Thursday 31 January 2019
Loneliness and Isolation
The Scottish Government brought forward a debate in the chamber this week on loneliness and isolation and I took the opportunity to contribute to the debate.
The Minister for Equalities and Older People also announced a new group to advise on addressing social isolation.
In December 2018 the Scottish Government launched its first strategy focused on social isolation and loneliness in society, backed by £1 million of funding.
A range of public, third sector organisations and experts who helped develop the strategy will now put it into action.
You can catch up with the full debate and my contribution here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11917&i=107725
Fully and semi-retired people in Scotland have a new way to learn about subjects that interest them thanks to University of the Third Age – U3As.
I was delighted to meet up with representatives during their exhibition at the Parliament this week.
More than one per cent of over 65s are now learning for fun in these locally-led educational groups and research also shows that regularly meeting up with other people brings attendant health and social benefits.
Glasgow Kelvin constituency residents can access a range of subjects and activities at https://u3asites.org.uk/glasgow-west-end/welcome
Older people have a lifetime of knowledge to share at a point when they also have more time to learn. The range of subjects people want to study informally is purely down to the interests of local members. It could be art or architecture to opera or origami. Someone knowledgeable leads the group but really everyone chips in.
These groups also make a positive contribution in tackling isolation and loneliness.
Students will have access to improved mental health support following the funding of an additional full-time officer to expand student mental health agreements.
The agreements with colleges and universities, which include increasing staff training and reviewing existing mental health policies, bring students’ associations and their institutions together to work jointly on mental health issues.
The £36,000 funding for this role from the Scottish Government, which will support National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland’s Think Positive campaign, was announced as three Scottish Ministers met students’ association presidents from around the country to agree steps to improve support for student mental health.
I met up with representatives of Shared Lives this week in Parliament to discuss what they can offer and what is available across the constituency.
Firstly a little background information on them. Shared Lives provides fully trained carers for young people and adults who need support or a place to live.
Shared Lives is used by people with learning disabilities, people with mental health problems, older people, care leavers, young disabled adults, parents with learning disabilities and their children, people who misuse substances and offenders.
People who are ready to leave hospital can move in to recuperate with a Shared Lives carer, and they are developing it as a form of short breaks for family carers. Shared Lives is also used as a stepping stone for someone to get their own place.
The outcomes can be startling, with people reporting feeling settled, valued and like they belong for the first time in their lives. They make friends (a third make five or more friends through Shared Lives) and get involved in clubs, activities and volunteering, often for the first time.
To find out more information go to https://sharedlivesplus.org.uk/about-shared-lives-plus/nations-and-regions/scotland
Bill Scott will chair the new statutory Poverty and Inequality Commission, the body advising the Scottish Government on its aims to tackling and reducing poverty.
Replacing the existing non-statutory commission, which will continue to operate until 30 June, the new body will have a key role in advising ministers and reviewing progress in reducing poverty and inequality in Scotland.
Mr Scott has been a lifelong campaigner against poverty and inequality. For the last 11 years he has been at the forefront of Inclusion Scotland’s policy work on behalf of disabled people. This has involved campaigns against the UK Government’s Welfare Reform Bill and the Bedroom Tax, and for new rights for disabled people claiming devolved benefits.
It was lovely to catch up with Charandeep Singh and his colleague from the Scottish Chamber of Commerce this week in Parliament to mark the 50th year of Visit Scotland.
This event provided the opportunity for Members and representatives from Scotland’s successful tourism sector to celebrate 50 years of VisitScotland promoting our country as a leading visitor destination.
Visit Scotland are key to promoting and attracting both visitors and events across Scotland and here in Glasgow we have successfully played host to the film industry, conferences, exhibitions, overseas tourists and sporting events.
On that last note remember this year we will play host to the 35th European Athletics Indoor Championships from 1st to 3rd March. Witness six sessions of action-packed sport over three days of intense competition in the intimate Emirates Arena as some of the best athletes in the world compete for prestigious European titles.
You can get more details here: https://glasgow2019athletics.com/
And in less than 500 days we will also play host to the UEFA EURO 2020. Glasgow is one of 12 cities that will host UEFA EURO 2020 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the championship. This is a unique opportunity for Glasgow and Scotland to host the best of football and celebrate with the whole country.
There will be a range of volunteering opportunities available as part of UEFA EURO 2020. If you would like to register your interest in volunteering, please visit www.scottishfa.co.uk/euro2020.
To find out more about UEFA EURO 2020 and to register your interest in tickets, visit www.euro2020.com/tickets.
I had a very interesting meeting with representatives from Optometry Scotland regarding the future of eyecare in Scotland.
They said that the potential for developing the optometry resource in Scotland is considerable and meets with Scottish Government policy to shift focus from secondary care to the community.
Glasgow will be the first Scottish city to launch a campaign to stop single-use cups either going to landfill or ending up as litter.
In response to growing public concern about the environmental impact of single-use items, environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful has launched the Cup Movement in Glasgow.
With an estimated 95 million single-use cups being used in the Greater Glasgow area every year, the pioneering project will tackle this issue head on by transforming recycling infrastructure and encouraging people to adopt more sustainable behaviours.
The initiative has the support and backing of the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council.
The Scottish Government are also continuing with their deposit return scheme with Zero Waste Scotland taking this initiative forward.
More information can be found here: https://www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/deposit-return-scheme