Vibrancy and success of Live Life Aberdeenshire projects and services

Councillors have welcomed the vibrancy and successes of Live Life Aberdeenshire following the publication of its annual performance update.
There's been an increase in the use of The Sir Arthur Grant Centre ahead of the £1.4m of upgrades and improvements.There's been an increase in the use of The Sir Arthur Grant Centre ahead of the £1.4m of upgrades and improvements.
There's been an increase in the use of The Sir Arthur Grant Centre ahead of the £1.4m of upgrades and improvements.

The comprehensive overview of LLA’s service delivery across culture and sport during the past year highlighted a number of high-performing projects ranging from Cycle Aberdeenshire to Live Life Essentials, Community Led Walks to the Summer of Play.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Communities Committee heard on Thursday, June 1 that Live Life Essentials in particular has enjoyed great success, now boasting more than 1,700 members.

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Essentials was created as a support package to highlight the many free services available to people and families across Aberdeenshire, to help save money and support health and well-being.

The initiative also provides free access to ebooks, audible books, newspapers, magazines, internet access, wifi and device charging. The introduction of a new scheme also enables members to able to access one programmed activity per month.

During the Easter and Summer holidays, Live Life Aberdeenshire delivered thousands of free-to-access inclusive participation opportunities for children, young people and families. Through the use of holiday recovery reserves agreed at a meeting of the full council and Scottish Government funding, these activities have had a very positive impact on all those who participated.

The service’s Live Life Outdoors team has also enjoyed continued growth across all delivery areas in the past year, including an increase in the use of The Sir Arthur Grant Centre ahead of the £1.4m of upgrades and improvements now underway.

LLA’s libraries have seen continued uptake and popularity of its digital platforms PressReader and Overdrive and the service has increased income from Princh, the print on demand service, while the sports and leisure service reported more than 583,000 people visited swimming pools between April last year and March 2023, with more than 87,000 using LLA gyms, and 140,600 participating in exercise classes.

From an Active Schools perspective, Pupil Leadership has continued to be an important priority in both primary and secondary schools. This year Active Schools supported a variety of programmes such as ‘Play Leaders, ‘I Can Lead’, ‘Sports Leaders’ and a wide range of volunteering opportunities for young people.

Between August 2022 and April 2023, more than 730 primary pupils completed Play Leaders courses, while nearly 170 secondary school pupils volunteered in the delivering of the Active Schools programme.

Arts development has been another focus of LLA which included the commissioning of a textile artist to work with tenants and staff at a VSH centre in Turriff as part of the ‘Felt Fine’ wellbeing initiative. Positive impacts included often non-verbal dementia residents talking animatedly, a participant with mental health issues unusually fully engaged in the activity and residents sleeping and eating better. Such was the success of the initiative that it’s a finalist at two national awards – Luminate’s Creative Ageing Awards in the Social Care & Creativity category and Scotland Social Services Rural Ways of Working.

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Some of LLA’s best established project have also enjoyed significant success in the past year. It created and delivered a programme of 15 outreach activities as part of its partnership with the Book of Deer group, Cambridge University Library, Aberdeen City Council, University of Aberdeen and Cameron Archaeology. Tie-dye workshops offered a chance to experiment with traditional natural dyes derived from the land, while visitors to the Aberdeenshire Farming Museum at Aden Country Park near Mintlaw learned about the Book of Deer via Digby the Mole’s Doodle Dig trail.

Further round the coast, the Macduff Marine Aquarium reported more than 51,000 people visiting the attraction between April and September last year, generating a total income of £454,505. Retail income has grown significantly by 51% compared to 2019, while the spend per head in the shop has increased by 53%.

Councillors were also delighted to hear about LLA’s ongoing support of the Seafit programme, which provides services and support to improving the long-term health and wellbeing of fishermen and their families. Seafit offers improved access to healthcare, taking services to the quayside where possible and also provides links to wider community support services and increases health awareness. Nearly 3,200 active fishermen were engaged with last year, together with 352 retired fishermen and 190 family members.

Communities Committee chair Cllr Anne Stirling said afterwards: “This is a hugely positive annual update from Live Life Aberdeenshire and clearly demonstrates the breadth and scale of our leisure, health and wellbeing services and initiatives across the region.

“It’s really heartening to hear about all the excellent work being undertaken within our communities – whether it’s through the Seafit initiative or Active Schools or the work being done at the likes of Macduff Marine Aquarium and the Book of Deer project.”

Committee vice-chair Cllr Hannah Powell added: “With our communities still feeling the impact of the cost-of-living crisis here in Aberdeenshire, it was good to hear of so many people signing up for the free Live Life Essentials package which has been carefully designed to support people with small interventions which could make a big difference.

“Everything on offer through Essentials is freely available to anyone and I would strongly encourage more of our residents to become a member and take advantage of the support available to them.”

Information about Live Life Aberdeenshire services can be found