MP Margaret Curran, obliged to be at the critical Westminster vote on same sex marriage, had to miss Glasgow Business Club lunch on Tuesday 21 May 2013. However, she sent along a very acceptable alternative speaker in MSP Ken Macintosh who is Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment, and Sustainable Growth.
He explained he was on several cross- party groups ranging from Gaelic to crofting and from children and young people to cancer and other health issues.
Acknowledging he was addressing business people, he started by saying separation was not the answer to the UK’s present economic difficulties.
‘We are one, shared economy,’ he said. ‘There is no point in erecting barriers.’ He added: ‘It is difficult to envisage a prosperous Scotland outwith the UK. It is difficult to envisage a prosperous UK outwith Europe.’
Emphasising his party was listening after its disastrous results last election, he said: ‘We are trying to develop policies as the main opposition to the SNP. It is essential to win the referendum. So the Labour Party is putting aside some political differences with other parties to work together to win it’
He commented that the current austerity economics wasn’t working. ‘I don’t want to say it – but I told you so!’ He continued: ‘We have to invest in the economy. The Scottish Government has a lot of powers it doesn’t use.’ And he went on to criticise the Scottish Government for keeping many major infra structure projects such as the Glasgow airport rail link and the Edinburgh Glasgow rail upgrade, on hold, until the referendum.’ The answer, he contended was to change the government.
The Glasgow Business Club had changed its venue for the lunch-time monthly meeting with around 70 members being hosted in the GTG training premises in South Street. David Scott of Arnold Clark Group Training and Development welcomed Club members and explained the global outreach of the company’s training services.
Bringing the event to a close exactly on time, as usual, Club President Norman Ferguson confirmed actor Johnny Beattie would be guest speaker at the Club on Tuesday 18 June in Ibrox Stadium. The date will be the Club’s annual general meeting and will close activities for the summer. The new programme starts in September but check out their website for further information: www.glasgowbusinessclub.co.uk
The new greens at Kelvingrove Bowls Complex on Kelvin Way, were red hot with action today.
The Scottish Disability Squad was out in force preparing for a four nations event at the end of May and an eight nations competition in August.
This is part of the process to choose competitors for the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and for the International Bowls for Disabled World Tournament in New Zealand in 2015.
Said Bobby Dick, Head Coach of the Squad: ‘This is the elite squad. Of the 23 playing today, only five will be selected for the Commonwealth Games.’
Visually impaired bowlers have a ‘visuality director’ standing behind the jack who informs the bowler where his or her bowl has stopped in relation to the jack.
Wheelchair bowlers use special broad rimmed wheelchairs on the greens. Some bowlers play from a kneeling position.
‘The Commonwealth Games will be the first time since 2002 that both able-bodied and para bowlers will be competing in the same tournament,’ said Ricky Taylor, team manager.
Some of the players who’d arrived on Saturday from across Scotland, and witnessed the continuous rain that day were fearful the greens would not be playable on Sunday. ‘But they’re great,’ said one bowler. ‘Really good and quite fast.’
‘Spectators will be welcome at the four nations tournament from Friday 31 May till Sunday 2 June,’ emphasised Bobby. ‘That’s a mixed event for able and disabled competitors.’
Glasgow City Council needs to take a long hard look at itself. Each person elected to serve this great city is duty bound to honour its motto: Let Glasgow Flourish.
Flourish now means ‘What’s in it for me?’ There is no sign of the humanity or humbleness established by St Mungo, the City’s ancient Christian founder.
This lack of humanity was never more obvious than in the historic first ever hearing of a petition by the year-old petitions committee on Tuesday 7 May 2013.
A cogent and eloquent request was put forward by New Fossils Grandparents Support Group in Glasgow’s East quarter. These kinship carers – mostly grandparents looking after their own grandchildren – said that their children had exactly the same legal status as children taken into foster homes but were being treated very differently. They were asking for equality and justice for children and not for themselves.
Glasgow City Council’s Social Work department provides each foster child with a sizeable allowance to buy beds, clothes, food and treats or whatever that child needs. No similar supportive funding is provided for the children taken in by their own grandparents or other family members.
The situation was described by the Kinship Carers as ’apartheid’ One carer who has two of her own kin children in her household as well as two children placed with her as foster children, said it was ‘night and day’ the difference in what she was able to provide for each.
But what happened at the petitions committee, was simply party political posturing – especially from the Labour side. Five SNP councillors were heavily outnumbered by the Labour Group councillors – one of whom was out of the meeting room for most of the meeting- but returned in time to vote.
The kinship carers campaign is only one of several groups of people so concerned about the issues affecting them that they have taken to the streets to highlight the problems they face.
It is clear in Glasgow that more groups are having to take direct action to get attention paid to important inequalities. But even with that, where answers might lie in the hands of Glasgow City Council’s elected representatives, these campaigners are fighting a losing battle because of the party political imbalances within the council chambers.
Voters of this troubled city need to recognise that nothing will change for them until the people elected by them are truly of the mind to ‘Let Glasgow Flourish,’ by working together for the good of EVERY citizen, not just the partisan few.
Glasgow’s traditional May Day rally gave a platform to city campaigners fighting to keep day centres open for people with learning disabilities. Said Jennifer McCarey, Chair of Glasgow Trades Council who managed the speakers in the O2 music venue at the end of the march from George Square on Sunday 5 May 2013: ‘This was a fabulous success. It isn’t easy for people fighting the Day Centre Closures to be heard, but we helped that happen.’
Tommy Gorman of Unite Union who is leading the campaign to stop the closure of Berryknowes, Summerston and Hinshaw Street Day Centres, gave a blow by blow account of the situation to the large audience. ‘We will lobby Johann Lamont and Nicola Sturgeon to get these centres kept open. We are not going to allow our families to be piggy in the middle.’ He also said they would lobby Enable charity on Monday 13 May from 12 noon till 2pm. ‘They do not represent the views of the people who use the day centres. We will be asking for the wishes of the people who do use the centres to be respected. We are not out to score political points,’ he said. ‘We are out to treat people with humanity and to defend the jobs of the highly skilled workers in these centres,’ he concluded to loud applause.
Mary McArthur, one of the day care campaigners told this website at the end of the rally: ‘We will not give up. The fight is only starting. It was really good to be part of this May Day rally and see that so many people really care. The turnout was magnificent.’
Kinship Carers will be the first ever group to present a petition to Glasgow City Council’s year-old Petitions Committee. The historic meeting will be on Tuesday 7 May at 1.30pm in the City Chambers when the Carers will claim the children they look after are being discriminated against.
Most Kinship Carers have taken responsibility to raise their own grandchildren when the parents are unable to do so.
Representatives of the New Fossils Grandparents Support Group in Glasgow’s East quarter will put forward their concerns.
They claim that despite having the same legal status under Section 70 of the 1995 Children’s Act, a child placed in foster care by a Children’s Panel receives recognised allowances while a child formally recognised by the Children’s Panel as being cared for by a grandparent or other kincarer, gets nothing.
Said one kincarer: ‘These disadvantaged children are Scotland’s real shame. They walk away with just the clothes they stand in. The other children have a £100 emergency grant for immediate needs, a cheque for up to £500 to buy necessities like beds and an age related allowance from £131 to £231 a week: all paid to their carer.
‘If this kind of discrimination was being made between children of different colour or gender or religious background, there would be a public outcry. But because it is ‘only’ grandparents who are taking care of their grandchildren, the assumption is they don’t deserve or warrant the same help or support that official foster carers receive.
‘I believe this is systematic and institutionalised discrimination just as bad as apartheid. It is no way to treat our most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.’
The petitioners ask Glasgow City Council to give kinship children the same allowances and levels of support as foster children. The Scottish Government agreed unanimously in 2007 that this should be done within three years. Subsequently all Councils in Scotland signed up to a Concordat to do so. But to date, only Highland Council has implemented it.
Earlier this year, Kinship Carers across Scotland launched a new national organisation to be the single campaigning voice for the rights of the children in their care. Said Anne Swartz, Chair of the Alliance and a kinship carer from Dumbarton: ‘We are sick of seeing the children in our care suffer without the basic support from Local Authorities. Our children are routinely written off and discriminated against while foster placement children have access to a wide range of support and services. Enough is enough. We have come together to put a stop to this institutionalised discrimination and to fight for the rights of our children.’
A recent study of kinship carers and the children they cared for was carried out by Buttle UK, a children’s grant-giving charity and the University of Bristol. It showed that each child cared for by an informal kinship carer, saved the taxpayer between £23,500 and £56,000 a year. In Scotland, one child in every 71 was being brought up by a kincarer such as a grandparent, sister or brother or other relative. Most of these family carers were put into severe poverty as a result of taking in the children. And while the children were doing considerably better than children in formal care, they still had unaddressed severe behavioural and emotional difficulties as a result of the traumas they had experienced.
Councillor Billie McAllister of Canal Ward in Glasgow is one of the members of the City’s Petitions Committee.
He told this website: ‘I’ve been on the committee for one year and this will be the first petition we’ve heard. We should be inundated with petitions for the amount of injustice being experienced in our communities. But I don’t think the Council is serious about this. A recent meeting was cancelled because we were told there was ‘nothing on the agenda!’ I couldn’t accept that and pushed to get some action. This petition is, I believe, the result of that. I’m not at all happy with how things are run. There is talk of democracy and community empowerment but no-one can open their mouth to say anything other than to agree with the powers that be.’
The other items to be considered by the Petitions and General Purposes and Policy Development committee on Tuesday will be (a) an update on the progress of the City Centre Service Desk which went live in August 2012 and (b) Glasgow’s Draft Single Outcome Agreement 2013. This was submitted by the Community Planning Partnership to the Scottish Government on 2 April 2013 and is a ten year plan for priorities and ‘better outcomes for residents.’ After consultation with the Community Planning Partnership partners, the plan will be submitted to the Scottish Government for final agreement by 28 June 2013.
Sports journalist Alison Walker is learning Portuguese – because the famous Pele told her to! This was one of the many things she revealed to around 100 Glasgow Business Club members at their lunch meeting today in Firhill Stadium.
Introduced by President Norman Ferguson, Alison recounted her rise to fame despite the frequent, chauvinistic attitudes of her male colleagues. ‘I’d never admit I’d two children,’ she said.
She reeled off a list of eminent sports people she’d interviewed and told delightful, insightful tales of incidents along the way. At the 2012 Olympics, Pele was one of her interviewees – along with David Beckham, Henry Kissinger and the King of Spain. She told Pele she’d love to report on the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. ‘He advised me to learn the language. So that’s why I’ve spent the last six months at Glasgow University learning Brazilian Portuguese!’ she recounted.
Recently she set up her own media training company. ‘I’ve time to spend with my children now. But as they’re teenagers, they don’t want to spend time with me!’
Next month the guest speaker will be Margaret Curran, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland. Known until recently as Glasgow South Business Club, the organisation now holds meetings in a wider geographic field than it did before. Therefore the meeting on May 21 will be at GTG Training Centre in South Street, G14 0BJ. For futher details check the Glasgow Business Club’s website.
It was magic for nearly 150 youngsters from a dozen schools in and around Glasgow who played in the Variety Scotland 5-aside tournament today.
The annual event was held in Toryglen Sports Centre. Real magician Stevo, who’d just flown in from a big gig in Germany, and his colleague Tickles who was, appropriately, dressed in pink, entertained while the teams in three age groups competed.
Who won in the under 12s, the 12-14 and the over 15s categories may be revealed at a later stage. But the best bit was socialising and playing the game. ‘This was football and it was fun,’ said one 10-year-girl at the end.
Variety Scotland Chairman, Iain Forbes and long serving Variety member Jack Zimmer were delighted with the turnout. Said Iain: ‘We bring together kids from special schools and schools in less well off areas to compete in a friendly way in sport.’
The Variety Scotland coaches were on duty outside to take everyone home at the end.
The charity, till recently called the Variety Club of Scotland, holds major events to raise funds for their work. Their annual race meeting will be in Hamilton on 23 August and they are already well ahead with plans for their St Andrew’s Night Tartan Ball in November.
‘We spend 90p out of every £1 we raise in Scotland,’ explained Iain. ‘Volunteers do the bulk of the work with only two part time staff in a small office which is about to move to Westerton.’
While the organisers talked, the children played. Said class assistant Evlyn Sim of Kirkrigg School in Castlemilk: ‘This has been a fun day. The children had a great time and it generates a great team spirit.’
A campaign to highlight the real legacy of Margaret Thatcher will demonstrate across the road from the ATOS office in Corunna House, Cadogan Street, in Glasgow’s city centre at the time of her funeral tomorrow (Wednesday 17 April) at 11.45am.
The organisers invite anyone supportive of their view of her legacy to join them. ‘The legacy of Thatcherism is the bedroom tax of today,’ said organiser Sean Clerkin. ‘And ATOS being used by the Department of Work and Pensions to put people through the degrading screening to take them off benefits they are entitled to, is part of that unspeakable legacy.’
More than a dozen Kinship Carers groups have formed a Scottish Kinship Carers Alliance to fight the ‘institutionalised discrimination’ experienced by the young relatives they look after.
Glasgow City’s Lord Provost Sadie Docherty, welcomed more than 170 people who are concerned about the legal rights being denied the children – often their own grandchildren – in their care.
Alliance Chair, Anne Swartz said: ‘We are sick of seeing the children in our care suffer without the basic support from Local Authorities. Kinship children are routinely written off and discriminated against while foster placements have access to a wide range of support and services. Enough is enough. We have come together to put a stop to this institutionalised discrimination and fight for the rights of our children.’
She added:’The Alliance was partly formed in response to large charities being tasked with representing and supporting Kinship Carers. We do not feel that these agencies represent us, and want direct access to policy makers and politicians. We are the experts with the best knowledge of the issue and it’s solutions. From now on we should be the first port of call on Kinship Care for all service managers and policy makers.’
Jessie Harvey a Kinship Carer for her 8-year-old grandson, had the audience on their feet applauding her moving speech. She said: ‘We will not stand for any more discrimination or injustice against them. Their human rights are being exploited by education, health visitors, politicians and funders. These people need to sit up and address the needs these children have.’
Chair of the Kinship group for North Glasgow, Jessie said later: ‘Psychological help for children as young as five, is withheld from kindred carers’ children but is offered as a matter of right, to fostered children. She added: ‘Children’s sleeping patterns, their eyesight, hearing and difficulties paying attention in school are all the result of what they’ve gone through. But there is no-one to help them or their carers. The children are excluded from the class. But schools should be helped to help them. There is no research going on right now into what is happening to these young minds and there should be. The addiction problems of their parents should not rub off on the kids. And present funding allocation are not putting a pint of milk on my table. We should be asked about what we, as carers, see is needed.’
A video message from Northern Ireland Kinship Carers Alliance was screened. Said Anne Swartz: ‘They have been an inspiration to us.’
In a keynote speech, Anne Marie Peffer, Scotland Manager of the charity Buttle UK, launched their groundbreaking Kinship Care Report almost at the same time as it was released in London.
A leading children’s grant-giving charity, Buttle ‘s report ‘The Poor Relations? Children and Informal Kinship Carers Speak Out.’ is a comprehensive study showing the impact of informal kinship care arrangements.
Carried out by the University of Bristol, the research shows that Local Authorities in Scotland currently recognise and support 1,736 children in Kinship Care. The majority of placements are informal and are not, automatically, entitled to any support. Said Anne Marie Peffer: ‘We have been taken aback by the poor health Kinship Carers and their children suffer and the severity of the financial hardship they are enduring. While unable to provide even basic items, they are saving the Scottish Government millions in care costs each year.’
One child in every 71 in Scotland is estimated to be living in Kinship Care.
With this research, the Scottish Kinship Care Alliance now plans to lobby hard to negotiate changes in the new Children and Young People’s Bill later this month (April)
In common with many Community Councils (CC) in the city, Yorkhill & Kelvingrove CC is struggling because of lack of local activists.
A public meeting on Tuesday 16 April at 7pm in the Gaelic School in Berkeley Street will discuss its future. Said Chairman Tony Ownsworth: ‘Our Secretary, sadly, died of cancer. Our Treasurer recently stepped down after giving long warning that he’d vacate the volunteer position. I’ve been chairman for a number of years and would like to go out and smell the roses but I’m having to do the work of chair, secretary and treasurer.’
But the group will have only 1 hour and 40 minutes to deliberate as that is the strict time of the hire of the venue. ‘In the past we use the community centre in Overnewton Square but it was far too cold and is currently closed,’ said Tony. ‘This is a very important meeting to determine whether and how our Community Council is to continue.’
He added: ‘I’ve put notices up around the area but I noticed some of them had been taken down which is very disappointing. We could do with someone who knows how to operate our Facebook page. I’m sure that would help.’