Trained midwives follow from the birth of a nation

April 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Professor Barbara Parfitt (centre) with four of her 178 Bangladeshi 'daughters.'

Professor Barbara Parfitt (centre) with four of her 178 Bangladeshi ‘daughters’ who are continuing their B.Sc Nursing Studies at Glasgow Caledonian University. The nurses are from left:  Popi Rani Bhowmik, Royeya Akter Bristy, Rafiqun Nesa, Satu Mondal.

A woman with ‘178 daughters’ was an honoured guest at the Bangladesh Independence Celebration in Glasgow on Sunday 30 March.

Professor Barbara Parfitt who set up and was first Principal of the Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing told the happy, national, gathering: ‘I had four wonderful years in Bangladesh. Now I feel I have 178 daughters – the students who have worked so hard and graduated from the College.  They will help reduce child mortality and maternal mortality.’

She was accompanied by four of the College’s graduates who are studying, now, for their B.Sc in Nursing Studies at Glasgow Caledonian University.  (see photograph)

Aged 22, Popi Bhowmik was one of the four at the celebration evening.  She told this website: ‘After three years of study I know I am a totally responsible person. I have the patient’s life in my hand. They depend on me. I am very proud to be a nurse.’ She admits she was scared delivering her first baby at 3am with no doctor around. ‘But the mother was happy and the baby boy was healthy so I was happy.’ Popi’s dream it to ‘learn more’ and ‘reach the top of nursing.’

The University, in partnership with the Grameen Healthcare Trust, established the College of Nursing in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, in 2010.

Led by Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Laureate and Chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University, the Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing’s aim is to establish a nationally and internationally recognised institution for nursing and midwifery education in Bangladesh.  Professor Parfitt was Professor and Dean of the School of Nursing and Midwifery and Community Health at Glasgow Caledonian University from 1995 till 2007 when she was appointed Director of the Caledonian Centre for Global Health. In that year she was also awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Honours List for services to international health development. She set up the College from scratch and became first Principal.

Two groups of young women have now graduated. ‘They are girls from poor backgrounds who are daughters of Grameen Bank borrowers,’ explained Professor Parfitt. ‘They borrow from the Bank and study for three years. Every one of the first group had offers of jobs before they finished their degree. They will pay back their loan over an agreed period as they earn. Without this education and training they would have married young, had children and continued in the cycle of poverty. But now they are able to break that cycle not only for themselves but also for the country while improving the health of other women and children.’

The 43rd Independence celebration showed a moving account of the fierce war in 1971 with what is now Pakistan. An estimated 3 million people died before Independence was declared. Speaker Dr Zasheem Ahmed, who is an Economist and Endowed Professor at Caledonian University, spoke eloquently of ‘my people who sacrificed their lives so that we could live in peace. We must honour them.’

He said he was proud of what Bangladesh had achieved since Independence. ‘We see economic growth thanks to things like the Grameen Bank – founded by Bangladeshi national, Professor Yunus and recognised world wide -  and the College of Nursing.’

Economist Dr Zasheem Ahmed and Bailie  Phil Greene

Economist Dr Zasheem Ahmed and Bailie Phil Greene

Bailie Phil Greene from Glasgow City Council, extended greetings on behalf of the City’s Lord Provost.  He reflected on his visit by ship to what was East and West Pakistan before Bangladesh’s Independence. ‘It took three weeks to sail from West to East. I couldn’t understand how that was supposed to be the same country, being so far apart.’ As an SNP Councillor, he said he hoped to be able to invite everyone to a celebration of Scottish Independence after September.

The cultural programme for the evening had been organised by Dr Alvis Atique, who has recently gained her PhD in Civil Engineering from Strathclyde University while raising two young children.  She sang and played the harmonium, others danced and sang and presented a fashion show. Children also performed to the delight of the audience.  The event finished with a grand dinner.


Music and memories of Mandela launch Aye Write! book festival

April 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Performer Marah Louw and Brian Filling who both lead in the 'Glasgow Celebrates Mandela' event at Aye Write! festival.

Performer Marah Louw and Anti – Apartheid champion Brian Filling who both lead in the ‘Glasgow Celebrates Mandela’ event at Aye Write! festival which takes place in the Mitchell Library, behind them.

Marah Louw, the singing sensation who famously danced with Nelson Mandela when he received the Freedom of the City in 1993, will sing in Glasgow again on Friday 4 April, at the start of Aye Write! book festival.

Marah – a former judge on South Africa’s Pop Idol – will perform at the ‘Glasgow Celebrates Mandela’ event in Mitchell Library. Chairing the evening will be Brian Filling, Chairman of the Scottish Anti-Apartheid Movement and now Honorary Consul for South Africa.

Said Marah: ‘That event in George Square in 1993 was a turning point in my life and career as an artist. The invitation from Brian Filling and the Anti-Apartheid organisation to come to Glasgow and perform in front of thousands of Glasgow people was a huge honour. The crowds were happy and excited at seeing Mandela for the first time. For me to have been part of that historic moment has been priceless.

“People standing in the rain, cheering, touching him, touching me, was magical. Not a lot of artists from my country have had that opportunity. I kept pinching myself in disbelief that I was on the same stage with this great man. I felt blessed, I still feel blessed.’

Nelson Mandela – South Africa’s first democratically elected president – died last year aged 95. Marah shared special moments with her country’s leader, including performing at his freedom concert at London’s Wembley Stadium, as well as his Presidential inauguration in 1994.

The singer will share her memories of her time with Mandela, as well as her affection for Glasgow, with the Aye Write! audience.

Marah said: ‘I’m filled with mixed emotions of remembrance, sadness and the humble responsibility of keeping the memory and legacy of Tata Nelson Mandela alive. I also feel joy. My reason for joy is that I am honoured to take part and be able to come to Glasgow and celebrate the memory of Tata Nelson Madiba Mandela.  I just love Glasgow, the warmth and hospitality of the Scottish people is amazing. The audience at our Celebrating Mandela event can expect to be entertained with some of the music that Madiba used to enjoy and which I always had the opportunity to perform in his presence.”

Scottish Anti-Apartheid activist Brian Filling campaigned for Mandela’s release from prison and became firm friends with Madiba. He was a guest at Mandela’s inauguration in 1994.

Brian will also share some of his memories with the audience. He said: ‘Nelson Mandela was well aware of the support he had in Glasgow before arriving in 1993 and he went on to have a special relationship with the city. I met with him a number of times after his visit and he always expressed his thanks for that support.

‘I’m delighted Marah will be joining us at Aye Write! on Friday. She’s a very good entertainer and I’m sure the audience will have an enjoyable night.’

Scottish hip-hop group Stanley Odd will also be appearing at Glasgow Celebrates Mandela, adding a whole new dimension to the event. The group has been commissioned to produce a song on Mandela’s life and achievements and will perform the track live for the first time at the evening event. There are still a few tickets left for this event.

Aye Write, Glasgow’s book festival, runs from Friday 4 April till Saturday 12 April. It will bring more than 150 famous authors and speakers to the city for a huge celebration of books and writing.

For the full programme of events see:

Tickets can be bought via the website, by calling 0141 353 8000, or in person at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow.




Residents’ to quiz Network Rail on Queen Street Station plans

April 1, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

 Network Rail intends to redevelop Queen Street Station.  Because of concerns expressed by local residents and surrounding businesses, a Network Rail presentation will take place in Glasgow City Chambers on Tuesday 15 April at 7 pm.  This will be hosted by the Merchant City and  Trongate Community Council.
Said Gerald Hirst, the Community Council Treasurer: ‘This promises to be an interesting event. The proposal

impacts on our built environment. There are possible temporary effects on vehicular and pedestrian circulation during the period. Network Rail are seeking input from and dialogue with, affected residents.’

On balance – kids’ programme wins

March 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 


Balanceability Coach Scott Cowan  with four -year-old Max Nelson, Emma Clancy and  Junior Nelson  at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in the Emirates Arena. Photograph: Ian Watson :

Balanceability Coach Scott Cowan with four -year-old Max Nelson, Emma Clancy and Junior Nelson at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in the Emirates Arena.
Photograph: Ian Watson :

London Road Nursery children had their first experience of a Glasgow Life Balanceability class in the inspirational Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, this week.

The tiny tots learned to use the latest pedal-less bikes. Balanceability is a ‘learn to cycle’ programme, designed for children under 6. It is the first step in learning the balance, co-ordination and stability needed to ride a bike. By learning these core skills it is hoped that the youngsters will learn to ride a bike in future and be inspired to continue to lead healthy and active lives.

Already, the legacy is evident. A number of the children in the programme have started to access other physical opportunities at the Emirates Arena including mini kickers football and gymnastics.

Parents and Glasgow Life staff also benefit from the Balanceability class. Around 85% of the parents had never been to the Emirates Arena till their child was enrolled at the Balanceability class. To keep parents and children coming back, incentives are offered: as a tour of the Emirates Arena; a Glasgow Club gym session or a chance to watch Glasgow Rocks – the professional basketball team which plays at the world class stadium.

Ten Glasgow Life staff members have been trained to teach the Balanceability programme in the Emirates Arena. Another 14 are doing the same across the city.

Councillor Archie Graham, Chair of Glasgow Life and Executive Committee Member for the Commonwealth Games, said: ‘Programmes like these create a legacy from the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Local people are encouraged to use our world-class facilities and future generations are inspired to get active and learn core skills.’

Scott Cowan, Glasgow Life Balanceability coach, said: ‘You can see the kids progress every week. Within a couple of classes they are so excited they don’t want the session to end. Learning to ride a bike here is something they will never forget.  I am very proud to be part of that.’

Wendy McLauchlan, London Road Nursery staff member, said: ‘We have seen our kids flourish due to the staff’s excellent approach. Some children who were wary in week one, now confidently participate.’




Commune with nature on Sunday

March 23, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A nature festival is being held on Sunday 23 March at the Kelvin Meadow off Clouston Street in the West End. Activities include willow weaving, storytelling, creating raised beds, planting, outdoor play and activities for children, and face painting.

Local people have been using the Kelvin Meadow in a collective effort to save the land for community use and prevent it being built on.  There will be an opportunity for festival go-ers to share their views about the land.

Map of activities at the Nature festival at Kelvin Meadow on Sunday 23 March from 12 noon till 4pm

Map of activities at the Nature festival at Kelvin Meadow on Sunday 23 March from 12 noon till 4pm

Future activities include a week long Easter Activities programme from Monday 7 till Friday 11 April.

The Easter Club activities for children.

The Easter Club activities for children.


Anti – Atos campaigners petition Scottish Parliament

March 19, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A petition asking for Atos to be removed as a sponsor of the 2014 Commonwealth Games moved to the next stage of the Scottish Parliament process without one question being asked of the people presenting it.

Evidence for the proposed action was given to the Petitions Committee today (Tuesday 18 March 2014) by Sean Clerkin, spokesperson and fellow campaigner, Iain MacInnes   of the Glasgow Against Atos campaign.

Sean Clerkin (left) and Iain MacInnes who presented the petition to the Scottish Parliament to drop Atos as a sponsor of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Sean Clerkin (left) and Iain MacInnes who presented the petition to the Scottish Parliament to drop Atos as a sponsor of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

In his presentation to the six MSPs attending the Petitions Committee, Sean said Atos was a ‘toxic brand’ and it was morally wrong for the company to profit from the misery they imposed on the hundreds of thousands of people they were assessing on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions and declaring fit to work.

‘This company pays not one penny in corporation tax,’ said Sean. ‘During the assessment process at least 22,000 people have died. One man, in Prime Minister David Cameron’s constituency, was taken off benefits and found, months later, having starved to death weighing only five stones.’

He concluded: ‘MSPs with a moral conscience should do the right thing and terminate the Atos contract as a sponsor of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. If not, the Games will be tarnished for ever.’

Answering the unspoken question of why Atos Healthcare should be targeted when it was Atos IT which was the Games sponsoring company,  Iain MacInnes said: ‘The health care company and the IT company are part of the same Atos group. The so-called health care company is not in any shape or form caring for people’s health. It is working to a mathematical formula to get a target percentage of people off disability benefit. It is dealing with numbers in the same way an IT company deals in numbers.’

He offered the Petitions Committee fact packs detailing people who had suffered great hardship because of the Atos assessments processes.  ‘Some of them are living in fear of losing the small amount of benefits they receive, so don’t want their names revealed,’ he stressed. ‘That’s why we don’t always give their names.’

After expressing his ‘great disappointment’ to the Petitions Committee that no questions were asked on their presentation, Sean told this website afterwards: ‘They are a disgrace. These people are supposed to be working on behalf of the people of this country. We have brought this Petition here in good faith believing they would scrutinise what we are saying and then make a decision to act. What they are doing is sending out our petition to many relevant bodies – including the Scottish Government, the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee, ATOS, the Department for Work and Pensions, Glasgow City Council, the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), Scottish Disability Sport and sportscotland and so on – to get their feedback.  Before the responses are likely to be collated, the Games will be over.’

The Committee was chaired by David Stewart (Convener) with the others in attendance being: Chic Brodie (Deputy Convener) Jackson Carlaw, Jim Eadie, David Torrance and John Wilson.  The only woman at the table was one of four civil servants.

The full Petitions hearing can be seen on the Scottish Parliament website/videos/ 18 March. It is after that of Jackie Watt and Jane Plumb, Chief Executive of the Group B Strep Support. Both women have personal experience of babies dying from the condition.Their petition was to raise awareness of Strep B in pregnancy and ways to prevent it affecting mothers and infants during birth.  It was screened at 1.07.56 and the Anti-Atos Petition PE1508 was heard at the end of the Group B Strep petition at around 34.56





Help offered to home owners

February 21, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 


Thursday 27 February 2014


Jurys Inn Hotel

Jamaica Street, Glasgow


Agenda – Campaign strategy + Home owners’ help surgery

February 21, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

It's fun to run for the Children's Woods.

It’s fun to run for the Children’s Woods.

Piano music to sound before the wee splash

February 8, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

There is sweet music coming from Govanhill Baths.

A baby grand piano is now in the foyer  thanks to Play me I’m Yours charity and GBart – the Baths’ own art group. And it will be played soon – on Wednesday 12 February at 7.30pm – by Dave Anderson, Louise Cairns, Aislin Quinn, Tom Urie, Peter Shand and others. Donation at the door to hear them make music on this dream instrument which will remain indefinitely in the building.

The newly arrived baby grand is now waiting to be played on Wednesday 12 February.

The newly arrived baby grand is now waiting to be played on Wednesday 12 February.


This is just one event in a year of celebration. The foundation stone was laid in 1914 and the place opened three years later.

The Toddlers’ /Training pool is being refurbished and is expected to be ready for use by Monday 24 February for the ‘Wee Splash.’ At that point, the dream of many people in Govanhill to ‘swim again in Govanhill Baths’ will come true – to one third of the way.

Prepare for the toddlers' and training pool to open on Monday 24 February.

Prepare for the toddlers’ and training pool to open on Monday 24 February.

The other two pools will take a bit longer to come into use again. But in time, through a three phase, development, programme, they too will be available and everyone will be able to ‘swim again’ in what will be a Wellbeing Centre. The Centre is being shaped within the Edwardian Baths which were closed more than ten years ago by Glasgow City Council to the great surprise and anger of the local community.

Since then, a vocal and active group of people has championed the re-opening of the place as a health and well-being centre.  And that is happening. Formed as a Trust and as Friends of the Govanhill Baths the supporters have appointed an administrator – Jim Monaghan – and promoted a programme of events to encourage more and more people to come in and see how the plans are developing and the space is being used. So drop in on Wednesday 12 February at 7.30pm and hear for yourself the new sounds coming from the Govanhill Baths.




Govan to go if Scotstoun wins frigates order.

February 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The shipbuilding heritage of the Clyde could remain but at the loss of Fairfield, Govan as a shipbuilding yard.

That was part of the message today from Charlie Blakemore, Director of Transformation at BAE Systems which operates yards at Govan and Scotstoun.

How Scotstoun yard could look in a new era.

How Scotstoun yard could look in a new era.

The company is currently exploring two options:

1 – to continue to build warships at both yards which are across the river from each other, with improvements to do so costing £100 million.

2 – transform Scotstoun yard into a  world class, covered, single site, shipbuilding centre at a cost of £200 million.

Clearly favouring the Scotstoun option, Charlie Blakemore said: ‘Both sites badly need investment. We lease Govan from Clyde Port Authority but we own Scotstoun and it has the footprint to create an acceptable and safe working environment.’

He also emphasised that with option 1,  partly built ships would have to be ferried from one yard to the other costing more and adding about one third to the time of any project.  But two vessels could be under construction simultaneously at a new Scotstoun.

Showing a video prospectus for future workers at BAE Systems – as expressed by present workers – Mr Blakemore said: ‘ This is a really exciting time for us. This journey started two or three years ago and we want it to take us to into world class capability.’

The video illustrated how improved working conditions and procedures – such as video conferencing, creche provision, modern offices and visualisation of the ship on the stocks – improved the employee’s working conditions.  He said: ‘No one was press ganged into saying what they said.’  He added: ‘We have got to make the Type 26 frigates affordable.’

Right now BAE Systems is working on the design of Type 26 ‘global combat ships.’  A four year assessment phase stared in March 2010, is ‘making excellent progress,’ said a Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesperson.  ‘A main investment decision is expected to be made by the middle of the decade (around 2015) when the number of vessels will be decided.  It is assumed that around 13 will be needed for service in the 2020s to replace the current Type 23 frigates.’

Last year BAE Systems announced it would close its shipbuilding facilities in Portsmouth to concentrate its production on the Clyde. Apart from the loss of more than 800 jobs in Portsmouth and its heritage of hundreds of years of shipbuilding, there will be the loss of around 800 jobs in Glasgow’s BAE yards as current work is signed off.

However, Mr Blakemore pointed out that 1000 workers will still be employed in the two Clyde yards until the MoD decision is made. ‘The shipbuilding heritage of the Clyde is one of the core strengths of this business,’ he said. ‘Govan workers and skills could still be employed at Scotstoun and people can still be proud of Clydebuilt and all it stands for.’

Local MSP Nicola Sturgeon  welcomed BAE’s commitment to the Clyde and investment in Scotstoun, but expressed concern about the threat to Govan. She said: ‘As a Glasgow MSP who used to represent Govan shipyard, I very much hope that a two yard option can be the way forward.’  But she used the issue to take a swipe at Referendum ‘No’ Campaigners: ‘The No camp said a Yes vote threatened Govan, but the fact is that a plan for Govan yard’s closure is happening now – on Westminster’s watch.’



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