What’s new

This is my first blog of 2023. Firstly I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and wish you good health for the coming year.

Since my last blog lots of things (as always) have been happening at Cherry Road.

I for one was fortunate enough to visit the Scottish Parliament whilst it was in session.  It was very interesting listening to Nicola Sturgeon and I would like to thank my member of staff for organising it and taking me.

Over the winter months we had some fantastic visitors.  Nick Clater who is Head of Services, Morag Barrow who is Director of Health and Social Care and Dr Grace Vickers Chief Executive. They all enjoyed their visit greatly and said how welcome they were made to feel and that the services in which the staff at Cherry Road provided was exceptional and that the clients were offered a huge range of activities and support to cater for their individual needs. Give yourselves a pat on the back everyone.

Wendy Armitage who is part of the Learning and Development team came to visit Cherry Road Outreach staff with the view to providing council buildings, schools GP surgeries etc with artwork and sculptures made by the people using Outreach services provided by Cherry Road in the community – watch this space!

We have introduced even more activities within the centre, these include – Open University (free courses), Audio bathing, Volunteer work and swimming as well keeping up with the healthy baking groups and our Sign Zumba.

OPEN UNIVERSITY – There is a huge variety of free courses which both staff and clients have shown a great interest.  I myself have started “Succeeding in a digital world” with my support worker.

AUDIO BATHING – Many clients enjoy this new experience. Relaxing listening and watching ocean scenes, birds, fish, trees and snow scenes.  Some people become so relaxed they fall asleep.

VOLUNTEER WORK – The staff have spent a lot of time researching opportunities for this and the Midlothian libraries are very interested in offering positions.

KEEPING HEALTHY – more clients are taking up swimming with their support workers, we have increased our healthy snack making to two sessions a week, Sign Zumba sessions have also increased, this, not only helps to keep us fit but helps develop our sign language.

As always Thursday live and Artlink are keeping us busy and entertained.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog, watch out for Aprils updates.

Craig Pentland

Blog Editor

Craig summer blog


Hello and welcome to my summer blog.

Since my last blog Government Covid rules have changed but in Cherry Road we are still taking precautions.

We have welcomed some new staff and clients over the past few months. They are all settling in well. We have also seen members leave and wish them all the very best in their future ventures.

Artlink recently launched a new exhibition at Tramways in Glasgow called Human Threads. It was a great success. Staff and clients have been visiting on Wednesdays throughout the summer.

Human Threads was an exhibition done in collaboration with Artlink, Cherry Road and Tramways. It was an inclusive, multi-sensory, interactive exhibition with special guests providing live entertainment each week. I visited a few times and really enjoyed myself.

When I arrived I went onto the vibrating ramp, I could feel the vibrations coming through my chair and I found that feeling very relaxing. Visitors could interact with the ramp anyway they chose. Vibrations were made using audio recordings of the voices of people from Cherry Road coming from underneath the ramp.

The Windy Tunnel was a large fun exhibit. Visitors can hide inside vast sails of materials, feeling the breeze from the fans. I chose to go through it in my chair. The wind effects made it nice and airy, when the room got hot.

The Smoke Chimney reminded me of “Stars in Your Eyes” TV programme. The smoke coming down on me. I enjoyed the experience.

Beanbags were set up in different areas of the room. I found this very chilling a good place to relax and each beanbag had different textures. Some people loved the feeling of being wrapped up under the beanbags. It was a great place for people of all ages and abilities.

The Artlink were around to explain the exhibits, I was interested in learning the science behind all the exhibits.

It was great being able to interact, we could hear, see and touch things. A lot of dedication, time and effort was put into the exhibition. Thank you to everyone involved.

In addition to the above we had various activities, visitors and outings.

We had outings to the Five Sister’s Zoo which was enjoyed by all (we were very lucky with the weather), the animals were great to see.  Others went on different outings such as the beach, cinema, bowing and trips out to Peebles for coffee and cake!

We had a visit from Tod the magician who was a performer in the Edinburgh Fringe, The Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland along with many others which were enjoyed by all.

Also we had many singers, dancers, drummers and Kick dance for our Thursday live who all had a great connection with everyone.

We again have been fortunate to have a selection of students who enjoyed their time learning with us at Cherry Road. Here are some of their comments – “I’ve learned a great deal”, “I was made very welcome”, “Every member of staff and clients helped me understand things”, “It’s a lovely place to work”

Blog Interview:

Recently I interviewed Aga Rozik-Szyszka, Team Leader at Cherry Road Learning Centre.

Aga’s main responsibilities are to allocate staff and clients who will be working together and ensure they have a good rapport and to help deliver outreach sessions to the clients who are out in the community within Midlothian.

When asked what her future vision for Cherry Road was she said ideally to grow a bigger service and offer extra services to a larger amount of people and to also expand the Outreach services to cover more areas within Midlothian.

I hope you have a lovely autumn and I look forward to sharing my next blog with you in the New Year.

Craig Pentland

Blog Editor

Craig’s News Blog

Welcome back! Hope you all had a wonderful New Year. I’m looking forward to all the new challenges coming up this year.

So far this year we’ve had some great acts for Thursday Live. In January we had the band Ubuntu Vibes come to Cherry Road for the very first time. They were accompanied by Andy Cooke a musician. They performed an African story through music, dance and speech. They interacted with our clients very well, they were humorous and lively. We would welcome them back to the centre anytime.

One of our favourite regular acts, Elvis, was back in Cherry Road for Thursday Live. He was great! Everybody was dancing around having a good time from start to finish. He took the time to interact with everyone. Even those who are usually reluctant to join in were inspired by him. The room was full of laughter and everyone enjoyed themselves.

I had the pleasure of working with Mat Clements in a 1-1 drumming session. He’s very talented, and I learn new skills from him.

We are very creative in Cherry Road. Our centre is full of artwork created by us all. I have designed and produced my own artwork. I enjoy painting and pottery. These are some of my paintings.

On a wider note in the rest of Scotland, Glasgow Burrell Collection will be re-opening on the 27th March. Something to look forward to.

I recently interviewed one of our team leaders John Connell. He is responsible for assisting with the day to day running of the establishment. He is very involved with staff training and support. John works in collaboration with Napier University. He mentors the learning disability students on placements in Cherry Road. I help out with this too. John told me he was in a unique position as he was in the old Cherry Road at the turn of the century. In those days it was a very busy environment attended by people with mixed needs and abilities. The Council needed a base for people with complex needs and so Cherry Road adapted to serve their needs. John’s vision for Cherry Road is “to become an internationally renowned centre of excellence.” John would like to see, in the future, our service extend to include evenings and weekends but not at the expense of the quality of service we’ve got just now. Some of John’s fondest memories are of our Creative Learning workshops and he says our Thursday Live performances are genuinely world class!

Craig Pentland

Blog Editor

Craig’s News Blog

Welcome back! My first Blog went down a treat, thanks for all your feedback. I am always open to new ideas.

Caitlin Mulgrew and the pots and pans samba band came to Cherry Road for the very first time. Caitlin worked extremely well with our clients. Everybody was up and out of their seats having a good time. We’re hoping to see them back at Cherry Road soon.

A Spanish couple from Edinburgh joined us and performed Flamenco in our conservatory. Daniello played a guitar and a cajon. Inma danced and played the castanets. As one of our service users often says we all were “shaking our shimmy!”

Performer Ciaran McGee was very good right from the start. He was an excellent singer! He would always be welcome back. Everybody joined in and had a good time.

I went to my first meeting with People First in Dalkeith.  People First Scotland are an advocacy group for people with learning disabilities, run by people with learning disabilities. It’s a great opportunity for me to get involved with the Scottish Government and Midlothian Council. My confidence has grown during my time at Cherry Road and the support I receive here allows me to access other opportunities with continuing support from Cherry Road.

Over the past 18 months our Outreach service has been preparing an Art Exhibition at The Steading in Rosewell. The pieces on display are all designed by service users. The artwork showcases the hard work and dedication of the service users and staff on the Outreach programme. Well done to all involved.

Staff profiles will be a new addition to the blog. This update includes an interview with Liz Davidson, manager of Cherry Road Resource Centre.

Liz explained she loves her job “I feel very privileged to be part of making people’s lives better, more enjoyable and helping people to learn.” Cherry Road felt a safe place to be during the pandemic. Staff and service users really looked after each other. Liz is always open to new ideas, assessing the service and getting feedback from us and our families to inform future plans for Cherry Road. I asked Liz if she had a special moment to share. She spoke of the success of the summer programme and a special moment when one of our clients reached out for the first time to play the strings of the violin. Liz said it was very emotional and brought a tear to her eye.

I’m sorry to report that one of our staff members Steve Bruce is moving on to pastures new. We all wish him well in his new venture. He will be missed by all at Cherry Road.

Craig Pentland

Blog Editor


Cherry Road Learning Centre are currently operating a reduced service for people with critical need.

For more information about current provision, please contact us on 0131 561 5402 or email liz.davidson@midlothian.gov.uk

We are working in partnership with residential and other day service providers to replace our input in imaginative ways in partnership with Artlink Edinburgh and Lothians, families and care teams supporting people at home.

Artlink Edinburgh and Lothians have developed online resources specifically for people with learning disability, their families and care teams.

They have a website of resources and ArtlinkTV featuring sensory based ideas for activity at home. If you’d like a hand to find content to suit the person you support please contact kara@artlinkedinburgh.co.uk or call/ text/ what’s app 07715083926.