Thursday 13 December


It doesn’t seem like a year since I was last meeting up with the staff at Clarence Drive Sorting Office.

My thanks to the Manager of the sorting office Andrew Mullen for organising the visit and sincere thanks to all the staff for their Christmas cheer and warm welcome.

The staff here in Clarence Drive and across the country work tirelessly to ensure our cards and gifts are delivered in time in the run up to the festive season.


I’m at a loss for words on the current status of Brexit and I also need to factor in the huge possibility that whatever comment I do make on the current situation could change rapidly!

The situation is an utter shambles. People are nervous about what the future holds and despite the Scottish Government offering an alternative the UK Government are forging ahead with a disastrous deal with extremely bad consequences.

Mackintosh Remembered

It was an honour to be invited to the unveiling of the sculpture of Charles Rennie Mackintosh by acclaimed artist Andy Scott.

It is believed to be the world’s first public sculpture celebrating Mackintosh, one of Glasgow’s most famous sons and takes pride of place in Anderston.

Mr Scott created the sculpture in clay before it was cast into bronze. The completed sculpture weighs three tons, is 2.8 metres tall and sits atop a 2.2 metre plinth. It shows Mackintosh sat on the famous high-backed chair he designed for Glasgow’s Argyle Street Tea Rooms.

The sculpture faces west from a section of Argyle Street reinstated during Sanctuary’s regeneration of Anderston.This sculpture is a truly fitting tribute to Mackintosh and particularly for this 150th anniversary.


Budget delivers increased funding for health, education and economic investment.A significant cash injection to health and care services and funding to help prepare Scotland’s economy for Brexit are at the heart of the Scottish Government’s spending plans for the year ahead. The 2019/20 Scottish Budget, proposes an increase of almost £730 million in health and care services.

This includes additional revenues generated by tax decisions that mitigate the shortfall in NHS funding promised by the UK Government.The budget includes more than £5 billion of capital investment to grow and modernise infrastructure – including a new £50 million Town Centre Fund to support the future of our high streets.Real terms increases in funding for local government, education, health and the police will support the transformation of our public services to meet new challenges, while investment in skills, social security and training will help ensure we deliver opportunity for all.

The Scottish Government will continue to deliver on its commitments to end homelessness and tackle child poverty, while investment in culture is also protected.

Mr Mackay also confirmed that the Scottish Government’s tax policy will ensure 55% of income taxpayers in Scotland will pay less than people earning the same income in the rest of the UK, while continuing to raise revenue to support investment in the economy and public services.

Christmas Shopping

Out and about across the constituency and I dropped by the Salvation Army shop on Dumbarton Road.

I was taking part in the Charity Retail Associations (CRA) ‘Good Cause Santa Claus’ Secret Santa Charity Shop Challenge. The CRA are asking people across the country to buy their Secret Santa gifts in charity shops.

I’d echo their calls for your support when you’re buying your Christmas gifts – check out your local charity shops we have an abundance across the constituency so plenty to choose from!



The Chris Mitchell Foundation were exhibiting in Parliament this week.

The Chris Mitchell Foundation was established in his honour to raise awareness around mental health and wellbeing for players, ex players and staff working in Scottish professional football.

Their vision is to dispel the stigma associated with mental health in Scottish professional football and for it to be integrated into physical health and fitness training programmes.

They want to bring to the forefront the need for awareness of mental health and wellbeing within the Scottish professional football industry, by sharing knowledge and skills and improve learning, forging cohesive and sustainable partnerships, connecting and supporting service users and campaigning to raise awareness on a national scale.

You can find out more about the Foundation here: https://cmfoundation.org.uk

Winter Surgery

I’m pictured with representatives from WarmWorks Scotland and my colleague Patrick Grady MP at the Woodside Winter Surgery which we co-hosted on Friday.

It was an open public surgery for local residents to come and get information about keeping safe and warm this winter.

Whilst aimed at primarily older and more vulnerable groups, all members of the community were welcome and we had a very good success story with an elderly constituent securing through assistance from WarmWorks a new boiler in time for Christmas!


Thursday 6 December

St Andrews Day Celebrations

11.18 St Andrews Torchlight ParadeDespite the wet and windy weather hundreds of people came along to celebrate our patron saint and carry a torch for the St Andrews Torchlight Parade.

As ever Michael Dale and his team ensured the event was full of colour and spectacle.

The Parade is part of the winter festivals programme and keeps getting better every year.

Our Lord Provost Eva Bolander led the parade along with David Hayman who was representing the charity Spirit Aid which was the recipient of support from the Parade last year.

It’s great to see so many people taking part in this fantastic annual event and I’m looking forward to next year’s parade!

Best Start – Correction

Apologies to readers trying to access the Best Start grant from the link I included in a previous Ebrief. Unfortunately the link was incorrect and I have been assured that the following link will work https://www.mygov.scot/pregnancy-and-baby-payment/ please let me know if you have any problems.

Small Business Saturday 

11.18 Small Busines Sat 4

I headed for Great Western Road to meet and offer my support for Small Business Saturday marked on 1 December. The day encourages people to shop locally and support their local businesses.

First stop was Solly’s African Village. What a wonderful array of products and comparing the prices to other retailers exceptionally reasonable!

Solly has been trading on Great Western Road for more than 30 years offering gifts and produce from Africa and the Carribean. Check out their website here: https://www.sollysafricanvillage.co.uk/

11.18 Small Business Sat 4

Next stop Paulin Watches a watch company specialising in high quality, design-led watches. The brainchild of 3 sisters, production began in late 2014.

The Paulin sisters were inspired by their great grandfather; George Henry Paulin, a distinguished sculptor who worked throughout both World Wars across London and Glasgow, with strong artistic roots. Find them here: https://www.paulinwatches.com/

11.18 Small Business Sat 3From there I headed for Liquorice Tree to meet the manager Helen.

Liquorice Tree Gifts opened in the summer of 2013 in Glasgow’s West End, next to the Kelvinbridge subway station on Great Western Road.

The store offers a gorgeous range of gifts to suit every person and occasion. Their business has been so successful that they have grown their brand and opened another branch in Edinburgh’s city centre.

I’d highly recommend this shop for some beautiful and quirky gifts. You can have a look at their stock here: https://www.liquoricetree.com/

11.18 Small Business Sat 2Next stop Valhalla’s Goat and their incredible stock of fine wines, craft beers and spirits.

An original independent wine and spirit merchant in the west end with some incredibly knowledgeable staff who are on hand to answers any of your questions and offer suggestions on what to select!

I went for the Glas-Wee-Gin and some craft beers all beautifully packaged. Have a look for yourself at https://www.valhallasgoat.com/

Finally I stopped by west end institution Roots, Fruits and Flowers for a chat with Garth about the business he’s been successfully running for more than 30 years.

12.18 Small Business Saturday RootsAlthough they have downsized they still have a grocery store on Argyle Street and Great Western Road and a florist and greengrocer on Great Western Road.

You can browse their products online here https://www.rootsfruitsandflowers.com/ but I would recommend a trip in person.

This is just a very small selection of the independent shops trading across the constituency – there are many, many more but they can only survive if you use them! Buy local this Christmas and throughout the year!


The Scottish Parliament has rejected the UK Government’s draft Brexit deal and has ruled out a ‘no deal’ Brexit option.

The UK Government’s Brexit deal will make Scotland poorer and they must now listen and act on the Scottish Parliament’s overwhelming decision to reject it.

In every area of Scotland there will be businesses, organisations, communities, people and families who will suffer, directly suffer, over a long period of time under this proposed deal.

The Scottish Parliament came together to say we cannot let this happen, and the UK Government must now respect this decisive vote.

Nordoff Robbins

12.18 SMA 2018Another fabulous night at the annual Nordoff Robbins Scottish Music Awards and look who I bumped into!

This was a particularly special night as they celebrate their 20th annual awards – a great achievement with special thanks to Donald Macleod who has shown huge commitment and dedication.

There was a great line up to entertain the crowd including newly inducted Scottish Music Hall of Fame Susan Boyle who performed Wild Horses and the legendary Annie Lennox was also inducted.

Other highlights included performances from Snow Patrol, Amy MacDonald, Tom Grennan and Kyle Falconer and compere Sanjeev Kholi.

This is always a very special night for the Scottish music industry, recognising and showcasing our incredible talent!

Universal Credit

Anyone making a new claim for Universal Credit faces spending the festive season without money. The in-built wait of a minimum of five weeks before payment means that anyone making a claim this week will need to survive until January without money to which they are entitled.

The Scottish Government cannot change Universal Credit.  It’s a benefit delivered by the UK Government. However, they do have limited powers to make the delivery of Universal Credit better suited to the needs of people.

Since last year, our Universal Credit Scottish choices have given people the choice to receive their Universal Credit award twice monthly and have the housing costs paid directly to their landlord.

The Scottish Government are spending significant amounts to mitigate the worst effects of UK Government cuts and support those on low incomes – £125 million this year alone – £20 million more than last year. The system is an utter shambles and requires fundamental changes to make it fit for purpose.

World Aids Day

11.18 World Aids DayEvery year on 1 December people around the world come together to mark World AIDS Day.

It’s a day that is internationally recognised to help increase awareness of HIV, challenge stigma, raise money and improve education. Many people also use the day to remember those who have died of AIDS.

2018 marks the 30th Annual World AIDS Day, which was the first ever global health day.

Big anniversaries offer the opportunity to reflect on the progress that has been made in the fight against HIV over the past three decades and I was happy to join HIV Scotland in the Scottish Parliament to help promote the 30th Annual World Aids Day.



Thursday 29 November 2018


Glasgow School of Art was raised during portfolio questions this week in Parliament and I took the opportunity to ask the Minister on what progress has been made with the SFRS investigation and I am pleased to hear that they are now on site and envisage concluding early in the new year.

St Andrews Day

11.18 St Andrews TorchlightThis is your last call to participate in this year’s St Andrew’s Day Torchlight Parade 2018 organised by the West End Festival.

Make sure you head down to the Botanics on Friday 30 November to join the parade which starts at 6.15pm ending at Kelvingrove Art Gallery.

All of the money raised from the sale of the torches will go to Spirit Aid founded by David Hayman who will also be taking part again this year.

You can find out more about the event here: http://www.westendfestival.co.uk/events/


Having secured sufficient cross party support I brought forward a members debate in the Parliament this week on bank branch closures, in light of the recent announcement from Bank of Scotland on their intention to close the St George’s Cross branch.

You can access the full debate here: www.parliament.scot 

Golden Generations

11.18 Golden Generation 5It’s always great to catch up with members of groups across the local community.

Golden Generations is no exception. Established as Glasgow Old People’s Welfare Association (GOPWA), Glasgow’s Golden Generation is now Glasgow’s leading charity for the elderly.

They offer a wide range of services and social activities which contribute to improving the quality of life of older adults in Glasgow through a variety of support services, ranging from befriending to benefits advice.


11.18 Adopt an InternI was invited to speak at an event in the constituency on Monday organised by Adopt an Intern.

Adopt an Intern have been awarded funding to take forward an initiative as part of the Workplace Equality Fund to encourage and help Black, Minority and Ethnic (BME) women into work.

They will use the funding to continue their work they started last year to support BME women returners to work and expand this service to all BME women.

They want to encourage a variety of employers to look more deeply at their recruitment processes and practices to ensure they are giving BME women an opportunity to show their skills and are supported through their integration into the workplace.

You can find out more information on Adopt an Intern at www.aai-talent.co.uk 

UN Children’s Day

11.18 Un International Childrens DayOn Friday I was kindly invited to join staff and volunteers at the Barnardo’s shop at Great Western Road to celebrate Universal Children’s Day and the Year of Young People.

I had an opportunity to chat with the staff and volunteers about the shop and the services Barnardo’s offer across the Glasgow Kelvin constituency area.

Barnardo’s Scotland has more than 100 shops in Scotland and works with more than 26,500 children and young people in over 122 specialised community-based services across Scotland.

Their work includes: fostering and adoption services and support; helping children break free from sexual exploitation; supporting young carers; helping young people in to employment and helping children living in poverty.

The shop as you can see from the photograph is now well stocked with Christmas goodies and I found these – particularly festive footwear! Get down to pick up some bargains and help support children and young people!


11.18 ESOL GlasgowIt was great to welcome Glasgow ESOL Forum to the Parliament this week for a tour. The group was made up of learners from Syria, Yemen, Spain, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, China, Italy, Greece, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, India, and South Korea.

They all had a great day out at the Parliament seeing democracy in action. My thanks to Kristen Fraley who helped organise the tour along with Glasgow ESOL Managers Jo Jarvis and Sarah Cox.

16 Days

This week marks 16 Days of Activism and as part of the week I hosted an event in Parliament to highlight and promote the contribution of Everyday Heroes to the Equally Safe campaign.

The Everyday Heroes programme was designed and coordinated by the Equally Safe Participation Partnership of young adult experts from the University of Edinburgh IMPACT project, Barnardos Scotland, Scottish Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland and the Scottish Youth Parliament funded by the Scottish Government to inform Equally Safe Action.

Issues ranged from improving services of young abuse survivors, tackling gender inequality and societal attitudes, improve education responses and ensure participation from the people directly affected.

You can also watch my contribution to the Scottish Government’s debate this week here http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11807&i=106818 and you can get further information on the Everyday Heroes programme here: www.everydayheroes.sps.ed.ac.uk

Theatre Nemo

11.18 Theatre NemoAnother great visit this week to Theatre Nemo where I met up with Director Isabel McCue to join in their 20th anniversary celebrations.

Isabel set up Theatre Nemo with the aim of supporting people in recovery from poor mental health, focusing on providing creative workshops that have a focus on mental wellbeing, teaching people coping strategies and developing a greater understanding of their own mental health as well as guiding them on where to get support and how to support others.

Arts therapy can help promote recovery and sustain a better feeling of mental health and well-being, as well as contributing to reducing the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Isabel and her team have shown great enthusiasm and commitment to Theatre Nemo and I am certain they will be celebrating another 20 years.

You can access further information at http://www.theatrenemo.org/




White Pushes for School of Art Investigation Conclusion

MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, Sandra White, today raised concerns surrounding the Glasgow School of Art fire in the Scottish Parliament.  

Ms White has received representations from members of the local community , businesses and community councils raising their concerns regarding the future of the area and the timescales regarding the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service investigation. 

The Scottish Government have said the investigation should be concluded by the start of the new year. 

Commenting Ms White said: 

“ The fire at the Glasgow School of Art has had a totally devastating impact and the effects of what has happened extends well beyond the immediate area. I have been working with members of the local community, assisting where possible in pushing for the progression of the investigation by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service but there are still many residents and businesses who are still caught up in the aftermath and are becoming understandably frustrated. 

“This terrible situation is dragging on and whilst I understand we have to ensure safety whilst balancing that with a full investigation local people and businesses affected by the devastating fire are still essentially living in limbo. 

“The response from the Minister today in the chamber regarding the timescale for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service investigation is welcome and I am certain residents and businesses will also welcome this news.  

“The Minister has encouraged me to contact the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to follow up on our exchange in the chamber which I will be doing.”  


You can access the full transcript of the exchange here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11809&i=106836







Nursery Visit

11.18 Woodside Nursery School

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/

Baby Payments 

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.

Pancreatic Cancer

IMG_1675The 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/

Woodland Trust

11.18 Woodland TrustRepresentatives 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 


11.18 Housing Options Scotland

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.

Muriel Spark 

11.18 Muriel Spark

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/