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.’
Pastor John Harper drowned with 1500 others when the RMS Titanic sank in the early hours of 15 April 1912. He had founded the Baptist Church in the Plantation district of Glasgow where he ministered for 13 years. During that time, his wife Annie died and was buried in Craigton Cemetery where a monument was erected to her. John left Glasgow to lead a church in London. A renowned preacher, he was on his way with his six year old daughter Nana to the Moody Church in Chicago for a second visit as a guest speaker when the tragedy happened. The state-of-the-art ship was holed by an iceberg and sank within hours. Pastor John gave his life jacket to another man who was one of the few rescued from the icy waters. His name and his sacrifice were recorded on his wife’s headstone.
When the Plantation church was rebuilt many years later, it was named the Harper Memorial Baptist Church and was opened by Nana Harper. Quietly attending the memorial service in Craigton and laying their own flowers at the monument which tells the tragic story, were John Harper’s grand-daughter, Dr Mary Gurling, her sons Stephen and Paul and her nephew, Andrew Pont. Said Stephen: ‘We are standing on the shoulders of giants through this inspiring legacy.’
The memorial and re-dedication service was organised by the Harper Memorial Baptist Church as one of several events during their Titanic commemorative weekend, 100 years after the terrible disaster.
The service was conducted by preacher Craig Dyer who introduced Dr Erwin W. Lutzer who has been pastor for 32 years at the Moody Church in Chicago where John Harper was going. In his epilogue Dr Lutzer said: “When I became a Pastor there, you walked down the hall to the John Harper meeting room.” In his passionate witness he explained that there was compelling evidence that Jesus Christ rose from the death. “Jesus was the forerunner. But you can’t get into Heaven with your physical body. The spirit can be released through faith, alone, in Jesus Christ. John Harper believed that and was able to say as the ship sank – ‘I’m not going down; I’m going up (to Heaven)’ ”
Among the guests of honour were Bailie Iris Gibson who brought greetings from the Lord Provost and said the City had been pleased to refurbish the lettering on the memorial stone in Craigton. ‘Pastor John Harper’s story deserves to be better known,’ she said. Also speaking was Councillor Alistair Watson who told how he’d grown up in the district, played in the cemetery and knew John Harper’s story. ‘It is humbling to know of his remarkable self-sacrifice,’ said Councillor Watson. ‘He will feature in a booklet detailing the heritage trail through Craigton Cemetery. That is due to be printed soon and will tell the story to an even bigger audience.’ Also present were Councillor Stephen Dornan and Rebecca Lutzer, Dr Lutzer’s wife. MSP John Mason, who is an active member of the Baptist Church in Easterhouse, attended as a practising Christian and supportive church member and preferred to stand in the crowd.
Hymns and prayers were offered in thanks and tribute to John Harper and his sacrifice.
In the crowd were two particularly dedicated students of the Titanic. Andrew Learmonth, dressed in respectful white shirt and black tie, said he has been ‘obsessed’ by the disaster and all the attendant details since childhood. ‘My flat in Glasgow is like a Titanic Museum,’ he admitted. He is a member of the Titanic Historic Society, the British Titanic Society and the Ulster Historic Society – the ship was built in Belfast where a new museum has been opened to promote the fact. He recently visited Southampton to see the vessel which left to make the commemorative voyage of the fated Titanic.
Giving out sheets telling the story of John Harper and showing a dramatic image drawn at the time, was Brian Brodie, a fire officer at Govan fire station. He pointed out that the Titanic was correctly referred to as RMS Titanic. ‘That stands for Royal Mail Ship, Titanic,’ explained the former marine engineer. ‘It shouldn’t be SS – sailing ship – Titanic as engraved on the memorial stone.’ Enthusiastically, he walks visitors through Craigton Cemetery to tell them John Harper’s story, show them the monument and visit other interesting grave stones with their own fascinating stories.
The Harper Memorial Church’s programme continues through Sunday 15 April 2012 with a morning service conducted by Jim Wylie, soloist Gillian Strang and guest speaker Dr Lutzer of Moody Church, Chicago. In the evening, Walter Whitelaw offers the welcome for the celebration with Dr Lutzer preaching and the Govan Salvation Army Band playing.
On Friday 13 April, the Glasgow congregation held a holiday club for schoolchildren and a rock concert in the evening for young people. Both events were well attended and have strengthened the Church’s outreach, especially in the local communities around Kinning Park and Plantation off Paisley Road West.
Harper Memorial Baptist Church in Kinning Park is buoyed up for a Titanic weekend starting Friday 13 April 2012. One of the 1500 people lost when the Titanic sank 100 years ago, was John Harper who had been a minister of the church in Glasgow. He was on his way to be a guest preacher in Chicago at the Moody Church. And the current preacher in that American church – Dr Erwin W. Lutzer – will be the guest speaker in Glasgow during the commemorative events and services.
To recognise John Harper’s sacrifice – he gave his life vest to another man – the congregation has planned a wide variety of events to which they invite anyone along.
Friday 13 April started with a school children’s holiday club. That evening a Christian rock band – Superhero – were scheduled to play their only UK gig. They’ve completed a European tour and are about to go on tour in the United States. That event is the only one where a door entry charge applies (£3)
On Saturday 14 – a commemorative service and re-dedication will be held in Craigton Cemetery, Cardonald at 2.30pm. There John Harper’s wife was buried and her headstone has details of his subsequent death when the Titanic sank after being holed by an iceberg on its maiden voyage to America. Dr Lutzer will conduct a service at the graveside and local Councillors Alistair Watson and Iris Gibson are expected to attend.
That evening – the 100th year to the date of the sinking of the Titanic – a service of praise will be held in the church which is located off Paisley Road West in the midst of a complex of modern houses. Among the contributions will be the choir ‘Father’s Song.’
Sunday services, morning and evening, will be conducted by Dr Lutzer with communion being celebrated in the morning and the Govan Salvation Army Band playing in the evening.
It is almost 100 years since the Titanic sank with the loss of more than 1500 people. Glasgow has its own direct link to the Titanic through a church off Paisley Road West.
Called the Harper Memorial Baptist church, it is named after a Scottish preacher called John Harper who was aboard the Titanic when it was holed by an iceberg on 14 April 1912.
And next month when many Titanic events are scheduled to remember the tragedy, the congregation will hold a Titanic Weekend.
Starting on Friday 13 to Sunday 15 April they aim to let a wider audience know that the faith of the man whose name was given to the building, is still valid for people today.
Said church Deacon Gordon Webster: ‘We wanted to make use of the fact that most people know about the Titanic to tell the story of John Harper and win people for the Lord.’
A widower, John Harper was travelling with his niece and his six-year-old daughter to be a guest speaker at the Moody church of Chicago for a second season. One of the survivors of the disaster told how John Harper asked him as the ship was sinking: ‘Has your soul been saved?’ When the man said ‘no’ John took off his own life vest and gave it to him.
Born in Houston, John Harper became a preacher at an early age. When he was appointed to a congregation in Glasgow it had 25 members. When he left it for a post in London in the early 1900s, the church had its own purpose built ‘tin kirk’ in the Plantation district of the city which could seat 1000. It was named after John Harper when a new building was opened in 1921 by his daughter, Nan Harper who survived the disaster.
John’s wife had died a week after their daughter had been born. She was buried in Craigton cemetery. The details of John’s heroic death were added to her grave stone soon after the Titanic disaster. For the church’s Titanic Weekend a memorial and rededication service will be held at the cemetery in Cardonald at 2.30pm on Saturday 14 April. Bailie Iris Gibson and Councillor Alistair Watson are expected to attend.
That evening – 100 years to the day, after the disaster – Dr Erwin W. Lutzer of the Chicago Moody Church, will preach in the Harper Memorial Baptist church in Glasgow at 7.30pm. His church in Chicago was the one that John Harper was travelling to. John had been invited back to preach because of the success of his first visit. Some of the meeting rooms in the Chicago church are dedicated to him. A play about John Harper will be performed in Glasgow on Saturday 14 April, and there will be music by Father’s Song.
Dr Lutzer will also speak at the Sunday 15 April morning service when communion will be celebrated and again in the evening when music will be provided by the Govan Salvation Army Band.
There will be a holiday club for primary school children on Friday 13 April. The local Lorne Park Primary School has already studied the Titanic story and some of their work will be on display in the church during the weekend. On the Friday evening a Christian rock band ‘Superhero’ will perform for the teens, twenties and music minded people. This is the only Scottish date for the band which is on tour in Europe currently and will be touring the United States following the Titanic weekend events.
‘This is a big step for us to have a rock group – they’ll be the first we’ve had. But we think we’re well prepared,’ said Deacon Webster. He added: ‘The whole process of planning this weekend has been amazing. It is a wonderful experience for the team of 13 volunteers from the church who have organised it. We’ve been taken aback at the world wide interest with people emailing from abroad asking to book seats.’ The church can seat 600 people and has a hall for an additional 100 where a video link will enable them to share in the proceedings. Leaflets have been distributed throughout the local community and visitors to the city that weekend will also be invited specially. For further details see the website: www.harpermemorial.net For tickets for the rock concert email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call GLO Bookshop, Motherwell: 01698 275343
image copyright : ©Graeme Hewitson Eikon Bible Art.
Glasgow, a UNESCO City of Music, upped the octaves on Friday when it hosted the first ever Music for Youth Festival in Scotland. Held in Lourdes Secondary School’s performance space in Cardonald – more than 20 schools sent music groups ranging from Irish Folk, to school choirs, from woodwind bands, to steel bands, and from classical guitar to jazz. The non-competitive atmosphere and the acoustically good hall – well mic-ed by Alex Bell – gave each performing group a chance to do their best.
Faculty Head of Performing Arts at Lourdes, Debbie MacVicar, who was the organiser, said: ‘This is a coup! It gives young people the chance to listen to different genres of music, have the opportunity to appreciate them and hear the critiques.’ All done in a day in a friendly, welcoming and non-competitive atmosphere.
A spokeswoman for the Music for Youth organisation said it had been a ‘fantastic’ day. ‘We’ve been holding Festivals like this in England for 24 years but this is the first time in Scotland, thanks to help from Creative Scotland and the work of Debbie MacVicar.’
Two professional musicians listen to each performance and give feedback as mentors. Some of the musicians will be invited to a Scottish regional final in Perth in June along with counterparts from Inverness and Perth Festivals. The UK finale will be in the Royal Albert Hall, London in November.
Said Lourdes Head Teacher Patricia Lennon: ‘This was a stunning day. I went along in the morning intending to stay for the first act and ended staying all morning. It was one of the best mornings I’ve ever experienced in my career. It reinforces how talented our students are and how supportive they can be of each other.’ She was also present most of the afternoon too.
Also attending was Glasgow’s Director of Education, Maureen McKenna who welcomed all the participants on behalf of the city. She said: ‘The performers in this Festival are the stars of the future.’
Among the groups were The Fridays, visually impaired young people from Hazelwood School in Bellahouston who had feet tapping with a strong lead singer in Lauren; a 30-strong choir from Springburn Academy who sang with gusto and Hillhead Jazz Band with more than a dozen singers and musicians all colour co-ordinated in red and black but each with their own dress style though a uniform music style which was well appreciated.
The Fridays’ next appearance will be at Glasgow Grand Central Hotel where a fund-raising ball will be held for the school.
Lourdes Secondary School in Cardonald will host the first regional Music for Youth Festival in Glasgow on Friday, 17 February.
The event has attracted an impressive mix of groups from around the city and the audience will be treated to performances from this year’s winners of Glasgow City Sounds – The Modests, along with St Thomas Aquinas Secondary Steel Pan Band, Hillhead’s Jazz Band, The Riverside Youth Band and the Gaelic School’s Cause and Probability to name but a few.
Music for Youth (MFY) was founded in 1970 and is an educational charity providing free performance and audience opportunities for young people aged 21 and under through a series of regional festivals.
This year, Scotland is having three regional festivals, hosted in Glasgow, Perth and Inverness. These will culminate in a National Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, London.
Debbie MacVicar, Faculty Head of Performing Arts, Lourdes Secondary is absolutely delighted to welcome MFY to Glasgow and especially to Lourdes Secondary’s impressive Concert Hall.
She said: ‘This is a marvellous opportunity for pupils in Glasgow to showcase their talent in front of their peers and MFY mentors. The mentors provide focused and constructive feedback enabling each group to continue its musical journey.
‘One of the most satisfying areas of music is performance and this initiative enables all ages and levels of musicians to come together and enjoy the opportunity to perform in a non-competitive environment.
‘It will inspire, nurture and support all the participants and I am absolutely delighted at the standard and numbers of groups who have entered for this first ever regional festival, here in Glasgow.’
A long established ecumenical group of Churches on Glasgow’s Southside, plans to make a Walk of Witness on Good Friday – 22 April – to declare their Christian faith. An annual event from Our Lady and St George’s Church, 50 Sandwood Road, Penilee to Hillington Park Church of Scotland in Berryknowes Road, the followers carry a wooden cross to acknowledge the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Operating as G52 Churches, the congregations are: four Church of Scotland – Cardonald, Hillington Park, St Andrew’s Penilee and St Nicolas’ Cardonald plus two RC – Our Lady and St George and Our Lady of Lourdes and the Scottish Episcopal congregation from the Church of the Good Shepherd.
A service will be held at the start at 10.30am. Midway, an open air act of worship will be held at the end of Traquair Drive and the Walk of Witness will conclude with a short ecumenical service in Hillington Park Church in Berryknowes Road followed by tea and hot cross buns in the hall in true church style. ‘Anyone who would like to walk with us to honour the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our salvation, is invited,’ said the Rev Calum MacLeod of Cardonald Parish Church. ‘This year we anticipate an increase in the number of people supporting the Walk of Witness because we have sent a mail drop to homes throughout the G52 postcode area,’ he added.
Around 35 home owners and tenants invaded Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) headquarters in Trongate on Wednesday 30 March, to complain about shoddy work on their properties.
Said leader of the Glasgow Home Owners and Tenants Association, Sean Clerkin: ‘We are demanding an independent survey of the overcladding and re-roofing work which has been done in the city. We are sending a strong message to all the political parties during this election run-up, that there is a time bomb of ill-health and deteroriating properties because of the sub-standard work carried out.’
Vice Chair of the campaign, Anne Booth said: ‘We elect people to look after us. They are not doing this. When there is a problem they don’t help.’
A spokesman for GHA admitted the organisation was taken by surprise by the sit-in. He commented: ‘To date, we have overclad more than 36,000 homes across the city, making them warmer, drier and more energy-efficient. There have been issues with the work done on only a very small number of these houses. An independent survey carried out by the Building Research Establishment concluded that dampness found in a very small number of homes was caused by heating and ventilation issues and NOT as a result of the overcladding work.’
But the home owners who have been joined by tenants experiencing similar problems said: ‘We have proof of major sub-standard work with little or no proper quality assurance by GHA Ltd. The result is dampness has occurred and cracks have been appearing in properties in Bridgeton, Cardonald, Pollok, Springburn, Helenvale, Summerston, Parkhead, Sandyhills, Maryhill and Parkhouse, among others we have documented. Glasgow is sitting on a potential housing and health time-bomb.’
They claim that an independent specialist technical survey should be carried out to identify the full extent of defective work and remedy the faults ‘before disaster strikes.’
‘It is not being melo-dramatic to say the sub-standard work will increase the spread of bronchitis and asthma,’ said Sean Clerkin. ‘The fabric of buildings will also be damaged. We can foresee many of the properties having to be demolished in a few years’ time.’
A former tenant chair of GHA, Sam Harper, who received an OBE in the Queen’s Honours List for his services to social housing, told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘I am seriously considering sending the honour back because of this and other issues.’
The home owners, who are obliged to have GHA factor their properties, said they had 39 households making defects and dampness complaints in Pollok area alone. They claim that 16 tower blocks have had to be reclad for a second time because of faulty workmanship. ‘That is a large number out of 100 tower blocks in Glasgow,’ said their spokesman. ‘We have identified four areas where this is being done – Parkhead, Helenvale, Townhead and Sandyhills.’
There are 60,000 tenants and 26,000 factored home owners in Glasgow under the jurisdiction of GHA. The authority is not covered by the Freedom of Information Act so preventing indepth research.
Before the Scottish Parliament was dissolved for the election on 5 May, Alex Neil, then Minister for Housing and Communities, met with the Glasgow Home Owners’ Campaign’s elected representatives. But the outcome was a letter saying, essentially, the issue was one for GHA to deal with and not the Housing Minister. ‘This was very disappointing,’ said Anne Booth. ‘Someone needs to take responsibility for the shoddy work and the problems that people are now experiencing.’
Lourdes Secondary School in Cardonald, broke up for summer with the vegetables planted and a fast-growing reputation for being an Eco warrior.
Pupils have sprouted green fingers and created two raised beds to grow beetroot, lettuce and cabbage among other produce. When ready, the vegetables will be handed over to the home economics department as Lourdes ploughs on relentlessly, determined to reduce it’s carbon footprint.
The venture was funded by a grant from the Community Volunteer Scheme in recognition of the school’s efforts for the environment.
Last December, led by geography teacher and Eco-school coordinator, Vincent Raeburn, Lourdes joined in the Stop the Climate Change Chaos protest from Bellahouston Park and marched all the way to Kelvingrove.In May, Vincent led Lourdes in a ‘Sustainability Week’. As well as talks from Heather ‘fae the weather’ and other experts, each school department was asked to come up with imaginative ways to educate pupils to look after the planet.
In drama class, kids produced plays showing the negative effect everyday habits can have on the planet. Geography lessons had the pupils designing and building their own Eco-houses, while a team from Strathclyde University asked pupils to design communities for the future. Here, pupils were made to consider the implications decisions could have on the environment.
Vincent thinks this initiative showed pupils that actions can be taken that are good for both society and the environment.Vincent said: ‘At Lourdes we are working to get pupils to think globally and act locally.” He stressed that environmental issues should be tackled by young people because ‘this planet is their future place of work.’ He added: ‘The whole school is trying to become far more environmentally minded. You can’t just expect the politicians to sort it out. We all have responsibility and that includes the kids.’
Vincent and the pupils’ efforts have already bagged Lourdes one Green flag. Next year he says efforts will be doubled to try to get another. The Lourdes Eco-machine will not rest idle over the summer.
A mum of three from Cardonald has returned from Europe’s political centre, Brussels, after fighting to secure a fairer deal for women across the continent.
Thirty-four-year-old Therese Kazadi came from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Scotland and found out – just like in her country of birth – women here are more likely to experience poverty than men.
Therese represents a Glasgow-based group for refugees and asylum seekers called Karibu. She was in Brussels earlier this month to take part in the GenderWorks conference.
GenderWorks was a two-year project, led by Oxfam, which investigated women’s experiences of poverty and social exclusion in Europe.
The conference brought together more than 30 women from across Europe to deliver a strong message to European policy makers.
Therese said: ‘The majority of people living in poverty around the world are women and that is no different in Europe.
‘I’ve experienced poverty in the DRC, when I came to Europe I expected that poverty would not be such a big issue. But in Glasgow women are also more likely to end up in poor conditions than men.
‘Women take on added responsibility in times of hardship. They may already work a regular job but also have to look after children and their partner.
‘The cost of childcare wipes out any money they make. Then there is the huge issue of domestic violence, which often leads to women being excluded from society or being made homeless when the relationship ends.’
Therese believes that access to information is the key to helping women out of poverty, but she also argues that public attitudes to gender issues have to change.
She said: ‘To help women out of poverty in Europe they need to be know their rights – and how to access those rights.
‘However, society must also accept and understand that women are equal to men. For example, equal pay is still not a reality in many industries.
‘When it comes to migrant women in Europe, the way they are integrated into life here almost sets them up for a life of poverty before they even start.
‘The European policy makers have to take action now and put the policy recommendations of GenderWorks into place.’