News Resources

How to use Apple’s FaceTime to keep in touch with friends and relatives

This short guide shows how to use an iPad to make a FaceTime call to a friend or relative who also has an Apple phone or iPad. It’s a great way to keep in touch when you can’t leave the house!

Download the guide here

Gardening News Resources

Don’t Have a Garden? You Might Still Be Able to Grow Your Own

If you do not have a garden, or any outside space, you might think that growing your own food is out of the question. But all you need is a sunny windowsill to get growing. Of course, you won’t be able to become self-sufficient. But you can add to your diet, learn and have fun. If you get things right, even without outside space, you can grow a surprising amount of food.

Choose the Right Place to Grow Food Indoors

Successful indoors gardens are those which have been planned carefully. As with outdoors growing, it is important to think about patterns of sunlight, temperature, air flow and human movement when planning what to grow and where.

Most of the things you will want to grow will do best in a light and bright location – but not somewhere they will be in direct sunlight all day long. Try to choose a location for indoors growing that is not too close to a radiator, oven or stove, where temperatures will alter dramatically and more quickly over time. A spot where you can create a little natural ventilation (by opening windows on sunny days to create a through-breeze) is ideal.

Think about placing plants where you can water and tend them easily. Don’t place containers etc. where they will get in the way of other activities inside your home.

Make the Most of Your Space

At its most basic, growing your own indoors can simply be placing a few seeds in toilet roll tubes or other DIY containers on your windowsills. Or populating a simple window box with edible plants.

But if you really want to grow as much food as possible, you can get more inventive and really make the most of your space.

You can:

Employ ‘vertical gardening’ techniques and use shelving, planting towers, trellis or other support etc. to cram in as much growing space as possible. By thinking about vertical space as well as horizontal space, you can get creative and grow far more food in smaller spaces.

Hanging containers can also help you make use of additional space.

Set Up Systems Right Away – Think Long Term

One of the mistakes people make when planning an indoors garden is failing to think long term. An initial rush of enthusiasm can become disillusionment when people have trouble maintaining watering, fertility etc. long term.

Set up the following systems right away and it will be far easier to manage an indoors container garden over time:

  • A home composting system. This will provide compost for making potting mix, and can also give a liquid compost tea to fertilize plants in pots later in the year.
  • Rainwater harvesting. If you can, consider adding a rainwater butt or other container to the down pipe from the guttering on your roof. Even in a rented home or a flat, you might be able to simply hang a container outside a window to collect small amounts of rainfall to water indoors plants.

Make the Most of Your Resources

You don’t need to spend much money to get growing. A major part of the challenge is making the most of the resources already at your disposal.

Heading out on a walk in your local area, you might be able to collect natural resources to use in home growing, such as:

  • Fallen branches and sticks (for plant supports and other structures).
  • Fallen leaves (for compost/ mulches).
  • Weeds (to make a liquid plant feed, or even to supplement your home grown diet).

You may also already have access to things you need right there inside your own home. For example:

  • Food packaging and other old items to use as pots and containers.
  • Food scraps, cardboard etc. for composting.

Another thing to consider is that you might be able to regrow vegetables from scraps. Or even save some of your own seeds from food you buy for planting.

What to Grow

There are plenty of things that you can grow indoors. In fact, most common vegetables and fruits can be grown in the right containers. Leafy greens and culinary herbs are great things to start with. For a small container garden, it can be particularly helpful to embrace micro-greens & sprouts. (Space saving planting is ideal for small spaces). But once you get started, you will find that you are less limited than you might imagine in what you can grow.

Elizabeth Waddington is a freelance writer, permaculture designer and sustainability consultant. She graduated from St Andrews back in 2003. She has her own garden where she grows fruits and vegetables and keeps rescue chickens, and also helps others with their gardens and farms all over the world. She works with individuals, businesses and charities to create better systems for a better world.

Children News Resources

Facebook Forum Connects North East Fife Young Families

Young families across North East Fife have joined together to support one another through this period of social distancing, home schooling and more thanks to an online forum set up by a local mum-of-two.
Cicely Threlfall founded the group, Bairns & Blether – North East Fife Family Support Network, on Facebook, initially as a space for her immediate network of fellow parents to chat, meet and arrange “virtual coffees” while the usual baby and child activities are on hold due to Covid 19.

The group has seen unprecedented growth since its foundation just last week, and has quickly become the go-to place for parents and carers of children of all ages living in and around North East Fife.
Members are using the group to share ideas for keeping children entertained at home, from chalk drawing on the driveway to cooking and baking indoors, as well as tips and videos to help with home schooling. They can share anxieties and concerns, ask for advice, or simply touch base with others in a similar situation.

As the group continues to grow, the plan is for members to host “virtual coffees”, giving mums, dads and carers an opportunity to have a blether and a hot drink from home via video call. The first such call connected six local mums with young babies, who will miss out on that all-important socialisation during the early weeks and months. 
Members are looking forward to many more successful online meet-ups, as well as gatherings in person once the current restrictions are lifted.

Join Bairns & Blether – North East Fife Family Support Network on Facebook – all parents and carers welcome.

A former print and digital journalist, Anna Stephenson is currently on maternity leave from her role as PR & Marketing Coordinator at St Leonards School.


Calling All Those With a Garden

Elizabeth Waddington shows that you don’t need to have green fingers to get started in gardening, and grow you own veg.

If you are one of those in our area lucky enough to have a garden, it is important to remember that this is a very valuable resource. Not everyone is lucky enough to have outside space. So if we have some, we have a duty to make the most of it in these trying times.

Remember, your garden, no matter how small, can be used to provide food and other resources for you, your household, and perhaps even the wider community in the months to come. Not all of us can volunteer to travel out and about to help in more immediate ways. But even if we are staying home, we can do our bit in our gardens.

Grow At Least Some of Your Own Food

Any food you can grow in your garden now can help in the months to come. Growing your own can allow you to do your part to boost resilience and learn new things. The more self-reliant you can be, the more external resources can be channelled to where they are really most needed.

Some seeds is really all you need to get started. Everything else you need, you can often gather either from your garden, or from your home.

Check out this link to find out more about seeds to sow now for food sooner than you may have imagined:

Wondering what to start your seedlings in? There are plenty of options.

  • Make your own biodegradable plant pots. (Toilet roll tubes, small boxes, newspapers, egg boxes, egg shells etc. can all be used.)
  • Use plastic food packaging. (yogurt pots, plastic food trays etc..)
  • Upcycle old kitchen items, old clothes or other unwanted items from your home to make new pots and planters.

This link to find out about how you can get around the issue of not having easy access to a seed-starting potting mix:

Getting started is easier than you may imagine. Everyone with a garden should give it a go.

But you could also think about the food your garden might already provide. Did you know that many common weeds are edible? There are also plants that are usually considered to be ornamentals that have edible uses.

Sharing Seeds and Plants

If you already grow your own, perhaps you could help others get their hands on some of the things they need to get started. Through safe distribution channels set up by this group, it might be possible for you to pass on excess seeds, tools or other garden resources to those who need them.

Many of the sites selling seeds online have seen a massive increase in demand. So it is becoming more difficult for others to get the seeds they need to grow their own. If you have more than you need – perhaps you could pass them on?

If you sowed tomatoes or other warm weather crops on your windowsills earlier in the year, you may also have more seedlings than you really need. Being generous and passing these on could be a wonderful way to strengthen our community’s resilience moving forwards.

Remember – Gardens Can Provide More Than Just Food

Growing in your garden does not just provide food. It can also generate a range of other yields. Other resources that might be useful for household use or even for sharing in the months to come include:

  • Good quality compost. (If you don’t already have a home composting system in place, now is definitely the time to start.)
  • Worms (for vermicomposting).
  • Herbs (for herbal remedies as well as for culinary use).
  • Dyes, plant fibres and other materials for DIY/ art/ crafting etc..
  • Perhaps even fuel (at least kindling for wood burning stoves etc.. in the form of pruned branches and twigs etc..)

Our gardens are far more than just a space to get outside and get some vitamin D. It is important that we all make sure we are making the most of the outside space we have at our disposal.

Elizabeth Waddington is a freelance writer, permaculture designer and sustainability consultant. She graduated from St Andrews back in 2003. She has her own garden where she grows fruits and vegetables and keeps rescue chickens, and also helps others with their gardens and farms all over the world. She works with individuals, businesses and charities to create better systems for a better world.

News Resources

New ‘Neighbour’ help form available

Hi Everyone. We’ve received feedback that some people would prefer to be able to hand round flyers with the contact details for CASA, rather than their own mobile numbers.
A huge thank you to the brilliant Claire from Westport Print & Design for designing us a 3-to-a-page, black and white printable version.

Of course please take great care when delivering and be aware of the risks of transmission!

News Pets Resources

Looking after your pets when staying at home

The RSPCA have published a new guide on how to care for your pets while you’re social distancing, or unable to leave your home due to COVID-19.

The guide covers everything from whether coronavirus can infect your pets to how to entertain your dog indoors.

Check out the full guide here


CASA hits 2000 members in less than a week

We’re absolutely blown away by the number of people offering to help others at this difficult time. We really couldn’t have imagined such an outpouring of community spirit when this first kicked off a few days ago.

One of the things that we’re all adjusting to is that in the current situation it can be harder to help people than normal. Popping round for a chat, nipping to the shops to grab a few things… with our community movement restricted we need to be incredibly careful that by trying to help we don’t make things worse.

So thank you all for your support and for getting in touch – but please keep an eye in our Facebook group and in our Resources pages for tips and guides to help keep us all on the right track.

Keep safe!

News Resources

Walkies? Top tips from the expert on walking someone else’s dog

Dog training and canine psychology expert Tracy Buchan from and gives her top tips on how to safely help walk a dog you’ve never met.

Primarily in everyone’s mind right now is safety. Dog walking is a fantastic way to exercise, help the local community, we have a great advantage in that St Andrews has an abundance of room to walk and still observe safe social distancing measures. Dog walking reduces stress, is fun and can help clear you mind for even just a little while during these uncertain times.

While it might at first seem like it’s a perfectly simple thing to do, but there are some considerations that may have not come to mind.


Dogs are a different species but they have excellent communication systems, senses and emotional needs similar to our own. That is why dogs are much love family members Uk wide and so valued in our society. In order to get the best from our beloved pets, it is important to have good communication and an understanding of what makes them tick. Miscommunication is the most common reason for dog bites in the Uk. In my experience of dogs, they only bite as a last resort. People may cite that a bite came ‘out the blue’ but often the dog HAS been communicating for some time that they cannot handle a situation, people just do not recognise the signs.

When I operate as a dog walker, normally I would do a risk assessment scoring depending on the answers given & visually by watching for body language stress indicators in the presence of the owner, and the first time I collect the dog on my own. This is because you may find a dog behaves completely differently or reacts far more strongly with someone they do not know. Normality, for now, has gone out the window and so the normal risk assessment process will not apply. It is likely you may be walking the dog of someone who is social distancing because they have an underlying health condition, so you cannot gather as much information in person or assess the dog in the owner’s presence. Skills in reading canine body language are more valuable in this situation.

Calming signals in dogs.

Calming signals are how dogs communicate they are feeling uncomfortable in any given situation. Even you have experience of dogs, it would be useful to learn how dogs tell us that they are unsure, apprehensive nervous, all of which equals stress.

Canine body language stress indicators

I will at some point publish a more comprehensive body language document, but in the meantime, it’s worth watching this video to familiarise yourself with some indicators of stress, even if you are an experienced dog owner.

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code has an excellent, free, training course on responsible dog walking. It doesn’t take long to do and I can guarantee that even the most experienced pet dog owner will learn something valuable from it. It covers the relevant laws as well as giving everyone great advice.

Covid-19 specific risks.

 This may not be a popular opinion, as everyone wants to help where they can, but I’m afraid I do not recommend walking dogs from families who are in quarantine because they have someone at home showing signs of Covid-19. There is some evidence dogs can contract covid-19, though so far, nothing to show it can cross the species barrier the other way and transmit it back to people, but this virus is so new that there are is multitude of information we do not yet know. What we do know, is the virus can live on surfaces for several hours, I would think it’s reasonable to consider there would be a risk of surface contamination from fur, collars and leashes if nothing else.

The current official advice from the Global Veterinary community:

“What are the concerns regarding pets that have been in contact with people infected with this virus?
While COVID-19seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to-person. Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people. Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses. Importantly, there is limited evidence that companion animals including pets such as dogs and cats, can become infected with SARS-Cov-2. Although there is no evidence that pets play a role in the epidemiology of COVID-19, strict hand hygiene should be maintained by the entire clinical team throughout the veterinary interaction, especially if dealing with an animal that has been in contact with an infected person.”

Keeping everyone safe, this is my own current precautions, as a dog walker, in addition to frequent thorough hand washing –

Temperature- taken daily. At any sign of a raised temperature, of yourself or immediate family at home, you should self-quarantine everyone at home. You cannot visit people to walk their dogs.

Door handles, pet equipment – use pet safe disinfectant on any surfaces you may touch when collecting and dropping off dogs.

Dogs- There is evidence that dogs can contract the covid-19 virus, but so far, no evidence they can pass it on to humans. Still advisable not to let any your dog lick your face.

Car- extra cleaning between dog pick up and collection. Again with pet safe disinfectant.

Are you still considering volunteering?

Here is my volunteer guide to safe and sensible dog walking.

We need to gather as much information about the dog as possible, especially temperament, that covers any anxieties, and their general demeanour with other canines, people young and old. You should do this by telephone to reduce any face-to-face contact.

I will give you a list of relevant questions, and the reason behind those considerations.

Q1. Why are you needing help?

I feel it’s important to find out why they cannot walk the dog themselves. They may be socially distancing simply to keep safe, have an underlying health condition or they could be in quarantine because they have symptoms of Covid-19. I will explain the risk facts involved further in this article, but it may be the questions stop here. Draw up a clear plan of the days and times you are available, and the expectation for each party to withdraw from the service should symptoms of Covid-19 develop.

Q2. How many dogs and what breed does the household have?

While all dogs are individuals, finding out the breed beforehand gives you some relevant information. The main consideration here for you is size and strength. If you are four stone dripping wet, you don’t want to be volunteering to take on four malamutes from the same household. Four Chihuahuas on the other hand may be far more manageable (though don’t count on them being easier, but at least they shouldn’t be able to pull you over).

Q3. How are they with other dogs?

Vitally important, especially as you may be considering taking them out for walks with your own dogs. Key words to watch out for ‘they can be a bit funny’, this does not mean they have a part time job as a stand-up comic, it means they sometimes have adverse reactions to other dogs. You can dig a bit deeper with the other questions to come. If there is any doubt about their suitability with other dogs then please just walk them solo.

Q4. How are they with men/women/children?

I could have just written people, the reason for asking about these specific groups is that some dogs may have at some point, had an unfortunate incident during a fear period, and it has had a lasting effect. They may be very sociable with men but dislike women, or vice versa, they may be nervous around children. If you plan on taking your own children with you on the walks, then obviously do not take on a dog that is nervous around them. You also need to be aware that dogs can be like child magnets, so keeping them away from children would be a priority.

Q5. What is your normal walking routine?

If possible try to stick to the normal routine of the dog, if dogs are fed at the same time, they usually need to ‘deposit’ at the same time. This is not so important if the person can give their dog access to the garden. While walking in other areas than their usual place is absolutely a great enrichment for dogs, and I’m not saying you have to go with where the dog is normally walked, for the first few walks it’s a good idea to stick to the familiar place. Some dogs have never been on walks with anyone but their owner, sticking initially to a familiar route can provide them with some reassurance. This question can also give an indication of their temperament; a dog that normally walks free on the beach and plays with several friends is likely much more sociable than a dog that walks on leash round the block at 3am.  I strongly recommend you do not let someone else’s dog off the leash, unless it’s someone you know and you already have a good knowledge of and relationship with that dog. By law all dogs have to be kept under control, when you walk someone else’s dog, any problems would leave you directly responsible.

Q6. How well do they travel?

You may not need to ask this if you plan to only walk near the home. If you do plan to take dogs in your car then it is an important question. Some dogs are anxious travellers, those worst affected can vomit/urinate/defecate with anxiety in vehicles. Stressed dogs are more prone to biting, so keep safe and walk locally instead. Another consideration is keeping within the law. Dogs must be properly restrained in vehicles. This can be in a crate, with a harness and seatbelt attachment, or in the boot with a dog guard. It’s always good practice to make sure the leash is secured. Some dogs are so enthusiastic about their walk, that they automatically leap right out the car. You don’t want to end up with a loose dog, who doesn’t know you.

Q7. Any allergies?

If you plan to take dog treats, it is important to first check if there are any allergies or food intolerances.

Q8. Is there anything else you think I should know about?

Sometimes this can reveal something of vital importance i.e I told you he loves all dogs, which is true, but he is prone to having a spat with the neighbour’s dog if they meet on the stairs.

I thinks that’s it, I know it’s a lot to take in, but I feel it would be the best way forward to keep everyone healthy, happy and keep those tails wagging.

Tracy Buchan is a dog training geek, apart from spending time with dogs, loves nothing more than studying the most up to date ethology courses,  from Animal communication and Welfare at the University of Edinburgh to learning about canine emotion & cognition. Currently a positive reinforcement dog trainer and Fife council approved dog walker, her mission in life is to promote good communication and understanding between man and beast. Her free to use puppy training site is or for services within St Andrews area