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.
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.’
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)
SUNDAY 14 April 2013
Two Southside schools were recently awarded funds from the ‘Awards for All’ Lottery small grants scheme.
St Constantine’s Primary School and Nursery Class on Drumoyne Road received £9,974 and Penilee Nursery School on Inkerman Road received £10,000.
St Constantine’s plans to make people and communities healthier by installing ‘Trim Trail’ adventure playground equipment and generally improving the school grounds.
Penilee Nursery will create an outdoor learning and play space for all pupils by installing planters, benches, an outdoor hexagonal shelter and active play equipment such as a ‘tunnel challenge’, a log wall, a sloping balance beam and new artificial grass. This plan meets the Awards for All criteria of ‘making people and communities healthier and providing better and more sustainable services and environments.’
Local MP Ian Davidson congratulated the schools and said: ‘Awards for All measures these grants on public benefit criteria. I congratulate the Depute Head Teacher of St Constantine’s, Miss Deirdre Connolly and Team Leader at Penilee Nursery, Mrs Carol-Anne McKay, as well as all staff from both schools, for their outstanding work in preparing a successful case for these grants.’
Awards for All is the National Lottery’s small grants scheme. It awarded grants totalling £368,594 to 57 groups across Scotland in April.
An Awards for All spokesperson, said: ‘Awards for All proves that the smallest amounts of funding can often make the biggest difference to people’s lives. Whether the money is spent to help bring back life to a high street or to be used to re-open a much needed community service; it’s great to see so many small groups coming forward with the aim of making a difference to their local community.’
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.
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.’
An Easter Egg hunt will be one of the many activities planned for Sunday 24 March at Kelvin Meadow. Don’t miss the fun.
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.’
Thursday 14 March 2013
Lord Provost Sadie Docherty swapped her chain of office for a school tie today when she returned to her old secondary school, St Margaret Mary’s, in Castlemilk. Her visit was part of the school’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
Suitably dress to meet the school’s strict uniform code, the Lord Provost was presented with a tie by Head Teacher Brian Brady. She then sat in on classes in each year covering geography, English and biology. At lunch time she joined staff and then continued her day with time in an art class and at a drama session.
Councillor for the local Linn Ward since 2007, the Lord Provost said at the end of the day: ‘I was terrified to come here in case I got detention or was asked to draw something! But what the day has shown me is how much education has changed since I last sat in a classroom. Geography in particular, was interesting because we used to refer to books and encyclopedia for information but everyone just Googles now to do the research.’ She added: ‘I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my day and I’ll be back!’
Head girl, Katelyn Roberts along with deputy head boy James Forrester were her escorts for the day. Said Katelyn: ‘It was a really good experience and exciting. The Lord Provost wanted to experience what school is like. It wasn’t just a polite visit to mark our 50th anniversary. By the end of the day she’s spoken to almost everyone in the school. She is a great role model for me. I’m from Castlemilk and so is she. We’ve both attended this school and she’s made it to the top as a politician. If she can do it anyone can.’
Said Head Teacher Brian Brady: ‘Many politicians ask to visit us and we’re delighted the Lord Provost has spent so much time here. She has seen for herself how today’s educational approach is different form the ‘chalk and talk’ she remembers. We know this is not just a cursory visit and look forward to seeing her again.’
He also appealed for information to ‘fill a lot of gaps’ in the school’s history. ‘We don’t know which primary schools people came from at the beginning of St Margaret Mary’s, for instance. We have no archives and would like to know where all the pupils came from.’ Many former members of staff – including four former Head Teachers and lots of former pupils – planned to attend one of the anniversary events where a video made by present day students will be shown to illustrate school life today. The school has built up a very supportive relationship with Caledonian University, in particular, and most recent results show that one in four of St Margaret Mary’s final year students now go to University.
A thanksgiving mass is scheduled for Friday 15 March with Archbishop Tartaglia. Other events are programmed throughout the rest of this year.
Anyone with information on the early days or who’d like more information on 50th anniversary events, should contact the Jubilee committee by email at : firstname.lastname@example.org