It is always a pleasure to sponsor events in Parliament and this week was no exception where I had the honour of sponsoring the launch of Sikh Heritage Month.
Over 200 representatives from civic Scotland gathered at the Scottish Parliament this week to launch this first-ever!
The Reception, was organised by Sikhs in Scotland, was a multi-faith celebration of the Sikh festival of Vaisakhi, with attendees from private and third sector, public agencies and political leaders.
Plans for a Sikh Heritage Month were first mooted after the arson attack on Edinburgh Gurdwara in 2018. There have been successful Sikh Heritage Month initiatives around the world including in Canada and the USA. In Scotland, the initiative would involve a co-ordinated series of educational events to promote awareness and understanding of Sikhs in Scotland, which settled in Scotland over 100 years ago.
The evening was a huge success with speakers from across all sectors and communities as well as some amazing performances particularly from The Scottish Sikh Youth Choir who closed the event with a traditional shabad.
This year the Scottish Sikh community will run a year-long series of events including which will include the Annual Scottish-Sikhs Nagar Keertan, commemorating the Centenary of the 1919 Sikh Massacre in Amritsar, Interfaith events, community kitchens for the vulnerable in society and celebrating the 550th Anniversary of the birth of the founder of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
Older people’s rights are at the centre of a new framework to ensure people can remain active, keep working if they want to, feel safe, and access the services they need.
The Older People’s Framework aims to challenge unwelcome attitudes to and discrimination towards older people.It highlights the positive contributions older people make to our society and the economy, and has been directly influenced by older people who have provided their thoughts, stories and experiences, bringing to life the issues they’ve faced over the years.
You can view the Framework here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/fairer-scotland-older-people-framework-action/
Representatives from the Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution (SCCR) were in Parliament this week to highlight their work with young people and their families.
This is a significant week for the organisation as they celebrate their 5th anniversary.
Everything the SCCR has done to date has been made possible through support from Scottish Government funding.
You can find out more about their work here: https://scottishconflictresolution.org.uk/
I had the opportunity to contribute to no less than two debates this week on Health. The first debate centred on staffing and the second on health education.
As a member of the Health and Sport Committee I have a particular interest in this policy area.
During the staffing debate I highlighted the impact Brexit is having on the staffing levels across the NHS and the social care sector.
For the Health education debate I spoke of the wonderful projects we have across Glasgow Kelvin such as the Childrens Wood at North Kelvinside Meadow and the G3 Growers at Brechin Street. These projects epitomise good practice and are thriving.
Please take time to listen to the debates here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=12038&i=108929
I led a cross-party members debate in Parliament this week calling on the UK government to end the pension injustice for thousands of women. The debate was followed by a reception where women from across Scotland could discuss their concerns about the policy and it’s impact on their lives with MSPs.
As an ardent supporter of the WASPI campaign, I have been challenging the UK Government to support those who have been adversely affected by the acceleration of the increase to the state pension age.
This issue has run on for far too long – it’s time for the UK government to put an end to this serious injustice. In 2017 I led a debate on this very issue, two years on we are no further on with the UK Government still refusing to support the millions of women across the UK who have been affected.
The UK has the lowest state pension in the developed world, and the UK Government are robbing the lowest earners of vital funds in their retirement.
The State Pension is not a privilege, this was a contract entered into by hard working women with the UK Government and the UK Government has reneged on that contract.
We know there are funds available from the National Insurance Surplus Fund – just a small percentage would alleviate the situation for thousands of women and their families who are worst affected.
You can access the full debate here: https://www.scottishparliament.tv/meeting/members-business-waspi-campaign-april-3-2019
Most of you will know that I have been a fervent campaigner of responsible parking and brought forward a members bill in the last parliamentary session.
The Scottish Government made a commitment to bring this forward in their new Transport Bill and the opportunity to debate Stage 1 of the Transport (Scotland) Bill took place this week.
It will come as no surprise to hear I took part in the debate and you can access my contribution here:
I’m pictured with members of the team at John Lewis and Partners in Buchanan Galleries who were celebrating the 20th anniversary of John Lewis trading in Glasgow.
Construction got underway in 1996, by which point the Buchanan Galleries centre had also been given the go-ahead. The Partnership’s third and largest department store was built in conjunction with the Buchanan Galleries and opened in 1999 and has been home to John Lewis ever since.
PLEASE NOTE THE NEXT EBRIEF WILL BE ISSUED WEEK BEGINNING 22 APRIL 2019