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’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.’
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.
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.’
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.’
A new coalition is being formed this weekend in Scotland to fight Westminster cuts. The launch conference of Unite the Resistance in Scotland (URS) will be held on Saturday 9 March in Renfield St Stephen’s Church at 260 Bath Street, Glasgow G2 4JP from 12noon till 5pm. Registration is free but donations requested from those who can afford it. The event starts at 11.30am and runs till 5pm. See www. facebook.com/events/429398707130759/?fref=ts).
Trade union leaders, trade union activists, leading disability rights groups and anti-poverty campaigners will set out their strategy.
Said a spokesperson: ‘The ConDem government’s austerity spending cuts continue and from April the Tories plan to make it even easier to sack workers. Also, millions of people, both in and out of work, face savage welfare and housing benefit cuts. As a result of the so-called bedroom tax, 600,000 people with “too many” rooms in their home will lose money. Unite the Resistance believes an urgent co-ordinated response from our trade unions is required. In particular we need to debate and discuss how we can defeat the bedroom tax and turn words of a general strike into action.’