase in funding to voluntary groups. This would make it the fifth year that OIC has given an increase to the sector. The recommendation is still to be ratified by the full council but nevertheless we welcome this decision.

A Land Management course is being held by the Scottish Crofting Federation on 26th February 2015 at the Orkney Auction Mart.

The course will cover topics such as: crop rotation, fertiliser, liming, weeds, pollution issues and fencing.

There will be a classroom session and lunch at the auction mart with an afternoon visit to a local farm.

The cost of this course is £40 per person (£36 if you are a Scottish Crofting Federation member).

If you would like to book a place or find out more information please contact VAO - 01856 872 897 or enquiries@vaorkney.org.uk

Organisations and individuals are being encouraged to give their comments on the future delivery of integrated health and social care services in Orkney. It is a requirement of the Scottish Government that local authorities and health boards put in place new partnership arrangements for integrated social care and health services.

Working together, Orkney Islands Council and NHS Orkney have developed detailed proposals for the new joint board which will plan and deliver these services. This draft Integration Scheme sets out the services the joint board will have responsibility for. It is now available for comment, with a public consultation on the proposals running from Monday 2nd February until Monday 2nd March 2015.

This is a major development for the future of health and social care services in our community and as many people as possible are encouraged to take part in the consultation. Your feedback is important and will help shape the final version of the Integration Scheme, which will be submitted to the Scottish Government for approval in late March.

A survey has been prepared to help collect feedback and this can be completed by following this link https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/orkneyintegration Paper copies of the survey can also be made available by contacting Orkney Islands Council or NHS Orkney.

There is a dedicated consultation email address ork-hb.consultation@nhs.net for any comments, questions and requests you may have.

Local services and representatives of the 3,000 adults in Orkney believed to experience moderate to severe chronic pain have been looking at ways to better support people with the condition.

Chronic pain can have a severe impact on the quality of life of individuals and families and is a major challenge with substantial wellbeing and economic costs.

Chronic pain can be caused by many different health conditions, and exercise is a recognised therapy to help improve wellbeing. The Orkney Chronic Pain Service Improvement group has been considering ways of making it easier for those experiencing chronic pain to exercise if they wish. Following feedback from local people, fitness instructors at the Picky and OIC Sport and Leisure facilities are now receiving coaching from local NHS physiotherapist Lesley Platford. “The aim is to give them confidence to support those who wish to use the facilities,” says Mark Harrison, General Manager of the Pickaquoy Centre. “It’s been really beneficial for the Picky team to be involved with this project, with benefits for both our staff, and current and future customers’.”

Arthritis Care is also an active member of the group, and as a result of their involvement they’ve been able to offer additional Joint Activity and Tai chi courses locally.These courses are open to anyone with a long term condition including people experiencing chronic pain.

People who have participated in the courses reported feeling more energetic with improved confidence and quality of life. Sheila Chapman, who attended a Tai Chi course in Burray last November, said: “I’m really enjoying the tai chi and feeling the benefits already. I’m unable to do any keep fit due to my condition so this has given me an opportunity to do gentle exercise.”

Fellow participant Winnie Davidson is also enthusiastic about the course and added: “When I first started I had to sit down most of the class, but now I can stand for it as my knees are more supple."

In another initiative Voluntary Action Orkney is hosting a Facebook page and website where individuals can link together locally and nationally to find out more about ways to help with their pain.

For more information about the Joint Activity and Tai chi courses coming up get in touch with alexf@arthritiscare.org.uk or telephone 0141 954 7776.

Check out the Orkney Chronic Pain Self Help Facebook page and website http://www.chronicpainorkney.co.uk/ for more information.

For more information contact Carolyn Chalmers, Service Improvement Coordinator, NHS Orkney Carolyn.Chalmers@nhs.net or 01856 888079.

Anyone experiencing chronic pain and interested in being part of a local support group should contact Edwina Lloyd, Training & Development Worker, Voluntary Action Orkney Telephone 01856 872897 or email Edwina.Lloyd@vaorkney.org.uk

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