Thursday 21 September
Great news announced this week with Scotland’s new Social Security agency having a site in Glasgow, bringing at least 750 jobs to the city. This is excellent news and proves yet again the Scottish Government’s commitment to supporting our city’s economy.
This new Social Security agency will be at the centre of the Scottish Government’s efforts to make sure that Scotland has a social security system with dignity and respect at its heart – in stark contrast to the punitive welfare regime currently operated by the UK Government.
The world is watching as the Spanish Government rescind the democratic process. I wholeheartedly support Catalonia and its people’s right and condemn the bureaucracy trying to silence them and have lodged the following motion in the Scottish Parliament:
That the Parliament condemns the reported raiding of Catalan Government buildings by national police and the detention of 12 senior officials, which it believes represents an unacceptable violation of the autonomous institutions of Catalonia; further believes that the Spanish Government’s use of armed paramilitary policing to confiscate political materials is a form of excessive and disproportionate force; acknowledges the reported statements from Catalan civil society, including Barcelona FC, rectors of Catalonia’s public universities and trade unions such as the Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) and Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT), demanding no political confrontation or limits to fundamental rights to freedom of expression and self-determination, and calls for the protection of democracy, civil rights and the autonomous institutions of Catalonia.
I had the pleasure of attending the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Community Central Halls last week.
This fantastic community resource was established in 1976 following a local community campaign to secure the continued use of the Methodist Central Hall.
In 1977 Strathclyde Regional Council bought the building for community use and handed over day to day management to a community development trust, Community Central Hall. Over the past 30 years CCH has evolved from providing community space for local organisations as well as providing a range of diverse vital community services. They have employed over 2,200 people; supported over 2,500 people not employed with work placements, employment training and jobsearch help; supported over 130,000 community events and delivered 181,600 hours of environmental improvement work – to name but a few of their achievements!
CCH has gone from strength to strength and I am sure will continue to provide for the local community building on their progress for many years to come.
Equalities and Human Rights
The Scottish Parliament debated equalities and human rights this week and I took the opportunity to contribute highlighting my work on the Social Security Committee.
A cornerstone of the Scottish Government’s approach to social security is the principle that it is a human right, as has been identified by the United Nations. That will help to eradicate the stigma that is associated with accessing benefits. Our system will be the first in the UK to reflect the UN principle that such systems should
“be established under national law and ensure the right of individuals and organisations to seek, receive and impart information on all social security entitlements in a clear and transparent manner.”
Our Parliament should be proud of that.
You can read the full text of my speech here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11089&i=101194
The Time for Inclusive Education set up stall in the Scottish Parliament this week and I was more than happy to endorse their campaign.
Their campaign pledge outlines five key strategic proposals that will help deliver LGBTI inclusive education.
64% of LGBTI people have been bullied at school because of their sexual orientation or gender identity; 95% believe that their experiences at school have had a long lasting negative effect on them and 27% of LGBTI youths have attempted suicide once as a result of bullying while 15% have tried more than once.
If you would like to find out more about the campaign go to www.tiepledge.co.uk or on facebook at tiecampaign
A new Young Carer Grant – worth £300 a year – will be part of a new package of support for young carers. The grant will be awarded to young carers aged 16 to 18 who do at least 16 hours of caring a week, but do not qualify for Carer’s Allowance. It will help to improve young carers’ quality of life, assisting them to take part in employment, social or leisure opportunities.
The full package of support will be delivered throughout the course of this parliament. It will also include adding more entitlements and rewards for 11-18-year-old young carers to the Young Scot National Entitlement Card – which gives non-cash benefits to young people. Young Scot will work with young carers groups to develop the scheme.
At a later date, everyone receiving the Young Carer Grant will also be given a pass for free bus travel. This is in response to concerns that some young carers feel isolated by their caring responsibilities, and can find it difficult to meet transport costs.
Wear It Pink
Breast Cancer Now’s wear it pink day is one of the biggest fundraising events and I caught up with them when they brought their campaign to the Scottish Parliament last week. I also took the opportunity to don some pink accessories to help highlight their campaign.
This year’s wear it pink will take place on place on Friday 20 October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, thousands of amazing people will wear it pink in their communities, schools or work places for the UK’s largest breast cancer charity, Breast Cancer Now.
Since the first event in 2002, over £30 million has been raised for life-saving research that’s working to discover how to prevent breast cancer, how to detect it earlier and how to treat it effectively at every stage so we can stop the disease taking lives.
If you’re looking for inspiration on fundraising go to https://wearitpink.org/
Further details of a new short term action group which will identify the actions and changes needed to end rough sleeping and transform the use of temporary accommodation in Scotland, has been announced by Housing Minister Kevin Stewart in a Ministerial statement today.
The announcement also included a new £50 million ‘Ending Homelessness Together’ fund which will be used to back the commitment and fund homelessness prevention initiatives over the next five years.
Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of the homelessness charity Crisis will chair the action group and a panel of members will be appointed shortly. The action group will meet next month and will examine:
Plans to minimise rough sleeping this winter;
How to eradicate rough sleeping for good;
Ways to transform temporary accommodation;
How to bring about an end to homelessness in Scotland.
Havana/Glasgow Film Festival
For those of you who don’t know the 3rd Havana/Glasgow Film Festival will be launched on 28 September in Oran Mor and will run from 9 – 12 November.
I’ve lodged a motion in Parliament welcoming the festivals return and the continued cultural links with Glasgow and Havana.
You can get more information about the festival here http://www.hgfilmfest.com/
Register to Vote
As the new academic year begins, I’d like to encourage all new students to sign up to vote. While youth turnout was at its highest in this year’s General Election since 1992, and the gap between the number of older voters and younger voters decreased, young people are still noticeably less likely to vote and millions are still missing from the electoral register.
Decisions are being taken every day that will affect young people, not least on Brexit-related issues, jobs or indeed tuition fees. We need to encourage a registration revolution so that every one of voting age is represented on the electoral register. In Scotland, the SNP has legislated to grant 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote, however my colleagues at Westminster face an uphill battle to make the same changes at a UK level as well as to extend the franchise to EU nationals. My advice to anyone given the opportunity to register to vote, is to take it with both hands. Find out more at https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
Glasgow Woodside Mini Holland Project
More good news for the constituency with news of funding for Glasgow’s Woodside Mini-Holland project as part of the £22.5 million in Scottish Government grant funding for active travel and cycling infrastructure projects across the country.
Glasgow’s Woodside Mini-Holland project, takes inspiration from infrastructure in the Netherlands. The project will create an integrated cycle route from the city’s Charing Cross to Possil Road, connect to the Sauchiehall Street “Avenue” cycleway, which is currently being delivered, and expand the cycle network into the city centre, Great Western Road, Maryhill, Garscube Road and the Forth and Clyde Canal.
This project will encourage more commuters to travel to work by bike and will support the Glasgow economy, improve health and develop cycling provision across the city.