Thursday 30 November
St Andrews Day
Happy St Andrews Day to you all! This is a great day to reflect on our patron saint and his philosophy – share what you have with those less fortunate and be kind to each other.
I also wanted to remind you all about the West End Festival Torchlight Parade taking place tonight at 6.30pm. The procession will form up at the football pitches at the top of Queen Margaret Drive at the junction with Maryhill Road setting off down Queen Margaret Drive, down Byres Rd, Church Street and finishes at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
Whatever and however you decide to celebrate enjoy!
The Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson made a statement to Parliament on Tuesday regarding the current situation with Police Scotland.
As many of you will already know several officers have been suspended and are now under investigation. The Deputy Chief Constable Designate Iain Livingstone acted quickly to review his command structure. As a result, two officers will be promoted to temporary Assistant Chief Constable with immediate effect.
You can read the full text of his speech here https://news.gov.scot/speeches-and-briefings/parliamentary-statement-on-policing
What a great visit I had to Volunteer Glasgow meeting up with Chief Executive Bernadette Monaghan and the staff to hear more about the range of services they deliver from staff, volunteers and service users.
Volunteering can be life changing for people and communities, including the power of befriending and mentoring support to help young people achieve better outcomes and reach their potential.
If you would like more information on how to get involved go to: http://www.volunteerglasgow.org/
Leisure and cultural venues currently run by council arm’s-length bodies will continue to benefit from charity relief from non-domestic rates.
Following lengthy consultation with stakeholders, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay today confirmed that the Scottish Government will not be accepting the recommendation of the Barclay Review to end this benefit.
It means that local authority arm’s-length external organisations (ALEOs) currently providing important leisure and cultural facilities will continue to benefit from reduced rates to support their activities.
Mr Mackay also announced he will take steps to offset the charity relief benefit to councils from any new ALEO expansion in future.
World AIDS Day
The Parliament was host to a debate and reception this week to mark World AIDS Day on 1 December.
HIV Scotland, Waverley Care, Positive Help, Hwupenyu Health & Wellbeing Project, National AIDS Trust, Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland and Pasante were all represented at the reception.
Chatting with those representatives I had the opportunity to hear about the impact stigma has on the lives and wellbeing of people living with HIV in Scotland, and the HIV Anti-Stigma Strategy which is a leading contribution to ongoing work both nationally and globally towards challenging HIV-related stigma.
There’s a lot we can all do to prevent new cases of HIV (the virus that can cause AIDS), to challenge the stigma and prejudice that people living with HIV face, and to remember those who’ve died from AIDS-related illnesses since the 1980s.
I was particularly pleased to see representatives from Pasante who do some incredible work in partnership with the Terence Higgins Trust offering free condoms and sexual health testing at the clinic on Sauchiehall Street.
I would encourage you all to lend your support in tackling the stigma by wearing a red ribbon and sharing your photos, posts or videos of what you’re doing to mark World AIDS Day using #WhatWillYouDO
NHS Staff Support
NHS Scotland staff who are not satisfied with internal investigations will soon be able to enlist the help of an Independent National Whistleblowing Officer (INWO) – a UK first.
Legislation will be introduced to Parliament next year to bring the INWO role under the auspices of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman. This would provide statutory powers to help whistleblowers.
A huge thank you to Isobel McCue and the staff, volunteers and participants at Theatre Nemo for a very warm reception and an extremely creative afternoon!
Theatre Nemo supports people in recovery from poor mental health. They provide creative workshops that have a focus on mental wellbeing, teaching people coping strategies and developing a greater understanding of their own mental health, where to get support and how to support others.
To find out about upcoming projects or to get involved with Theatre Nemo please contact Hugh McCue CEO, Hugh@theatrenemo.org, 0141 559 4941
Apple Day and Belhaven Nursery
Pupils and staff from Belhaven Nursery were guests of the Parliament this week as part of the Holyrood Apple Day event. Holyrood Apple Day has become an annual celebration which has coincided with St Andrews Day. It is a great opportunity for schools, community groups, and businesses interested in creating a fruitful Scotland to meet MSPs as well as a chance to show off the collection of apples, juices and cider made with apples from across Scotland.
For over 10 years more than 25,000 fruit trees, in over 500 schools, with community gardens and allotments, gardens, parks and streets across Scotland have been planted.
All of the children seemed to be having a great time and I was very impressed with their impeccable behaviour. They were fantastic ambassadors for the nursery!
Historical Sexual Offences
Holyrood’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee is looking to hear views from the general public as the Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) Bill starts its journey through the Scottish Parliament.
Before the Bill can become a law, it will undergo thorough scrutiny by Members on the Committee. The Bill proposes granting a pardon to all men convicted of consensual same-sex activity under old discriminatory laws and, if applied for, a legal disregard. A disregard would mean that their criminal record would not be considered if a background check were carried out.
The closing date for making a submission in Friday 19 January 2018. You can make a submission by email to email@example.com or you can also write to:
Clerk to the Equalities and Human Rights Committee, Room T2.60, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP
Caring Christmas Tree
It was good to meet up with representatives from Bethany Christian Trust this week in Parliament.
They were in promoting their Caring Christmas Trees project. All trees sold by them will see the proceeds go to helping the homeless.
Buying a Caring Christmas Tree is simple but has a huge impact. Every Caring Christmas Tree funds vital work to transform lives across Scotland. Thanks to your purchase, we are able to support 7,000 people with homelessness and housing, addictions and basic furniture. We also work with children and families and help people gain the confidence and skills to find work and contribute to the life of their local community.
You can find out more at https://www.caringchristmastrees.com/#simple3