Ebrief

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.

Planning

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/

G4C4

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:

S5M-12515

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. 

Bullying

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

 

 

 

 

Ebrief

Thursday 24 May

Pensioners Forum

05.18 SPF SSA BillI was delighted to sponsor and address a joint event in Parliament this week with the Scottish Seniors Alliance and the Scottish Pensioners Forum.

The event was held to celebrate the contribution older make within society and concentrated on the work that the Scottish Pensioners’ Forum and the Scottish Seniors Alliance have carried out over the years on older people’s issues, within communities across Scotland.

I’m pictured (right) with representatives from the Scottish Seniors Alliance (SSA). They were formed in 2007 to act as the umbrella body for local senior forums and unattached older people’s groups located throughout Scotland.

05.18 SSA SPF MinisterThe Minister for Social Security Jeane Freeman MSP also addressed the reception pictured here with Bill Johnson, Rose Jackson and myself.

The Minister welcomed the contribution of organisations dealing with issues affecting older people.

The Minister also spoke about the Older People’s Strategic Action Forum set up by the Scottish Government and the progress made to date.

The Scottish Pensioners Forum was set up in 1992 as an umbrella organisation for groups and individuals working and campaigning for a better deal for older people. It was initiated by the STUC Pensioners Committee to allow pensioners to speak on behalf of pensioners.

05.18 SPF and SSA Age ScotlandAge Scotland were also in attendance at the event. They had some very interesting information on their helpline for older people for MSPs to highlight to their constituents. This helpline provides information, friendship and advice through a confidential freephone number.

The service is available for older people, their carers and families in Scotland and advises on local services and opportunities, benefit entitlements, care rights, housing options and heating and legal issues such as Power of Attorney.

You can find out more about Age Concern at https://www.ageuk.org.uk/scotland/

Information on the Scottish Seniors Alliance can be found at http://www.spanglefish.com/scottishseniorsalliance/

And finally the Scottish Pensioners Forum have more information on their website at http://www.scottishpensioners.org.uk/

Child Poverty

Communities and charities with new ideas to tackle child poverty will be given the opportunity to bid for part of a new £7.5 million Innovation Fund.

Announced as part of the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, the fund, financed by the Scottish Government and the Hunter Foundation, is now open for applications from communities, local charities, health boards and councils.

A panel with membership from across the sector will judge the applications, which will support new or existing projects that will have an impact on reducing child poverty by 2030.

The Innovation Fund will support both new and the expansion of existing approaches that will have an impact on reducing child poverty by 2030 in a way that helps families to remain out of poverty for a minimum three year period and are viable and sustainable practices for public sector/third sector.

Guidance on the fund and application process can be found at http://www.thehunterfoundation.co.uk/

Applications open this week and will close at midnight on 29 June 2018 with awards being made, subject to final diligence and shortlisted interviews/project visits, no later than 17 August 2018. 

Unicef

05.18 UnicefUnicef held a reception in the Scottish Parliament this week and I took the opportunity to meet with their representatives.

The reception was held to celebrate the 4th anniversary of the Unicef and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games partnership.

In 2014, Unicef and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games came together, united by a groundbreaking ambition:

To transform children’s lives by reaching children in every part of Scotland, and in every Commonwealth Country by the next Games.

For the first time in history, a global organisation dedicated to saving and changing children’s lives teamed up with a global sporting institution dedicated to humanity, equality and destiny – to deliver change on an international level.

The partnership has reached 11.7 million children including more than 500,000 children in Scotland.

NHS Anniversary

This year marks the 70th year of the NHS and the Scottish Government is encouraging people across Scotland to share their stories and memories of health care throughout the years at the launch of the celebrations to mark the run up to the 70th anniversary of the NHS.

National events to mark the anniversary include a civic reception for frontline NHSScotland staff, with local NHS board events including afternoon teas, photography exhibitions and services of celebration and thanksgiving.

Contributions from public, patients and staff will form part of the campaign leading up to the anniversary, with seven stories selected to feature in a short film of NHS memories across the decades.

For further information on the NHS in Scotland at 70, visit www.ournhsscotland.com

People can share their memories of the NHS by emailing: nhs70@smartscommunicate.com.

Justice

An independent report detailing improvements to police call handling has been welcomed by Justice Secretary Michael Matheson.

The report, published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, follows an independent review of call handling systems directed by Mr Matheson in 2015.

The review resulted in 30 recommendations, all of which have been discharged. The Justice Secretary has updated Parliament that the work to improve the system has delivered:

A revised staffing model for police call handling, ensuring the service has the right number of people at the right time;

An improved approach to training, ensuring staff have the skills needed to support the public, often in the most critical of circumstances;

Improved stability of key IT systems;

Controls to ensure Police Scotland maintains the highest standards, including the implementation of a “notable incidents” process which allows the service to learn from the few calls that haven’t been handled as they should have been.

The final report contains eight more recommendations, which aim to guide further improvements.

 

 

Ebrief

Thursday 17 May

Nakba

05.18 Nakba Whole GroupOn 15 May 1948 an estimated 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled, with hundreds of Palestinian towns and villages depopulated and destroyed – this is the Nakba and those who fled and are alive are still waiting to return.

On 15 May 2018 I marked the 70th anniversary of this atrocity by leading a member’s debate in Parliament and hosting an event in the evening to both mark the Nakba and celebrate Palestinian culture.

My contribution as with the majority of those that participated condemned the actions of the Israeli Government and its allies in the USA and UK Governments in their oppression and utter disregard of the Palestinian people.

However, what we witnessed this week in Gaza was nothing short of a massacre. Whilst members of Trump and co opened the US Embassy in Jerusalem, Palestinian’s including children were killed and injured by state sponsored violence.

From the time when Britain administered Palestine after the first world war until it abandoned it in 1948 resulting in the Nakba, UK involvement in Palestine has been quite shameful, from the promises of an independent Palestinian state to refusing to support UN efforts for a two-state solution, leading to the 1948 war and the subsequent loss of Palestinian land.

Let us be clear, regardless of the history, the way forward and the only way to achieve a lasting peace is to recognise a Palestinian state alongside an Israeli one. That was not possible in 1947 but, for me and many others, it is the only viable option. Let us also be clear that the time is now—not tomorrow, next year or some point in the future. People are dying every day. We cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand.

You can read the full debate here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11533&i=104617

05.18 Nakba Ghazi HusseinDuring the Naka evening event we heard a very moving poem by acclaimed Palestinian poet Ghazi Hussein now living in Scotland.

Ghazi was born to a family in exile from Palestine, and was first imprisoned at the age of 14. He was never charged but was ‘guilty of carrying thoughts’. Repeatedly imprisoned and tortured over the next 20 years, he says that poetry saved his sanity. ‘If I still remained in my place of birth…..my voice would be silenced. Here in Scotland I have the opportunity to tell my story, one which I believe is important and relevant to what is happening across the world at this time’.

05.18 Nakba Graham WattGraham Watt from Medical Aid for Palestine (MAP) gave a very comprehensive presentation of the work MAP carry out in Palestine to support the health and wellbeing of Palestinians despite the blockades imposed by Israel. They are however entirely supported through the generosity of donors and I would urge those of you who support their efforts to commit to donating at https://www.map.org.uk/donate/donate

Everyone was mesmerised by the very talented Omar Saad, Tibah Saad and Ahmed Dwiddar.

05.18 Nakba Omar and Tibah SaadThese young musicians entertained the Nakba event guests with their performance of some very moving and beautiful traditional Palestinian music.

Omar and Tibah are currently studying at the Royal Conservatoire. Whilst they would have preferred to stay at home to study music the opportunity to do this is not available at home for them. Whilst financially this can be crippling they have managed to secure funding from various sources but still find following their ambitions a huge financial struggle.

Brexit

The Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, has called on the UK Government to listen to concerns from across the Scottish Parliament and respond positively by amending the EU withdrawal Bill to protect devolution following the vote in the Scottish Parliament to withhold consent for the Withdrawal Bill.

The Scottish Government has put forward two proposals to ensure the bill respects devolution – remove the legislative constraint on the Parliament and proceed on the basis of mutual trust, or amend the bill so the Parliament’s consent is required before any orders restricting its powers are made. It is now incumbent on the UK Government to amend the bill in line with the principles of devolution.

Childcare

Thousands of parents will no longer have to pay expensive upfront childcare deposits under a pilot scheme.

Families who use either a childminder or nursery before their children become eligible for publicly-funded childcare, usually at age three, can be asked to pay a deposit of as much as £900.

In Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dumfries and Galloway, the Scottish Government will cover that cost for eligible families until December 2019 through a deposit guarantee. Almost half (44%) of parents in the pilot areas with a child under two who are taking up childcare for the first time can benefit from the scheme.

Epilepsy Connections 

03.18 Epilepsy ConnectionsI was delighted to sponsor a drop in session for representatives of Epilepsy Connections at the Scottish Parliament this week. I am pictured with the team from Glasgow when I visited them earlier this year.

The event was led by Shirley Maxwell Epilepsy Connections Director with area representation from Glasgow, Forth Valley and Ayrshire and Arran. MSPs from across the parties took time to drop in and chat about the issues facing those diagnosed with epilepsy and in particular the damaging effects of changes to the benefits system with the replacement of DLA with PIP. 

Funeral Costs

An extra 2,000 people will be eligible for financial support to help pay for a funeral, under Scottish Government plans.

Improvements to Funeral Expense Assistance will also see an annual increase to the contribution for other funeral costs as well as quicker processing times – within 10 working days.

A public consultation is now open, seeking views on proposals including how to consider difficult family circumstances which you can access here: https://consult.gov.scot/social-security/funeral-expense-assistance/

With Kids

05.18 With KidsChild mental health is a topic that everyone can support and I took time to talk to representatives from WithKids who were exhibiting in the Parliament this week.

WithKids has supported over 3500 children across Scotland. They specialise in working in some of the most fragile communities and working alongside families that often struggle to engage in other services.

They use Play Psychotherapy as their main approach to supporting children aged 3 – 11 as well as providing a comprehensive package of support for families and the wider community.

As we know a child’s early experiences are crucial to healthy development and those who experience childhood difficulties are more likely to suffer mentally and physically and adopt harmful behaviours.

WithKids deliver interventions that have been proven to reduce the impact of difficulties on children and help build resilience and self-esteem in families.

Childcare

Thousands of parents will no longer have to pay expensive upfront childcare deposits under a pilot scheme.

Families who use either a childminder or nursery before their children become eligible for publicly-funded childcare, usually at age three, can be asked to pay a deposit of as much as £900.

In Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dumfries and Galloway, the Scottish Government will cover that cost for eligible families until December 2019 through a deposit guarantee. Almost half (44%) of parents in the pilot areas with a child under two who are taking up childcare for the first time can benefit from the scheme.

 

Ebrief

Thursday 10 May

Europe Day

05.18 Europe Day Estonia 100On Wednesday, with the support of the European Commission Office, Glasgow’s George Square played host to stalls, exhibitors and musicians to mark Europe Day and I was privileged to attend the event.

The Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop MSP, and the Lord Provost of Glasgow, Cllr Eva Bolander, opened the celebration with Stuart McMillan MSP making an appearance as Scottish Parliament’s piper with his rendition of “Ode to Joy”.

Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain were all there to promote their country, culture and language. Scotland and Member States also showcased their countries through musical and dance acts.

Europe Day remains an opportunity to bring various communities together and to celebrate peace and unity in Europe.

05.18 Europe DayI’m pictured highlighting the Erasmus Plus programme. Thousands of Scottish students have had the opportunity to live, study, work and make lifelong friendships all over the EU through the Erasmus programme. However, the UK leaving the European Union puts the programme in jeopardy.

Youthlink Scotland are spearheading a campaign and I’ve signed their petition asking the UK Government to commit to maintaining participation in the Erasmus programme after Brexit.

I’d encourage everyone to pledge their support and sign the petition at Youthlink Scotland https://www.youthlinkscotland.org/press/keep-erasmus-plus/

Community Fund

Following on from our Europe Day celebrations the Scottish Government announced this week new support to ensure community organisations, charities and other grassroots groups are listened to during the ongoing Brexit negotiations.

The £150,000 stakeholder engagement fund will provide grants to Scottish organisations who wouldn’t otherwise have the resources to gather and promote the views of their members on preparing for the UK leaving the EU.

The new fund will focus primarily on enabling community and third sector organisations to consider the impact of Brexit, highlight their concerns and plan for the future  – giving them a greater platform to be heard at a Scottish, UK and EU level.

The Scottish Government fund will offer organisations and networks targeted financial support, as well as welcoming suggestions and ideas from local community groups around the country.

Year of Young People

05.18 Princes TrustWhat a great atmosphere in the Parliament as we celebrated the Year of Young People last week.

The Princes Trust held a reception with some extremely talented young people as they highlighted their Youth Can Do It campaign.

It’s hard to believe that it was as far back as 2013 when the decision was made to have 2018 as the Year of Young People.

Year of Young People 2018 aims to inspire Scotland through its young people, celebrating their achievements, valuing their contribution to communities and creating new opportunities for them to shine locally, nationally and globally.

As well as the Scottish Government Year of Young People have also partnered with Young Scot, Scottish Youth Parliament, Children in Scotland, Visit Scotland, Event Scotland, Glasgow 2018, Creative Scotland and Youthlink Scotland.

There have been countless events and projects marking Year of Young People since the beginning of the year and we’re not even halfway through yet. You can find out about the latest events and news at www.yoyp2018.scot

Refugee Support

Refugees can now organise financial support for family members before they are reunited in Scotland.

Up to £100,000 in Family Reunion Crisis Grants will smooth the path for new arrivals, bridging the gap before they can be assessed for benefits entitlement.

The grants provide assistance with initial living costs as well as essential items, such as beds, for those arriving in Scotland under family reunion rules.

Walking and Cycling

The Scottish Government have announced plans to more than double the Community Links Fund which supports the introduction of new walking and cycling infrastructure.

£36m will be available through the Community Links Fund in 2018/19, the highest amount since it was launched in 2010.

The fund has previously helped projects like the cycling and walking path between Elgin and Lhanbryde, locally a cycle path linking Glasgow City Centre with its southern suburbs, and plans to redesign Stirling Road in Dunblane.

You can find out more here: https://www.sustrans.org.uk/scotland/community-links

Human Appeal

05.18 Human AppealFor 27 years Human Appeal has been delivering aid and development programs that transform lives in the world’s poorest nations. I was delighted to meet representatives of the organisation at their reception in the Scottish Parliament to launch Human Appeal Ramadan.

Human Appeal has had a presence in 25 countries around the world and has become the global agent of change for a just, caring and sustainable world. They have also delivered and supported many projects across the UK including the Wrap up Winter campaign, distribution of food to the homeless, provision of Qurbani meat to the needy and supporting the victims of the Manchester arena attack and Grenfell Tower fire.

You can find out more about Human Appeal and their work here: www.humanappeal.org.uk

Plastics Consultation

The Scottish Government are currently consulting on the addition of secondary legislation under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to introduce a ban on the manufacture and the sale of plastic-stemmed cotton buds.

The proposed bans aim to further protect our seas from plastic pollution.

If you would like further information or would like to participate please go to https://consult.gov.scot/marine-scotland/cotton-buds/

 

Ebrief

Thursday 3 May 2018

Breast Cancer

04.18 Breast Cancer CareI was honoured to sponsor the launch event of the recent Breast Cancer Care Report in Parliament – Moving Forward “Living Well with and Beyond Breast Cancer in Scotland”.

As well as healthcare professionals we had a very moving account of one person’s experience of their treatment for breast cancer and the impact of the Moving Forward course.

Breast Cancer is still the most common cancer with around 4,600 diagnosed each year in Scotland alone with the number of breast cancer cases rising by over 30% since 2001. However, with the advances in treatment and care over the past few decades more people are surviving breast cancer and living with it than ever before.

Moving Forward is a free four-week programme which provides information, support and professional guidance on how to cope with and adjust to life after treatment. Topics covered may include: healthy eating, exercise, managing menopausal symptoms, lymphoedema, cancer fatigue, intimacy and relationships, and adjusting and adapting after a diagnosis of breast cancer.

For more information please go to https://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/information-support/publication/moving-forward-people-living-beyond-breast-cancer-bcc197

Refugee Dentists

Dentists are to be included in a scheme that has already helped 37 refugee doctors begin to re-train to work in Scotland.

Following the success of the scheme, dentists will now be given the same training, language support, professional mentoring and work experience necessary so that their qualifications can be recognised by the General Dental Council.

The New Refugee Doctors Project is run by the Bridges Programme and provides the most comprehensive support for refugees who were doctors in their home countries. It is expected 50 doctors and 10 dentists will be supported by the programme over the next year.

Traditional Building Skills

05.18 Traditional Building EventIt was great to catch up with representatives of the building trade in Sauchiehall Street this week at the traditional building skills demonstration.

The highlight of the event was the opportunity for High School pupils to be introduced to four traditional building skills by local apprentices and tradespeople. Each pupil had the opportunity to have a ‘hands on’ taster session of each skill.

05.18 Trad BuildingThere was also the opportunity for visitors and members of the public to have a go too and I jumped at the chance to improve my birdbox building skills from last year!

The traditional skills included, stone masonry, slating, roof leadwork, joinery and painting and decorating and there was plenty of information and advice from representatives on careers and training.

The event was very successful, helping raise the profile of traditional building skills, inspiring young people and also raising their awareness of the career opportunities which are available in this field.

NHS Finances

Health Secretary Shona Robison has put in place additional scrutiny around NHS finances in Scotland.

The Scottish Government will provide monthly information on NHS Boards financial performance to the Scottish Parliament following the boards first submissions for this financial year, which are due in June.

The Health Secretary also confirmed that the first quarterly financial report on Health and Social Care Integration Authorities had been provided to the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport committee and that medium term spending plans for the health service would be set out later this year.

She also repeated commitments to work with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator to implement any recommendations following their investigation of the use of endowment funds by NHS Boards.

Knit and Natter

05.18 Knit and Natter 1What a brilliant afternoon I had at the Annexe Communities on Monday meeting up with the Knit and Natter group who make blankets for refugees and you can see one of their lovely creations in the photograph.

This is just one of many groups and activities this amazing centre offers the local community. The Annexe run a varied programme of regular events and activities for older people from walking groups to art classes to meditation to dancing and much more.

05.18 Knit and Natter 3With their successful application to the Big Lottery Fund they now have a grant of £628,000 by which will support their Connects Project which has been successfully running for three years and was recently runners up at the Evening Times Community Champions Awards for North West Glasgow.

This further funding for west Glasgow will support 900 isolated and vulnerable older residents, age 60 plus, over a five-year period. The initiative will help older people to re-connect with their community, meet new friends and stay healthier longer.

Smoking

People considering stopping smoking are being urged to get support to help them through the first 72 hours, and beyond.

A campaign signposting the support available from the Quit Your Way service has already resulted in a 136 per cent rise in helpline calls and webchats in the first three weeks, compared with the same period in 2017.

The campaign acknowledges that for some people the first 72 hours of quitting can be particularly tough as the body craves nicotine, but that with the right support smokers are twice as likely to stop smoking for good.

New research highlights that almost three quarters of smokers (73 per cent) have attempted to quit in the past, with one in five (22 per cent) currently trying.

Three quarters of those surveyed (75 per cent) agreed that the first 72 hours of giving up smoking are the hardest, with 82 per cent stating that the mental cravings can be harder to overcome than the physical cravings when quitting.

Quit Your Way Scotland is the national stop smoking service from NHS 24 and provides people who are thinking about quitting with individually tailored advice, either over the phone or online.

Find out more at www.quityourway.scot

Mental Health

05.18 Brothers in ArmsBrothers in Arms were exhibiting in the Parliament this week and I took the opportunity to have a chat with them about their work.

It is a project based in East Dunbartonshire aimed at providing information, support and advice to men of any age, who are down or in crisis. They are dedicated to preventing male suicide which is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK.

They have a website and social media platform that is aimed primarily at the 16 to 45 demographic most at risk and is designed as a ‘gateway’ to enable them or their partners, family and friends to seek help and advice and to feel that they are not alone.

More information can found at https://www.brothersinarmsscotland.co.uk/

Criminal Responsibility

The age a young person can be held responsible for their actions in the eyes of the law is to be examined by Holyrood’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee.

Although Scotland’s current age of criminal responsibility, the lowest in Europe at eight years old, is set to be raised by the Scottish Government, the Committee is seeking views on the new proposals.

The Committee is looking to hear from academics, people working in the criminal justice sector, victims of crime, and crucially young people and former young offenders. A toolkit for teachers and youth group leaders will be produced to help this to happen.

The Committee is asking not only for views on raising the age of criminal responsibility to 12, as the Scottish Government has proposed. It also wants to look at the disclosure of offences committed by under-12s; whether the new rules achieve an appropriate balance for victims; and the suitability of police powers to deal with behaviour by under-12s.