25560996With a few deft pencil strokes, the 58-year-old from Old Kilpatrick can capture an expression or a moment in time with ease.

So when the team behind a groundbreaking project at Glasgow’s Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice needed an artist, they turned to Ian.

“Ian only took up drawing after his wife died, but he is a fantastic artist,” explains Liz Smith, the hospice’s practice development facilitator.

“We were delighted he was happy to be involved.”

Ian has a learning disability and after his wife’s death from cancer, he became interested in the hospice’s award-winning initiative, Building Bridges – Supporting Care.

It is the first scheme in Scotland to tackle inequalities in end-of-life care for people with learning disabilities.

It began as a small pilot project, driven by Liz, a former cancer nurse working in education at the Prince And Princess of Wales Hospice, and learning disability specialist Allison O’Donnell.

Both women were concerned that people with learning disabilities were dying much sooner than the general population.
Within a year, Building Bridges had attracted UK-wide attention, winning a national award and the support of the Scottish Government.

It is now being rolled out across Scotland, with a six-month pilot beginning in Ayrshire and Arran.

“When we started the project, people with learning disabilities were not accessing palliative care, and as a result, were dying sooner than the general population,” said Allison.

“As we start the third year, we’re now seeing some equity.

“That’s a sign things are moving in the right direction.

“Staff now have the skills, knowledge and confidence to plan care better.”

For Ian, designing a logo for Building Bridges gave him a chance to show off both his art skills and his support for the project.

“I understand what people using the hospice are going through,” he explains.

“I know how hard it was for me and for Patricia when she was ill.”

Ian, who works as a part-time cleaner, receives support from Key Community Support Services.

Team leader Gillian McGhee, one of the original steering group members on Building Bridges, added: “When Liz and Allison told me they were looking for artwork, I immediately thought of Ian.

“He is a great artist, and I’m glad he wanted to do it.

“It has given him even more confidence and he has offered to volunteer in the hospice’s art therapy classes.”

Ian’s drawing, of the Clyde Suspension Bridge, which is right outside the hospice’s doors, will be incorporated into project documents.

“I had never drawn a bridge before, but I enjoyed doing it,” he smiles.

“I put a lot of love into my pictures and I hope that shows.”

ann.fotheringham@eveningtimes.co.uk

Evening Times