I’m not much of a carol singer.
When you’re running a brand workshop to get a grasp of who you’re talking to before a rebrand, you normally expect static white rooms. You anticipate flip charts, marketing plans and copious refills of coffee. You don’t expect singing.
Yet there we were. A designer and myself, in a town hall, in one of the most remote communities in the country, sitting at a table with local pensioners, joining in with a local school’s rendition of Ding Dong Merrily On High. And we weren’t half bad.
We were there because of a project we launched for our tenth birthday, called Good for Nothing. It’s a commitment to donate £50,000 of our time every year to organisations who couldn’t otherwise afford our help.
One of this year’s two recipients was The Dementia Friendly Community project, in Stornoway. A team of people who support the expanding circle of those in the Outer Hebrides who either have or care for those with dementia. And so, to meet their team and see what they do, we paid them a visit.
And what we saw was incredible. When the group wrote to us asking for our help in building a brand that captured the complexity and richness of their work, we thought ‘dementia care’ would sum it up neatly. But it doesn’t get close.
Using a mixture of creativity and the Gaelic language they work tirelessly to change the perceptions of dementia care. From painting, to cinema, to Christmas carol singing - they stimulate the minds and support the overworked carers of a rapidly ageing community.
And we saw it in action. Singing the songs and reconnecting to warm memories of the past lifted their spirits. Plus, spending time with each other and the next generation kept them connected to the community they love.
We can’t wait to start work. For this group of wonderful people, it won’t just be a name, a logo and a website. We’ll be building a platform, that can empower them to spread out of Stornoway and beyond. And articulating for them a simple, but powerful idea.
That whatever your circumstances in old age you deserve the same dignity and enjoyment as anyone else. And that something as simple as a community coming together to sing some carols can be all it takes to make someone’s Christmas special.
Even if I’m next to them singing.