A huge thank you to the staff and pupils of Woodside Nursery School who gave me a very warm welcome last Friday morning.
It was a pleasure to meet and talk to the children at the nursery and after a great tour of their facilities and resources I had a very good discussion with the staff regarding current nursery school policy.
Colleges, universities, trade unions and the Scottish Government have agreed a united approach to protect Scotland from the worst effects of Brexit.
The joint statement sets out how they will press the UK government to reintroduce a Post Study Work Visa in Scotland, continue research collaboration and safeguard education relationships with Europe which is very important for Glasgow further and higher education institutions.
Universities Scotland estimate that our universities generate £11 billion gross value every year. This move by the further and higher education sectors aims to ensure that they can continue to contribute effectively. The sectors will pull together to safeguard Scotland’s global reputation in the arenas of research, science and education, recognising the disproportionate impact Brexit will have on EU staff and students north of the border.
You can read the full statement here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/leaving-the-european-union/
The first Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payments will be made before Christmas.
The payment will see eligible applicants receive £600 for their first child, £100 more than the DWP Sure Start Maternity Grant it replaces.
This payment also provides £300 for all subsequent children – meaning there is no cap on the number of children it supports, unlike the current UK Government equivalent.
In addition to the Pregnancy and Baby Payment, by summer 2019, two additional early years payments will be introduced. The first £250 payment will be made around the time a child starts nursery, to help with the costs of early learning and a further £250 when they start school.
The Scottish Parliament marked Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month with a debate this week.
MSPs from across the chamber used their contribution to acknowledge and congratulate cancer charities for their tireless work in raising awareness of the condition.
It is the fifth most common cause of cancer death in Scotland. Currently, three in four patients with pancreatic cancer die within a year of diagnosis. These are stark figures and we must do all we can to raise awareness.
You can access the full parliamentary debate here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11794&i=106703
Find out more about pancreatic cancer here: https://www.pancanscot.org/
Representatives from Woodland Trust Scotland were in Parliament this week to chat about their work .
Their aim is to plant new native woods, restore existing ones to peak condition, and halt the loss of ancient woods and trees to inappropriate development.
Scotland has better tree cover than the rest of the UK but is poorly wooded compared to most of Europe.
Woodland Trust Scotland help others create new woods through support from their outreach team. They work with famers and landowners to support the creation and restoration of woods across Scotland.
I was particularly interested in their free trees for schools and community groups initiative. Twice a year they supply free tree packs to schools and community groups across Scotland.
You can find out more information here: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant-trees/free-trees/
I wanted to remind you all that you have the opportunity to participate in shaping policy through the Scottish Government consultations portal.
There are currently several consultations live at the moment including changes to civil partnerships, fracking, hate crime and licensing of dogs, cats and rabbit breeding.
I would encourage those of you with an interest in any of the areas to put forward your views.
Please take the time to participate at https://consult.gov.scot/consultation_finder/?sort_on=iconsultable_enddate&sort_order=ascending&advanced=1&st=open#cs-finder-results-container
It was good to meet up with representatives from Housing Options Scotland this week when they were exhibiting in the Parliament.
They are a housing advice charity for disabled people, military veterans, and older people.
Set up in 1997 they provide a unique public access service to all disabled people throughout Scotland, advising on social renting, private renting, and home ownership.
They also advise and support disabled people, veterans and older people through the complex design, financial and legal processes involved in buying or renting a property.
Every public library in Scotland will receive a complete collection of Muriel Spark novels, as part of an initiative announced by the First Minister.
Funded by the Scottish Government, and the People’s Postcode Lottery – and delivered in partnership with the Scottish Book Trust – more than 11,000 books will be delivered to libraries throughout the country.
St Andrews Day Parade
Just another reminder to get your tickets for this year’s St Andrews Day Torchlight Parade.
The parade will take place on Friday 30 November forming up from 6.15pm, inside the Botanic Gardens and will proceed via the main gate down Byres Road and end up at the Kelvingrove Art Galleries.
To book your tickets go to http://www.westendfestival.co.uk/events/special-highlights/torchlight-parade/