SUNDAY 14 April 2013
Tomorrow, more than 100 kinship carers and VIP supporters will meet in Glasgow City Chambers to launch a Scottish Kinship Care Alliance.
They will campaign for the rights of the children – often their own grandchildren – in their care.
Chair of the Alliance and a Kinship Carer from Dumbarton, Anne Swartz, says: “We are sick of seeing the children in our care suffer because of the lack of 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 to fight for the rights of our children.”
She adds that large charities had been tasked with representing and supporting Kinship Carers. “We do not feel that these agencies represent us. We 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.”
According to Buttle UK – a leading children’s grant-giving charity – as many as one child in every 77 in the UK was being brought up by grandparents or other relatives in 2001. The charity considers that figure is higher today and in Scotland currently estimates one child in 71 is cared for by relatives who are not their birth parents.
At the Alliance launch, Buttle UK will deliver their most recent study of the true cost of Kinship Care in advance of publishing it in London. It will reveal the correlation between Kinship Care and poverty as well as give up-to-date figures and details of the impact on the caring relatives.
The move will coincide with negotiations on the new Children and Young People’s Bill later this month. The Alliance proposes a number of changes to Kinship Care provisions and will press to have them taken into full consideration.
The launch will be attended by a range of MPs, MSPs, Councillors and civil servants as well as heads of Social Work, Police, Scotland’s Human Rights Commission and the Children’s Commissioner.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made their first formal visit to Glasgow yesterday.
They spent the morning meeting young people at the city’s recently opened £113 million Emirates Arena. The flagship venue will host badminton and track cycling events in the 2014 Commonwealth Games. It is a key part of the city’s bid to host the Youth Olympic Games in 2018. Later this year the Junior Track World Championships and World Youth Netball Championships will take place there.
During their tour of the state-of-the-art facility the Royal couple watched pupils from the Glasgow School of Sports and other aspiring athletes, training in athletics, track cycling, badminton, football and netball. They then viewed a Glasgow 2014 exhibition where they met young people including Beth Gilmour who designed Glasgow 2014 mascot Clyde and apprentices who were employed as part of the Commonwealth Apprenticeship Initiative. They also met Mahad Ahmed and Jasmine Main – young ambassadors for Glasgow’s bid for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games – and some City Building apprentices who worked on the construction of the Emirates Arena.
Next they went to Drumchapel’s Glasgow Club Donald Dewar. There they launched a Scottish pilot of the innovative Coach Core project. Launched last July just before the London 2012 Olympic Games, Coach Core aims to inspire and train the next generation of sports coaches across the UK.
It is hoped that the Glasgow project will form an important part of the legacy from the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the city’s bid to host the Youth Olympic Games in 2018.
The Royal Foundation is partnering with Glasgow Life and the Hunter Foundation on the initiative.
Chair of Glasgow Life and the Executive Member for the Commonwealth Games, Councillor Archie Graham, said: “This visit highlights our shared vision and commitment to sport in Glasgow, from investing in world-class facilities such as the stunning new Emirates Arena through to our partnership with The Royal Foundation, which will create coaching opportunities at a grassroots level. Sports coaches are at the very heart of sport in Glasgow and we are honoured that their Royal Highnesses chose the city to launch the Scottish pilot of the Coach Core initiative. London 2012 inspired a generation and we want to continue that journey through the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the 2018 Youth Olympic Games. Coach Core will help us do that.”
Sir Tom Hunter, Chairman of The Hunter Foundation which has provided funding to The Royal Foundation to enable the delivery of the Coach Core programme in Glasgow, said: “Coach Core is an exceptional model of positive social intervention because it uses sport to enable lasting change at grassroots, community level. We are delighted to have supported The Royal Foundation in bringing this important initiative to Scotland. Our hope is that the apprentice coaches employed by Glasgow Life each year will deliver transformational change in their communities through sports development. We’d also like to see Coach Core in every local authority in Scotland through the leadership of The Royal Foundation and Glasgow Life.”
Glasgow 2014 Chairman, Lord Smith of Kelvin, said: “We were absolutely delighted to show the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge how young people are an integral part of the journey towards the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, the biggest multi-sport event Scotland has ever seen.
“Young people have been involved in all of our major milestones from the creation of our official games mascot, called Clyde,
to the design of the official Glasgow 2014 tartan and right through to the Commonwealth apprentices who work on delivering the Games at our Glasgow headquarters.”
Glasgow 2018 Youth Olympic Games ambassador Jasmine Main said: “It was a fantastic experience being able to tell the Duchess of Cambridge about the city’s plans to host the Youth Olympic Games in 2018.”
Love Music Hate Racism is celebrating years of inspiring people to love their neighbour with an exhibition of poster showing some of the great Rock Against Racism gigs where their message was sung out to the world.
The vintage posters will be on view till 30 April in the Platform library in Easterhouse. There, Glasgow leaders in the fight against fascism, launched the exhibition in proper style – with music from the Honest Mistakes. Among the songs sung by the trio of Brian Gibson, Chris Reilly and Steve Dollan, was the famous Italian anti-fascist song :Bella Ciao.’ Their rendition was followed by a photographer spontaneously singing it in Chinese!
‘That could only happen in group like this,’ said doyen Margaret Wood who has been at the forefront of the fight against race hatred for many years.
She told the gathering: ‘Sadly this fight has to go on. So it is really good that school children today will be coming to see this exhibition and to have workshops about what it all means. The rich people who run our society are our enemy, not our neighbours.’
Making his first public speech as chairman of United Against Fascism Scotland, John McFadden of the Fire Brigade Union said: ‘There was never a better time to have this exhibition. We are in the middle of a severe economic crisis and the same issues are being raised. It is disgraceful for the Prime Minister to be saying things like: -’ we must guard against people from afar because they are stealing our welfare.’ Let us not fall into the trap of making migrants and other incomers, scapegoats. We have to support and celebrate our multi-cultural society and promote peace, love and tolerance. Those are the qualities that will stop the hatred and poison that comes from the right wing fascists. And we need to be aware that such a hate filled movement is growing in Europe and here.’
Dave Sherry of UNITE union’s Housing Association branch – one of the sponsors of the exhibition- remembered the excitement of a Rock Against Racism event in London in 1978. ‘Elvis Costello could only get to the stage by helicopter because of the huge mass of people. It was really electrifying and terrifying too, but it got the message out. And we must keep doing that,’ he said.
Amal Azzudin and Emma Clifford, who were two of the seven Glasgow school girls who challenged the authorities when one of their classmates was whipped away in a dawn raid on the asylum seeking family in 2005, also attended the exhibition launch. Said Emma, who now works for the BBC and Sunny Govan Radio: ‘I’m glad the exhibition involves schoolkids in workshops. And that it is travelling around the country.’ Added Amal, who is working for the Mental Health Foundation: ‘Music is such a great medium to use to raise awareness. The Big Names involved in Rock Against Racism get the message to a wider audience.’
Noreen Real and Jean Donnachie who were honoured by the Evening Times for their fight to protect asylum seekers from dawn raids in their tower block, were at the Easterhouse launch too. Both poudly wearing the silver lapel pin from the Evening Times 25th Women of the Year anniversary, they enjoyed the evening and Jean even joined the musicians in a song. ‘I want everyone to go and see the stage version of the Glasgow Girls when it comes back to Glasgow,’ she said. Then launched into the song that the character in the musical – portraying her – sings. ‘ These are my weans now.’ These two remarkable pensioners and the seven schoolgirls are all current examples of people fighting racism.
‘That’s why we need to keep supporting Love Music Hate Racism, Rock Against Racism and find all the best ways to combat fascism,’ said Margaret Wood. ‘It is still out there and a threat to us all.’
With clocks going forward, spring is officially here. And with it is the start of the marching season – marching for justice!
When people actually see much their benefits are reduced by the iniquitous ‘bedroom’ tax, they will be shocked. Already thousands realise what the implication is for them. Some fear they’ll face eviction. Others are determined to resist to the end.
The march from Glasgow Green to George Square on Saturday 30 March 2013 showed that Easter is a time of passion. With more than 3000 taking to the streets to protest at the tax – and loudly – it indicates the strength of feeling the issue has raised.
Speaker after speaker spoke about the tax affecting lives dramatically.
But there is sure to be more drama to come as thousands more are likely to take to the streets to make their protest.
The biggest protest rally Glasgow has seen in years had more than 3000 people marching from Glasgow Green to George Square, united in their opposition to the bedroom tax.
Seasoned campaigners, families with their children and baby buggies, trade unionists, people in a wide variety of mobility carts and folk walking their dogs, took more than an hour to wend their way to the city centre. Many of them shouting: ‘Axe the tax.’
Facing the City Chambers, a series of speakers explained why their campaign was part of a wide strategy to protect the most vulnerable in the community.
Labour MP Ann McKechin, MSP Frank McAveety and Glasgow City Councillor George Redmond were among the group who marched. Arriving in George Square, Westminster MP Ann McKechin said to this website’s reporter: ‘I’m not surprised at this turnout. People are shocked by the scale of this unfair and unjust tax. The Westminster government doesn’t understand the full impact it will have.’
But Labour politicians were castigated by different speakers. Said one: ‘They might have marched near the front but it is inconsistent with what they are doing to the families they are victimising in the learning disability community in Glasgow. Glasgow City Council has these families on its hit list by closing three of the seven day centres they use.’
Another speaker put it more bluntly: ‘Glasgow City Council should be ashamed of themselves. They have influence and power. They should tell all Housing Associations in Glasgow and Glasgow Housing Association that there must be NO EVICTIONS in the city. We need to know who’s side they are on.’
The same speaker highlighted the £100 billion cost of the Trident refit and warheads for Faslane nuclear base. She urged people to support a March on Easter Monday from Glasgow to Faslane which they intended to shut down for the day. ‘All these things are connected. They say there is no money, so attack the poor. But they can spend billions on weapons which can wipe out half of humanity. If we stand together we have the power, strength and determination to stop evictions and end this bedroom tax policy.’
Alan Wyllie of the West of Scotland Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation summed it up for most of the speakers: ‘I’m an ordinary guy and don’t see this as a political fight. I ask what is right and what is wrong? I believe it is wrong that the most vulnerable people are the hardest hit. It is wrong that fuel and food costs are rising while wages and benefits are going down. It is wrong to have this tax on bedrooms when millionaires are having their taxes cut. We are all in this together and must stop evictions. I urge Labour and SNP to protect all Scots. It is your duty!’
He said he’d read all the 2010 election manifestos. ‘There was no mention of the bedroom tax. The Westminster government has no mandate for this,’ he claimed to loud applause from the crowd. ‘We didn’t ask for this. We don’t want it. But the Government is attacking the most vulnerable in our communities. Mark my words: We will unite and we will win.’
He led the way for many different groups to work together against the bedroom tax, by launching a Facebook campaign several months ago.
Speaker John McFarlane said the first round of the battle had been won by Dundee City Council declaring there would be no evictions in their city as a result of the tax. ‘Every council should do the same. MPs and MSPs are supposed to represent us but we have to ask – do they stand for us or do they stand for the Tory bankers? If they do we must remove them!’
Black Triangle speaker David Churchley said: ‘This bedroom tax is unworkable and unmanageable. It’s better for us to get off our knees and fight than not to fight at all.’ Calling for a 24 hour strike he added: ‘It is up to us to keep what has been ours for 100 years. We didn’t cause this crisis but we’re being made to pay for it.’
Daniel McGarrall from the Glasgow against ATOS campaign said that 73 people die each week after being found fit to work by ATOS. He invited listeners to join the demonstrations on the last Friday of each month outside ATOS offices and the Commonwealth Games offices because ATOS is a sponsor of the Glasgow 2014 Games.
He outlined how he and another campaigner face a court trial for campaigning. ‘We are defending the right to protest. And we will not be beaten.’
A spokesman from Govan Law Centre said that the bedroom tax was bringing misery to 100,000 people in Scotland. ‘Around 80% of those affected are disabled. It is wrong that the Government is targetting the most vulnerable people,’ he said, voicing his support to axe the tax and for no evictions.
Mary Lockhart reminded people of the Govan women who fought against the rent increases in 1919 when their menfolk were fighting in the war. ‘They fought the landlords so that their children wouldn’t have to sleep on the floor. They took a stand, got the shipyard workers on their side and said: ‘I will stand by you, if you will stand by me.’ Everyone today needs to be ready to protest and take action and stand by each other.’
As the marchers assembled at Glasgow Green, David Churchley was proudly holding the leading banner with his one good hand – the other being unusable because of a stroke. He said: ‘ I’m on the march because of this appalling, vicious vindictive bedroom tax. If you thought Thatcher’s poll tax was bad; Cameron’s is worse.’ A former IT worker, he has been unable to work since his stroke. He added: ‘My benefit will be reduced by £12 a week. I use my spare room for equipment like my treadmill so that I can do the exercises that keep me reasonably fit.’
Said worker Michael Collins with son Finn (8): ‘We work and pay our taxes so that people can get help when they need it. We don’t want our money to be given to bankers.’
Said student Jennifer Dornan: ‘We must fight to oppose the injustice of the bedroom tax and convince people to do something about it. This attack is on the most vulnerable. We should be gunning for the people in government who can afford it.’
Paul McLaughlin of Glasgow West GAP which has been providing welfare support and advice for 13 years, said: ‘We have to show our real anger and opposition to these charges. People of good conscience can’t let this happen. Everyone must stand up and be counted because individuals are being isolated and made scapegoats. We’ve got to waken people up to the need to organise.’ The advice centre is now located at Kinning Park Complex, 43 Cornwall Street, near Kinning Park underground.
Frank Doyle of Glasgow Against Atos said: ‘This is an unjust society. The bankers get off but there is an assault on the most vulnerable.’
A 23-year-old banner last used in protest against the poll tax, was dusted down and on display by Dundee Fintry fighters.
Said Albert Mitchell: ‘I’ve got a two bedroom house. My benefit of £141 will be reduced by £41 a fortnight. By the time I pay things like my gas and electricity I’m left with £10 a week to live on.’ Colleague Michael MacGregor, who brought the banner out of his cupboard, said: ‘We have the same threat of evictions and bailiffs now as we had in the days of the poll tax.’
Another marcher, called Sarah, of the West of Scotland Anti-bedroom Tax Federation said: ‘There are an awful lot of people worried about the consequences of this terrible tax. A separated couple with joint custody and where the woman receives the child benefit, will find that the man will be penalised for having a bedroom for his own child.’
Fighter Margaret Jaconelli, who was evicted from her East End property because it was in the way of Commonwealth Games development and who wouldn’t accept £30,000 compensation for her home of more than 20 years, was also on the march. ‘This bedroom tax will mean that people will be evicted – just like me. I’m still fighting for justice two years on and haven’t received one penny of compensation.’
Mum Sharon with her two-year-old, was protesting on behalf of a friend who also has a two-year-old. ‘My friend has the wee one and a 14 year old. The two children will have to share one bedroom. Their dad, who is in a new relationship, will have to move into a one bedroom place from his present two bedroom house. He’ll need to sleep on the sofa when his kids come to stay. But where is his new partner expected to sleep? Families aren’t static today and there is no thought given to that.’
Another woman in the crowd told this website’s reporter: ‘I’m not paying the bedroom tax. I’ll put the money by and hope that stops them evicting me. But I’m not paying it.’
Supporters were urged to turn out ‘in your hundreds’ at every local council chambers and Housing Association headquarters on Wednesday 10 April. ‘Give them holy hell,’ said the speaker. ‘Tell them in no uncertain terms we say ‘Axe the bedroom Tax’ and ‘NO’ to evictions.’
Anyone interested in the Southside of Glasgow, its history, traditions, fun and music will have a feast on Saturday 23 March 2013 when an all-day conference will be held by the South Glasgow Heritage and Environment Trust.
The day will include many great speakers who can tell about the Music, Mirth and Magic of the cultural life of that part of the city. Pantomime, Temperance and the Glasgow Apollo are on the list of subjects to be discussed.
All of this for £10 which includes lunch in the cosy environment of the Premier Inn, Ballater Street, Gorbals G5 from 10.30am till 4pm.
An Easter Egg hunt will be one of the many activities planned for Sunday 24 March at Kelvin Meadow. Don’t miss the fun.
Well it’s happened! The date for the Referendum is set – Thursday 18 September 2014. Glasgow City Council has entered a Social Partnership with Enable to chart the future of day centres now that it has been decided three of the seven will be closed. And spring is on its way with hosts of groups and organisations launching new programmes and events.
So everything is ok? OK?
No. Not really. With a date set, can we get on with proper DISCUSSION and considered arguments about the details instead of the shouting matches we’re witnessing. What is best for the people of Scotland is what is at stake – not the public persona of any one politician or political party.
With the die cast for closure of the day centres which are currently used by more than 500 people with complex learning disabilities – Glasgow as a city needs to decide what it is doing. Are our elected representatives really working for the benefit for all their constituents and the well being of the entire community? Or maybe they are blindly following party policy and stoking up the vested interests of organisations.
Those volunteer groups and organisations which are addressing the needs and the interests of real people and fostering a spirit of true community are still alive, thankfully!
When groups such as the South Glasgow Heritage and Environmental Trust (SGHET) can run an all -day conference on Saturday 23 March in Gorbals on the Music, mirth and magic of the Southside; when the campaigners of the Kelvin Meadow can organise an Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday 24 March with Anna Lehr reading Peter Rabbit stories too. Then something is working the way it should.
Thursday 21 March 2013
Glasgow City Council will – today – almost certainly decide to close three of the seven day centres currently used by 520 people with learning needs.
More than 300 angry people who consider the centres vital to the well-being of their families, agreed tactics to persuade the city’s Executive to reverse the expected closures of Berryknowes in Cardonald, and Summerston and Hinshaw Street in Maryhill. Some of them will be at the City Chambers to make their voices heard.
The mass meeting on Sunday elected representatives to continue pressure on the Council. An 11 point action plan was also agreed unanimously.
Dr Christopher Mason, Glasgow’s official Carers’ Champion elected by the Council, admitted his report hadn’t made much impression on the Council decision makers. He had proposed a review of the services for people with learning needs before any decision on closures. ‘There is not enough money to run seven centres. Therefore they need to shut three. But we have to ask the question: ‘After the centres are closed, will the 320 people who attend them, suddenly have got better ?’ The answer, of course, is no.’
SNP Councillor Susan Aitken for Langside Ward said that ‘constructive suggestion, after constructive suggestion’ had been ‘blocked and shouted down’ by the Labour group. ‘They have lost the moral argument and their language has become offensive. It is disgraceful. This decision (to close the centres) was made a long time ago and the administration don’t want to listen. The Labour group are in power and they’ve made it clear they’ll use that power. But their decision on Thursday has no legitimacy. Not one single Labour Councillor is present at this meeting to listen.’
Bob Doris SNP MSP who has presented two motions against the closure of the centres in the Scottish Parliament told the meeting: ‘It is unacceptable that a Glasgow Labour Council is closing these day centres. They are lying when they say they have to do this. They can’t use legislation as an excuse. Other local authorities are doing things better and when the SNP administration in Dundee got it wrong, they had the humility to admit it and start again. Glasgow’s approach is a shambles and an affront. Neither services users nor carers have been asked what they want and that is not acceptable.’
Karin Mc Sherry, a 50-year-old user of one of the centres said: ‘I love my centre. It’s where I see my friends and use the computers.’ Her sister Eileen explained how much the centre meant to her sister. She said: ‘When Karin was five, we were told she’d never learn to read or write. But our mother fought that. The centre has given her a life far beyond what had been mapped out for her. She has friends, goes to college, done drama and computing. The Labour administration does not represent constituents like us. It represents the Labour Party.’
Brian Smith, Secretary of Glasgow branch of UNISON union which helped organise the meeting in the Radisson Blu hotel, said: ‘We are shoulder to shoulder with you in opposing any closures.’
A similar message came from Ian Hood, co-ordinator of the Learning Disability Alliance for Scotland. He gave detailed figures of how spending on learning disabilities in Glasgow was much smaller proportionately than the budget for older people and even less than the rate of inflation. ‘We’re in this for the long haul,’ he said. ‘Glasgow’s action is discriminatory against people with learning disabilities.’
Glasgow City SNP Councillor, Billy McAllister, speaking from the floor of the meeting, said: ‘The people of this city need to waken up. They are being treated with total contempt.’ He recommended that families concerned in the day centre closures should make Councillors’ lives ‘misery.’ He said: ‘Go along to their surgeries. There’s usually no-one there. Talk to them for three or four hours and tell them they were voted in to represent their constituents – not their political party.’
One carer outlined the time when social workers who’d rarely visited her, arrived in force and stayed for three hours. ‘We were exhausted,’ said the carer. ‘But we are still fighting and we won’t go away quietly. We have rights and we can make demands.’
Chairman Tommy Gorman said a carer who was called ‘obstructive’ by social works’ people was actually being ‘protective’ of their family. Later he said: ‘In the short term we’re not going to change the minds of the Councillors but we can vote them out next time round.’
Councillor Matt Kerr, Executive Member for Social Care on Glasgow City Council later said: ‘The way social care is to be delivered will be completely changed by the Scottish Government’s self-directed support legislation and we have to manage that change.
“We believe that a Public Social Partnership offers the best possible way ahead as providers, service users and carers will all be involved in the design of future services.
‘We have also written to the Scottish Government asking for transitional funding to support the Public Social Partnership and to assist with the modernisation of our learning disability day services.
‘The reform of services would be phased in over a 12 month period and no-one will leave their day centre until they have a personal care plan that details exactly how they will be supported in future.’
Wednesday 20 March 2013
More than 800 primary school children danced their trainers off today at Kelvin Hall Sports Arena. To the music of the John Renton Scottish Dance Band, they enjoyed a ceilidh at Flying Scotsman pace.
For the eighth year, the Festival of Dance has given them ‘skills for life’ said the Lord Provost, Sadie Docherty, when she officially welcomed everyone. ‘Once you’ve learned these dances you’ll use them and enjoy them for the rest of your life.’
The collaboration between the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (RSCDS) and Glasgow City Council’s Education Department encourages the young folk to keep fit, keep healthy and socialise through dancing. It also allows a thread of Scottish culture to be woven, naturally, into their education.
Wheelchair dancing was demonstrated and schools, including Barmulloch Primary, successfully integrated children with special needs in the activity.
Since January, more than 26 schools have been practising The Dashing White Sergeant, Antarctica Bound, and the Round Reel of Eight among other dances. Teachers and other school staff alongside trainers from the RSCDS have been doing the coaching, often as after-school activities. Their efforts were praised by Andrea Crawford who is responsible for the City’s Primary School, Physical Education strategies. She said: ‘It is absolutely phenomenal the amount of work that’s gone into today.’ Alan Munro, Chairman of the Glasgow Branch of RSCDS, who was Master of Ceremonies, said: ‘It is really enjoyable seeing so many children having fun. We are really looking forward to having the continued support of Glasgow City Council for this dance Festival. ‘
As Moira Sweeney of Avenue End Primary in Ruchazie, said: ‘The children meet new people. It boosts their self-esteem and they just love to dance. It is a real privilege to be a part of this.’
Commented one 10-year-old: ‘This is hard work but it’s great fun.’