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Humjolie’s Multicultural Celebration

Humjolie poster

I would encourage people across Central Scotland to attend Humjolie’s 7th Multicultural celebration at Motherwell Concert Hall on 2nd of August.

Humjolie is a Bellshill based group that was set up by Asian women in 2007 to address the issues of isolation, language barriers, and lack of opportunities for Asian women in Lanarkshire. The group provides information, support, advocacy, activities and a listening ear to Asian women living in Lanarkshire.

They provide opportunities to women to get involved in health promoting activities e.g. healthy eating, exercise, dance, health walks and at the same time raise awareness of different health issues. One of Humjolie’s aims is to facilitate multicultural dialogue. It organises activities and events that provide an opportunity to different communities to embrace, share and celebrate cultural differences. The group organises activities with the aim of reducing stigma around mental ill health and promotion of mental health and well being.

This multicultural celebartion brings members of diverse communities together, promotes community cohesion and fosters a better understaing between different ethnic groups. Despite many cultural barriers Humjolie’s passion to make dance and music socially acceptable in the Asian community is the driving force behind this project.

Doors open at 6.30pm and the show starts at 7pm.

You can visit their facebook page here.

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With the school holidays under way, the following reservoir safety information may be of interest to constituents across Central Scotland.



People are being urged to stay safe and not take risks around rivers, reservoirs and lochs this summer.

Scottish Water is also calling on children and parents to take particular care during the summer holidays and any spells of warm weather we might enjoy.

The latest figures show that, in 2014, a total of 338 people lost their lives to drowning in the UK.

Scottish Water has today launched a social media campaign #ReservoirSafety and a new video to highlight the importance of reservoir safety, which can be viewed at www.scottishwater.co.uk/reservoirvideo or on YouTube at https://youtu.be/xj4qR5Ct_rA

Peter Farrer, Scottish Water’s chief operating officer, said: “While everyone should enjoy their school holidays or take pleasure in the country’s beautiful lochs, rivers and reservoirs, it’s absolutely vital that they stay safe at all times.

“Safety is a serious issue as while the water may look harmless there are many hidden dangers. We need to ensure children, and parents, are aware of these hazards. We are reminding parents to keep their children safe and asking adults to act responsibly around watercourses.”

Dams, steep banks, spillways (overflows), deep cold water and underwater pipe work can present real hazards. And the majority of Scottish Water’s reservoirs are situated in remote locations, meaning there is a lack of immediate assistance and mobile reception can be poor. 

Elizabeth Lumsden, community safety manager at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) Scotland, said: “It is important to be vigilant around inland waters, such as rivers, lakes, lochs, quarries and reservoirs. That’s particularly true during periods of hot weather and school holidays. The water can be a lot colder than expected, which can lead to cold shock; in the worst case, water will be inhaled and the drowning process begins. There may also be strong currents and underwater debris that you cannot see from the bank.”

Scottish Water is one of 10 partners involved in the Go Safe Scotland online education resource www.gosafescotland.com that has been developed to provide young people in Scotland with a variety of key safety messages, one of which is water safety.

George Cairns, the chair of Go Safe Scotland, said: “We welcome Scottish Water’s initiative to raise awareness of water safety, particularly in the run-up to the summer holiday period. The Go Safe Scotland and other websites can be utilised by parents, teachers and indeed children to seek out the appropriate information to how to Go Safe this Summer around water.”

Scottish Water’s advice is also targeted at pet owners. One of the biggest concerns with dog owners is when their pet dives into water, chasing a ball or stick. The pet more often survives such incidents, but the owners, who have attempted to save them, sometimes don’t. Dogs need to be kept on a lead if they are being walked near reservoirs and other bodies of open water.

Meanwhile, the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS), the drowning prevention charity, is running its Drowning Prevention Week campaign from June 20-28.

RLSS UK Chief Executive Di Steer said: “There is no quick fix to prevent accidental drownings. We believe education to instil a change in behaviour is the only method that will have an impact on people now, as well as future generations, and help prevent these tragic deaths and accidents.

“As the UK’s drowning prevention charity, we work tirelessly to achieve this aim. But we can’t do it alone. We need everyone’s help to raise awareness about the reality of accidental drowning, and to get water safety at the forefront of people’s minds.” 

If Scottish Water customers would like more information they can contact Scottish Water’s Customer Helpline on 0800 0778778 or www.scottishwater.co.uk/takecare.

For more information on RoSPA visit their website at www.rospa.com.

For more information of the RLSS UK and its Drowning Prevention Week visit www.rlss.org.uk or



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Siobhan McMahon MSP Learns of Challenges Facing Young Deaf People Seeking Employment

With Abigail Matheson

With Abigail Matheson

Central Scotland MSP, Siobhan McMahon, is supporting Action on Hearing Loss Scotland’s new ‘Moving On’ service supporting young deaf people into work, after sponsoring the charity’s reception in the Scottish Parliament last week.

MSPs and guests heard from Abigail Matheson, 25, that employers’ lack of understanding of communication support, poor deaf awareness, and not knowing about the Access to Work scheme are creating barriers preventing deaf people from having the chance to get into their preferred careers.

Abigail also raised the problems deaf people often face at Job Centre Plus where staff won’t always book British Sign Language interpreters, or use the correct terminology when talking about deaf people and their individual communication needs.

Abigail found employment as a support worker for a deaf charity following specialist support from Action on Hearing Loss Scotland’s ‘Moving On’ service which advised Abigail on her CV, gave her mock interview training and ensured that potential employers booked interpreters for her job interviews. Moving On is funded by The Big Lottery Fund Scotland and supports young deaf or hard of hearing people aged 16-25 into employment, training and education opportunities.

Action on Hearing Loss event

Siobhan McMahon MSP said: “Abigail’s story is a real inspiration for young deaf people who use British Sign Language but it really drives home the challenges that deaf people face when seeking employment – unnecessary barriers that simply should not be in their way. I urge employers across Central Scotland to contact Action on Hearing Loss Scotland to find out how they can make their recruitment processes accessible and ensure talented employees who are deaf or have hearing loss are supported to progress in the workplace.”

Abigail Matheson said: “Employers need to understand that all deaf people are different and we may have different communication needs. I have had a lot of support from my mum and from the team at Action on Hearing Loss Scotland. Having people who are prepared to support me has meant that I’m now doing a job I want to do as I work towards my long-term goal of becoming a Social Worker. If employers continue to turn their backs on deaf people, it reduces our work options and means we face having to claim benefits.”

Action on Hearing Loss Scotland is a charity which helps people to confront deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss to live the life they choose. Action on Hearing Loss Scotland enables people who are deaf or hearing loss to take control of their lives and remove the barriers in their way. Action on Hearing Loss gives people support and care, develop technology and treatments, and campaign for equality.

For further information about Action on Hearing Loss Scotland or to become a member, visit www.hearingloss.org.uk/Scotland, contact Action on Hearing Loss’s Information Line on 0808 808 0123 (freephone) or 0808 808 9000 (textphone) or email: informationline@hearingloss.org.uk.





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Protecting Workers’ Rights

Employee rights speech

Earlier this month I took part in a debate at Holyrood on ‘protecting employee rights and access to justice.’

There is a wide-ranging debate taking place at the moment about the pros and cons of the devolution of employment rights and the potential impact on working people.

As a proud trade unionist, this is something that I care deeply about.

And as Scottish Labour’s Shadow Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment, I was pleased to be able to outline the party’s historical commitment to protecting employee rights and access to justice, as well as setting out what action we believe the Scottish Government needs to be taking in Scotland today in order to preserve these rights.

The Tory Government’s latest proposals to curtail the rights of trade unions are truly abhorrent and do not belong in a democratic society.

Their plans to raise the threshold for key public sector industrial action are an example of this. Higher turnouts in industrial ballots are as desirable as higher turnouts in any other democratic election, but this approach makes no attempt to support overdue reforms.

One reform that I would support would be the introduction of online balloting.

This could attract more people to vote in strike ballots and therefore create the outcomes that the UK Government tells us it so desperately wants.

The Scottish Government would like more powers to be devolved to this Parliament, but its record in disputes that deal with public sector contracts cannot be characterised as anything other than woeful.

This can be shown by their inaction in the cases of the NHS Tayside porters and at the National Museums Scotland.

The Scottish Government has been posted missing in these disputes, so what would the new powers that it so desperately wants for the Scottish Parliament do to help in these situations?

The Government does not use the powers that it already has to resolve significant workplace problems.

One of the finest characteristics of the trade union movement is the collective responsibility that workers throughout the UK feel for those who find themselves in such disputes.

This was most evident during the miners’ strike of 1984-85, which still stains the very fabric of industrial relations in our country.

During my speech, I reiterated Scottish Labour’s call for a public inquiry in the policing of the strike.

Let us be clear that the Scottish Government has the power to do that but, until now, it has lacked the will.

We should remember that people were persecuted for simply taking up their democratic right to strike. I hope that those people get the access to justice that the Scottish Government so desperately wants for others.

Previously, the Government has said that guidance that is linked to public procurement was the way to ensure that no company that is involved in the shameful practice of blacklisting would be awarded a Government contract.

However, the NHS Common Services Agency has awarded a £660 million contract to a consortium of contractors that were involved in the blacklisting scandal. The contract was awarded after the introduction of the Scottish Government’s policy note, so it is clear that the note is not worth the paper that it is written on.

The scandal first came to light in 2009, yet we are still waiting for the Government to grant access to justice for the workers and to establish an inquiry into the practices.

I also called on the Scottish Government to use the powers that it currently has with regard to the living wage.

They have now voted against our proposals on that extremely important matter a total of five times.

We have called on the Scottish Government to establish a unit within Government to actively promote the living wage, and this is something I would be happy to work with them on.

Additional powers are already coming to Scotland regarding employment tribunals.

The introduction of fees has led to an 81% decrease in the number of claim cases, and women have borne the brunt of it.

I believe that these additional powers will give us the opportunity to withdraw the fees that are levied on people who wish to exercise their democratic right, but I also believe that it is an opportunity to reshape the future of the service.

I welcome the debate on where responsibility for employment legislation should be held. However, I do not believe that the Scottish Government has done nearly enough with the powers that it currently has and we urge it to commit to giving workers the access to justice that they require and deserve.

The Government can and should do that now.

You can read my speech in full here.

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Siobhan McMahon MSP – “Time to Abolish Unfair Care Tax”

Scottish Labour MSP Siobhan McMahon has announced plans to undertake a public consultation on a proposal to end the Care Tax in Scotland.

Ms McMahon will propose to abolish local authority charges for non-residential care services.

Currently, local authorities across Scotland can charge for a range of non-residential social care services, which has a significant impact on the ability of many older and disabled people to enjoy their right to independent living and participate in the workplace and in their local communities.

It is estimated that around 14,000 people in Scotland are in arrears over care charges, with services costing up to £20 per hour in some areas.

Scottish Government figures show that over the last three years, care charges throughout Scotland have risen by 12% on average. There are also massive regional variations in charges. An October 2013 report by the Audit Commission found that charges for a single hour of home care varied between £8.56 per hour and £23.70 in different areas, while day care for younger adults can vary between being free of charge and £175 per week.

Ken Macintosh, Scottish Labour MSP for Eastwood and candidate for the leadership of the party, last week called on the Deputy First Minister John Swinney to support the proposals during First Minister’s Questions at the Scottish Parliament. Mr Swinney indicated that the Scottish Government would engage carefully with any proposals brought forward by Ms McMahon.

While Ms McMahon intends on bringing forward a public consultation following the Parliaments summer recess, she will have insufficient time to introduce legislation in this parliamentary session before the Scottish Parliament elections in May 2016.

Ms McMahon, Scottish Labour’s Shadow Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment said:

“I’m pleased to be able to announce that I will be undertaking a public consultation on my proposal to abolish the deeply unfair Care Tax.

“For me, it is unacceptable that older and disabled people are often forced to either forego essential care and support, or live in poverty as a result of having to pay for these services. For users, social care is essential for their participation in society and their equal enjoyment of human rights.

“I believe these charges are a breach of the civic and human rights of disabled and older people to live an independent life free from discrimination, and to enjoy their possessions and their home. Support for getting up and going to bed, eating and drinking, and seeing family and friends are all things that can be charged for and there is no upper limit on what councils can charge for care. This means some disabled people are charged 100% of their own, already severely limited, income for the care they are entitled to. This is simply unfair and is no mark of a progressive society.

“It is deeply frustrating that the Scottish Government has not acted upon the powers that they have to do something about this injustice. In addition, by enforcing an unfunded council tax freeze on local government they have ensured that many councils have to charge for these services in order to balance the books.

“Although I won’t be able to bring forward legislation during this parliamentary session, I’m eager to undertake a wide ranging public consultation. It is crucial that an important proposal such as this is subject to a broad consultation and I’m eager to gather views from as many people and organisations as possible.”



PE01533: Abolition of non-residential social care charges for older and disabled people

In September 2014 a petition was brought to the Public Petitions Committee by the campaign group ‘Scotland Against the Care Tax’ seeking to abolish non-residential social care charges for older and disabled people.

You can read the petition here.


Audit Scotland October 2013 Report: ‘How councils work: an improvement series for councillors and officers Charging for services: are you getting it right?’


Siobhan McMahon Calls for Football Act Review

Central Scotland Labour MSP Siobhan McMahon has called for the Scottish Government to conduct a review of the controversial ‘Football Act’.

The MSP believes that the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 is not tackling Scotland’s problem with sectarianism.

The Act has attracted criticism previously, with one Sherriff describing it as “mince”

This week the SNP Government backed away from plans to conduct a review of the legislation.

Siobhan McMahon MSP said:

“The Football Act has been a huge source of controversy, criticised not just by football fans but by legal experts too. It has created a culture of mistrust between football fans and the authorities which does nothing to help Scotland have an honest debate about how we tackle, and beat, sectarianism.

“The reality is that bigotry and intolerance are not confined to 90 minutes on a Saturday at football matches. If we want to be the generation that makes sectarianism a thing of the past we must address the issue head on, in our classrooms and communities across Central Scotland.

“That is why I am calling on the Scottish Government to deliver what they promised – a thorough review of the Football Act.”



Sheriff Richard Davidson has previously described the Football Act as “mince”


The previous Minister for Community Safety Roseanna Cunningham said that a review should wait until August 2015, once the research released today was complete

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Motherwell Charrette

Between Sunday 21st June and Thursday 25th June, a number of events will be held as part of the Motherwell Charretteplus™ which will focus on the future of Motherwell town centre.

A ‘charrette’ is a series of collaborative design sessions, where people get together to discuss and share ideas for the future of their community. People have the opportunity to chat about what they like and dislike about the town centre, their suggestions about what could be improved, and what that might look like. They can sketch out their ideas themselves, or specialists at the sessions can translate them into designs on their behalf.

Planning Aid for Scotland and North Lanarkshire Council want to work with residents, community groups, local businesses, the public sector, charities, voluntary organisations and others to think about the future of Motherwell town centre and how it can be improved.

I would encourage as many local residents as possible to attend and take part in these important discussions.

You can find out more infor here – Motherwell Charrette flyer.


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