Time to raise a mug for World’s Biggest Coffee Morning

It’s that time of year again, when fundraisers across the country gear up for Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning on Friday 25 September.

Iain Gray MSP is helping promote the leading fundraising event this month and is urging local people to consider signing up and getting involved this year.

This year Macmillan is encouraging people to hold their own event – small or big, tea or coffee, socially distanced or virtual – Coffee Morning can be what you make it, as long as it raises funds to support the charity’s vital work.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“Thousands of people in East Lothian have experience of cancer, either personally or in their families, and for many of them Macmillan has been there to offer vital advice and support. The charity’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning is one the best supported fundraising events in the country, raising a remarkable £27 million last year.

“But, in the current circumstances with charitable donations falling in the wake of the pandemic, fundraising events like this are more important than ever, which is why I’m helping to promote Macmillan coffee mornings in East Lothian again this year.

“While there are always a number of events organised by local groups and organisations, I would also encourage people to consider holding their own coffee morning. It’s a fun and easy way to raise money for Macmillan, and they will provide everything you need to host your own even.”

It couldn’t be more simple to get involved in World’s Biggest Coffee Morning – register now for your free fundraising pack via the website – www.macmillan.org.uk/coffee – or find a Coffee Morning near you to get involved in.

Backing Glow Gold September awareness campaign

Iain Gray MSP is backing this year’s Glow Gold September, the annual campaign to raise awareness and understanding of the challenges of childhood cancer.

Glow Gold September started in 2016, when campaigners across the UK launched the campaign as part of childhood cancer awareness month. Every September since the launch hundreds of iconic buildings throughout the UK and beyond have been lit up to help put childhood cancer in the spotlight.

Mr Gray has supported the campaign from the outset and is again showing his support for the Glow Gold message to help to focus the attention of the public and policy-makers on childhood cancer during the month of September.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“Glow Gold September has had a major impact over the last few years, helping to focus attention on childhood cancer and ensure that the needs of the thousands of young people living with cancer are a priority.

“This year, despite the constraints of the pandemic, campaigners are still promoting the Glow Gold message to keep raising awareness. I’m delighted to support the campaign again and help increase understanding of childhood cancer throughout the month of September.”

For more information about Glow Gold September please visit www.facebook.com/GlowGoldSeptember

Iain backs Second Hand September campaign

Iain Gray MSP is lending his support to Oxfam’s Second Hand September campaign, which gets underway today.

Now in its second year, the campaign aims to highlight the increasing pressure fast fashion is putting on the environment and asks the public to buy second hand clothes instead of new for at least one month.

The message from the campaign is that throwaway fashion is unsustainable, with 13 million items of clothing in the UK ending up in landfill every week. Buying second hand is a fun and easy alternative to fast fashion as it helps to slow the relentless consumer cycle by giving garments a second chance to be sold and re-used.

This year Oxfam says the campaign is even bigger and better. The charity’s shops will be showcasing the very best of second hand throughout the month, with consumers also able to choose from over 100,000 items on the Oxfam Online Shop 24 hours a day.

By shopping at Oxfam, people can also do their bit to raise money to help the world’s poorest people fight for their right to be paid a fair wage, be protected against climate disasters and access the basics like clean water. £10 spent in an Oxfam shop could buy clean water for 10 people.

Speaking about his support for the campaign, Iain Gray MSP said:

“I’m pleased to support Second Hand September again and help Oxfam send a message to consumers that throwaway fashion is bad for the planet and that we must buy our clothes in a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable way.

“I regularly shop at Oxfam and other local charity shops and know that there are many high-quality used and new items to be found in store and online. Having spent 12 years working for Oxfam before entering politics, I also know what a difference every penny raised by Oxfam shops makes to the lives of some of the world’s poorest people.

“That’s why I’m backing Second Hand September and urging constituents to get behind the campaign too and do their bit to contribute to a fairer and greener society.”

The campaign encourages people to take a pledge to help slow down fast fashion during the month of September.

Find out more at www.oxfam.org.uk/SecondHandSeptember.

Great British Beach Clean 2020

There is less than a month to go until this year’s Great British Beach Clean, organised annually by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), which is running from the 18th – 25th September.

This year they are asking volunteers to focus on small, local beach cleans – as a family or in small groups – to stay in line with the Scottish Government’s Coronavirus guidelines.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“East Lothian has some of the most stunning coastline and beautiful beaches to be found anywhere in the UK and we must do all we can to protect and conserve this wonderful natural resource. 

“We’ve all seen the scale of the litter problem on our beaches and in our green spaces now lockdown restrictions have begun to ease. It’s more important than ever to look after our local environment and to continue monitoring and removing the litter on our coast. 

“The Great British Beach Clean is a great opportunity for the public to contribute to this effort and do their bit to help keep our beaches and coastal areas looking their best.”

If you would like to take part the MCS have produced new guidance and easy step by step guides on their website at www.mcsuk.org/Beachwatch

Iain welcomes start of inaugural Scottish Children’s Health Week

Iain Gray MSP has welcomed the start of the first ever Scottish Children’s Health Week (31 August to 6 September).

The week has been created to focus on the health and wellbeing of children and young people and their right to the best possible health.

It was launched by Children’s Health Scotland’s Patron, singer KT Tunstall, who said:

“I’m really excited to let everyone know about Scottish Children’s Health Week and the Awards which start today.  Yes, we have created a whole week focusing on the health and wellbeing of children and young people and the right to the best possible health.

“Check out Scottish Children’s Health Week to see what’s going on and there is a free Activity Book to download, jam packed full of games and activities to get children, along with their parents, carers and families, thinking about their health and #feelinggood!

“During each day of Scottish Children’s Health Week, the winners of the Scottish Children’s Health Awards 2020 will be announced.  These awards have been created to celebrate courageous children and those who are making a difference to the health and wellbeing of children and young people in Scotland. I want to send my congratulations and support to each of these winners, and to all those who were nominated for these awards – for dedicating so much of their time, energy and compassion to making a difference to the health of children and young people in Scotland.”

Find out more about the week and how to get involved at www.childrenshealthscotland.org/

University of Edinburgh Community Grants Scheme

The University of Edinburgh’s Community Grants scheme is now open for applications, with groups able to apply for up to £5,000 for a project, which should increase engagement between the University and communities while having a positive social impact.
Since 2017, over £270,000 has been awarded in grants to charities, community groups and social enterprises doing fantastic work across the region. This round of funding has been brought forward to help with the response to Covid-19.
Find out more about the scheme and how to apply at www.ed.ac.uk/local/community-grants

Tenth anniversary of Armed Services Advice Project

This week the Citizens Advice Scotland-run Armed Services Advice Project (ASAP) is celebrating its tenth anniversary.

The project offers specialist advice and support to those serving in the armed forces, or are veterans, and their families, and since it was founded in 2010, the service has helped 15,950 people across Scotland.

It is run by Citizens Advice Scotland and funded by a coalition of military charities, led by PoppyScotland.

Over the past decade the project has unlocked £17.6 million for those it has helped by accessing, for example, welfare benefits, unpaid wages, compensation and other funding sources.

Commenting on the project’s anniversary, Iain Gray MSP said:

“Over the last decade this project has had a positive impact on the lives of thousands of armed forces personnel and veterans, often when they have not known where else to turn to for help. I want to thank everyone involved in the project and congratulate them on their 10th anniversary.”

ASAP National Organiser, Claire Williams, said:

“It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole decade since we were set up. Today I’m incredibly proud of our advisers and workers across Scotland. They have transformed the lives of 15,900 people who were really struggling.”

Find out more about the work of ASAP at www.adviceasap.org.uk or call its helpline free on 0808 800 1007.

Let’s back our local producers this food and drink fortnight

Speaking ahead of this year’s Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight (5 to 20 September), Iain Gray MSP has urged East Lothian residents to back the county’s excellent food and drink producers and retailers by shopping locally.

Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight is an annual celebration of the best Scotland’s food and drink sector has to offer, from every corner of the country. It offers an opportunity to shine a spotlight on our fantastic industry and remind people why it is so vital to support local food and drink producers.

This year’s Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight takes place between 5 – 20 September. Mr Gray is encouraging local producers and consumers to get involved in sourcing, buying, eating and promoting East Lothian’s outstanding food and drink during the celebration.

Speaking about his support for the annual campaign, Iain Gray MSP said:

“East Lothian boasts some of the finest food and drink to be found anywhere in the UK. While we can all take great pride in this local food and drink excellence, there is always more that can be done to support and promote it. That’s why I’m encouraging local businesses and consumers to be part of the nation’s biggest food and drink celebration.

“Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight gives us the opportunity to amplify the importance of supporting our local food and drink, recognising the suppliers, products and people and celebrating the hard work, determination and innovative ways the industry has adapted to the unprecedented last few months.

“I’m looking forward to hearing more about the innovation of the county’s local food and drink businesses during the fortnight and helping to promote the shop local message to constituents.”

Find out more about this year’s Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight at https://fooddrinkfort.scot/#scotfoodgoals

Call for county to get Covid walk-through test centre

Following the announcement that 11 new Covid-19 walk-through testing centres are to be opened across Scotland, Iain Gray MSP has written to the Scottish Government calling for one of the centres to be located in East Lothian.

The call follows widespread reports over recent days that people have been struggling to get tested, with some people in Scotland only offered tests in England.

While there has been some temporary mobile drive-through testing at Cockenzie, the nearest permanent drive-through testing facility to East Lothian is at Edinburgh Airport, some 40 miles from the easternmost end of the county.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“We have said from the outset of this pandemic that testing is the key to monitoring and controlling the virus. Therefore, the reports over recent days of people being unable to access a test, or even being advised to go to England for one, are extremely disappointing.

“However, the announcement that 11 new walk-through centres are to be opened is welcome and should hopefully help to resolve these testing problems. I’ve written to the Cabinet Secretary for Health to urge her to locate one of these new centres in East Lothian.

“Given our distance from the Edinburgh Airport testing centre, an 80-mile round trip for some people, I hope the Scottish Government will listen to my plea and make it much easier for residents here to be tested.”

Events Industry Support Fund set to launch

The new Events Industry Support Fund, providing financial help for businesses in the events industry who have been ineligible for the various funding packages announced by the Scottish Government following the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), will open for applications on 31st August.

The £6 million fund will be administered via VisitScotland and has been developed in consultation with the Event Industry Advisory Group (EIAG).

The fund is open to businesses in the events industry, and particularly those in the supply chain, that can demonstrate events in Scotland are their primary source of income and have not received funding from any other Scottish Government sponsored COVID scheme.

To be eligible for support businesses must meet the eligibility criteria and provide supporting documentation.

Applications will go live on Monday 31 August at 12 noon, for 14 days closing on Monday 14 September 2020 at 12 noon. Fund awards will be allocated on a first come, first served basis and successful applicants will be eligible to receive a one-off grant of £10,000.

Find about more about the fund and how to apply at www.visitscotland.org/events/funding/coronavirus-support-fund