Survey asks young carers and young adult carers how Coronavirus has affected them

A recent Carers UK survey found that 70% of carers are providing more care due to Coronavirus, with 35% of carers providing more care as a result of the closure or reduction of local services.

Carers Trust has launched a survey to find out how young carers aged from 12 up to 25 have been affected by Coronavirus, and what support they need.

The findings of the survey will help influence decision makers to give young carers and young adult carers the support they need.

Can you help young carers and young adult carers by adding your voice and filling out the survey? And please spread the word with your friends who are also young carers to make sure as many people as possible take the survey.

The survey is live now and will run up to 23 June.

Edinburgh University micro-grants scheme

The University of Edinburgh’s micro-grant scheme for small scale community activities and local action has been refocused to assist with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Community organisations and charities based in East Lothian can apply for up to £500 through the scheme for projects or activities that are responding to COVID-19 in the local area. The funding is available all year round, and all applications will be reviewed by a panel.

Commenting on the scheme, Iain Gray MSP said:

“I welcome the refocusing of this micro-grants scheme to assist with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are many local charities and community groups undertaking excellent work to assist communities during the outbreak and this scheme offers another avenue for helping fund small scale community activities and local action.”

If you would like to apply for a larger grant, the University of Edinburgh also has a Community Grants Scheme, which is open twice a year for awards of up to £5,000.

Find out more about the micro-grants scheme and how to apply at

Iain helps mark Dementia Awareness Week

Today marks the start of this year’s Dementia Awareness Week, which runs until 7th June.

Alzheimer Scotland raises awareness of its work and encourages people to support them during the week, so that they can continue to make sure nobody faces dementia alone.

This week is understandably different to other years, and we must recognise the impact that coronavirus has had on many people with dementia and their carers.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“The number of Scots suffering Dementia, and the huge expected increase in the number of people with the condition in the next few years, is one of the biggest issues facing families and communities.  Pretty well every family has experience of this disease, I know that several branches of my own family are affected, and we are no different from anyone else.

“That makes Dementia Awareness Week and the opportunity it presents to raise both awareness and funds all the more important and I’m pleased to join efforts to help increase understanding of the condition.”

Alzheimer Scotland’s Chief Executive, Henry Simmons, has recorded a video to talk about Dementia Awareness Week during the coronavirus pandemic, which can be viewed here.

Visit Alzheimer Scotland’s website for more information about the week and how you can support it

Supporting Child Safety Week

Child Safety Week (1 to 7 June 2020) is an annual community education campaign week run by national charity the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT).

This year the week is changing in response to COVID-19, in order to help meet the changing needs of families and the frontline staff who support them during the pandemic. CAPT has adapted the Child Safety Week Parents’ Pack, so it helps parents take on child safety successfully.

The charity has also developed new content that practitioners can use right now in their digital communications, however they’re reaching out to families. This includes its top tips for child safety during lockdown and beyond, plus advice on preventing burns and poisoning.

CAPT is also reworking the Child Safety Week Action Pack as a year-round resource, so practitioners can use it in face-to-face work with families as lockdown eases.

Ahead of the start of the week, which he will be helping to promote, Iain Gray MSP said:

“Most children continue to be at home most of the time, which can be an incredibly challenging situation for parents. As well as coping with home schooling and other issues raised by lockdown, they also have to ensure that their children stay safe and avoid accidents.

“This means that Child Safety Week will be timely for many parents. It offers an opportunity to consider top tips for child safety during lockdown and beyond and put in place measures to help avoid accidents or other mishaps at home.

“The Child Accident Prevention Trust’s website and social media contain a wealth of useful advice and information and are well worth a visit during the week.”

Find out more about Child Safety Week at

Leaflet highlights support for those facing financial issues

A new leaflet bringing together information on a wide range of welfare support and income advice has been developed to support residents in East Lothian struggling with financial impacts of Covid-19.

Across East Lothian, services that provide financial advice and food have seen a rise in demand for their services as the economic impacts of Covid-19 are felt. This includes households who have seen their income fall due to furlough or reduced hours, being unable to work due to lockdown or care responsibilities, or who have lost their job.

Continuing to pay Council Tax and council rent remains important, meaning the council can continue with its work and vital services.

East Lothian Council’s Revenues and Welfare Support team created the leaflet to draw together a wide range of information including on Universal Credit, new style benefits for self-employed people, statutory sick pay and crisis grants. It also includes details for people in private lets or who own their own home. Contact details for organisations such as Citizens Advice and the DWP are included.

Commenting on the new resource, Iain Gray MSP said:

“The support and advice provided by staff at East Lothian Council during this pandemic has been outstanding. This includes its Welfare Rights team who have continued to help local people throughout the crisis.

“Many households are already facing significant financial hardship as a result of the economic impact of lockdown and this is only set to continue in the weeks and months ahead. Given the scale of the difficulties people are experiencing, this kind of one-stop resource will be vital to help ensure those in need can access the help they require as quickly as possible.”

Depute Council Leader Cllr Norman Hampshire said:

“We know that Covid-19 is having an impact on household finances as well as their health. For some residents – such as self-employed people – this is an entirely new situation.

“Continuing to pay your council rent or Council Tax is important and people should do so. The welfare system has changed in response to Covid-19 with some new supports available. We would encourage anyone concerned about their finances to get in touch with one of our teams or the many organisations that are available to help you for free and confidential support.”

The leaflet will be distributed through organisations such as East Lothian Foodbank and through local Connected Communities teams. It is available to download online on the Council’s website.

MS wellbeing portal launched

A new wellbeing hub to keep people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) connected during the coronavirus pandemic has received backing of £48,708 from the Scottish Government’s Wellbeing Fund.

Ahead of World MS Day (Saturday 30 May), MS Society Scotland is formally launching its suite of hundreds of free online and telephone sessions for people affected by the condition to access.

This includes access to one-to-one calls, counselling, financial wellbeing and physio support as well as many other activities designed to ensure people’s physical and mental health is maintained during the pandemic.

More than 15,000 people live with MS in Scotland and the wide range of meetings, webinars and calls delivered through the wellbeing hub will reach hundreds of these people.

Morna Simpkins, director of MS Scotland, said:

“We are delighted to have received funding to ensure that we can extend vital services we are providing people with MS can continue at this difficult time.

“Our research shows that our community are up to 12 times more likely to experience loneliness than on average – with three in five having felt extremely lonely as a result of their MS – so at a time when people are more isolated than ever it is key that there are services like this in place to support people.

“We have designed a range of sessions to support people’s emotional and physical health as well as a weekly schedule of activities and webinars to access. We know this is more important than ever, with many in our community shielding and people currently unable access their usual services due to the pandemic.

“If anyone is feeling isolated or you would like more support to maintain your wellbeing please do contact us and sign-up to what’s on offer.”

The hub aims to improve emotional wellbeing by reducing levels of anxiety, stress, isolation and loneliness as well as physical wellbeing with increased physical activity levels, improved strength, stamina, balance, mobility and reduced fatigue.

Physical activities like yoga, pilates and seated exercise will be available as live tasters with pre-recorded online exercise sessions also available online. People will also be able to access one-to-one physio appointments – something which has been an issue for some people as additional stress has been placed on the NHS.

In total, 470 online meetings, webinars and sessions will be offered to 350 people living with MS.

To improve mental health, counselling sessions are available as well as calls with the MS Society team to help people find more information or other organisations that can support them.

MS Society Scotland will also hold a weekly schedule consisting of wellbeing webinars on mindfulness, relaxation, and tapping therapies in addition to virtual socials led by peer volunteers and craft and skills webinars. These webinars on subjects like creative writing, book binding and singing will be delivered by volunteers from the MS community.

To find out more and to talk to someone about how to access the services that make up the hub email or phone 0131 335 4081.

For the latest information on how people with MS are affected by Covid-19 visit the MS Society Website.

ScotRail advice for safer rail travel

Following the Scottish Government’s publication of the route-map for moving out of lockdown and the further Transport Transition Plan announced by the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, ScotRail has issued new guidance on what this means for its services.

As a first step towards gradually returning to full service, the company has confirmed that a small number of daily services will be added to the timetable from Monday 1 June.

The extra services will deliver more options for travel during peak times and continue to deliver for key workers. The small increase in services – from 43 per cent of a normal timetable to 47 per cent – will mean there is more capacity for key workers and essential travellers to increase the opportunities for physical distancing over the coming weeks.

ScotRail is continuing to work with government, through the Rail Recovery Task Force, to develop a timetable to reflect the various phases as we come out of lockdown. Its key priority is the safety of customers and employees, who play a vital role in keeping the country moving.

As the Scottish Government have advised, the message remains the same: people should only travel when it is essential to do so.

To help keep customers as safe as possible ScotRail has issued five rules for safer travel:

Find out more at

One week left to apply for Creative Breaks grant

There is just one week left for organisations that provide short breaks opportunities for carers of adults, young people and the people they care for to apply for a grant from the Creative Breaks programme.

The Creative Breaks programme, administered by Shared Care Scotland, provides 12 month grants to third sector organisations to develop and deliver short breaks projects and services for carers of adults (aged 21 years and over), and young carers (caring for children or adults), and the people that they care for.

A total of approximately £600,000 is available for the 2020-21 round of the Creative Breaks funding programme. Grants are for one year and will be awarded in October 2020. The maximum grant award is £35,000, and for unincorporated organisations the maximum grant award is £5,000. The average grant award in previous years has been around £13,000.

Find out more about which organisations are eligible and how to apply at

Grants extended to small businesses in shared premises

Iain Gray MSP has joined business groups in welcoming the extension of grant support for businesses that work out of shared premises such as indoor market venues and shared workspace offices.

The Scottish Government announced yesterday it was extending eligibility for retail, hospitality and leisure grants to those in multiple-occupancy premises with a total value above £51,000 and those in shared office spaces, business incubators and industrial units where the landlord is the ratepayer.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“I welcome the decision to extend business support eligibility to businesses that operate out of shared premises. This was a significant gap in the support available to businesses in Scotland and affected many small businesses here in East Lothian.

“Whilst there are still some gaps in the business support provision available to Scottish SMEs, this is an important step forward and Ministers must now ensure that funding reaches eligible businesses as quickly as possible.”

Andrew McRae, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Scotland policy chair, said:

“All over Scotland, many independent businesses have found themselves in the desperate position of being excluded from coronavirus financial support because of the type of property from which they operate. And many of these firms faced the same ongoing costs as those entitled to help. 

“After FSB raised these issues, it looks like ministers have recognised this injustice and have taken the right steps. While we need to understand the detail, they sound like savvy changes that could provide real support for many independent firms in their hour of need. However this help needs to be distributed quickly before these businesses run out of road.”

Challenging the abuse of older people during lockdown

Hourglass Scotland, previously Action on Elder Abuse, has contacted me to highlight its deep concern about the significantly increased risk of abuse and neglect to the nation’s older population, as widespread lockdown and self-isolation takes effect amid the UK’s efforts to tackle the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

Hourglass is working exclusively on challenging the abuse of older people in all its forms and provides a range of support and advice for anyone with concerns about their safety or wellbeing or those of an older person they know.

Anyone with concerns should call the Hourglass helpline on 0808 808 8141 from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Outside these hours you can leave a message or use the contact form online at

For further information about Hourglass Scotland’s work and services please visit