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.
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.’
The countdown to Christmas has officially started in Glasgow as Olympic Bronze medallist, gymnast, Beth Tweddle, joined the Lord Provost to switch on the city’s Christmas lights.
Lucky Clyde 1 competition winners Liam (4) and Beth (8) Lindsay helped flick the switch that turned George Square into a sparkling, twinkling wonderland in front of 15,000 delighted spectators. The grand finale was a spectacular 10-minute firework display from the roof of the City Chambers beautifully captured in Ian Watson’s photographs.
The crowd was entertained by Clyde 1’s George Bowie and Suzie McGuire, an acrobatic display by some of the country’s up and coming gymnastic stars from the Glasgow School of Sport, Michelle McManus, Stephen Purdon, Dean Park and others from the cast of the Pavilion’s ‘The Wizard Of Never Woz’, together with the RSNO Choir. Glasgow 2014 mascot, Clyde, also kept the crowd moving with a special appearance supported by some funky dancers from Destination Dance.
The Lord Provost, Councillor Sadie Docherty, said: “What a wonderful night!. The crowd loved it and so did I. This was my first year switching on the lights and it was magical. This really was the perfect way to start the festive season.”
The switching on of the city’s Christmas Lights is part of the ‘Glasgow Loves Christmas’ campaign. It incorporates Glasgow’s unrivalled shopping and celebrated Style Mile as well as a programme of festive events throughout the city. Full details of the ‘Glasgow Loves Christmas’ programme are available from www.glasgowloveschristmas.com. And more wonderful photographs can be seen there too.
May Day in Glasgow was mainly unobserved by anyone of any political hue. A saltire flew above the City Chambers.
But there was one exception: – a group of Anti-Cuts Coalition Campaigners boldly stood outside the City Chambers’ front door and waved their red banners to show they cared.
They are all standing for election in local council wards so it wasn’t just a fun exercise.
Said Eric Stevenson (centre) ‘I haven’t given up on Socialism.’ A retired housing administrator, he is standing in Drumchapel –Anniesland ward. ‘I was a member of the Labour Party for 37 years and was expelled for being Militant. The current parties – including Labour – are letting people down. People have to have a voice and that’s why we are part of this country-wide Anti- Cuts Coalition.’
The others are from left: Ronnie Stevenson (Eric’s brother) who is standing in Langside ward; Luke Ivory who is standing in Springburn; Graham Campbell who is standing in Anderston City Centre and Akhtar Khan who is standing in Pollokshields.
Luke, who has recently come to Glasgow from Sutherland said: ‘People of Glasgow need an alternative. We’re it!’
Weel kent figure Graham Campbell who is secretary of the Afro Caribbean Centre in Glasgow and who works for an Anti Racist charity, added: ‘People are friendly but not giving away how they are going to vote. We think our results will run close to the Green Party’s votes.’
Added Akhtar, who with Graham , is a member of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC): ‘It’s a tough one to call. I might be fifth out of the eight candidates.’
All are agreed, the Anti-Cuts Coalition is a new political kid on the block and one they believe voters should consider as an alternative to established parties who’ve disappointed the electorate in the past.
In true Maryhill style, the official opening of the £9.6 million revamped Maryhill Burgh Halls, attracted protesters.
A crowd of local schoolboys, complete with bikes and skateboards, marched into the invitation only evening on Thursday 26 April. And the VIPs arriving had to walk past an array of banners held by determined grannies demanding justice for Kinship Carers.
They, and the official guests, were serenaded in proper Scottish style, by professional piper Chris Waite at the door. He was one of the Jim Jam Ceilidh Band musicians who entertained, later, inside.
The boys told this website reporter earnestly:’We should be allowed in,’ said Rhys McNally (14). ‘It’s discrimination that we are not.’ His pal Mitchell McGowan Ross (13) added: ‘We’re normal people. We deserve the right to go in. The place should be open to the whole public.’ They were politely, but firmly, shown the door by courteous door stewards and trundled back outside.
Choosing to remain outside with their placards and banners were the Kinship Carers. All local women who look after children – usually their own grandchildren – when the parents cannot; they had lobbied earlier in the day outside Glasgow City Chambers. ‘If we fostered a stranger’s child we’d get £300 a week to look after them. Because the children are family, we get £50 a week and none of the important psychological help,’ explained Liz Lynch. In a campaign co-ordinated across Scotland, Kinship Carers met candidates of all parties to demand they sign up for the Kinship Carers’ national manifesto.
It asks for pledges from incoming councillors to:- end the postcode lottery across Scotland for Kinship Care support to ensure that every child had a fair and equal chance.
To:- create a one-stop shop approach to the necessary financial, health, psychological, educational and social work support. ‘Getting any one of these can be a huge struggle for Kinship Carers,’ said supporter Miriam Rose of the Poverty Truth Commission.
To:- recognise the hard job Kinship Carers do and how well they do it and to support them with respite and legal advice among other issues.
Would be councillors were also called on to work with the Kinship Carers when making policy so that funds are used wisely to benefit the children.
On arrival, Lord Provost Bob Winter stood and chatted with them while he put on his chain of office and was happy to pose with them. ‘I saw them earlier today at the City Chambers and support them,’ he said.
The date of 26 April was chosen for the re-opening of the Maryhill Burgh Halls because it was on that date 134 years ago they were originally opened. Already major events have been held in the beautifully re-furbished suites of rooms which include a business centre, a nursery, a cafe a recording studio and exhibition and halls space. Performing the opening this time, was Culture Secretary MSP Fiona Hyslop.
Pride of place in the Halls are original stained glass windows which – uniquely – depict workers in Maryhill in those far off days. They show men working with wood and metal and women working with dyes. Descendants of glass artists Joseph Miller and of the Provost of Maryhill in 1878, were also present at the 2012 opening.
The beauties of the windows and the well-thought-out interior will be available for the public to enjoy on Saturday 28 April from 10am till 4pm. There will be free tours of the buildings, talks, entertainment and samples of what activities will be available, regularly, in the Maryhill Burgh Halls. The boys will be back! And the Kinship Carers might even bring their children too.
A promise by First Minister Alex Salmond has given hope to 50 East End families that the £18 million Tollcross Aquatic Centre can provide a replacement for their doomed day care Centre.
The Accord Centre in Dalmarnock will be demolished to make way for a coach park for the Commonwealth Games. In preparation for that, more than 100 people with conditions such as cerebral palsy, Down’s Syndrome and complex learning needs have been dispersed to other centres in the city. But more than 50 families have rejected the proposed alternatives to the Accord believing they had been promised a ‘like for like’ facility.
A year ago, Alex Salmond visited the Accord Centre to see for himself what the situation was. Since then behind-the-scenes negotiations and discussions have been taking place with Glasgow City Council officials and elected members and the Scottish Government.
In a personal letter to one of the Accord Centre families, Alex Salmond said this week: ‘I am keen to follow through on the Scottish Government’s commitment to ensure that the legacy of the Commonwealth Games benefits the whole community of Glasgow. While recognising that you will be disappointed that Glasgow City Council has decided that those who use the Accord Centre are to transfer to the Bambury Centre, there is a real opportunity in the medium and long term to influence the shape of the new Aquatic Centre when it is adapted for community use following the Commonwealth Games in 2014. This brand new, modern, resource could be adapted to offer a similar facility to that which you saw when you visited the Harry Smith complex in South Lanarkshire.’
After that visit to South Lanarkshire one of the carers told this website: ‘I wept when I saw it. It was everything we could wish for. There was a swimming pool, gyms, film room, cafe, art room and facilities for people with special needs like our sons and daughters. But it was also open to the public in a way that was safe for the vulnerable users but integrated with the general public.’
Alex Salmond’s letter continued: ‘The longer term plans (at the Tollcross Aquatic Centre) include a range of opportunities for people with learning disabilities such as the development and use of a community hall and function rooms. There is also the possibility of first floor accommodation in the Spectator Gallery which would provide an opportunity for a range of activities. And Glasgow Life staff are investigating how to incorporate personal changing and support areas into existing plans at the build stage of the current development. I know from discussions with my officials, that colleagues within Glasgow City Council are keen to explore and develop this option with you and I would encourage you to do so.’
He concluded: ‘The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that the Games Legacy includes recognition of the needs of people with a learning disability. The longer term plans for the Aquatic Centre present an opportunity to make a positive, tangible impact on the lives of such people. I have, therefore, asked my officials, working in conjunction with Glasgow City Council to prepare a funding package to ensure that a modern facility is created within the Tollcross Aquatic Centre after the Commonwealth Games in 2014 have taken place.’
In November, a confidential report was produced by the Joint Improvement Team made up of representatives of the Scottish Government, NHS and Cosla. According to Glasgow City Council, the report ‘rules out the possibility of Tollcross Aquatics Centre being used as a learning disability centre prior to the Commonwealth Games. There is also a question mark about having a dedicated centre after the games. But it makes clear the desirability of people from the Accord/Bambury Centre using Tollcross as part of their everyday activities.’
Councillor Matt Kerr, Executive Member for Social Care in a statement issued this week said: ‘I welcome this report and the conclusion that the Bambury Centre is a suitable base for people with learning disabilities. That Centre offers a real opportunity to deliver a service that will encourage greater social inclusion for service users. Considerable effort has gone into producing the report and so its recommendations will be taken very seriously by the Council.’ He continued: ‘Since reforming our learning disability services, people are showing they relish having greater flexibility to follow their own interests and aspirations. Using the Bambury Centre allows us to strike a balance between people taking greater control over their lives and retaining a centre.’
The move of the remaining families from the Accord Centre to the nearby Bambury Centre is imminent.
The Bambury Centre in Barrowfield, was recently purchased by West of Scotland Housing Association and is being refurbished. Part of the building, with its own entrance, will be reserved for the former Accord users as a meeting place where they will go out from to different activities.
After the receipt of Alex Salmond’s letter one of the East Carers Group said: ‘ I am very, very pleased with the letter. This is what we’ve been campaigning for. We are not talking about access to Tollcross. We want a fully functional day care facility. The Bambury Centre is the epitome of Glasgow City Council’s approach. It is a shabby after-thought. Our families are not being treated with the dignity they deserve. I cannot understand why the Council is not welcoming Tollcross and incorporating the facilities we’re asking for. They are being dragged kicking and screaming to this. They have been given £150,000 of public money for a feasibility study into making Tollcross suit the needs of vulnerable people but they are not fully engaged with the idea. We want a fair replacement for the Accord Centre. The only people who don’t see this are Glasgow City Councillors.’
Grace Harrigan, an official spokesperson for the East Carers group said: ‘We welcome the commitment to provide modern day centre facilities in Tollcross. But we’d like it nailed down. This is not about access to Tollcross. By law, all new buildings should be accessible. Shame on Glasgow City Council if, after spending £18m on the Aquatic Centre at Tollcross, they have not included the needs of some of their most vulnerable citizens.’
In October at the Council meeting where the decision to close the Accord Centre was taken, Grace was one of three parents evicted from the public gallery for shouting at the Labour Councillors presenting the case for closure. Because of that, she believes she was targeted when she attended the February Budget meeting of the Council. Not only was she taken out of the public gallery by attendants but she was told she was banned for life from the City Chambers. On the day she told this website: ‘I was doing nothing but listening. Then the attendant came over and said I was disrupting the meeting, took me out of the building and told me I would never be allowed back in.’
This week, in response, a Council statement was received about the incident: ‘A member of the public was asked to leave the City Chambers after being warned by staff about their conduct during the budget debate. No-one has been banned from the City Chambers as a consequence of this incident.’
A long term supporter of the Accord campaigners, community activist, Iain McInnes told this website: ‘This letter from Mr Salmond is good news. We’ve waited a long time for this. However, this is not victory. It is positive input along the road. When we get a letter saying Tollcross will be available for day care, offering facilities which have been available in the Accord Centre, and more; then we will believe the campaign will have succeeded.’
DEFEND GLASGOW SERVICES CAMPAIGN
LOBBY OF COUNCIL BUDGET MEETING
THURSDAY 9 FEB, 12.30PM
CITY CHAMBERS, GEORGE SQUARE
On Thursday 9 February 2012, Glasgow’s Councillors intend to vote through another £43M in budget cuts. This is on top of the £100M+ cut in the last two years which has already led to huge cuts in services and the loss of thousands of jobs in the council, charities, voluntary organisations, contractors, etc in our city.
Services to our most vulnerable citizens are in the firing line once again with another £10M to be cut from services to the disabled.
The citizens of Glasgow should not be asked to pay for the mistakes of bankers. Glasgow’s Councillors should oppose all cuts by setting a “needs budget” that protects services while organising a community and trade union campaign to win more money from the Scottish and UK Governments.
Get to the Lobby – No cuts in services!
The UNISON Glasgow City Branch co-ordinates the work of the DGS campaign.
Tel: 0141 552 7069 and Facebook/defendglasgowservices
The story of Glasgow is stopping shoppers in their tracks at St Enoch’s Centre. And Saturday 14 January between 12 noon and 4pm is the final chance to catch the beautifully choreographed promenade performance by dancers from Visual Statement. They are re-telling the tale of the city’s coat of arms – the Bird, the Bell, the Fish and the Tree. The inspirational performance by Nicola Gilmour, Brian McIntyre, Pauline McGlinchey and Cheree Thompson as the respective symbols, along with a dozen other dancers aged from 10, is a modern symphonic piece by Danny Dobbie assisted by Brian McIntyre and Wendie Reid. A movable sculpture commissioned by Visual Statement and designed by Andy Scott will add an extra dimension as the dancers move in and out and on to it. The music is the tranquil ‘A Little Scottish Fantasy’ by Vanessa Mae and ‘For Unto Us A Child Is Born’ by Handel. This is one of the many events during a week long celebration of St Mungo, Glasgow’s patron saint. Also known as St Kentigern, the medieval monk’s miracles involved, at different times, a bird, a tree and a fish. On Friday 13 January, around 350 young people will see a performance of the tales by five Glasgow schools with a senior pupil from Lourdes Secondary being the compere in the City Chambers. That afternoon the third Molendinar Awards will be presented to celebrate Glasgow’s local history and archaeology as seen by school children through their own local links. More than 30 schools have entered with the final 12 schools being showcased at the awards presentation in the city’s Banqueting Hall. Molendinar is the name of the burn that runs into the Clyde and it was alongside it, near what is now the High Street area, that St Mungo (St Kentigern) is thought to have settled. Framed certificates will be presented for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in each of the three categories – Pre 5: Primary 3; Primary 4: Primary 7 and Secondary. Winners will also receive a plaque to display in their school. The Molendinar Awards project brings to the community an awareness of Glasgow’s rich cultural heritage and is designed to support schools in the work they do linked to the local and wider community. Topics schools work on include local history, local family, local developments, school history, the community, tourist Glasgow, modern life and festivals in the city. Entries range from posters, power point presentations and DVD animations to songs and poems. Bailie Jean McFadden, Executive Member for Education, is delighted by the enthusiasm shown by pupils and hopes to see more schools participating next year. She said: ‘The Molendinar Awards are a tremendous opportunity for our schools. We have some very creative and talented young people as shown by the standard of entries this year. I know the judges had some very hard decisions to make. I hope the enthusiasm continues and that we will see more and more young people participating in the Molendinar Awards over the next few years.’ Glasgow City Council Leader, Councillor Gordon Matheson, will join Bailie McFadden in presenting the winning pupils with their framed certificates on Friday. He said: ‘The pupils have enjoyed all aspects of this competition and I’m sure that they will be very excited to find out who the winners are.’
Arthur Gemmell believes Councillors at Glasgow City Council are having their mail and ingoing phone calls censored on the instruction of the Council’s Executive. He has taken legal action against the Executive and been granted an interdict to have the issue raised in court.
In a long running battle with Glasgow City Council, one strategy he used recently to inform Councillors of his position was to deliver 80 booklets outlining his claims so that each Councillor could read the details for themselves.
A city business man, in a long-running dispute with Glasgow City Council over property, has taken direct action to highlight his case. Arthur Gemmell has festooned his building with notices claiming corruption.
And recently he left a copy of his record of the circumstances in the City Chambers for each Councillor.
Over years of disappearing court documents, he alleges that his city centre property has been earmarked for demolition because an adjacent hotel building has been allocated his site for their car park.
‘This is my property and I can’t use it because the building of the hotel has damaged it,’ he told this website.
One aspect of his claim was to have been heard at Glasgow Sheriff Court at 10am one day this summer. Called for 10am, the case was not heard till just before lunchtime when a court room became available. Only minutes into the hearing, the Sheriff discovered a discrepancy in some of the court documents and the case was put back till October.
This was the umpteenth delay since 2006 and Arthur is taking a complaint to a higher court.
‘There was a lot of confusion in court,’ said Arthur afterwards.
But he is determined to continue till he receives justice.