"My husband lay across the pavement and road in St Bernard's Crescent while waiting for the ambulance after falling and breaking his hip on 28 Jan. He was bitterly cold, uncomfortable and all these lovely people appeared with blankets, hat, gloves and hot water bottles. Thank you, he hopes to be operated on today."
This was seen recently with the huge snowfalls we experienced. Locals helped check on neighbours, and Stockbridger Sean Seymour, amongst others, offered their 4 by 4 vehicle to help people stuck. So many people helped clear the streets, including students from Fettes college (shown here), helping Stockbridge to get back in action.
So Angela Rushbrook of Leslie Place wrote to us in January this year after her husband lay on the street for two hours in the freezing conditions we’ve experienced this winter. The kindness shown here is something to cheer the heart, and it's reassuring that there are people around who are willing to help. We can be proud that our urban village of Stockbridge has a tradition of compassion and helping others.
The local history book Stockbridge, In Living Memory, gives some lively accounts from locals who remember some of the various churches taking in poorer children off the street for a night a week and giving them tea and buns. The church in Dean Street used to take disadvantaged children on free trips to places such as Lauriston Castle.
Today, Stockbridge Church still carries the mantle, particularly with its community space Number 7, on Raeburn Place, which holds games afternoons, coffee mornings, art classes and story-telling evenings to allow people to meet each other and form connections within the community. Always open at some point during weekdays, with times jotted on the door, feel free to pop in with any queries, and Alex, if he can't help himself, will point you in the right direction and offer you a decent cup of coffee!
As the decades have rolled over, the demographic of the place has changed. At the turn of the century, families were bigger, people typically having four or more children.
On Raeburn Place, where the Scotmid now sits, was the site of the Edinburgh Academy's Stockbridge Boys' Club, with a big gymnasium at the back and football teams to participate in sport, run for the benefit of local boys.
Of course now people are having fewer children, later, and one of society’s great challenges is loneliness, particularly in older people. Stockbridge Church plays its part with Number 7, and with its regular services, and in Stockbridge we are privileged to host LifeCare, which works both city wide and locally in supporting older people and their carers.
With a burgeoning older population, it's not only loneliness but dementia which needs supported. LifeCare have their St Bernard’s Club situated on site in Cheyne Street, where people with dementia can enjoy breakfast and activities such as baking, reminiscing and tai chi or enjoy regular trips, such as being driven round old dance hall haunts. The Dean, another social club, lets seniors meet up and plan activities. LifeCare are also lead partners in a fabulous volunteer service, called Vintage Vibes, matching up volunteers with their VIPs through common interests. If you are interested in finding out more, just give LifeCare a buzz: click on the link to find out their contact details.
LifeCare is the spot for so many clubs and activities, and a great place for a coffee and a chat with the prams. It's fitting that a place which is so accessible for young parents and comfortable for breastfeeding, also lets those parents give back, by supporting the cafe and using the halls, these parents are in turn supporting the work of LifeCare in helping older people.
Stepping away from the compassionate help of the elderly, Stockbridge is also the site of the Colonies, themselves a great example of the spirit of giving people a chance. The formation of the Edinburgh Cooperative Building Company in 1861 allowed people with a regular, modest income, to afford to buy a house outright over 15-20 years, at a time when many of the older tenements were overcrowded and unsanitary. The spirit of the initiative is still alive in Stockbridge today, with the member owned Capital Credit Union on Hamilton Place there to help those trying to get on the property ladder, with their 'people helping people' ethos.
Angela and Ray's experience shows that people are still as inclined to help on the spot as ever, but it's nice to know that there are people and systems set up locally that are there to support us when we might need it most.
Any charities also get a 20% discount when joining Stockbridge Local - us doing our part too!
Written by Lucy Lloyd