bold is a five-year project delivered in partnership by University of Edinburgh and Queen Margaret University, funded by the Life Changes Trust. bold stands for Bringing out Leaders in Dementia, and our vision is: Having a dementia doesn’t matter for who I am as a person or how I live my life and that everyone should be able to flourish.
Our aim is to ensure that our communities can all make a positive contribution to support people living with dementia.
The project is a creative and interactive Social Leadership programme that provides opportunities for people to develop their leadership potential and equip them with the skill to flourish as leaders in dementia and make our communities across Scotland places where people living with dementia can flourish too. bold recognises that many people live with dementia in different ways and we bring together people from all walks of life with different backgrounds. Our ethos is that we are all on an equal footing and can learn from each other. Therefore everyone who takes part in the bold programme is known as a partner rather than a participant. Our partners might include people who have a dementia, a family member or friend of someone with a dementia, a carer, a member of NHS staff, an artist with an interest in working alongside people with a dementia, or anyone that has an interest in doing something positive to help themselves and in turn those living with dementia flourish and reach their potential. We believe that everyone living with dementia in whichever way has an important story to tell that can add to our understanding of how everyone can flourish and create social change for the better.
The project launched in 2019 and we delivered two in person programmes in Inverness and East Lothian. In response to Covid-19, the team redesigned it as a 6-week online programme which was introduced in winter 2020. We have now completed 4 online programmes and are currently delivering our 5th programme.
We use creative arts-based methods to explore who we are as social leaders in dementia. These methods might include poetry, creative writing, working with clay, collage and using our voice. Creative methods help to create open and safe environments within which we can talk about and articulate our shared values and beliefs. There is no right or wrong with creativity leaving us free to innovate, imagine and have fun. Creativity helps us see the world from a different perspective, often de-bunking taken for granted ways of seeing things. It can help uncover hidden strengths and vulnerabilities enabling us to realise our potential as we allow ourselves to flourish.
There are four core values that thread through everything we do in bold. These emerged from the early in person workshops in 2019, and are:
- Being Creative
- Showing Character
- Being Bold, and
- Showing Love
bold uses the philosophy of Social Leadership as developed by Julian Stodd (2016) because it is about creating fairer, more equal cultures that enables all persons to flourish. It challenges traditional hierarchal ways of leadership, seeking to bring about change through shared learning, connection, sharing stories, being able to make mistakes and debate, forming supporting and long-lasting relationships and networks and creates conditions where everyone can feel safe, supported, valued and respected. Social Leaders are curious, humble, who try, learn and try again, tell stories and are willing to fight for and do what is right and who create supportive networks. A bold Social Leader is someone who also has a desire to help those living with dementia flourish and to makes positive contributions to support people living with dementia in many different ways, including in local neighbourhoods, families, communities, social groups or in organisations around them.
Taking part in the bold programme has made a significant impact on many of our partners as the following feedback from some of our partners reflects:
“It was a really positive experience. The first course they have ever been on that gets you to see things from a different perspective, and that is what is needed”
The collective bold experience is one of those deeply nurturing experiences that takes time to filter through into your bones and generates impact over a long period of time.
“bold has enabled me to be bolder and I will be bolder still’
ECRED (Edinburgh Centre for Research on Experience of Dementia) Deputy Director and Research Fellow
Bold (Bringing out Leaders in Dementia) Project Facilitator
Faith in Older People Board Member