Thursday 16 May 2019
I was delighted hear Sabir Zazai the Chief Executive of the Scottish Refugee Council is being awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Glasgow. However, I am utterly appalled that the Home Office are refusing to grant Mr Zazai’s father a visa in order for him to attend the ceremony.
I raised this issue during First Minister’s Question Time today asking for Scottish Government support to condemn the actions of the Home Office and demand they grant Mr Zazai’s father the visa to travel to Scotland.
You can access the full exchange here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=12102
Scottish Afghan Society
My good friend Mohammad Asif, Chair of the Scottish Afghan Society and his colleagues took time out from their role in hosting the Afghanistan National Cricket Team here in Scotland to pop into the Parliament and present me with these beautiful flowers.
The team were due to meet the First Minister as well as myself. However due to unforeseen circumstances this had to be cancelled. Mr Asif kindly offered flowers to both the First Minister and myself – a very thoughtful gesture.
Advanced training for frontline workers to recognise and respond to the signs and impacts of trauma in childhood will be rolled out in three pilot areas including Glasgow.
The National Trauma Training Programme gives frontline workers – such as police officers, teachers and health visitors – a better understanding of the needs of children and adults who have been affected by traumatic experiences. Already 3,000 frontline workers have been trained and at least 5,000 will have been trained by March 2021.
It was a pleasure to take part in Hyndland Secondary School’s Interdisciplinary Week on Monday.
Pupils in S1-3 will this week take time out of their normal timetable to participate in a variety of activities themed around the school’s Rights Respecting Schools Charter and the UN Global Goals.
One of the activities ‘Making Tiny Changes’ focussed on charity work and campaigning for social justice. This is where my colleague Johann Lamont MSP and I were grilled by the pupils about how politicians bring about change and how we work to support constituents who are experiencing difficulties.
We had a very lively debate on a variety of issues ranging from climate change to drug abuse.
I was extremely impressed with the engagement from the pupils and their knowledge and passion on certain issues.
A new group will examine how body image impacts on young people’s mental wellbeing.
The Scottish Government’s Advisory Group on Healthy Body Image, which will include members from youth, third sector and equalities groups, will identify steps to improve support for young people and advice for relevant professionals.
The announcement comes during Mental Health Awareness Week from 13 May to 19 May, organised by the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), and this year focuses on the theme of body image.
You can find out more about the Mental Health Foundation here: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week/event-map And to access the Scottish Government’s Mental Health Strategy go to https://www.gov.scot/publications/mental-health-strategy-2017-2027/ and more information on the review into adolescent girls mental health can be accessed here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/exploring-reported-worsening-mental-wellbeing-adolescent-girls-scotland/
A new garden centre has opened in the West End on a spare corner of what is now the home of West of Scotland Cricket Club and I took the opportunity to stop by for a browse.
Historically this site has huge significance both locally and nationally – it was this very patch that was the setting for the first international football match, which was played between Scotland and England.
The driving force behind the West End Garden Centre venture is Martin McCarron who has been successfully running a pitch selling Christmas trees for a number of years.
The local community and the club will both benefit from this venture. Martin is breathing life back into this area and I wish him every success.
New guidance to make it easier to plan the cost of funerals, burials and cremations has been published.
The aim of the guidance is to make clear and consistent information on costs available so that more informed decisions can be made by those planning funerals.
A key recommendation is for funeral directors to make information about pricing more available online than it currently is.
Guidance for councils on the charges they set for funerals and for tackling funeral poverty is also included.
The Scottish Government will replace the UK Government’s Funeral Payment with the new Funeral Support Payment this summer. This will reach more people, be simpler to access and speed up payment times.
It is designed to help those on low incomes with the costs of a funeral, and is backed by around £6 million of investment every year.
You can find out more information: https://www.gov.scot/publications/guidance-funeral-costs/
The consultation for the proposed Protection of Livestock (Scotland) Bill brought forward by my colleague Emma Harper MSP closed this week.
As I have said before this Bill is not just the concern of those living in the countryside or farmers but for those of us who take time out from the city to visit rural areas.
In Scotland we all have a right to enjoy and access the countryside so long as it is done responsibly.
However, over recent years, there has been a sharp rise in the number of dogs attacking livestock, and the Members Bill proposal would benefit Scotland’s agricultural community, as well as to improve animal welfare.