European refugee numbers of Biblical proportions

February 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The unregistered mass of refugees at Calais is ‘of Biblical proportions,’ said Michael Neuman, Director of Studies at Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) speaking in Glasgow tonight.  He was supported by John Wilkes, Chief Executive of the Scottish Refugee Council .

From left: Artist Alice Myers who is publishing a book of photographs on the Jungle at Calais, John Wilkes, Michael Neuman, Fuad Alakbarov, Professor Alison Phipps, Fayrouz Kraish

From left: Artist Alice Myers who is publishing a book of photographs on the Jungle at Calais, John Wilkes, Michael Neuman, Fuad Alakbarov, Professor Alison Phipps, Fayrouz Kraish

Michael Neuman commended the humanitarian work being done, ‘mainly by volunteers.’ But admitted it took MSF a long time to realise the French Government was planning to do nothing about upwards of 6000 people gathered in Calais in the ‘new Jungle’  since March 2015.

He said the French in Calais were ‘worse than the Russians in Chechenya’ in the way they treated people. Part of the problem was the absence of any legal channel to Europe open to any of the refugees or migrants.  With more than 4 million people having fled from Syria, almost 8 million displaced within Syria and an estimated 12 million needing humanitarian aid in that country, he said the vast majority of people in Calais were refugees.  But because of the lack of any system of registration, people fell into a ‘refugee’ or ‘migrant’ trap.

‘This has been an uncomfortable experience and a deeply learning one for us at MSF,’ he said.  He said MSF aimed to create a new camp. ‘People cannot continue to live in the mud. And those who have family in different countries across Europe don’t want to stay in Calais. They want to join their families.’

John Wilkes, agreed the refugee crisis in Europe was of ‘Biblical proportions.’  But pointed out the number of refugees  was only  2% of the population of Europe.  He said the lack of a co-ordinated response and countries not stepping up to the mark to do anything had exacerbated the situation.  When asked about the Human Rights of children in particular, he said there was an international framework of legal commitments but Governments need to be challenged to implement them.

Fuad Alakbarov, a political activist who also addressed the packed meeting, said: ‘This is a crisis for humanity. It saddens me to see what is happening in Calais. It is an international disgrace.’ He and volunteers from Scotland Against Racism and the Scottish Campaign to Welcome Refugees, took aid to the camp at Calais. Among the many people they talked to was a 12 year old boy who had lost both parents crossing the Mediterranean. ‘He didn’t know what country he was in and didn’t know where to go.’

Fayrouz Kraish was one of the team who visited last year. ‘People are dying because the borders are closed,’ she said.  A nine year old orphan whom she met on that visit has close relatives in the UK but he has not yet been granted leave to join them. ‘I plan to go out again soon to see what is happening to him,’ she told this website afterwards.

The information evening was organised by the Glasgow Centre for International Development  (GCID) and the Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network (GRAMNet) Professor John Briggs, Clerk of Senate at the University of Glasgow and Vice Principal, is convenor of GCID and Professor Alison Phipps, Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies at the University is Convenor of GRAMNet.  They introduced the speakers and hosted the event in the Sir Charles Wilson lecture theatre.

Syrian voices heard thanks to UNITING NATIONS group

December 29, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Thursday 17 December 2015

The UNIS group meet MSPs at Holyrood on 17 December 2015.

The UNIS group meet MSPs at Holyrood on 17 December 2015.

Syrian refugees raised their voices in the Scottish Parliament today and got a fast reply from the First Minister.  Within a couple of hours of two speakers requesting to meet First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to discuss issues they were concerned about, she said she’d be willing to hear them early in the new year.

More than 52 asylum seekers, refugees and local supporters of the group Uniting Nations in Scotland (UNIS), travelled from Glasgow to the presentation arranged by MSP Sandra White (Glasgow Kelvin).

MSP Sandra White (SNP) of Glasgow Kelvin and Chief Inspector Alastair Muir listen intently to the Syrian speakers. They both spoke at the event.

MSP Sandra White (SNP) of Glasgow Kelvin and Chief Inspector Alastair Muir listen intently to the Syrian speakers. They both spoke at the event.

UNIS is a charity organisation working closely with Police Scotland, BEMIS the ethnic minorities umbrella body, the British Red Cross, Findlay Memorial Church, Crossing Borders, Maryhill Integration Network, the International Women’s Group and the Inner Circle Men’s Group.

Two of the UNIS members gave speeches in the Scottish Parliament committee room.  Feras Alzoubi – a father of three, who came with his family through the United Nations Vulnerable Person Relocation Scheme and Marwa Daher a 16 year old youth member of UNIS who arrived under the same scheme.  Both praised the UK  Government and the UN for helping them to be brought to safety. They also thanked the Scottish Government and local authorities for their warm welcome and the help they’d received from UNIS. But each touched on issues they felt needed more attention.

Said school girl Marwa Daher in excellent English: ‘We didn’t choose to leave Syria. But we had to. Danger had become our shadow.’ She was unable to attend school in Syria because of the war which claimed the life of her 15-year-old brother. She said she was quite happy in school in Scotland.  But added: ‘I wish even more could be done for people like us to support us in our education. We still feel confused about the education system and other issues.’  She then asked to meet the First Minister to ‘share our experiences in order to resolve them and to make them better for the other children who are coming to the country.’

Electing to speak in Arabic, Feras Alzoubi said he was ‘re-born’ on the day he came to Glasgow.

Speaker Feras Alzoubi told his story and asked for improvements to the system. Seated is Mohamed Souidi who chaired the event and on the left is Mrs Ahlam Souidi who is the founder of UNIS.

Speaker Feras Alzoubi told his story and asked for improvements to the system. Seated is Mohamed Souidi who chaired the event and on the left is Mrs Ahlam Souidi who is the founder of UNIS and interpreted Mr Alzoubi’s speech from Arabic into English.

After he and his family were left for dead in their home after hours of shooting, he escaped. ‘But my mother and brothers, unfortunately, are not protected by the UN Vulnerable Persons Scheme. They were left behind.’ He asked, therefore, for parents and other family members to be offered protection under the UN Scheme.

He was traumatised by his experience of being shot at and by the subsequent journey but – four months after arriving in Scotland – he is still waiting to see a consultant about his bullet wound injuries.

He added: ‘We know now that our children have a future here and we will contribute to building the economy of Scotland, but we ask the Scottish Government to recognise we Syrian refugees are people with a lot of experience and many skills. A programme to help us get into our previous types of work would be useful.’

Both speakers mentioned how helpful it had been to attend UNIS events to learn about Scottish culture, share their own culture and be informed by Police Scotland about the law in Scotland as they were anxious to stay on the right side of it.

UNIS leader and founder Mrs Ahlam Souidi launched a booklet ‘Celebrating Together’ containing the stories of many of the refugees who had been involved with UNIS and photographs of the social events held in conjunction with Police Scotland and other partners.

Mrs Ahlam Souidi launches the book 'Celebrating Together.'

Mrs Ahlam Souidi launches the book ‘Celebrating Together.’

On her ‘to do’ list for the organisation are: setting up a Women’s Group which will address various issues including domestic violence; establishing training so that Syrian skills can be used effectively in Scotland; setting up a youth group.

Chief Inspector Alastair Muir of Police Scotland said there were many success stories to celebrate while police worked with asylum seekers and refugees. ‘But it takes time to integrate and then to trust,’ he said. ‘Police here don’t operate in the way police in other countries do.  We don’t ‘do’ guns, for a start. We like to stress that New Scots are protected here. But it takes time to build relationships and for our message to get across that Police here will not tolerate intolerance – whether race, religion or domestic violence.’

The event at the Scottish Parliament was ably chaired by Mohamed Souidi  who came to the UK at the age of one and speaks fluent Arabic, English and French. P1090255 It was drawn to a close by Mr Alzoubi’s six year old son, Hamza, singing a Syrian song.

 

 

Celtic Connections 2016 gets off on the right note

October 20, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The amazing Celtic Connections 2016 programme was announced today (Tuesday 20 October) by Artistic Director, Donald Shaw.

Sounding the right note for Celtic Connections 2016 - The Granny Green Trio, Rachel Brown, tuba; Lizy Stirrat, accordion; Holly Boddice, trumpet;

Sounding the right note for Celtic Connections 2016 – The Granny Green Trio, Rachel Brown, tuba; Lizy Stirrat, accordion; Holly Boddice, trumpet. Photograph by Ian Watson.

From Thursday 14  to Sunday 31 January,  at least 2,500 musicians from around the world will gather in Glasgow for 18 days of concerts, ceilidhs, talks, art exhibitions, workshops, free events, late night sessions and a host of special one-off musical collaborations.

Stars of world, folk and roots music, who will perform on 26 stages at venues across the city, include Rickie Lee Jones, The Chieftains, Lau, The Unthanks, Béla Fleck, Moving Hearts, Robert Plant, Lucinda Williams, Admiral Fallow, Toumani Diabaté, Karine Polwart, Boys of the Lough, and Larry Carlton.

Artists from Inner Mongolia to Armagh, Senegal to Italy, and Brittany to the Outer Hebrides and Southern Manitoba are scheduled to perform at this hotbed of musical talent from cultures and countries from across the globe.

The Opening Concert will celebrate 50 years of the Traditional Music & Song Association of Scotland with musical director Siobhan Miller at the helm.

Family ties will be highlighted by The Wainwright Sisters, and They Might be Giants performing a special matinee performance for children.

Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson and John Grant are among the stars of New Americana who will take to the stage during the festival.

Pilgrimage will be explored through a series of performances, including the reimagining of Joni Mitchell’s 1976 album Hejira – which explores themes of the constant journey we are all on in life – by James Robertson.  While Drift is inspired by the true story of Betty Mouat, a crofter from Shetland, who spent eight days drifting alone in the North Sea.

Matthew Welch’s Blarvuster, the Aidan O’Rourke Trio and Soumik Datta & Bernhard Schimpelsberger: Circle of Sound, are among those who will step into the spotlight at a new venue the Drygate Brewery. This represents a new strand for Celtic Connections called – The Shape of Folk to Come – which looks at future music developments.

A series of major anniversaries will be marked. Le Grand Anniversaire, celebrates Aly Bain at 70. He’ll be joined by his long standing cohort Phil Cunningham to celebrate 30 years of performing together.

Bwani Junction will be performing Graceland,  30 years after Paul Simon’s classic album was released. Four of the original members of the recording will be performing on this very special occasion.

A series of concerts – In the Tradition – will celebrate piping and Gaelic music. The Auld Alliance between Scotland and France will feature in Showcase Scotland as the festival celebrates France as the partner country for 2016 and the 10th anniversary of the twinning of Glasgow and Marseille.

Showcase Scotland is delegate based and hosted in the city of Glasgow over four days during Celtic Connections.  Musical directors and programmers of leading festivals and venues from around the world attend the event where around 60 songwriters, bands and musicians are showcased. A Trade Fair is held to provide an additional platform for promoters to meet with artists and their representatives to discuss booking possibilities.

At the core of the festival is the award winning Education Programme, which sees thousands of children attend free morning concerts, experiencing live music from Scotland and further afield. Up to 11,400 children will take part in Celtic Connections Education Programme for schools which includes five free morning concerts.

In addition there will be more than 60 public workshops for all ages and abilities from dawn until dusk over each of the three weekends.  Highlights include the Ukulele School hosted by Finlay Allison and The Fiddle Village hosted by Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas.

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra also make a welcome return.

The final day of Celtic Connections – Sunday 31 January – includes a show at the Old Fruitmarket in aid of the Bert Jansch Foundation, whose charitable aim is to support the next generation of acoustic musicians.  Robert Plant, Bernard Butler, Archie Fisher, and Jacqui McShee will perform in Bert Inspired: A Concert for Bert Jansch.

Donald Shaw, Artistic Director of Celtic Connections, said: “Celtic Connections is rooted in a love of traditional, folk and world music. Since our earliest days the passion, the skill, and the excitement that you find at a live concert at Celtic Connections has inspired us to put together the programme each year. For 2016, we are bringing superstars and cult heroes, new talent, and artists who were legends long before the first Celtic Connections was staged.

“We have a lot of amazing concerts to pack into 18 days, so join us when Celtic Connections returns next January.”

Councillor Archie Graham, Chair of Glasgow Life, said: “Glasgow is a welcoming city which is proud of its heritage and embraces diversity. Each January we host a festival which in many ways mirrors our home city. The expertise and skill that drives Celtic Connections also shines through in an education programme that benefits thousands of children across Glasgow and Scotland. Invaluable opportunities enrich lives and offer chances to learn, to enjoy and to be part of the always unique, always brilliant musical happening which is Celtic Connections.”

Ian Smith, Portfolio Manager for Music, Creative Scotland, said: “Celtic Connections is one of the world’s great music festivals and to have established such a global presence in a comparatively short time underlines its place as one of Scotland’s creative treasures.”

 

 

 

 

Red Road rubble now latest tourist attraction

October 15, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The remains of the six tower blocks on Red Road which were blown down on Sunday are now attracting tourists. Nicknamed – the Leaning Towers of Petershill – the two fragments of buildings still standing with ten or more floors intact, are being widely photographed.

Holding up the Leaning Tower of Petershill. Pic by Dr Helen Murray and Catriona Fraser.

Holding up the Leaning Tower of Petershill.
Pic by Dr Helen Murray and Catriona Fraser.

Dr Helen Murray and her friend Catriona Fraser came from Aberdeen specially to see the mounds of rubble. From Glasgow originally, Helen said: ‘You knew you were home when you saw the Red Road flats on the horizon. My mother has asked me to bring her here to see the site even although she’s never been on this side of the city.’

The  two friends have toured the country taking fun shots of different places and people – including tennis star Andy Murray.

Local residents in the Red Road exclusion area were – mostly – back to normal. Said Margaret Finlay, a family support worker at the Tron St Mary Church of Scotland on Red Road: ‘It was back to work on Monday. There wasn’t a lot of inconvenience.’ The Church’s community allotments had been covered with black tarpaulins to protect the vegetables and other plants from the dust. And the  Sunday service had been held in Springburn Church along with that congregation.

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Black covers (lying below the cross) protected the Tron St Mary’s community gardens. The freshly painted building will celebrate 50 years of service from Saturday 17 October.

Bonnybroom Nursery which was possibly the closest building to the demolition site, was open on Monday as usual. Glasgow City Council was asked by the head teacher to put out a tweet to that effect.

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Bonnybroom Nursery School was open as usual on Monday.

The senior citizens’ Alive and Kicking building on Red Road and the Family Centre next door were all still being cleaned up today (Thursday 15 October)  before expecting to re-open soon.

Contractor Safedem is using high-reach machinery to dismantle 123 Petershill Drive. The work will involve weakening the steel frame enough to enable it to be brought down to ground level under controlled conditions. A safe exclusion zone within the site has been set up so that parts of the structure can be dismantled safely. The exclusion zone also includes a buffer zone for debris.

A GHA spokesman said: ‘Although two of the blocks did not fall exactly as predicted on Sunday, all blocks are now at a height that the demolition can be completed as planned. The contractor is now dismantling the remaining floors of the blocks. This work will be carried out under strict health and safety conditions and with minimum disruption to residents.’

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Mechanical demolition has begun on the remaining structures.

While reports from various residents alluded to burst water pipes, broken locks, washing machines stopping working, no one spoken to had actually experienced any back lash from the major blow-down on Sunday.

The six blocks were built in the late 1960s. Designed by architect Sam Bunton, they cost £6 million.  The cost of demolition has not been revealed by Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) which is part of the Wheatley Group and owns the iconic properties.

 

FAIR HAND OVER CHEQUE

September 24, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Govan Fair cheque is handed over by Linda Yates to Calvin Lynch who received it on behalf of Macmillan Cancer Care, supervised by Govan Fair Association vice chair, Sandy Black.

Govan Fair cheque is handed over by Linda Yates to Calvin Lynch who received it on behalf of Macmillan Cancer Care, supervised by  Govan Fair Association Vice Chair Sandy Black.

 

The Govan Fair Association recently handed over a cheque for £200  to ‘We are Macmillan Cancer Support’ to help people living with cancer.

Though wheelchair bound, Linda Yates was the chief fund raiser for the Govan Fair Association.  ‘I just did what I could to help,’ she said. This included sitting outside with a bucket on Govan Fair Day in June 2015 receiving money given by the crowd. On behalf of Macmillan Cancer Support, modern apprentice Calvin Lynch (17) was happy to receive the cheque for the formal ceremony in the Pearce Institute café in Govan which is run by Macmillan Cancer Support.  Vice Chair Sandy Black, wearing the Govan Fair chain of office, officially represented the Association. He said:  ‘The money given to Macmillan Cancer Support continues an ancient tradition of the Fair Association – to distribute any surplus from the Fair to those in need locally.’

A spokeswoman for the Macmillan support fundraising team which works upstairs in the Pearce Institute, said the money would be added to what the team raises for Macmillan work.

Later that day, Linda Yates was honoured by the Association – which has a tradition going back more than 300 years – and made a Life Member as was local Church of Scotland minister Moyna McGlynn.  Said Chairman Lord James Stringfellow: ‘They have been given Life Membership out of gratitude for the support each has given the Govan Fair and the Govan Fair Association over the years.’

The Association has also ratified its 21st century working model as a company limited by guarantee with Charitable Status. Said Mr Stringfellow: ‘The whole process was managed by OSCR (the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator) who made sure all the legalities and constitutional procedures have been adhered to.  We are now on a modern footing and the Govan Fair is protected for the people of Govan for the next 300 years. The current committee are the custodians of huge tradition and we take that role very seriously.’

Later that day, the Govan Fair Association re-elected their committee at a re-called annual general meeting. Solicitor John Flanagan reassured everyone that the legalities of becoming a company limited by guarantee with Charitable Status had been done correctly. He explained that this was to protect the people taking the responsibilities of the Association and was a normal process today. Chairman Lord James Stringfellow also moved an amendment to the standing orders to emphasis that the Govan Fair belongs to the people of Govan and those who are the custodians of the Association and formal supporters of it, are committed to that objective.

UNMISSABLE NINE DAYS OF FUN AT MERCHANT CITY FESTIVAL

July 24, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Happy people, happy souls and happy feet – that’s a smidgen of what the 2015 Merchant City Festival aims to provide starting on Saturday July 25 until Sunday August 2.

Happy feet of Councillor Gordon Matheson and brothers  Lewis (7)  Evan (4) and Finn (4) promote the film and the Merchant City Festival which starts Saturday 25 July 2015. Photograph by Ian Watson

Happy feet of Councillor Gordon Matheson and brothers Lewis (7) Evan (4) and Finn (4) promote the film and the Merchant City Festival which starts Saturday 25 July 2015.
Photograph by Ian Watson

The photograph by Ian Watson shows Councillor Gordon Matheson with brothers Lewis (7), Evan (4) and Finn Leggate (4) dressed as penguins promoting the film “Happy Feet”, which will be shown during The Merchant City Festival in that quarter of Glasgow.

There will be outdoor performances, live music, fashion and design, comedy, dance, family events, film, visual arts, markets and outstanding produce and dishes as part of Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink – something for everyone.

It will showcase ‘Fragile’ an amazing new work by Motionhouse, Conflux, The Merchant City Festival and Gulbenkian, University of Kent which will have performers interacting with three JCBs on Saturday the 25and Sunday the 26 of July.

Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of the Merchant City Festival Committee said: ‘Where else can you find dancing JCB’s, the finest food and drink, street entertainment, music and laughter as part of hundreds of live events and performances?  The Merchant City Festival is showcasing everything Glasgow has to offer as welcoming and generous hosts over the next nine days and is unmissable for local people and visitors alike.’

Discover more at www.merchantcityfestival.com  or see  Facebook /MerchantCityFestival  or  Twitter @merchcityfest

Boxer distributes Eid gifts to new hospital’s young patients

July 7, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Champion boxer Amir Khan distributed Eid toys to young patients in the recently opened Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow today (Tuesday 7 July 205). ‘An amazing hospital and staff,’ tweeted the current Silver Welterweight title holder later.

Amir Khan with Yorkhill Children's Charity volunteer Taylor Drummond.   Pic by  STUART WALLACE

Amir Khan with Yorkhill Children’s Charity volunteer Taylor Drummond.
Pic by STUART WALLACE

Channelled through the charity Colours of Islam, the gifts celebrate Eid, the religious holiday Muslims observe at the end of Ramadan, the fasting month when it is customary to give to charity and to support good causes.

Kirsten Sinclair, Director of Fundraising at Yorkhill Children’s Charity said: ‘We have a longstanding relationship with Colours of Islam and would like to thank them for the smiles and laughter they bring to our young patients at Eid every year.’

Refana Saleem from Colours of Islam said: ‘We are thrilled to have worked in association with the Amir Khan Foundation in visiting the newly opened hospital. And we are delighted the children can enjoy their new toys. We would also like to thank all our dedicated supporters, sponsors and volunteers for all their work over the years.’

GLASGOW, UK. 07/07/2015 Amir Khan (2 time world welter weight boxing champion) in association with Colours of Islam & Yorkhill Children's Charity visits the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow today to present Eid gifts to the children on Ward 3A. Picture shows Amir Khan with Jotham Godfrey (5, from East Kilbride).                COPYRIGHT © STUART WALLACE 2015 visit my website: www.stuartwallacepictures.com

Amir with  five-year-old Jotham Godfrey and one of the many Eid gifts.                                    Pic by STUART WALLACE

On a tour of the UK during Ramadan, Amir was guest at a charity dinner last night in Glasgow which raised funds for good causes including the Amir Khan Foundation. He tweeted: ‘Amazing ifthar dinner in Glasgow. So much love and generosity shown by the Scottish people for the AK Foundation.’

Twice world champion, Amir has fought at lightweight, light welterweight, and welterweight. He is the youngest British Olympic boxing medallist, having won silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics, aged 17.

The Yorkhill Children’s Charity has funded more than £5m in equipment and service delivery at the new hospital including a £1m interactive play area which is the first of its kind in Europe.

Services transferred from the old Yorkhill Hospital to the Royal Hospital for Children at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow last month.

Funeral for Kirkcaldy man who died in local police custody

June 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The funeral of Sheku Bayoh – the black, Kirkcaldy, man who died in Scottish Police custody on Sunday 3 May – will take place on Sunday 7 June in Kirkcaldy.

His family invite those who knew him and those who support their search for justice for him, to the funeral. The funeral procession will start at 12 noon from Hayfield Road, Kirkcaldy where he  died. This is the street where an alleged incident of a man brandishing a machete brought nine police officers to the scene. From there the procession will march to Kirkcaldy Police Office and then to the local Mosque for prayers and tributes. Sheku will be laid to rest in Dysart Muslim cemetery.

At a funeral reception afterwards well-wishers will be allowed to give their tributes and share their good memories of Sheku who was 31 and had lived in Kirkcaldy since he was 17. He was born in Sierra Leone, moved to London aged 11 then went to Kirkcaldy to join his sister who lives there and works as a nurse.

His family invite friends to the funeral and the reception as they wish support on the day and for their campaign to seek the truth of what actually happened and fight for justice of Sheku.  Ade Johnson, Sheku’s brother-in-law is the contact point for further information: shekubayohrip@gmail.com

Sheku was working for British Gas and training to be an engineer. He and his partner have two sons, Tyler aged 3 and Isaac aged 4 months.

A family statement said: ‘Sheku Bayoh came into contact with Police Scotland officers from Kirkcaldy Police Station on Sunday 3 May 2015. He did not leave police custody alive. The family wants to know the truth of what happened and are appealing to members of the public to come forward to tell them what they saw at Hayfield Road, Kirkcaldy. Sheku was only 31 years old when he was suddenly and cruelly taken from us. We are all devastated and still in shock. Our loss is great.’

 

 

 

LIFE AFTER DEFEAT

May 25, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

One week on from losing his seat as MP for Glasgow South, Tom Harris admits he’s not used to the idea yet.  ‘My wife, Carolyn, worked for me so it means she’s redundant as well,’ he said. However he – and all the other MPs who are out of a job – have two months to wind up their offices and enable paid staff to move on.

Labour Party's Tom Harris who lost his seat for Glasgow South at the General Election on 7 May 2015

Labour Party’s Tom Harris who lost his seat for Glasgow South at the General Election on 7 May 2015

‘I stopped getting paid on 8 May,’ says Tom, in a matter of fact way.  ‘But I’m not panicking at the moment.  ‘I’ve got a lot of time on my hands. An alert for my regular surgery came up on my phone and I just deleted it. That was a relief.’ He said that the four constituency surgeries each month were never well attended. ‘Most people phoned or emailed me with their problem.’

However, he still gets up early. ‘Our two sons are at primary school and I have to take them there, so that’s a good routine. But I want a new job.’  The family was prepared in advance for defeat and everyone has been ‘nicely supportive,’ said Tom. ‘It wasn’t a shock. Everyone is quite relaxed about it.’

When he goes to London soon to sort out things like the lease on his flat and office, he expects to meet up with some people who may have job offers. ‘Writing or something along those lines,’ speculated the former journalist and public relations professional.

Revising his CV, he commented: ‘It is 16 years since I looked at my CV, so that’s instructive!’ Now he reckons he can add on skills he learned as an MP and Government Under Secretary of State for Transport under Tony Blair, in the Department of Transport under Gordon Brown and as Shadow Environment Minister under Ed Miliband.

It’s early yet, but he’s looking again at the novel he’s been writing. ‘I don’t plan to be a sad act and put all my hopes into writing a best seller,’ he said in his laconic way. But he has had ‘Why I’m Right and Everyone Else is Wrong,’ published. This collection from his popular blog ‘And Another Thing,’ was an easy read of comments along the political way interspersed with thoughts on a wide variety of other, less serious, issues.

At his veledictory constituency Labour Party meeting he told his colleagues he didn’t want to get involved with public debate on the future of the Scottish Labour Party. ‘I’ve a lot of respect for Miliband. I think he would have made a far better Prime Minister than people gave him credit for.  In Scotland, the Labour Party situation could hardly get worse. But I support Jim Murphy. It is difficult to see if there can be recovery. It will certainly take some time to work out. Whatever happens I am for the UK or nothing. I’m not for a Scottish Labour Party.’

Commenting that everything was ‘in a state of flux’ he added: ‘I’ve no truck with nationalism. I don’t think the nationalist route is the way to save Labour.’

Allowing others to debate and dissect the dogma dilemmas, Tom has taken time to catch up on reading, watching ‘Game of Thrones’ and spending time with his family and walking his dog.

He added: ‘I went to the Emirates (where the count was held) early when I’d been alerted to the fact that I was going to lose. To be honest, at that point, it was like a weight had been lifted off me.’

 

 

 

 

Under fives have fun in city’s museums

April 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Glasgow Museums has challenged all visitors under the age of FIVE to complete 25 tasks by visiting all nine museums in the city and discovering fun things to see and do in each place before they reach their fifth birthday.

Four year old Cameron Foran has started collecting his 25 stickers of things to do in Glasgow's museums.

Four year old Cameron Foran has started collecting his 25 stickers of things to do in Glasgow’s museums.  Photograph by Ian Watson.

 

 

Designed especially to entertain and inspire the under fives, the hunt for the fun is led by a furry friend called Museum Mouse.  In a free booklet which can be picked up in all of the museums, the mousie character describes what can be enjoyed where.

Youngsters can hunt for a dragon at the Burrell, imagine they are inside a whale at GoMA or dress up as characters from Sleeping Beauty at Kelvingrove Museum.  They can count the many different animals carved on the Doulton Fountain outside the People’s Palace, or copy the funny expressions on the heads in St Nicholas Garden outside Provand’s Lordship.  At the Riverside Museum, children can show off their firefighting skills with an interactive fire engine game.  St Mungo’s has a scarier version of eye spy with its huge window overlooking the Necropolis. And Scotland Street School offers school uniforms, classroom re-enactments and playground games from past times.

At Glasgow Museums Resource Centre – the only venue requiring pre-booked tours or workshops – the young discoverers can use hat, binoculars and torch to search for Museum Mouse’s trail.

Local youngsters Cameron, Molly and Eva (pictured below) completed all three challenges at the People’s Palace before proudly collecting their stickers at the Enquiry Desk.

Cameron Foran (4) ; Molly Rae (4) ; Ava Hamilton (4) have fun at "The Steamie" in the People's Palace Museum.

Cameron Foran (4) ; Molly Rae (4); Ava Hamilton (4) have fun at “The Steamie” in the People’s Palace.         Photograph by Ian Watson.

Chair of Glasgow Life, Councillor Archie Graham, said more than 3 million people attended the city’s museums last year.  ‘Our museums can open up a whole new world to even the youngest of visitors.  If parents can spare a little time to help the under fives enjoy the many adventures detailed in this new booklet, they could give their child a lifelong love of exploring, investigating and enjoying arts and culture.  I think that is a truly wonderful gift to give the next generation.’

More information on museum opening times, transport options etc at: www.glasgowmuseums.com

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