Quizzed by PL Modern Studies students

Iain Gray MSP has visited Preston Lodge High School for a Q & A session with a Modern Studies Higher class.

The visit came about because the class is visiting the Scottish Parliament next week but Mr Gray will not be available to meet them at that time.

Speaking after his visit, Iain Gray MSP said:

“Whenever local schools visit the Scottish Parliament, I make time to meet with them and answer their questions as part of their programme. Unfortunately, when Preston Lodge Modern Studies Higher class visit next week that just will not be possible, so instead I went into the school.

“That meant they got an hour to grill me instead of 30 minutes, and some of the N5 and Advanced Higher class joined in too! As you might expect from students who have been working on democracy for a few months, the questions were searching and wide ranging from Brexit to the importance of parliamentary committees.

“I wish them all good luck with the visit and with their essays and exams!”

Motion welcomes local success at ScotRail community awards

Iain Gray MSP has tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament welcoming the success of Rosie Oberlander at the first ever ScotRail community awards.

Rosie, who led the work of North Berwick in Bloom’s station adopters group, was the winner in the Station Adopter of the Year award category.

Mr Gray’s motion congratulates Rosie on her success and also praises the work of her fellow volunteers in North Berwick in Bloom who have done such a wonderful job in the town for many years.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“Rosie’s success in being named Station Adopter of the Year at these inaugural awards is a fantastic achievement and one I was delighted to acknowledge in Parliament.

“The award is very well deserved recognition of the huge effort she and her fellow volunteers in North Berwick in Bloom make year in year out to ensure the town looks at its very best for local people and visitors.”

The full motion is as follows:

That the Parliament congratulates Rosie Oberlander, head of North Berwick in Bloom’s station adopters group, on her success in the Station Adopter of the Year category at the first ScotRail Community Awards; understands that, as the head of the group, Rosie’s tasks included ensuring the annual planting schedule was followed and watering all the planters at the station; notes that North Berwick station was one of three shortlisted for a national station award in 2018 and that the appearance of the station has made a significant contribution to North Berwick in Bloom’s success in Beautiful Scotland and Britain in Bloom, and pays tribute to Rosie’s dedication, leadership and enthusiasm, as well as all of her fellow volunteers in North Berwick in Bloom for their hard work throughout the year.

Carers Week visit to Leuchie House

Iain Gray MSP has visited Leuchie House to discuss the issues faced by carers as part of the charity’s activities to mark Carers Week.

Leuchie House is the leading Scottish destination for those with long term conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease, Stroke and Parkinson’s and seeking a short break care. It provides invaluable respite for carers from their day-to-day caring responsibilities.

Speaking after his visit, Iain Gray MSP said:

“Leuchie House provides exceptional service for its guests and their carers. It has always focused on the needs of both those living with MS and other long term conditions and those with caring responsibilities.

“As well as providing excellent holiday experiences and specialised care, staff and volunteers at Leuchie are also powerful advocates for carers’ rights and have helped give voice to the needs of unpaid carers, especially during Carers Week.

“I welcomed this latest opportunity to meet with carers at Leuchie and thank them for taking the time to talk to me about their own experiences of caring for a loved one. There is still much to do to ensure that carers receive the support and resources they deserve.”

Chief Executive of Leuchie House, Mark Bevan added:

“Caring for a loved one may be thought of as a duty. It is one which can be as demanding as it is rewarding, with one in five carers not having had a break for more than five years, it can also be exhausting. Leuchie House is all about giving people with long-term conditions an outstanding holiday experience as well as offering a respite break to those with caring responsibilities.

“Carers Week gives us the opportunity to raise the issues faced by carers and those in receipt of care whilst their carer has a break. We are pleased to see and receive Scottish Government support and it is absolutely right that the experience of carers is heard, loud and clear.

“However, for many, the experience of respite care can be a difficult choice: the exhaustion of caring or the guilt of placing a loved one, in their 40’s and 50’s in a wholly inappropriate, temporarily available bed in an older people’s nursing home. The right to respite has to be met with resources which are appropriate to the need. We are delighted to have the chance to discuss these issues with Iain here at Leuchie, where we are trying to make respite a truly positive choice.”

Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.

Motion congratulates Scott Glynn on MBE award

A motion marking the award of the MBE to Scott Glynn in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List has been tabled at Holyrood by local MSP, Iain Gray.

As well as congratulating Scott on his success in being awarded the honour, the motion also highlights the outstanding achievements made through his Walk with Scott Foundation fundraising activities for which he received the MBE.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“Scott Glynn has been a high profile and well liked local character for many years. Since 2013, his Walk with Scott Foundation fundraising activities have resulted in significant benefits for local charities, community groups and good causes.  

“Scott’s own personal health struggle has also been well documented in recent years, but he never let that stop his charitable work. He is a genuine local hero and fully deserves this recognition of everything he has done to support people in need across East Lothian.”

The full motion reads:

That the Parliament congratulates the Tranent resident, Scott Glynn, on being appointed an MBE for services to charity in The Queen’s Birthday Honours List; notes that Scott started his Walk with Scott fundraising activities in 2013 to assist local causes and organisations, before formally establishing the Walk with Scott Foundation in 2017; further notes that the foundation has now raised over £300,000 in support of dozens of different community groups and charities, and believes that Scott’s outstanding efforts on behalf of communities and individuals across East Lothian makes him a very worthy appointment of an MBE.

Raising awareness of cervical screening

To mark Cervical Screening Awareness Week (10-16th June), local MSP Iain Gray has teamed up with charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, to encourage people to attend their smear test in order to prevent cervical cancer.

Around 220,000 women are diagnosed with cell changes (abnormalities) every year in the UK following a smear test.  Treatment for cell changes, given to prevent development of cervical cancer, is highly successful and 80% treated will not experience a recurrence.

However, new research by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has found that some women having treatment for cervical cell changes are not being informed about potential side effects. Many are unprepared for impacts such as pelvic pain, bleeding, anxiety and even loss of sex life, with the severity of some far greater than the current literature suggests. High numbers remain fearful of their cancer risk many years after treatment.

The new report ‘Not so simple. The impact of cervical cell changes and treatment’ highlights one in five (20%) of the 1,622 women surveyed said possible impacts of treatment were not explained to them.  There was variation in the number aware of specific side effects. While 86% experienced bleeding or spotting for up to 6 weeks, one in seven (15%) were unaware of this common side effect.  The charity wants to see standardised information about potential side effects.

Iain Gray MSP said: 

“I am pleased to support Cervical Screening Awareness Week to highlight the importance of cervical screening, a 5 minute test that can prevent cervical cancer.  220,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with cell changes from their smear test every year which can be a confusing and distressing diagnosis.   

“Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust have published a useful ‘jargon buster’ to explain what all the terms mean and are calling for more support for those affected.”

Rebecca Shoosmith, Head of Support Services, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said:

“While treatment for cell changes remains highly effective, we must start to see it as more than just a simple procedure and acknowledge the impact diagnosis and treatment can have on women. There has been lots of focus on the needs of those attending screening, and of those with a cancer diagnosis, but this is a group who have previously been overlooked. Better information provision and support for those having treatment is essential.

 “While for many women diagnosis and treatment is relatively straightforward, it is clear that for others it is the opposite. The psychological impact can be significant and feeling uninformed will only add to women feeling less able to seek support. While appointment time in colposcopy is limited, there is a clear need for greater discussion about side effects. Other health professionals such as GPs and practice nurses should also take the time to ask questions and ascertain if further support is needed.”

Marianne Wood, Nurse Colposcopist said:

“This report provides an opportunity for Colposcopists to look at their existing practice and identify where improvements are needed.

“This includes looking at the written information provided and how much time is dedicated to talking with patients before and after treatment. It is vital that women fully understand what is happening to them and feel able to manage any side effects. We must remember that every woman is different and will need an individualised approach to their treatment.”

Praise for pupils’ showcase at science teaching conference

Iain Gray MSP was delighted to meet a group of pupils from Humbie primary at this year’s Primary Science Education Conference in Edinburgh.

Mr Gray was at the conference as a member of the Parliament’s Education Committee, which is currently carrying out an investigation into progress on the Scottish Government’s STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) Education Strategy.

The conference is organised by the Primary Science Teaching Trust and their key partners in Scotland, SSERC (Scottish Schools Education Research Centre) who promote science in schools, and train primary teachers in delivering Science education.

Humbie Primary was amongst a handful of schools chosen to showcase their good practice in science based learning at the conference. They have been working on climate change, including some imaginative practical work re-using materials, for example turning shopping bags into a turtle, and plastic bottles into “bricks”.

They also produced some banners in solidarity with the schoolchildren who joined climate change protests recently.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“The Parliament’s Education Committee has been focusing on science teaching in primary schools, having heard much evidence that if we wish more pupils to pursue STEM subjects in secondary school (and beyond) their interest has to have been captured in primary school or even nursery.

“Particular issues we have identified are a lack of confidence in science amongst some primary teachers, and a lack of support staff to support such work. All this is very close to my heart having been a Science teacher, albeit many years ago.

“I was delighted to meet the Humbie primary school pupils at the conference. Their experience shows that science can be taught in ways that engage and inspire the imagination of children at primary school. Their enthusiasm was infectious and their confidence in explaining their work to conference delegates a real credit to the school and their teachers.”

Iain hosts ELCAP’s 30th anniversary reception at Holyrood

Iain Gray MSP has hosted a reception at the Scottish Parliament to help celebrate ELCAP’s 30th anniversary as a local social care charity.

Established in March 1989, ELCAP (originally the East Lothian Care and Accommodation Project) provides care and support for people who are affected by learning disabilities, mental health problems, or who need help to stay active, safe and well.

The reception at Holyrood provided an opportunity for MSPs to hear about ELCAP’s innovative approaches to its work.

As well as hosting the reception and welcoming the guests on the evening, Mr Gray also took some of ELCAP’s members into the Parliament’s debating chamber.

Speaking after the reception, Iain Gray MSP said:

“I was very pleased to host ELCAP’s 30th anniversary reception at Parliament. As a former Chair of the organisation, I am well aware of its many achievements and the positive difference it has made to the lives of so many local people since it was first established.

“ELCAP has transformed the lives of many people with learning disabilities in the County, enabling them to live a full life in the community.  It is also a very important local employer.”

Iain begins Youth Advocacy Award challenge

Iain Gray MSP has taken up the challenge to complete the Scouts Scotland Youth Advocacy Award, starting with a visit to a local beavers group.

In the same way that Scouts earn their badges, Mr Gray will earn the award by completing a number of activities chosen by young people to help MSPs experience the life changing opportunities that the Scouts offer.

The MSP started working on his new badge with a visit to the North Berwick Beaver group to see the difference that the uniformed groups can make to young people in East Lothian.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“I’m delighted to be taking part in the Scouts Scotland Youth Advocacy Award over the coming months. The uniformed groups makes a huge difference across East Lothian in helping young people develop essential skills for life.

“I already undertake a range of activities with young people in East Lothian, so this award seems like a logical next step.

“My visit to the North Berwick Beaver group gave me an insight into the level of preparation that is involved with their camping activities and how dedicated the young people and their leaders are.

“Having started the award, I’m really looking forward to continuing the process with young people in East Lothian to achieving my badge and becoming a Youth Advocate.”

Tudor Westwood, Chair of the National Youth Advisory Group for Scouts Scotland, said:

The exciting thing is that this badge encourages politicians to see and engage with, first-hand, the extraordinary work Scouts Scotland does every single day in Scotland.

“Each week, we give almost 40,000 young people in Scotland the opportunity to enjoy fun and adventure while developing the skills they need to succeed and I believe this advocacy award will help to inspire more of our young people to engage with democracy and work towards social change.”

The Youth Advocate Award also designed to give politicians a greater insight into the work that Scouts Scotland is undertaking week in week out in Scotland. Scouts Scotland believe in preparing young people with skills for life by encouraging young people to do more, learn more and be more.

Find out more about the work of Scouts Scotland at www.scouts.scot

Parliamentarians urge local businesses to enter Small Biz 100

Small Business Saturday 2019 will take place on 7th December, and Small Business Saturday UK are looking for 100 outstanding small businesses to celebrate in the run up to the day.

County parliamentarians Iain Gray MSP and Martin Whitfield MP are urging small businesses in East Lothian to consider applying to be part of the prestigious campaign’s activity this year.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“East Lothian has a huge variety of amazing small businesses who deserve to be highlighted and supported. Small Biz 100 is a great way for them to reach a wider audience and gain recognition for their efforts and I encourage businesses here to apply.”

Every year Small Business Saturday highlights 100 small businesses, one a day for the 100 days leading up to Small Business Saturday. The successful businesses are profiled on Small Business Saturday’s social media channels and their selection is shared with local and national press.

Previous 100 businesses have been invited to exclusive ‘Blue Tie’ events and have also joined the Small Business Saturday team in London at receptions in Downing Street, House of Lords and the Treasury Drum with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Applications for Small Biz 100 can be made via the Small Business Saturday UK website at https://smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com/small-biz-100

Welcoming Macmillan bus to county

Macmillan Cancer Support’s Mobile Information and  Support Bus was in East Lothian today to offer free and confidential information and support to anyone with questions or worries about cancer.

The bus is staffed by experienced Cancer Information and Support Specialists, and on board, there is a wide range of information and leaflets available for people affected by cancer.

Iain Gray MSP took time off from the European elections to welcome the Macmillan staff onboard the bus as they stopped at the Tesco Haddington store car park.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“Macmillan is an outstanding charity that offers an amazing range of information, advice and support for people diagnosed with cancer and their families.

“The mobile information and support bus is a fantastic way of bringing their services out into the community and I was delighted to welcome the staff to the county and thank them for being here.”

Find out more at www.macmillan.org.uk