Thursday 25 May 2017
My thoughts are with those affected by the horrific bombing at the Manchester Arena on Monday evening. This was a callous attack on innocent people enjoying a music concert and there is nothing more cowardly than attacking children and young people.
While raising the UK terror threat level to ‘critical’ has been judged a necessary response to the despicable attack in Manchester, we must not allow terrorism to triumph.
I urge everyone to be vigilant but not alarmed and, as far as possible, to go about their business as usual.
Police Scotland have already visibly increased their presence in locations such as transport hubs and city centres as a precaution. Security arrangements for upcoming public events, including this weekend’s Scottish Cup Final, are being thoroughly reviewed and the public should anticipate additional safety measures such as full body and bag searches.
Our emergency services prepare extensively for situations such as this, and those well-rehearsed plans are now being put into practice.
Scotland stands together, in solidarity, with the people of Manchester – we will not be divided by those who seek to destroy our way of life.
As convener of the Social Security Committee I launched the publication of the report into the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill this week.
The Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill sets four income based targets against which child poverty in Scotland will be measured. The Bill also requires the Scottish Government to prepare delivery plans to report against the targets.
There is simply no room for child poverty in a modern Scotland, so any legislation aimed at tackling this is to be applauded for its ambition. The Bill before us contains challenging targets for measuring child poverty but we believe that these targets do not go far enough.
The introduction of interim targets would send a much louder message about the importance that is placed on tackling child poverty and they would create a sense of urgency which is needed if we are to really make a difference.
Of course, targets alone cannot eradicate child poverty. It is the delivery plans and progress reports that will detail the action being taken and how effective this action is. We need more information about the format and shape of these plans.
The Committee’s report also states that there must be stronger independent scrutiny arrangements in place to ensure this and future governments are held to account on meeting the child poverty targets. For that reason the Committee is calling for a statutory commission to scrutinise Scottish Ministers’ delivery and progress.
More information about the Committee’s consideration of the Bill can be found at:
I am delighted that the intervention made by the Scottish Government has helped to facilitate an agreement to end the dispute between the EIS and the College Employers’ Association.
The Scottish Government put in place arrangements to allow for national bargaining, it has always been the case that resolution of this issue lay in the hands of employers and the union.
The immediate suspension of the strike action will be very welcome news for students and the wider agreement reached will allow Scotland’s colleges to focus on delivering the high-quality education the sector is known for.
Congratulations to all of the participants of the 5k Charity Challenge which took place on Sunday. I along with my colleague Alison Thewliss and Kirsten Oswald took up the challenge and completed it!
Everyone not only completed the challenge but raised much needed funds for the four charities, Cash for Kids, Children 1st, Humanity First and Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity. Organisers of the event the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association are to be congratulated on staging and managing such a worthwhile event. Well done everyone.
Minister for Mental Health, Maureen Watt has launched a new training resource to help meet the needs of people affected by trauma and abuse.
The National Knowledge and Skills Framework for Trauma is designed to support people working in the public and third sectors in Scotland to support those affected by trauma, their families, carers and supporters.
The new framework includes four tiers of trauma informed practice:
- Helping people be safe
- Developing effective coping skills
- Processing and making sense of trauma
- Living the life they choose
Trauma and abuse can include sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect.
The training framework will be delivered by NHS Education for Scotland (NES) at the request of the Scottish Government’s Survivor Support team.
Different services have different training requirements but all services are expected to be trauma informed.
Changing Faces Campaign
Changing Faces are leading a campaign Face Equality Day which will be held on Friday 26 May. The charity was set up 25 years ago to support people who have any condition or injury which affects their appearance. They aim to empower, support and build confidence for those affected whilst also challenging prejudice and promoting respect.
Events will be held across the country and I would urge you to join in and support the campaign and commit to challenging appearance discrimination. You can get more information at www.changingfaces.scot
The 2017 EY Scotland Attractiveness Survey shows that Scotland has retained its position as the top location in the UK outside London for foreign direct investment (FDI), with investment projects up 2.5% on 2015.2016 was also a strong year for Scotland in attracting research and development inward investment; with 21 individual projects, Scotland has retained its position as number one in the UK for R&D projects.
In terms of projects secured, Scotland has three cities represented in the UK top 10, with Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen featuring in fifth, sixth and seventh place respectively.
As well as highlighting the record level of investment projects won by Scotland, the report also notes that Scotland now takes over one in 50 of all investment projects in Europe; a clear indication that Scotland is now firmly established as a location of choice for global investors.
2016 was a record-breaking year of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Scotland, according to the latest annual survey into FDI attractiveness published this week by Ernst and Young.
The next phase of the Health and Sport Committee’s ‘Sport for Everyone’ inquiry will examine community-based approaches to removing barriers to participation in sport and physical activity, including how to better promote volunteering.
The Committee is asking people to provide examples of where a community based approach has been successful in removing barriers, particularly among certain social groups.
MSPs also hope to address the reasons behind on-going difficulties in communities accessing the school estate for sport and physical activity.
The call for evidence closes on 30 June. It is available here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/104946.aspx
The Boys Brigade were exhibiting in the Scottish Parliament this week and I took the opportunity to chat to them about their work across Scottish communities.
The Boys’ Brigade was founded in Glasgow on 4 October 1883 by Sir William Alexander Smith. From this one Company formed in Scotland the BB has grown in to a worldwide movement, having worked with millions of children and young people for well over a century.
In Scotland, the BB cares for and challenges young people through a programme of informal education in a fun way. Each week around 20,000 young people, aged 5 to 18, take part in one of its 430 groups.