Museum tackling loneliness and isolation

National Museums Scotland has introduced two new outreach activities to its Loneliness and Isolation Project.

These are being, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, as part of the organisation’s efforts to make both its collections and the Museum experience even more inclusive and accessible.

In an extension of their children’s Early Doors for Autism and Autism After Hours events programme which sees autistic children and their families enjoy out of hours Museum access, the first of the new outreach sessions features a collaboration with Edinburgh charity, The Yard, which provides adventure play for disabled children and their families.

Museum staff use objects from the handling collections to create fun-filled, bespoke sessions on a series of topics, including the recent Earth, Space, Science session which introduced the children to programmable robots, infra-red cameras and the memory metal used to make satellites.

A series of outreach events in some of the capital’s care homes has also seen the Museum team provide live music and seated swing dance sessions along with the chance to see objects from the handling collections of the National Museum of Scotland’s fashion galleries. Archive images of styles from the same time period are also shared in order to promote engagement and provide a stimulating and enjoyable cultural experience for participants, most of whom have some degree of cognitive impairment.

Jane Miller, community engagement manager, National Museums Scotland, said: ‘We’re extremely grateful to the players of People’s Postcode Lottery for providing the support that we need to deliver a project that has huge benefits for those at risk of social isolation for a range of reasons.

‘We already host a number of events within the Museum itself, but these new external outreach sessions mean that we can enable people who may not be able to visit us to have a cultural experience that is enjoyable and stimulating and which lets them, and their families or carers make important social connections with others in similar circumstances.’

Supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, National Museums Scotland’s Loneliness and Isolation initiative also includes Friday Friends at the Museum, which features two different groups – children with visual impairments, and children who are deaf or hearing impaired. Organised in partnership with staff from the City of Edinburgh Council’s Assisted Support for Learning Sensory team, the sessions use objects from the collections as the inspiration for art and craft activities, music and storytelling to enable the children to learn and make connections in a supportive, welcoming environment.

Also part of the initiative are the organisation’s Museum Socials – relaxed monthly events for people living with dementia and their carers. Participants are at different stages of dementia and include regular and independent attendees as well as care home groups.

The events feature a range of lively and engaging activities inspired by the Museum collections and using curator expertise, music and song, handling objects, games, quizzes and craft activities. Museum staff have developed the sessions with the help of expert advice and training from the University of Stirling’s Dementia Services Development Centre.

Museum Socials are part of a cultural partnership with National Galleries Scotland, the National Library of Scotland, St Cecelia’s Hall and Edinburgh Zoo, meaning that a cultural activity for people living with dementia is provided on every Friday of the month.

Stephanie Kerr from People’s Postcode Lottery added: ‘Society is becoming increasingly aware of the need to adapt to be much more inclusive and we’re delighted that the support players of People’s Postcode Lottery have provided is helping to address some of the loneliness and isolation that exists today.’

Visit for details and further information the National Museum of Scotland’s Museum Socials, Early Doors for Autism, Autism After Hours and Friday Friends events.