Thursday 7 June 2018

Health Committee

06.18 Clyde College Health Comm Outreach VisitThe Health Committee were in Glasgow on Monday as part of our Outreach work visiting both Sunnyside Primary School and Clyde College.

The purpose of these informal sessions is to bring together young people and seek their views on health and sport policy as well as finding out about young people’s priorities in health and sport.

Some of the areas we covered included health inequality, eating disorders, sexual health advice and information in schools, self-harming, mental health and physical activity.

Both sessions were very informative and the information gained from these sessions will be fed back into the formal Health Committee work programme.


The Scottish Parliament passed the Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) (Scotland) Bill this week. The Scottish Government wanted to address the injustice that people experienced simply because of their sexual orientation and this Bill will help ensure we address this historic wrong.

The aim of this Bill is to provide a form of redress against the discriminatory effect of convicting men for same-sex sexual offences in the past, for activity that is now legal. While Scotland is a different place than it was 30 and 40 years ago in terms of the attitudes held by much of the population towards same-sex sexual activity, the discriminatory effect of these laws lingers on.

However, this legislation marks an important milestone in Scotland’s progress towards LGBTI equality – but there is still more to do.


More homeowners will be able to carry out energy efficiency work and improvements on their properties as a pilot scheme expands.

The HEEPS (Home Energy Efficiency Programme Scotland) scheme lets homeowners on low incomes borrow up to £40,000 for energy efficiency improvements and essential repairs, including the installation of a new boiler, double glazing or repairs to reduce heat loss – which will be repaid when they sell their home or transfer ownership.

The scheme was launched in January 2017 in three local authority areas (Glasgow City, Argyll and Bute, and Perth and Kinross) and has now been extended to include Inverclyde, Renfrewshire, Stirling, Dundee and the Western Isles until March 2019.

Cycling Initiative

06.18 Cycling Without Age 1Cycling Without Age were in the Parliament this week and I was delighted to catch up with their representatives having hosted them at the Cross Party Group on Older People, Age and Ageing last year.

Cycling Without Age was actually started in Copenhagen by Ole Kassow in 2012. Ole wanted to help the elderly get back on their bicycles, but he had to find a solution to their limited mobility. The answer was a trishaw and he started offering free bike rides to the local nursing home residents.

Cycling Without Age is a transformational project which brings the elderly population closer to the outdoor environment through the power of Cycling. The principles behind the initiative are to combat loneliness and isolation and begin when a volunteer (pilot) takes one or two older or less able people out on a trishaw bicycle. Experience of doing this has shown that the slowness of the bike ride enables the participants to absorb the environment, exchange stories, build relationships and enjoy a sense of fun and with ‘wind in the hair’.

06.18 Cycling Without Age 2There are 450 chapters around the world offering Cycling Without Age from over 1,500 trishaws. Many of the older people are from nursing or care establishments who have had the chance to get out of doors and explore the world around them.

Cycling without Age have been overwhelmed with the response to this initiative and they have recently been awarded Scottish Government funding to expand the service into other communities. I signed their pledge to assist them in expanding this initiative even further across Scotland and I am hopeful that we will soon be seeing these trishaws across Glasgow Kelvin.

To find out more about the project and how you can get involved go to:



06.18 British Psychological SocietyRepresentatives from the British Psychological Society Scotland were exhibiting in the Scottish Parliament last week and I took the opportunity to chat with them about their work.

They were promoting a number of their key policy themes, including:

children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing

psychologically healthy workplaces

suicide prevention

behaviour change interventions on energy conservation, smoking cession, physical activity, school attendance and screen use.

We are also promoting the Society position on public health issues such as obesity and healthy weight and our expertise on adults without capacity and on traumatic brain injury.

Community Fund

Communities will be able to decide how best they can tackle poverty and inequalities in their own area backed by a £20 million fund.

Since 2015 the Empowering Communities Fund (ECF) has supported hundreds of projects, giving communities more control over planning and decisions that affect them locally as well as driving forward regeneration and making changes through training, employment, arts and volunteering opportunities.

You can find out more here https://beta.gov.scot/policies/community-empowerment/empowering-communities-fund/


06.18 Good Spirits Gin CoMy colleague Christina McKelvie MSP hosted the event ‘An Evening of Scottish Gin and Spirits’ reception in the Parliament this week.

It was good to meet up with local Glasgow based retailer The Good Spirits Co pictured with some of their gin stock.

Founded in 2011 by three drinks enthusiasts – Shane Goodbody, Matthew McFadyen, and Mark Connelly their business has grown with three outlets across the city offering a wide variety of spirits.

The event provided MSPs the opportunity to meet producers and retailers, of gin and other spirits, from across Scotland.

There was of course the opportunity to sample produce, and hear from SMEs and multinationals.




MSP calls for welfare devolution as Glasgow loses out to £11.2m in Tory Welfare Cuts.

Glasgow Loses £11.2m Because of Tory Welfare Cuts; SNP MSP Sandra White Demands Devolution of Social Security Powers

Freedom of Information figures supplied by the Department for Work and Pensions have shown that Glasgow has lost out on £11.2m because of Tory cuts to disability benefit.

The information – requested by investigative news outlet The Ferret – shows the number of people who have lost out on social security benefits following the change from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments.

The Tory welfare cuts – taking a total of £56 million away from communities across Scotland – have hit the poorest people hardest, leaving vulnerable and disabled people across Glasgow without enough money to live off.

Commenting, SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin Sandra White said:

“It is absolutely devastating that Tory welfare cuts have taken £11.2m out of our communities.

“This really hits home at how disastrous these cuts have been for people across Glasgow – robbing our society and vulnerable people of the money they were entitled to until the Tories decided that they no longer were.

“It is shameful that those most in need of support in Scotland have lost over £56 million under this cruel Tory regime.

“While the Scottish Government is busy setting up a new social security agency with dignity and respect at its heart, figures such as these continue to emerge showing just how damaging Tory welfare cuts are for Glasgow.

“Only with full powers over social security can Scotland treat all those in need of support with the respect they deserve, not the cruelty they face under a toxic Tory government.”


Revealed: £56m cuts to disability payments hit Scotland’s poorest hardest: https://theferret.scot/56m-cuts-disability-scotland-poorest/

Carers Week


SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin Sandra White has pledged her backing for Carers Week which begins next Monday (11 June), by committing to support local carers across Glasgow Kelvin.

Ms White has signed up to the Carers Week pledge to take carer friendly action – highlighting the tireless work of the 6.5 million unpaid carers across the UK and offering them any support they need. There are an estimated 788,000 unpaid carers across Scotland – with 44,000 of them under the age of 18.

The Scottish Government has taken decisive action to support unpaid carers – investing over £135 million in a range of programmes and initiatives to support carers and young carers, as well as passing a new Carers Act, which has come into force this year, which extends the rights of carers and ensures better support.

Commenting, Ms White said:

“I have no hesitation in giving my backing to carers across Glasgow Kelvin and indeed across Scotland. The work that carers do in our communities should rightly be acknowledged and supported. 

“Across Scotland, there’s an estimated 788,000 unpaid carers, with tens of thousands of them being under the age of 18. It is our duty to support them in whatever way we can. 

“The Scottish Government has been leading the way in providing this support for unpaid carers – investing over £135 million, as well as passing the new Carers Act in 2016, which came into force this year. 

“And through the new Social Security Agency, the Scottish Government plans to increase Carers Allowance to the level of Job Seeker’s Allowance, giving carers that little bit extra support that can go a long way. 

“Carers Week gives us all the chance to show our support and appreciation for the work carers do in our local communities – and I am committed to playing a positive role in this annual event.”

Carers Week website: https://www.carersweek.org/



Tackling anti-social behaviour in Kelvingrove Park

Sandra White MSP shocked at drink fuelled crime

Residents of Glasgow Kelvin were today appalled to learn of a violent attack that took place in one of Glasgow’s most loved public parks.

With the recent warm weather many have taken the opportunity to enjoy the sunshine outdoors. While the majority of Glaswegians have been able to do so in peace and quiet, the residents surrounding Kelvingrove Park have had to bear witness to an “unprecedented” spell of public disorder and violence.

In response the local MSP, Sandra White, has sought to tackle this anti-social behaviour head on and was today liaising with senior Police Officers for the West of Glasgow.

Commenting, Sandra White, MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, said:
“The safety of constituents is always a primary concern for elected members. To therefore learn of the recent binge drinking and subsequent violent attacks in Kelvingrove Park has left me shocked.

“The extreme nature of the violence reported, and in conjunction with the fact that public drinking is an offence in the first place, led me this morning to liaise with the local Chief Inspector. CI Lister has assured me in the strongest possible terms that Police Scotland are taking the disorder of the recent days extremely seriously. 

“Police Scotland have been monitoring the situation in the park for some time and have deployed greater resources this year than ever before to try and tackle the unprecedented level of anti-social behaviour reported. In response to the completely unacceptable levels of violence and public drinking, CI Lister has informed me that today yet further resources have been  authorised from her superiors to ensure public order is maintained. This will see mobile CCTV units, the mounted division, dog unit, and a greater number of patrols on the ground in order to prevent and dissuade illegal behaviour, as well as take action should any offence occur.

“The vast majority of the reports are resultant of public drinking, the associated behaviour this leads to, and also the fact that many individuals presenting as drunk and disorderly would appear to be under legal drinking age. As such Police Scotland will be continuing to work with GCC to ensure licensed premises only sell alcohol to those of age & the officers on patrol will not hesitate in taking appropriate action should they witness any public drinking in Kelvingrove Park.

“When we are lucky enough to have some good weather it is right that people should be free to enjoy our public parks – but only if they are willing to act in a respectful & law abiding fashion. I look forward to the rest of the summer and after speaking with Police Scotland I am reassured that Kelvingrove Park will be the friendly and welcoming place once more that I have always known it to be.”



Thursday 31 May 2018

Freedom to Run

05.18 Freedom to RunI was delighted to host the participants from Freedom to Run and Palestine based Right to Movement in the Scottish Parliament this week.

They are a collaboration of Scottish and Palestinian runners brought together to film a documentary highlighting the barriers Palestinians face on a daily basis even doing something as simple as attempting to run a marathon.

Both groups participated in the Palestine Marathon in March of this year and the Palestinian runners joined the Scottish runners at the weekend to participate in the Edinburgh Marathon.

In order to complete the documentary Freedom to Run have set up a crowdfunder here https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/freedom-to-run-sports#/ if you would like to find out more about the partnership and their journey please visit the site and if you can please make a donation.


Stage 1 of the Planning Bill was debated in the Parliament this week and I took the opportunity to participate highlighting the issue of developers and the huge rise in the number of student accommodation developments across the constituency.

As many of you will know this is an issue which I have been campaigning on for quite some time. I understand we have a huge student population across the constituency and there is a need for suitable accommodation. However, we also have a need for good quality affordable housing and with limited supplies of available land the current situation is making this impossible to realise.

You can read my full contribution here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11566&i=104862

Play Scotland

05.18 Play 1I was delighted to meet up with representatives from Play Scotland when they made their annual journey to the Scottish Parliament this week.

I was a little disappointed that they hadn’t brought along their trampoline which I tried out last year however I did have a go at hopscotch!

Play Scotland works to deliver and promote Article 31 in Scotland which states “Every child has the right to relax, play and take part in a wide range of cultural and artistic activities”.

Play Scotland works to promote the importance of play for all children and young people, and campaigns to create increased play opportunities in the community.

From promoting play for families, learning through play, play for health and encouraging children to get out into their local communities and play.

They have a huge amount of creative play ideas on their website and you can check them out at http://www.playscotland.org/


Great news this week with Glasgow’s bid to home Channel 4’s National Headquarters in Scotland and a Creative Hub reaching the shortlist. To mark this success, I lodged the following motion in the Scottish Parliament:


G4C4 Bid That the Parliament welcomes the news that Glasgow has made the shortlist for the location for establishing a national headquarters for Channel 4, as well as a creative hub to be established in 2019; understands that this will be home to 300 Channel 4 jobs, including key creative decision makers, with the intention to grow over time; commends the board, which includes Glasgow City Council with support from the Scottish Government, as well as high-level representation from the city’s creative industries, and encourages everyone to sign up and back the bid at http://www.g4c4.tv

This would be an incredible achievement for the city with an estimated 300 jobs coming to Glasgow if the bid is successful.

The board led by Glasgow City Council with support from the Scottish Government and many other high profile representatives from the creative industries are to be commended on making it to the shortlist and I will certainly be giving my full backing to the bid.

You can find out more and give your support here www.g4c4.tv

Drugs Forum

05.18 SDFI was delighted to attend the Scottish Drugs Forum Addiction Worker Training Project Completion Ceremony in the Scottish Parliament this week.

This was a fantastic event celebrating the achievements of the trainees and the success of the project with contributions from Scottish Drugs Forum CEO David Liddell (pictured).

The project which started in 2004 is a unique initiative which supports, trains, and prepares individuals with a history of problematic drug and alcohol use to work in Social Care.

Scottish Drugs Forum works in partnership with accredited learning providers and alongside drug and alcohol services throughout Glasgow to provide the training for the students, who include people who were formerly homeless and ex-offenders who have previously experienced multiple barriers to employment.

I was privileged to be part of the awards ceremony and commend the determination and commitment shown by the trainees. I wish them all the very best of luck. 


A new way of monitoring and recording bullying in Scottish schools will be introduced this autumn.

The standardised approach will make it easier for teachers to identify trends and address the problem.

Updated guidance will be issued to schools and local authorities setting out how to consistently record information about the type and prevalence of bullying, to help them further support pupils.

To support the roll out of this guidance, the Scottish Government funded anti-bullying service ‘respectme’ will continue its work with local authorities and other organisations working with children and young people to build confidence and capacity to address bullying effectively.

Discover EU

Great news for young people living in the EU with the DiscoverEU initiative, which will provide young people from across the EU with an opportunity for a funded travel experience to explore Europe.

The scheme will enable free rail travel in up to four countries between 9 July and 30 September 2018. The applications are open for people from all 28 EU member states who are aged 18 on 1 June 2018 and they have from 2 to 26 June to apply.

You can find out more here: http://www.youdiscover.eu/faq