ScotRail timetable changes from 30th March

Message from ScotRail on further timetable changes from Monday 30th March:

Services running across Scotland’s Railway will be further revised from Monday, 30 March, as we refine the arrangements we have in place to keep key workers moving.

Following Scottish Government guidance that advises against all non-essential travel, we’ve focussed changes in the areas of the country where people need it most.

Those changes include earlier and later services for NHS workers at hospitals after consultation with health boards, and through feedback from customers on the services that are still being well used.

These included earlier services for NHS staff working at Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock, additional East Kilbride services for Hairmyres Hospital, and changes on multiple routes for Glasgow-based hospitals.

There will also be a reduction on services in the middle of the day, with customer journey numbers falling by almost 80 per cent year-on-year.

The Coronavirus is having an increased impact on staff working on Scotland’s Railway, and reducing the number of trains in service is creating opportunities for additional cleaning activities on trains, in depots, and at stations.

The service level will deliver more than enough seats to meet the current demand levels and the timetable will be kept under regular review to react to any further developments.

Phil Campbell, ScotRail Head of Customer Operations, said:

“We know how important a role Scotland’s Railway is playing and this further revision of the timetable will help the people who need it most across the country.

“It’s vitally important that everyone stays at home unless there’s no other option, and we have made the latest changes to help those key workers get to where they need to be.

“Our own people are part of that key worker group, working on the frontline to help the country through this crisis and we continue to work with the Scottish Government to play our part to help.”

Visit ScotRail.co.uk/coronavirus for more details.

Coronavirus advice from Which?

Consumer champions Which? have been in touch to highlight its new Coronavirus consumer rights and advice hub for any questions or concerns you may have about your consumer rights at this time.
 
This unique page brings together relevant news, advice, and community discussions on many issues related to COVID-19. This includes what people should do about cancelled travel arrangements, postponed events and insurance issues; right through to helping people to spot fake news and scams, how to manage their finances if they find themselves in an uncertain situation, and recommending technology to help them stay in touch with elderly and self-isolated friends and family.
 

COVID-19 and support for businesses from Scottish Enterprise

Letter from Scottish Enterprise:

COVID-19 AND SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES IN SCOTLAND

The situation we are facing regarding COVID-19 is unprecedented.  While the priority is understandably the health and wellbeing of us all, we recognise that this is also an incredibly uncertain time for businesses.

It is incumbent on those of us responsible for supporting Scotland’s economy to be doing all we can to help businesses, workers and communities through this time of extraordinary challenge.  As Scotland’s national economic development agency, Scottish Enterprise, and our dedicated people, stand ready to help in any way we can.

I expect that you have received many enquiries from businesses in your constituency/ region about what support is available to them.  Over the past week or so, the Scottish and UK Governments have outlined unprecedented financial and economic measures to help businesses and workers.

To complement these measures, Scottish Enterprise and our partner agencies will:

1: Help businesses quickly find and access the right support for them

All Scottish and UK Government support for business can be viewed on our main online resource: https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/coronavirus-advice/.

We understand the importance of providing up-to-date, concise and straightforward information as quickly as possible.  That’s why this website is regularly updated to both reflect the current situation and include new measures of support announced.  We would encourage businesses in your constituency/ region to visit this website regularly.

Specific information about changes to non-domestic rates and extra rates relief, which will be introduced from 1 April, can be viewed at https://www.mygov.scot/non-domestic-rates-coronavirus/.

The Scottish Government has also created a dedicated section on its website regarding COVID-19 – https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/.  All Scottish Government announcements regarding support for businesses in relation to COVID-19, including the announcement yesterday (24 March) that the £1 billion Business Support Fund is now open for applications, will be added here.

2: Urgently review our budgets so that we can reprioritise our resources to support economic resilience now and economic recovery in the future.

3: Deploy our networks at home and abroad to connect individuals and businesses who can help and learn from each other.

4: Use our privileged relationship with businesses to listen, to gather intelligence on the fast-moving economic landscape, and to feed that insight into policy and operational decisions.

Significant updates and changes will also be amplified via Scottish Enterprise’s various social media channels on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

You will also be aware that there is a COVID-19 helpline (0300 303 0660) for businesses.  This helpline has experienced unparalleled demand, receiving thousands of calls since going live on 13 March.  We continue to allocate additional resources to this helpline, working in partnership with other agencies to ensure all enquiries received are answered.  However, given the demand on call handlers, we would encourage businesses to access the website in the first instance.

This is a time of significant uncertainty for us all.  While we must help serve the urgent needs businesses have, we must also think about how we help businesses emerge from this crisis in a position to grow.  This will be a significant challenge, but one Scottish Enterprise and our partners are committed to overcoming.

If we can be of any help to you or companies in your constituency/ region at this difficult time, please do not hesitate to get in touch by replying to this email address.  Scottish Enterprise will continue to keep you informed as the situation develops.

Steve Dunlop
Chief Executive

Iain backs #SolidarityWithShopworkers campaign

Iain Gray MSP is backing a campaign from shopworkers union Usdaw encouraging the public to support essential staff in the retail, manufacturing and distribution sectors during the COVID-19 crisis.

The #SolidarityWithShopworkers campaign is urging the public to show their thanks in person by treating shop staff with kindness and respect.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“Local shops, supermarkets and businesses throughout the supply chain have been working flat out over the last few weeks to meet the unprecedented demand for food and other essentials and keep the shelves stocked. They are providing an outstanding service and helping keep our communities going at this most difficult of times.

“All of the staff, from the smallest shop to the biggest supermarket, as well as the delivery workers and those producing our food, deserve our gratitude and, crucially, respect for all they are doing for us.

“The very least we can do is refrain from buying more than we need, observe the social distancing measures while shopping and not take any frustration we may feel out on hard pressed checkout and counter staff.”

Find out more about Usdaw’s work during the crisis, including which essential retailers are recruiting staff, at https://www.usdaw.org.uk/Help-Advice/Coronavirus-Update

Citizens Advice Scotland coronavirus support

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is having a detrimental impact on many aspects of people’s lives, not least on household incomes and finances.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) is providing regular updates on a range of coronavirus-related issues affecting households, including advice on staying well, problems at work, claiming benefits, what to do if you’re struggling to pay bills or rent, avoiding scams and travelling.

The CAS website also contains a wealth of information on other problems people might be facing, including debt and other financial issues, consumer rights, legal issues, immigration and housing.

Find out more at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/…/coronavirus-what-it-means-for-…/

Aberlour Urgent Assistance Fund

Children’s charity Aberlour is promoting its Urgent Assistance Fund and how it can help families experiencing significant levels of poverty as a result of the Coronavirus epidemic.

The Fund awards cash grants to assist children and young people (aged 21 and under) across Scotland, and their families, who are suffering extreme hardship. This support is to assist with a range of needs, such as food, prepay power cards, clothing, bedding or other essentials.

SallyAnn Kelly, Aberlour’s chief executive said:

“As this Coronavirus crisis unfolded, Aberlour recognised immediately that as well as keeping our services going to the best of our ability, our priority must be to put money in the hands of people hardest hit by its impact.

“That’s why our trustees decided to invest an additional £100k in the Fund and why we launched a public appeal which, I am delighted to say, has already raised more than £70k.

“We take great care to ensure that assistance reaches those most in need. Applications must be endorsed and submitted by a sponsor, acting in their professional capacity. Applications from individuals are not accepted.”  

You can find out more about the Fund and how eligible sponsors, which include social workers, health care professionals, teachers, clergy and third sector organisations, can submit applications on behalf of children and families at www.aberlour.org.uk/service-category/urgent-assistance-fund/

Shared parenting during the COVID-19 crisis

Childcare arrangements for parents who live separately had been an area of confusion since the announcement of new travel restrictions on Monday, with Shared Parenting Scotland reporting having received many calls and e-mails from parents who do not live together about the situation.

The charity have been in touch to confirm that after this initial confusion, the guidance from the Scottish and UK Governments is that it is permissible for children to move between homes if their parents do not live together. It is an exception to the current travel restrictions.

Anyone requiring further details or with more specific enquiries on this issue should contact Shared Parenting Scotland by phone on 0131 557 2440 or e-mail at info@sharedparenting.scot.

Further information on this question and other issues around shared parenting during the crisis can be found at www.sharedparenting.scot

FCA guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) website contains a range of useful information for firms and consumers on financial aspects of the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, including insurance, mortgages and fair treatment of customers: www.fca.org.uk/coronavirus
 
The FCA has also produced useful guidance on potential scams during the pandemic, how they could affect you, and how to protect yourself: www.fca.org.uk/news/news-stories/avoid-coronavirus-scams

Iain welcomes launch of #StayConnected campaign

Iain Gray MSP has welcomed a new campaign, Stay Connected, to help broadband and mobile users get the most from their connections as millions of families work and learn at home.

Launched by telecoms regulator Ofcom, with the backing of Government and the industry, the campaign aims to explain a range of practical tips and advice to help people get the speeds and reception they need, at a time when broadband and mobile have never been more important in helping everyone communicate.

Iain Gray MSP said: 

As more of us work and learn from home due to COVID-19, it’s vital that we all do our bit to help manage how we use our broadband, home phones and mobiles to ease pressure on networks.

“The Stay Connected campaign has some really useful practical tips on how people can take their own steps to manage their data use and help ensure everyone continues to receive a normal service over the coming weeks and months.”

Simple advice for staying connected

As more people within the home use the same connection, householders can take their own steps to manage their data use and help everyone in the home get the bandwidth they need – whether it’s for video streaming, virtual meetings or voice calls. The campaign has kicked off with seven tips to help stay connected:

  1. Use your landline or wifi calls if you can

More people are making calls on their mobile network during the day. Because of this high demand, you may find you get a more reliable connection using your landline. If you do need to use your mobile, try using your settings to turn on ‘wifi calling’. Some smartphones and mobile packages allow your phone to make calls over your broadband network, which often provides the best sound quality and also helps reduce demand on the mobile network. Similarly, you can make voice calls over the internet using apps like Facetime, Skype or WhatsApp.

  1. Move your router clear of other devices

Keep your router as far away as possible from other devices, and those which operate wirelessly. Cordless phones, baby monitors, halogen lamps, dimmer switches, stereos and computer speakers, TVs and monitors can all affect your wifi if they are too close to your router. Did you know that microwave ovens can also reduce wifi signals? So do not use the microwave when you are making video calls, watching HD videos or doing something important online. Also, place your router on a table or shelf rather than on the floor, and keep it switched on.

  1. Lower the demands on your connection

The more devices attached to your wifi, the lower the speed you get. Devices like tablets and smartphones often work in the background, so try switching wifi reception off on these when you are not using them. If you’re carrying out video calls or meetings, turning the video off and using audio will require much less of your internet connection; or try starting them at less common times, rather than on the hour or half hour. You might also want to manage your family’s online activity, so that different people are not carrying out data-heavy tasks (like HD streaming, gaming or video calls) all at the same time. Downloading video in advance, instead of streaming it, can also help.

  1. Try wired rather than wireless

For the best broadband speeds, use an Ethernet cable to connect your computer directly to your router rather than using wifi. This is a computer networking cable which should give you a faster, more reliable connection. They are available from as little as £3.

  1. Plug your router directly into your main phone socket

Where possible, try not to use a telephone extension lead, as these can cause interference which could lower your speed. If you have to use an extension lead, use a new, high-quality cable with the shortest possible length. Tangled and coiled cables can also affect speeds. So can interference from your phone line, so try plugging ‘microfilters’ into every phone socket in your home. They look like little white boxes and split the phone and broadband signals so that they do not affect each other. Different providers have varying setups in the home, so always check their website before unplugging any cables.

  1. Test the speed on your broadband line

Find out what speed you are actually getting. You can run a speed test using Ofcom’s official mobile and broadband checker. If possible, carry out tests over a few days and at different times of day. A number of in-home factors can affect wifi speeds, so look on your provider’s website for guidance on improving your signal around the home. You can download Ofcom’s checker as a smartphone app (search Ofcom in Apple’s app store or Google Play) or use it through your internet browser.

  1. Get advice from your broadband provider

Then, if your connection is not working as well as it should, you can find advice on your broadband provider’s website – which is also available on mobile phones. If you need to contact them for help, please be aware that, because of coronavirus, some companies have many fewer people to help with your queries. Most are prioritising vulnerable customers and essential public services, so please take this into consideration.

Find out more about the campaign at https://ofcom.org.uk/stayconnected.

Volunteering during the COVID-19 epidemic

Volunteer Scotland is aiming to provide clear and accurate information that will help volunteers and volunteer involving organisations during the Covid-19 epidemic.

Scotland’s national centre for volunteering has pulled together information on a wide range of issues facing organisations that use volunteers to support them to continue providing services and respond to some of the coming challenges.

There is also up to date advice and guidance for volunteers on how to continue volunteering and keep safe during the epidemic.

Find out more at www.volunteerscotland.net/covid-19/