Preparations under way for another cold winter

By Karen Rafferty

The effects of harsh winter weather

The effects of harsh winter weather

As the hours of daylight have started dropping in the UK, so too, has the temperature. With many people suffering last year as a result of snow blizzards and freezing temperatures, preparations are now under way in Scotland to help deal effectively with any issues that the winter weather may bring.

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Midlothian council appeal for families during National Adoption Week

By Karen Rafferty

Sandra Bullock has done it. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman did it. Katherine Heigl has done it, and now Midlothian Council has launched an appeal for it. What is it? Adoption. Midlothian Council have release an appeal in the hope finding new families for children in the local area.

At present there are 90 children living in foster care in Midlothian, however homes are specifically needed for siblings or for children over the age of 5. The council aim to assist those who wish to apply to adopt by offering support at every stage of the adoption process.

Councillor Jackie Aitchison said: “Adoption can be rewarding and challenging and we are committed to provide help, guidance and support at each step of the way. We will often pay an adoption allowance to assist in providing an adoptive home for a child, if additional support is required”.

They are welcoming applications from single people and couples from a variety of backgrounds, and offer to provide support and guidance to prospective families. They believe that although there is no such thing as the perfect family for adoption, the main concern is that the needs of the children can be accommodated. According to their website they “require adopters from various backgrounds and with different life experiences who can provide a family for life for children who are unable to live within their birth families.”

This appeal comes as part of a national campaign to highlight the plights of children without families. National adoption week is running until 7 November 2010, and has been backed by national charity BAAF (British Adoption and Fostering). This week, BAAF released the results of research into the many misconceptions regarding adoption. Chief executive, David Holmes said: “It is very worrying how many myths have come to dominate in adoption. It concerns us that people may disqualify themselves needlessly, which could mean a child misses out on a family … every case is treated individually.” [Read more...]

New Law to Aid Victims of Domestic Abuse

by Karen Rafferty

A new law, which will see the closure of a legal loophole in domestic violence cases, has been introduced today by the Scottish Government. This will give more protection to victims of violence. The new offence will be classed as ‘engaging in threatening or abusive behaviour’.

Following a court ruling last year, there were fears that a legal loophole may have been created, leaving domestic abuse victims more vulnerable, and also creating more difficulties for prosecutions, particularly where the offences have taken place in private.

Previously, the charges of ‘breach of the peace’ were used in relation to offences within the home. Last year, however a ruling at an appeal court, saw this change. The ruling claimed that breach of the peace required a ‘public element’, which created the loophole for offences that took place away from the public eye.

The Criminal Justice and Licensing Act, which was passed recently, has helped ensure that the loophole created has subsequently been closed. The act no longer has to take place in public to be considered a statutory offence.

Justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill

In a statement, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:

“The effects of domestic abuse can be devastating and we are doing everything we can to tackle it.

“We’ve done a lot of work to raise awareness that this behaviour is totally unacceptable, that help is available, and to encourage more people to come forward, safe in the knowledge that they will be supported.

“We want to send out the message loud and clear that if you carry out this offence, there will be no escape, there will be no wriggle room to exploit, and you will be met with by the full force of the law.”

Scottish Women’s Aid Manager, Lily Greenan has embraced the new legislation:

“This is a really positive thing that they’ve closed the loophole as it was very concerning” she said “it is now clearer for police, clearer for prosecutors, and clearer for women, and for people who engage in threatening behaviour.”

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