Held in Birmingham, more than 700 of the UK’s most talented apprentices, employees and learners battled it out in 70 competitions to be named the ‘best in the UK’ in their chosen skill. Of the 235 organisations that participated, New College Lanarkshire’s success saw the institution take the top spot on the leader board – earning it the title of ‘best in the UK’.
This is a great personal achievement for each of the winners and is a testament not only to their skills and talents but also to their hard work and determination. It is also a great reflection of the dedicated staff at the college who will be extremely proud of this excellent achievement.
Below is a full list of the winners:
Gold – Richard Miller, HNC Computing, from Motherwell, aged 19
Gold – Kim Reid, HND Computing Software Development, from Lanark, aged 18
Gold – Blane Mulholland, HND Computer Aided Draughting and Design, from Bellshill, aged 23
Gold – Andrew Beel, HND Computer Aided Draughting and Design, from East Kilbride, aged 19
Silver – Shona McGarrity, HND Information Technology, from Biggar, aged 41
Silver – Neil Pardoe, HNC Computer Networking, from Airdrie, aged 28
Silver – Jack Scott, BSc Computer Networking, from Kilsyth, aged 21
Silver – Thomas Beeston, Cisco Certified Network Associate, from Motherwell, aged 29
Silver – Dylan Van Belkum, HND Computer Aided Draughting and Design, from Wishaw, aged 20
Bronze – Michael Sheppard, Cisco Certified Network Associate, from Uddingston, aged 31
Bronze – David Hogg, HND Computing Technical Support, from Coatbridge, aged 2
I was concerned to read the Healthcare Environment Inspectorates report on Monklands hospital which was published last week. The report, drawn up after inspectors visited the hospital on 12th September, found failings in infection control procedures at the hospital for the second time in nine months.
Following an inspection in January, Monklands was given five required improvements that needed to be made. I welcome the news in the report that progress has been made by NHS Lanarkshire both in terms of bringing in a new standard operating procedure which checks mattresses are clean and ready to use, as well as a new system of regular mandatory HAI update training being introduced to all staff.
However, the recent report finds that three of those requirements, relating to isolation rooms, sharp equipment and the recording of peripheral vascular catheters, had not been met. What I found particularly concerning was that after finding two mattresses that were “significantly contaminated” with body fluids, ward staff were unclear about who was responsible for cleaning mattresses before use when they arrived from the mattress store. In addition, I was also alarmed by the fact that doors of rooms that were isolated because of infection control reasons were found open, and the apparent lack of understanding of some staff as to the potential dangers of this.
These appear to be basic errors that are putting patients at unnecessary risk, and I trust that the health board will act upon the information in the recent report and ensure that all staff are trained to the required level to make sure that these problems don’t persist.
I understand that staff are under severe pressure and that budgets are increasingly tight across the NHS. I would therefore call on the Scottish Government and the health board to ensure that the necessary improvements are made at Monklands so that staff are sufficiently equipped to carry out their jobs correctly. I sincerely hope that these problems are addressed imminently as patient safety is paramount.
I was happy to lend my support to the retail union Usdaw’s campaign for respect for shop workers as part of the ‘Freedom From Fear’ campaign, which seeks to prevent violence, threats and abuse directed at retail staff.
The campaign event took place on Wednesday 13th November, in the middle of Usdaw’s Respect for Shop workers Week, at the Scottish Parliament.
Too often retail employees are confronted with violence, threats and abuse and it is really important we stand together and ask people to ‘keep their cool and respect shop workers’.
I support Usdaw’s call for a change in the law to provide stiffer sentences for those who assault workers. It was very disappointing the SNP Government blocked Hugh Henry’s Workers (Aggravated Offences) Scotland Bill 2010 in the last Parliament. That Bill would have included all workers serving the public in the protections we have already given to emergency service workers.
I will continue to campaign with Usdaw for a change in the law to ensure that proper punishments are given out and to give a clear message that assaulting workers who are serving the public is totally unacceptable.
I was pleased to meet SCIM when they visited Parliament last week to hear about their current petition that is being looked at by the Parliaments Public Petitions Committee, and about the work they carry out in local communities in Central Scotland.
Founded in 1994, SCIM is the only counselling organisation of their kind in Scotland. They offer a person-centred approach to counselling and supervision for individuals and couples who have experienced a miscarriage, aiming to assist people from all over Scotland. Clients are offered day-to-day coping strategies to advance their emotional health, assist their return to work or to sustain employment.
The experience of pregnancy loss is unique to each person and for some it may be a time of grief, sadness and overwhelming feelings of loss.
I would encourage anybody who has gone through a difficult miscarriage experience to contact SCIM. Counselling provides a safe and supportive environment in which clients can sensitively explore their concerns. SCIM counsellors have personal experience of miscarriage and have been specially trained in miscarriage counselling. This specialist support can be really helpful to people who are going through an immensely difficult period in their lives.
Find out more about SCIM here.
Read more about their petition here.
Please see below a link to the Kinship Care October Newsletter from Children’s 1st.
This edition is packed with stories from across the country, information about upcoming workshops and service updates designed to support kinship carers.
Children’s 1st was commissioned by the Scottish Government in March 2011 to develop and implement a national service for kinship carers. The National Kinship Care Service provides a helpline, information workshops and outreach and advice and support to kinship care families. They also work with kinship carers and local kinship care groups to support them to influence policy and practice at a national and local level.
If you or someone you know is caring for a child who can no longer live with their parents and would like some advice, support or information, please contact the Kinship Care Helpline on 08000 28 22 33 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Saturday (23rd November) I’m hosting an energy efficiency awareness event in conjunction with Home Energy Scotland.
The event will take place in Hillhouse and Earnock Community Centre between 11am and 2pm and there will a number of organisations in attendance to provide advice on how best to save money on your energy bills this winter. There will also be children’s entertainment provided on the day as well as a prize draw for £50 worth of shopping vouchers.
Home Energy Scotland will be on hand at the event to give clear and impartial advice to help local people make their homes cheaper to heat and I would encourage as many people as possible to come along and take advantage of this.
Last year energy suppliers increased their bills by up to 18%, pushing up the number of Scots struggling to pay their energy bills. In the past few weeks again several of the big six energy firms have announced further price hikes. Research shows that the combination of concern about household finance and a mistrust of energy suppliers are resulting in a state of inaction among Scots across all parts of society, regardless of age and affluence.
Home Energy Scotland advice centre manager Alex Warren said: “With more people experiencing difficulty heating their homes and an energy market that is increasingly difficult to navigate, Home Energy Scotland is delighted to join forces locally to help as many people as possible make energy efficiencies and reduce their energy bills. Join us on 23 November.”
You can visit the Home Energy Scotland website for more advice here.
Click here to see the location of Hillhouse and Earnock Community Centre.
I was delighted to be able to lend my support to Befriending Networks during their befriending week by signing their ‘Let’s tackle loneliness’ pledge in Parliament.
Befriending Networks is a national organisation and the country’s leading resource on befriending. Their members enjoy access to the latest research, training and advice to help them provide continuously high quality service. There are over 4000 befrienders in Scotland who provide a valuable service to children and young people, older people and people isolated because of mental health problems, disabilities, or addictions, amongst many other reasons.
Their pledge focuses on the issue of loneliness. Loneliness is an awful feeling which can have severe health implications for individuals. Befriending can help combat this by helping develop people’s confidence and independence as well as simply providing some much needed company.
Befriending week, which began on November 2nd, was a great opportunity for services to promote the work they do and raise awareness of the fantastic work done by the army of volunteer befrienders. There was a great exhibition in Parliament detailing some of this work which I really enjoyed.
I would like to congratulate Befriending Networks on all the excellent work they do and wish them all the very best with their endeavours in the future which I will continue to support.
To find out more about Befriending Networks, including how to become a befriender, visit their website here.
There will be many things written and said about Helen Eadie in the next few days and weeks as the Parliament and wider Labour movement try and come to terms with the loss so many of us are feeling at this difficult time.
Helen was more than just a colleague to me; she was my friend and a true inspiration to me both as a person and a politician. I first got to know Helen when I was working in the Whips office as a researcher. For those of you who have done this job, you will understand the sense of panic that comes over you the night before a debate when you do not have your full complement of speakers. It was on those occasions, and on many other occasions, you thanked God for Helen Eadie. I cannot begin to count the times Helen filled the last slot for me, never asking for anything in return. Helen would talk about almost any issue you put in front of her and always made a great contribution to the debate.
It was during that time that I got to know Helen well. This was quite unusual because MSPs and researchers don’t tend to have the conversations that Helen and I shared. Helen would email me very late at night or in the very early hours of the morning to volunteer for debates and to solve my latest dilemma and if I replied to those emails right away, Helen would always come back to say that I shouldn’t be working at that time of night. She never quite got the irony of that statement! The fact that Helen treated me, and other researchers, in this way will come as no surprise to anyone, as equality was something that epitomised Helen.
Helen, of course, had a strong background in equality both through her Trade Union workings and at Fife Council. I remember the speech Helen gave at the time she resigned from her own two committee in protest at the Conservatives being given the Convenership of Equal Opportunities. I remember it vividly as I was still in the Whips office at that time! No amount of talking could convince Helen not to resign her membership of the Committees, and I’m glad about that because it serves as a lesson to others to follow your convictions even if the consequences will be severe for you. To be clear, Helen’s protest was all about the Conservative’s attitude towards the subject and not a protest against the individual who would ultimately go on to be the Convener of the Committee. I have always been of the opinion that Helen should have been offered the Convenership of the Equal Opportunities Committee when it fell back to the Labour Party. I don’t mean any disrespect to any of the Labour Party Convener’s that have served that Committee so well, but I always felt that that role was meant for Helen and her talents.
Helen’s talents were never formally recognised by those with the power to do so. I believe that was because her talents didn’t quite fit the mould that others wished them to do. Her talents were indeed underestimated by a select few, but not by those who had the pleasure of knowing her or indeed by those who were helped by her.
Helen worked tirelessly on behalf of her constituents. She worked so hard that I really don’t know how she found the time to sleep! I had the opportunity to visit Helen last week and during that conversation she said to me “I just tried to always do my best”. If ever there was a woman who gave her best and so much more it was Helen. Helen put her younger colleagues, including me, to shame with her dedication to her work. The fact that she was still e-mailing me with work from her hospital bed says it all really.
Helen, like me, was a member of the GMB. She was proud of that membership and I was proud to be able to say I was in the same Trade Union as Helen Eadie. We discussed the fact that GMB members voted in favour of remaining in the UK last week. When my dad and I were talking about how good the result was for our movement, Helen sat there with a look of pride on her face, a look I will never forget. I’m pleased she got to know the result and to take some satisfaction from it.
The Scottish Parliament is one for many firsts and Helen had many firsts of her own including being the first MSP to cause her Party to lose a vote as a result of pushing the wrong button! I can only imagine the letters of apology Helen wrote to the Whips after that.
Helen also brought forward a Members Business debate to ask the SFA to admit the Celtic goalkeeper John Thomson into the hall of fame – something that has now been achieved. I am very grateful to Helen for doing this as I am sure a number of Celtic fans are. It was in that debate that Helen made the mistake of telling us all that although she wasn’t a football fan, she had attended the Real Madrid v Eintracht Frankfurt game – the only game she had seen up until that point! The significance of that game was lost on her but she was amused by our reactions to this piece of information.
The last campaign that Helen and I worked on together was the campaign to stop the closure of the Remploy factories. As a Friend of Remploy, Helen did everything in her power to stop the closure of these factories, not only in her own area, but across the country. Helen also campaigned strongly for the extended use of article 19. I know that this is something she would have wanted to be included in the Scottish Government’s Procurement Bill and I will be making sure that the point will be raised on her behalf.
Of course, there was a lot more to Helen than the brief examples I have given above. Helen always made time to listen to me and offer advice regardless of how busy she was herself. In fact, one of the last things she said to me was about the next Scottish Parliament elections and what she thought I should be doing. Helen had a remarkable way of making you feel special. She also had the remarkable inability to see just how special she was to those whose lives she touched.
Helen was a unique woman who had the ability to bring people together for the great causes in our society. She was a woman of great knowledge. A woman of compassion, understanding, passion, conviction, equality and of course socialism. But most of all a woman filled with love for others.
My thoughts and prayers are with Bob, Fiona, Jemma, Gavin, Alex, Elliot, Lewis, and their extended family and friends at this time.
Eternal Rest Grant Unto Her O Lord And Let Perpetual Light Shine Upon Her. May She Rest In Peace. Amen.
The campaign is aiming to help people understand what blood pressure is and how it relates to having a stroke. Whilst high blood pressure is the biggest risk to having a stroke, it is symptomless and can affect people across all age groups.
One in six people will have a stroke at some point in their lifetime and they can happen to anyone at any time. I would therefore urge people to regularly visit their GP practice to have their blood pressure measured and help reduce the risk of suffering a stroke.
In recent weeks, I have received a large number of emails from concerned constituents expressing their desire for an early review of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012. These are concerns that my Labour Party colleagues and I share.
I believe that the law is deeply flawed and has created confusion when what is actually needed is clarity about what constitutes an offence and what enforcement measures are necessary and appropriate.
I have continued to press the Scottish Government on these issues and you can view my questions to the Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs via the link below:
I have also written to the Labour members of the Justice Committee, Elaine Murray MSP and John Pentland MSP, asking the committee to consider an early review of the legislation under the Scottish Parliament’s procedures for post-legislative scrutiny.
These letters can be read here – Letters to John Pentland MSP and Elaine Murray MSP
Following representations made by Elaine Murray and John Pentland to the Justice Committee Convenor, the committee shall now consider whether to undertake an early review of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act at its next meeting, taking place on Tuesday 5 November. You can view the proceedings of the Justice committee meeting by following the link below: