Ebrief

Thursday 21 March 2019

Sheena Glass

03.19 SW and Sheena GlaIt was with great sadness I attended the funeral of Sheena Glass at Glasgow Cathedral this week to celebrate her incredible life.

I first met Sheena many years ago and was struck by her dogged determination and commitment to the local community. As Director of what was Glasgow’s Older People’s Welfare Association now Glasgow’s Golden Generation we worked on a number of initiatives together.

Sheena went onto be awarded for her efforts with an MBE in 2013 and again in 2017 when she was awarded Glasgow’s Community Champion Gold Medal Special Editor’s Award.

Sheena will always be remembered for her warmth and kindness and her legacy will continue through Glasgow’s Golden Generation.

Mental Health

Support for people with mental health conditions will be strengthened through an independent review of the Mental Health Act.

The review aims to improve the rights and protections of those living with mental illness and remove barriers to those caring for their health and welfare.

The review will examine developments in mental health law and practice on compulsory detention and on care and treatment since the current legislation came into force in 2005.

A review group will also make recommendations that reflect people’s social, economic and cultural rights and will consider the future shape of incapacity, mental health and adult support and protection legislation.

This follows on from work already underway to review incapacity law and practice, and a review of learning disability and autism.

You can access the Scottish Government Mental Health Strategy here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/mental-health-strategy-2017-2027/

St Patrick’s Day Celebrations

03.19-st-patricks-day-2.jpgTo celebrate St Patrick’s Day I sponsored a dinner and reception in the Parliament in collaboration with the Irish Consul and ESB Energy.

What a fantastic evening with a wonderful harpist providing the music, excellent speeches and of course a delicious dinner with both Scottish and Irish elements.

Consul General of Ireland Mark Hanniffy, Deputy Chief Executive of ESB Jerry O’Sullivan and Scottish Government Minister for Rural Affairs and Natural Environment Mairi Gougeon MSP addressed the guests.

This was an opportunity for MSPs to join with the Consul General and ESB to mark St Patrick’s Day and taking the opportunity to discuss the strong partnership between Scotland and Ireland.

Able2sail

03.19 Able2sailAble2sail were exhibiting in Parliament this week and I managed to speak to their representatives about the work they do.

Able2sail offers unique opportunities tailored to sailing and disability, with the objective to include disabled and those affected by disability, by sailing and sailing related activities.

Their aim is for this activity to improve quality of life, to experience sailing and to remove barriers from sailing. The Youth Forum includes able bodied and young people who are disabled working together, learning sailing skills, and progressing to become volunteers.

You can find out more about this organisation here: http://www.able2sail.org.uk/

Beautiful Scotland

03.19 Keep Scotland BeautifulI took the opportunity to chat with members of the Keep Scotland Beautiful team when they were exhibiting in Parliament this week.

They campaign, act and educate on a range of local, national and global issues to change behaviour and improve the quality of people’s lives and the places they live.

Keep Scotland Beautiful is leading the way on improving Scotland’s environment, tackling a wide range of environmental issues.

From reducing the amount of litter on our streets to cutting the carbon emissions that threaten our planet.

I am more than happy to support their #SpringClean19 campaign and would encourage everyone to do what they can to highlight the campaign and join in to Keep Scotland Beautiful!

World Down’s Syndrome Day

03.19 World Down's Syndrome DayDown’s Syndrome Scotland sent these socks to all MSPs to highlight their campaign Lots of Socks and to celebrate World Down’s Syndrome Day which takes place today!

Why socks you may well ask! Down’s Syndrome Scotland believe chromosomes look like socks and people with Down’s Syndrome have an extra chromosome – a third copy of chromosome 21.

The campaign is encouraging people to take to social media with # #WDSD19 and @LotsofSocks

If you would like to find out more go to: https://www.dsscotland.org.uk/

 

Ebrief

Thursday 14 March

Palestine

03.19 Palestinian AmbassadorIt was an honour to meet with Palestinian Ambassador Dr Husam Zomlot, Head of the Palestinian Mission to the UK when he was in the Scottish Parliament last week.

As well as meeting with MSP’s he also travelled to Glasgow to meet with Lord Provost Eva Bolander to discuss cooperation and the twinning relationship with Glasgow and Bethlehem.

It would also be useful for you to know that the Balfour Project are holding an event in Edinburgh on Sunday 17 March. I will be taking part in the event as a panellist along with my colleague Dr Philippa Whitford MP.

If you would like to find out more please have a look at http://www.balfourproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Edinburgh-Jan-30v2-compressed-1.pdf

Brexit

Again we are still no further forward with two votes already defeated the UK Government seem determined to forge ahead ignoring the will of the Scottish people who voted to remain and the Scottish Government who have consistently opposed the “deal” but offered an alternative which would safeguard Scotland and all who choose to make Scotland their home.

The Scottish Government are putting in measures to help businesses prepare for Brexit with the First Minister announcing an additional £2 million.

The Brexit Support Grant, administered by Scottish Enterprise, will now be available to help small and medium sized businesses manage a wide range of Brexit impacts with funding of up to £4000 each. The grant, previously only open to exporters, is now available to SME’s in Scotland for a wider variety of Brexit preparation.

You can access more information here: https://www.prepareforbrexit.scot/

Crisis

03.19 CrisisCrisis the national charity for homeless people were exhibiting in the Parliament this week and I stopped by to talk to them about their work, current campaigns and homelessness in Glasgow.

I picked up a copy of the latest Homelessness Monitor a research report commissioned by Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. It has identified a number of challenges across the board in particular the introduction of Universal Credit, and the majority of local councils believe homelessness and poverty will rise due to the UK Government welfare reforms.

In contrast the report acknowledges Scotland is leading the way in its commitment to ending homelessness and the ambition set out in “Ending Homelessness Together: High Level Action Plan”.

You can access the report here: https://www.crisis.org.uk/ending-homelessness/homelessness-knowledge-hub/homelessness-monitor/#Scotland

GSA

Many of you will have already accessed the Scottish Parliaments Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee report into the Glasgow School of Art (GSA).

The Committee has concluded the circumstances surrounding the two fires at the GSA should be subject to a public inquiry with judicial powers. The inquiry concluded that the evidence they gathered raised a number of issues, which go beyond the cause of the fire itself and require further examination.

Their inquiry also found that GSA did not give sufficient priority to the safeguarding of the Mackintosh building and the board should have had more expertise in managing a building of this nature. The Committee also recommends that the Scottish Government review the remit of Historic Environment Scotland in order to ensure that it has sufficient powers to intervene to protect buildings of national significance.

You can access the full report here: https://digitalpublications.parliament.scot/Committees/Report/CTEEA/2019/3/8/The-Glasgow-School-of-Art-Mackintosh-Building–The-loss-of-a-national-treasure#Executive-Summary

Apprenticeship Week

03.19 Scot App Week Di Maggio'sLast week we celebrated the achievements of individual apprentices and all those who contribute to their success.

I was delighted to meet up with apprentices currently working within the DiMaggio’s group at the Citizen in Glasgow last Friday to chat to them about their experience as a modern apprentice.

I also took the opportunity to ask their employers about the benefits for their businesses in running an apprenticeship scheme.

Apprenticeships and work-based learning are providing the skills needed for a successful Scotland. With that in mind this year’s theme was ‘Skills for the Future’, recognising the importance of investing in our workforce.

Apprenticeship opportunities in Scotland are growing and we want as many young people and employers as possible to benefit.

03.19 Scot App WeekThere are already more than 37,000 young people working, learning and earning as Modern Apprentices. 91% of apprentices are still in employment six months after completing their Modern Apprenticeship and 96% of employers say former apprentices are better equipped to do their job.

To build on the progress of the MA programme two new strands of the apprenticeship programme have been developed. Foundation Apprenticeships which give school pupils a taste of the world of work and help employers shape future talent and Graduate Apprenticeships which takes work-based learning higher with Graduate Apprentices can study up to Masters degree level.

Consultations

The Scottish Government are currently consulting on a number of issues and I thought it would be useful to remind everyone that you have the opportunity to contribute.

You can view all of the current consultations here: https://consult.gov.scot/

 

 

 

Ebrief

Thursday 7 March 2019

EU Withdrawal

This week for the first time in the 20-year history of devolution, the National Assembly for Wales and the Scottish Parliament, voted simultaneously to oppose a damaging no deal Brexit.

The vast majority of Members across both Chambers voted in agreement that a no deal outcome would be completely unacceptable and that an extension to Article 50 is the best way forward to protect Wales, Scotland and the UK as a whole.

No deal would mean not just probable short term chaos, but also very real and long-term structural damage to our economy. Damage which would mean fewer jobs, lower wages and less tax revenue.

The motions in both the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales also re-iterated opposition to the deal negotiated by the Prime Minister which would do significant damage to both countries.

This united and historic step was taken to send the clearest possible message to the UK Government and Westminster that this reckless course of action must stop now.

Cancer Awareness

02.19 Maggies CentreMarch is cancer awareness month and I met up with representatives from Maggies Centre to chat to them about the work they do when they were exhibiting in Parliament last week.

Maggie’s provides free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their family and friends, following the ideas about cancer care originally laid out by Maggie Keswick Jencks.

Built in the grounds of NHS cancer hospitals, Maggie’s Centres are places with professional staff on hand to offer the support people need.

Their Centres are places to find practical advice about benefits and eating well; places where qualified experts provide emotional support; places to meet other people; places where you can simply sit quietly with a cup of tea.

The first Maggie’s Centre opened in Edinburgh in 1996 and since then Maggie’s has continued to grow. Gartnavel Hospital has a Maggies Centre within the grounds which offers support and advice.

Marie Curie have also been in Parliament holding a reception to highlight the work they are doing across the country to support those affected by cancer and my colleague Emma Harper led a members debate on Wednesday evening which you can access here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11979&i=108351

Benefits

The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on delivering fairer Disability Assistance benefits.

From April 2020 the Scottish Government will take full responsibility for all remaining devolved benefits, with replacement disability benefits to start their introduction from summer 2020.

The new consultation asks for input to ensure the Scottish approach to Disability Assistance will meet the needs of the children and adults it is intended to help.

It will build upon work already undertaken to listen to people with lived experience of disability benefits about how the system can meet their needs.

You can access the consultation here: https://consult.gov.scot/social-security/improving-disability-assistance/

International Women’s Day

03.19 International Womens DayFriday 8 March is International Women’s Day and the theme for this year is #BalanceforBetter.

The campaign runs all year and doesn’t end on International Women’s Day.

The campaign theme provides a unified direction to guide and galvanize continuous collective action, with #BalanceforBetter activity reinforced and amplified all year.

Everyone has a part to play – all the time, everywhere. Let’s build a gender-balanced world.

From grassroots activism to worldwide action, we are entering an exciting period of history where the world expects balance. We notice its absence and celebrate its presence.

New Mum’s

Scottish Government funding will provide access to treatment for an additional 11,000 women who experience mental health problems during and after their pregnancy. Perinatal mental illness affects up to 20% of women, and covers a wide range of conditions. If left untreated, it can have long lasting effects on women and their families.

New models of service delivery will be introduced, including specialist care for acute perinatal mental health problems and improved infant mental health services.

A new needs assessment report, funded by the Scottish Government, has been published by the national Managed Clinical Network (MCN) for perinatal mental health. The report outlines recommendations to improve the provision of mental health care for expectant and new mothers and their families.

Comfort Teddies

IMG_2109Meet one of hundreds of comfort teddies being used to provide comfort for children in traumatic or upsetting circumstances. Children 1st are working with Police Scotland and other agencies to use them to support families as part of the wider ACEs aware approach to address childhood trauma.

The project started as a community initiative by Police Scotland staff at Longhaugh Station in Dundee. It has been so successful the comfort teddy initiative is now being replicated across the country.

You can find out more at www.traumateddies.wixsite.com

Children’s Commissioner

03.19 Children's CommissionerAs a member of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) I along with my SPCB colleagues had a wonderful visit to the new Scottish Children’s Commissioner accommodation in central Edinburgh.

The thought that has gone into making the space open and welcoming for all young people is more than evident.

As well as the welcoming space we have the Commissioner and a team of staff. Their job is to help children and young people understand their rights and to make sure those rights are respected.

The current Commissioner is Bruce Adamson and he looks after the rights of everyone in Scotland under 18 and everyone in Scotland under 21 who has been looked after or in care.

Find out more about the work they do here: https://www.cypcs.org.uk

Glasgow School of Art

The Scottish Parliament’s Culture Committee will publish their report into the Glasgow School of Art Fire tomorrow in Glasgow.

You can access a copy of the report on the Parliament’s website here: https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/109520.aspx

Please note this report will only be available after the launch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ebrief

Thursday 28 February 2019

Crohns and Colitis

02.19 Crohns and Colitis

Representatives from Crohn’s and Colitis UK the leading charity in the battle against Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis were exhibiting in Parliament this week and I took time to have a chat with them about their work in Scotland.

Crohns and Colitis UK was established as a patients’ association in 1979, and now have 35,000 members across the UK. Their aim is to make life better for the 300,000 people in the UK with Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis and other forms of inflammatory bowel disease.

The UK’s first National Blueprint for improving health services for those with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in Scotland was launched by Crohn’s and Colitis UK at a reception in the Scottish Parliament in 2016.

This initiative which was the first of its kind across the UK aims to improve services for the 26,000 people in Scotland living with IBD.

You can find out more about the organisation here: https://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/

Mentoring

02.19-smn-whole-group.jpg

It was a pleasure to sponsor the Scottish Mentoring Network event in the Parliament this week.

As you can see from the photographs we had quite a number of organisations represented as well as the Minister for Children and Early Years Maree Todd MSP.

02.19 SMN 2The Scottish Mentoring Network (SMN) supports mentoring organisations across Scotland from the Borders to the Highlands and from the Western Isles to the Shetland Isles.

SMN is involved in national strategies using mentoring to support a range of care experienced young people as well as supporting some 200 projects delivering mentoring to a whole range of service users.

SMN receive funding from the Scottish Government’s Childrens, Young People and Families Early Intervention Fund. They support mentoring in areas such as social enterprises, employment, mental health, disabilities and the justice system as well colleges and universities.

02.19-smn-1.jpgI was particularly impressed with the GrowBiz organisation based in Perthshire. They offer a free mentoring service that allows businesses to be supported by someone with experience. All of their mentors are volunteers with invaluable business experience.

They provide support to anyone who is considering becoming self-employed, or starting (or growing) a small business or social enterprise. This is regardless of your age or experience – in fact, it works right across the community to include people from all backgrounds and sectors.

Services are free and confidential, and include 1-1 meetings, peer support, learning sessions, mentoring, training and networking opportunities.

Find out more about SMN and their partner organisations here: http://scottishmentoringnetwork.co.uk/

Organ Donation

As a member of the Health and Sport Committee I took the opportunity to contribute to the Stage 1 debate on the Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill.

The Bill contains proposals to introduce a system of ‘deemed authorisation’ for organ and tissue donation for transplantation (often known as ‘presumed consent’). What this means is that when someone dies but they have not made their wishes on donation known, their consent to donation would be presumed unless their next of kin provided information that this was against their wishes.

The main aim of the Bill is to increase the organ donation rates and, as a consequence, the number of transplants carried out.

The organ donation rate has generally been increasing over the last decade, as has the transplant rate. Consequently, the transplant waiting list has been decreasing. However, at any one time there are still over 500 people waiting for a transplant in Scotland and between 40-60 people will die each year while waiting.

You can access the full debate and my contribution here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11959&i=108133

WASPI

02.19 WASPI Rally

As Co-Convener of the CPG on WASPI and an ardent supporter of the campaigning group and it’s aims I had no hesitation in taking part in their rally at the weekend in Glasgow.

I was joined by my colleagues Patrick Grady MP (pictured), Mhairi Black MP as well as the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP.

The procession kicked off at Festival Park on Govan Road and ended at the Mary Barbour Statue at Govan Cross.

The UK Government made changes to the state pension age which is affecting 350,000 women across Scotland with 72,000 affected in Glasgow.

Whilst WASPI agrees with equalisation, the way this has been implemented is unfair and has left thousands of women in severe financial hardship. This was a contract between women employees and the UK Government and they must fulfil that contract.

 

 

 

 

Ebrief

Da Vinci Stamps

02.19 Da Vinci StampsThe Royal Mail launched its Leonardo da Vinci stamp issue at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and I had the opportunity to attend along with my colleague Alison Thewliss MP.

To celebrate the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death, Kelvingrove Art Gallery will display 12 of the artist’s “finest” drawings from the Queen’s Royal Collection from February until May 2019.

Highlights of the exhibition in Glasgow include A star-of- Bethlehem and other plants c.1506-12 and the anatomy of a bear’s foot, c.1488-90.

The exhibition will run until 6 May 2019.

Fuel Poverty

A bill outlining new measures to tackle fuel poverty was debated in Parliament this week.

MSPs were asked to agree to the general principles of the Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill, which has three main aims.

The first to set a target that, by 2040, no more than 5% of Scottish households are in fuel poverty with the second to establish a new definition of fuel poverty that better aligns fuel poverty with relative income poverty. Third, the Bill ensures that a new, long term Fuel Poverty Strategy be prepared, published and laid before Parliament – a draft of which has already been published and can be found here https://www.gov.scot/publications/draft-fuel-poverty-scotland-2018/ 

Cairngorms

02.19 CairngormIt was great to meet up with representatives from the Cairngorms National Park.

This National Park is absolutely stunning. We are extremely lucky to have such a rich and varied natural environment not far from our urban centres. I can remember taking the funicular railway and when we reached the top I was completely overwhelmed by the amazing view and Scotland’s utter natural beauty.

The Cairngorms are currently consulting on their Local Development Plan which can be found at https://cairngorms.co.uk/consultation/proposed-plan/

Brexit

A ‘No Deal’ Brexit could have a dramatic impact on Scotland’s economy, with the potential for national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to fall by up to 7%, according to a new report by the Scottish Government’s Chief Economist.

The paper, ‘No Deal’ Brexit – Economic Implications for Scotland, sets out two potential ’No Deal’ scenarios, one of which would see short term disruption to supply chains lasting for a number of months, with the second scenario looking at an extended period of disruption.

You can read the full report here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/deal-brexit-economic-implications-scotland/

Dippy

02.19-dippy-dinosaur-e1550767568189.jpgFor those of you not familiar with Dippy he’s currently on tour from London and I’m photographed (again!) with my colleague Alison Thewliss MP checking him out.

Dippy is the Natural History Museum’s iconic Diplodocus dinosaur skeleton and part of his roadtrip includes stopping off at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. He arrived at Kelvingrove on 22 January and will remain there until 6 May 2019.

Dippy is on a mission… to inspire five million natural history adventures, encouraging families to explore the incredible natural history collections and biodiversity right on our doorstep in Glasgow.

Consultations

I thought I would remind everyone about the opportunity offered by the Scottish Government to provide submissions to their consultations.

Please go to https://consult.gov.scot/consultation_finder/?sort_on=iconsultable_enddate&sort_order=ascending&advanced=1&st=open#cs-finder-results-container where you can access all consultations currently open.

Whales

02.19 Whales and DolphinsRepresentatives from Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) were in Parliament this week highlighting their incredible work.

WDC works throughout Scotland, campaigning for greater protection of Scotland’s whales and dolphins.

They conduct field research, train local community groups, assist with strandings and run education initiatives from their Scottish Dolphin Centres in the Moray Firth (at Spey Bay and North Kessock).

More than 20 species of whale, dolphin and porpoise are found in the waters around Scotland and it is the best place in the UK to see a number of our whales and dolphins.

You can find out more about their work here: https://uk.whales.org/whales-and-dolphins

LGBT History Month

02.19 LGBT History MonthFebruary is LGBT History Month and on the last Friday of the month we celebrate Purple Friday – a day to stand against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia and show our support for LGBTI equality.

In Scotland we celebrate Purple Friday in support of LGBT Youth Scotland. This day is all about taking action; standing for equality and inclusion and helping us make Scotland the best place for LGBTI young people to grow up.

The theme for 2019 is CATALYST: 50 years of activism. This theme marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprisings in New York in 1969, and the birth of the modern Pride movement.

Find out more here: https://www.lgbtyouth.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/purple-friday-2019/