New app to help modernise the health system

By Madalina Dichiu

Care Minister, Norman Lamb announced that the health system must be “modernised” and a new online application will be developed to help young people with mental health issues.

Experts say that the current situation is a “national disgrace” and the Government should spend more money on children and young people, while also stressing the importance of contact with therapists.

The Scottish Government says that the best approach to change the system is to be able to measure the things that matter most to the people using them. They are also reviewing health visits and school nursing services to ensure staff have the right training to identify and help parents, children and young people with mental health problems.

The Government has already developed an online service to provide guidance and training on child mental health for teachers, police, health professionals and other people working with children called MindEd. The research shows that mental health services are not meeting the needs of some groups of people. Only one in six older people with depression ever discusses it with their GP.

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said, “For far too long mental health has been in the shadows and many people have suffered in silence as a result. It is time to turn a corner on outdated attitudes and bring mental health issues out into the open. It is time that the whole of society started providing the care and support to those with mental health conditions in the same way that they would to those with a physical condition.”

Sarah Brennan Chief Executive of YoungMinds charity said: “It is a national disgrace that while three children in every classroom have a diagnosable mental illness, only 6% of the NHS mental health budget is spent on children and young people. There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that if we get it right for children and young people we will greatly reduce the burden of mental health for future generations.

“YoungMinds has been warning for several years about the dangers in cutting children and young people’s mental health early intervention services. Over the last few months we have seen the consequences of these cuts with reports of children and young people with mental illnesses ending up in police cells, being transferred hundreds of miles away or placed on inappropriate adult wards because there haven’t been the beds available.

“Local services providing much needed mental health services  should not have to operate in crisis-we have to get this right for children, young people and their families who are in desperate need of support.”

The NHS argues that many issues can be managed without the help of a GP by using the variety of sources now available, whether it’s through books, local organisations or online.

The charity Mind says: “Electronic media is increasingly being utilised as a medium to deliver psychological therapies. There are significant potential advantages to using this mode of delivery, including increased reach and improved access to psychological support and treatments.

“Some children and young people find interacting with electronic media a preferable first step to help and most are more used to such interaction than older generations.”

The Scottish Government published alarming statistics about mental health problems. Three children in every classroom have a diagnosable mental health condition. Only a quarter of people with a common mental health problem get treatment, mostly in the form of medication.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 9.6% of children and young people between the ages of 5 and 16 years in the UK have a mental health problem.

’16 Days of Action’ to combat violence against women

By Carolina Morais

A campaign is being launched today by a Scottish organisation to mark the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Between the 25th November and the 10th December, the ’16 Days of Action 2014′ campaign will be promoting a series of events throughout Scotland to raise awareness of violence against women.

The theme for this years’ initiative is ‘From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women’.

A spokesperson for the campaign said: “Our organisation has been recognised by the United Nations since 1995. This is a global campaign that aims to prevent and eliminate of all forms of violence towards women.

“That includes such things as sexual assault, rape, sexual abuse, cultural practices such as genital mutilation, forced marriage, exploitation, prostitution, lap and pole dancing and traffic of women for sexual purposes.”

The event will commence today in Glasgow but will engage different cities in Scotland, including Edinburgh.

“We are going to held a conference at Edinburgh University on the 8th December, but our main events will happen in Glasgow”, the spokesperson said.

“Among other things, we are launching an online survey to see if people are more informed about the issue and to really take it forward. We also have a march happening on the 27th of November and we will have activities for men who want to be involved.”

The CEO of the national organisation White Ribbon, Chris Green, recognizes that “men are the real problem” and that it is urgent to “turn the numbers around”.

“We are working more and more with men and we just have to keep on doing that.

“Right now, we have around 200 events happening around the United Kingdom to raise awareness to this cause, but the numbers are still alarming.”

Mr. Green also said: “What we need to do urgently is change the attitudes of men towards women in general, to prevent emotional and physical abuse. We need more women reporting these crimes, more politicians to take notice of the problem and more funding to be able to prevent it.”

The ’16 Days’ campaign is being funded by the Glasgow City Council Integrated Grant Fund. In partnership with White Ribbon Scotland, this initiative is hoping to achieve white ribbon status for the City of Glasgow this year.

According to the United Nations, one in four women in Scotland experience domestic violence in their lifetime, with an incident being recorded every ten minutes.

Allie Hutchinson, from Scottish Women’s Aid, says the problem is not contained to Scotland.

“The numbers are alarming everywhere. We have been around since 1976 and that is why we continue to be so committed to end violence, to work with women who have been victims of domestic violence and to look at how we can prevent this.

“At the moment, the main problem is that women are not equal to men just yet. It is up to us to fight for equality first, to challenge the myths of society, to write to MPs and MSPs to promote a society where women are equally valued.

“In the near future, we will launch a survey to look at people’s experiences related to these crimes, we will promote a series of lectures throughout Scotland, a parliamentary event with MSP’s and even a film screening at Edinburgh University.”

In the rest of the United Kingdom, statistics show 45% of women having experienced some form of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking and at least 80,000 women experiencing rape every year.

 

 

National Lottery celebrates 20th anniversary

By Carolina Morais

Scottish organisations funded by the National Lottery Council have applauded its “vital” and “valuable” work, as it celebrates it’s 20th anniversary.

The Edinburgh-based charity ‘Dads Rock’, which provides bonding time for dads and their children, is set to expand after the National Lottery awarded it last month with £287,096.

A spokesperson from the organisation said: “We would not be able to function without the National Lottery’s funding. It has been absolutely vital. We have been benefiting since 2012 but this last amount we just got allows us to provide services for three years.

“We are going to run a young dads’ project and invest in parenting counseling . We estimate to help over 200 families in Edinburgh.”

The children’s charity ‘Woodcraft Folk’, focused on developing young people’s social and creative skills, also recognizes the importance of the National Lottery’s support.

A Scottish representative said: “It has been a very valuable help to our organisation. The money we received allowed us to employ more staff and to do more trials to test how to approach children and help them grow.

“Here in Scotland, for example, we were able to do what we called the ‘Summer Sessions 2013′, in Stirling, in which we made some real changes in children’s lives. It has definitely been a very successful partnership for us.

Nicola Bligh, from National Lottery Good Causes, said she is “extremely proud” of what the organisation has accomplished over the last 20 years.

“It has been incredibly important. We raised over 32 billion pounds, we have supported a lot of local projects and we have benefited peoples lives.

“It is amazing how you can benefit people everyday in ordinary sectors. And we created thousands of jobs and volunteering opportunities.

“We recently captured an image that will be released this Wednesday in which we gathered over 800 people from over 50 projects that benefited from our funding over the past 20 years. It is really moving to hear these stories. The numbers of our accomplishments are amazing, but the stories behind them are what really matters.”

Ms Bligh also said: “For the future, we hope more and more projects apply for our funding, which is very easy to do through our website. Our plan, of course, is to repeat what we did over the last 20 years just as successfully and keep changing people’s lives.”

To celebrate two decades of existence, the National Lottery is releasing a new video everyday at 6pm on its website until the 19th of November, allowing people to enter the prize draws which increase in value each day.

The first National Lottery draw was on 14 November 1994. According to the organisation, over 450,000 lottery-funded projects were accomplished and over 3,700 millionaires were made in the United Kingdom.

 

 

 

Local charity launches appeal for homeless children

By Arantxa Barrachina

AN ONLINE campaign launched yesterday to give Christmas presents to homeless children across Scotland.

The Social Media Santa campaign will deliver presents to homeless children by working with housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland.

According to the new statistics, 21 per cent of children in Edinburgh live in poverty. More than 4,000 children will be homeless in Scotland this Christmas.

Social media users are encouraged to buy presents for boys and girls from the age of 6 months to 16 years old. Gifts can be ordered or bought and sent to Shelter Scotland office in Edinburgh by 12th December.

Everyone who buys a gift can post a photo of it on social media using the hashtag #SocialMediaSanta

The campaign was launched by Ross McCulloch, Director of Third Sector Lab, a specialist digital agency working with charities and social enterprises.

Ross McCulloch said: “Twitter users can make a real difference to homeless children in Scotland this Christmas. By sending gifts like books, toys or games, we are hoping that Social Media Santas will help make this Christmas better for hundreds of children and their families across Scotland.”

Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Social Media Santa is an innovative and generous way of using social media to help bring a little bit of Christmas cheer to homeless families and their children.

“No child should be homeless at Christmas but we know there will be more than 4,000 children homeless this festive season across Scotland, so we will carry on our campaigning until there’s a home for everyone. Until then, we will always be grateful for the kindness and generosity of fundraisers and members of the public who donate to help our clients.

“On behalf of all the children and families already helped, we say a big thank you to Ross McCulloch and all the Social Media Santas across Scotland. We now look forward to receiving and distributing the results of this year’s campaign.”

For the last three years social media users have been participated giving a Christmass gift for homeless children. Last year, Shelter Scotland charity have  received a whopping 227 gifts.

In Scotland 220,000 children are living in poverty, one in five of the child population, and this could soon rise.

The charity is calling people to participate in the project and remembers the importance of solidarity, specially at Christmas time.

The child poverty campaigners are also urging Scottish and local government to ratchet-up delivery of the Child Poverty Strategy.

 

 

 

Affordable Contraceptive Announced

By Mariana Mercado

A new form of contraceptive injection will be available for women in developing countries.

The ready to use contraceptive injection will help women living in 69 of the poorest countries.

The news of the development of this new affordable contraception was released by the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

Dr. Chris Elias, President of Global Development Programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said: “When women are able to plan their families, they are more likely to survive pregnancy and child birth, to have healthier newborns and children, and to invest more in their families’ health and wellbeing.

“We are proud to be part of this innovative public-private collaboration that will help more women around the world — even in remote areas — plan their lives and their futures.”

The Sayana injection combines a long-acting, reversible contraceptive with an all-in-one prefilled single use, non-reusable injection system that eliminates the need to prepare a needle and syringe. The injection can easily be administered by health workers to women at home or in other convenient setting.

The drug will be sold for $1 (0.65p) per dose to qualified purchasers who can help enable the poorest women in these countries to have access to the contraceptive at reduced or no cost.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 222m women in developing countries would like to delay or stop conception, but are not currently using any form of contraception.

Michael Anderson, Chief Executive Officer at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation said: “Far too many women die or are harmed because of unwanted pregnancies,”

“This important partnership expands the choice of affordable contraceptives. We believe this will further support CIFF’s mission of enabling more women and children to survive and thrive.”

The contraceptive program saw over 75000 Sayana Press units distributed to health facilities in the introduction countries, and aproximately 2500 health care providers have been trained on the administration of the contraceptive.

Since the introduction of the program in Burkina Faso in July, a study revealed that over 5700 women are using the injection, 1659 of these women are new users of family planning.
Justine Greening, International Development Secretary for the Department for International Development (DFID) said:“Access to modern, safe and reliable family planning methods is vital in helping women to control their lives and their futures. Without the ability to choose when they have children and how many they have, too often women lose the opportunity to participate fully in their economies and societies.”

Dr. Ariel Pablos-Mendez, Assistant Administrator for Global Health at the U.S. agency for International Development (USAI) said: “USAID has invested in Sayana Press for many years, and we are thrilled that these efforts have finally come to fruition. This public-private collaboration will now help more women access injectable contraceptives. Expanding contraceptive choice is crucial to helping women plan and space their pregnancies, which we believe contributes to the health and economic wellbeing of families and communities across the globe.”

The drug is expected to be regularly available in all 69 of the developing countries by 2020.

 

 

Edinburgh Marathon promotes free workshops

By Carolina Morais

Organisers of the Edinburgh Marathon today launched a series of free workshops ahead of the event which is expected to attract thousands of people next May.

People in Edinburgh showed up at the Nuffield Health Fitness & Wellbeing Center for tips on training plans, nutrition, goal setting, physiotherapy and a guided run along the canal.

Annette Drummond, one of the organisers, said she is “proud” of all the work that has been done by her team.

“We have been around for 13 years now and the event has expanded and grown so much,” she said.

“It started off as just a marathon and now it is a marathon festival over two days, bringing 30,000 people together to raise millions for charity and boost the local economy, all whilst keeping fit and helping people achieve their dreams.”

The Edinburgh Marathon 2015, scheduled for the 30 and 31 May, will be raising funds for Diabetes Scotland and has already received a £2,376 donation from a team of investment managers from the Business Growth Fund.

The race was the first in Scotland to be recognised by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF).

Ms Drummond said its popularity has been boosted not only for being “an IAAF rated event” but also “by the fact that Edinburgh is a beautiful city that people like to visit”.

“This is an international event”, the organiser said. “70 per cent of the marathon runners come from outwith Scotland.”

Free workshops in preparation for the main marathon will also be held in Glasgow on 30 October.

Work starts on new Scottish blood centre

By Madalina Dichiu

CONSTRUCTION started today on Scotland’s new national blood centre, part of the £4.5 billion project in Scotland.

The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) received £43 million from the Scottish Government.

The National Centre of Excellence will be the hub for the processing, testing, supply, research and development for blood and human donor tissues and cells at Heriot-Watt Research Park in Edinburgh.

The facility will be completed by mid-2017 and more than 400 staff members are expected to move to the site.

It will consolidate and modernise services, which are currently carried out over a number of sites.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon marked the start of the development.

She said: “Currently projects worth around £750 million are in construction across Scotland. This government’s continued commitment to infrastructure investment is delivering quality services among the people who visited the new sites, creating jobs and helping to grow the economy.

“This new state-of-the-art centre will put Scotland ahead of the rest of the UK for its work researching and testing blood.

“It will also deliver investment and opportunities to the local community and will mean we can continue to provide sustainable, high quality and continually improving healthcare services to patients across Scotland.”

Mary Morgan, director of the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, said: “The development of this new facility has been years in the planning and it is very exciting to be on the threshold of the construction phase.

“Consolidating many of our services will mean we can continue to meet the growing blood transfusion needs of patients across the country while providing the highest quality working environment for our staff and on-going contribution to Scotland’s leading life-science research and development industry.”

Scotland’s Blood Transfusion Charity, Give Blood for Scotland, claims that only four per cent of people in Scotland give blood. The country has a constant need for blood donors, with more than 1,000 donors required every day to meet hospital demand. People need blood for many reasons – after trauma, general supply or to support cancer.

 

Scottish Citizens Advice Service Celebrates 75 Years with twitter Campaign

By Adam Wilson

Scottish politicians met with leaders of the Scottish Citizens Advice Service today to announce a campaign to show support for the charity.

Senior Scottish ministers Ruth Davidson, Kenny MacAskill, and Tavish Scott and Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive Margaret Lynch celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Scottish Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) by launching the #iamcitizen campaign on twitter.

The aim of the campaign is for the public to give thanks and recognise the service provided by the Scottish CAB over the last three quarters of a century.

The organisation produced figures showing that it has helped more than 330,000 people over the last year, or almost one in 13 adults in Scotland, and that is has helped clients gain a total of £175 million as a result of advice given.

Ms Lynch said: “Our work benefits everybody in Scotland, and for that reason I’m heartened to see leading figures from across the political spectrum recognising that and coming together to say thank you.

“I’d encourage anyone who wants to congratulate the fantastic work going on daily at their local Citizens Advice Bureau to take two minutes out of their day to say thank you, and maybe tweet a message with the hashtag #iamcitizen.”

The first bureaux were set up in 1939 as a response to the chaos of the second world war, as a service to help the public with any questions they might have with the changing lifestyle of wartime Britain.

Edinburgh , Glasgow and Aberdeen were some of the first cities in the UK to have CABs.

 

Charities back Edinburgh City Council’s support for Living Wage

By Lauren Beehan

Charities have welcomed an Edinburgh City Council motion to support the Living Wage movement, despite Conservative claims that it would lead them to close their doors.

Councillors pledged to encourage their contractors and suppliers to pay their staff the living wage of £7.65, which Tory councillors said would force local charities to cease their services.

Speaking at last Thursday’s council meeting, Cllr Jeremy Balfour said that enforcing a living wage would leave vulnerable people without essential services. He said that three charities in his ward alone “would simply have to close and lay off their staff and lay off helping the vulnerable people in the West of Edinburgh” if they were obliged to pay the living wage.

However, Ruchir Shah, policy manager of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, said that they supported the living wage initiative and hoped that all organisations, charities included, would get behind it.

He said: “We support the living wage. [Charities] should value their staff as much as the people they are helping. […] If charities are funded by the City Council, the council should make sure that they are paying these charities enough to pay the living wage.”

The living wage movement calls for an end to working poverty, where working people need two jobs or the assistance of charities such food banks to survive.

Cllr Norma Austin Hart, who proposed the motion, told the council that most people living in poverty in the UK are low-paid workers, who cannot afford basic human rights such as food and shelter.

Describing poverty levels as “a modern scandal”, she said: “It is no longer the case that employment guarantees a route out of poverty, so employers need to be encouraged to take this important anti-poverty action. I feel that it is incumbent on the public sector to lead the way on this.”

She describe the living wage as “the most effective tool we have at our disposal” in the fight against working poverty.

However, businesses remain cautious,  expressing some concern about an “arbitrarily-defined” living wage.

David Martin of the Scottish Retail Consortium said that the two biggest costs to retailers are people and property. He said: “Smaller businesses might be acutely hit by this – if there is pressure on one of these two variables, you have to reduce that cost, either by a cutback on additional employee benefits or by reducing staff numbers.”

However, he also said that the vast majority of retailers, traditionally associated with low salaries, already paid above minimum wage.

Judy Murray Launches Scottish Poppy Appeal

By Tom Crosby

JUDY MURRAY launched Poppy Scotland’s annual fundraising appeal today at Stirling Castle.

The event saw the beginning of a campaign of fundraising and remembrance that aims to beat last year’s total of £2.64 million.

Leigh James, a spokeswoman for Poppy Scotland, said Ms Murray was chosen to open the event due to her high profile.

She said that “every year needs to get off to a good start” and as Ms Murray is from a military family she has a deep connection with the campaign.

Both Ms Murry’s father and paternal grandfather served in the British Army, with her other grandfather a member of the RAF.

At yesterday’s launch Ms Murray was also joined by 11-year-old Megan Adams from Stirling. Miss Adams is a member of the Poppy Girls – five young Scottish girls chosen from 1,000 hopefuls to release a commemorative fundraising single for the appeal.

The Royal Navy was represented by her father, Lieutenant Billy Adams, who was there with his wife Cheryl, herself a naval veteran. Mr Adams recently returned from active duty off the coast of Somalia to surprise his daughter during a liveperformance, reducing her to tears.

Fields of remembrance will be open in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens and Inverness’ Cavell Gardens from next Monday for one week. They will include hundreds of crosses sent in by members of the public each inscribed with personal messages.

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh airport control tower and The Hydro in Glasgow will be lit in red to commemorate the event.

The money raised will provide help and support to ex-servicemen and their families as well as funding the Royal British Legion’s personal recovery centres.

Poppy Scotland is taking donations via its ‘text to give’ service as well as online, by phone, post, or street collections.

Details of how to donate or volunteer can be found on its website.

 

 

First Tree Planted in War Centenary Wood

By Paul Malik

The first of 50,000 trees was planted today on the Dreghorn Military Estate, Pentland,  to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War.

Margaret Murison, whose grandfather and great-uncle both fell on the same day during the Battle of Ypres, planted an oak tree with pupils from Currie Primary School to mark the opening of the new wood.

The wood is part of a national initiative set up by the Woodland Trust that aims to “create a living memorial of the conflict”.

The Woodland Trust said: “Over the next four years more than 50,000 trees including oak, birch and rowan will be planted on land that has been used by army personnel for training for more than a century on the MOD training estate at Dreghorn.”

Rory Syme, a spokesman for the Woodland Trust, said the tress selected for the wood were “native” to Britain and that their crimson autumnal foliage would create an “amazing memorial”.

Poppy seeds are to be sown in the area also, to create a vivid red hue across the Pentland Hills.

The area will still be an active army training ground and the MOD will inform the public as to when the woods are not accessible.

The First World War claimed the lives of more than one million British Soldiers. The first Battle of Ypres alone killed more than 55,000 British service personnel.

Edinburgh’s Women’s Aid Discusses ‘What’s Next?’

Women's Aid Credit: Scottish Women's Aid

Women’s Aid
Credit: Scottish Women’s Aid

by Nicola Brown

Edinburgh’s Women’s Aid yesterday discussed the possible future role of men in the organisation at a meeting held after concerns were raised about the future of the charity.

According to the United Nations, up to 70 percent of women will experience violence in their lifetime. Edinburgh’s Women’s Aid is one charity that has fought to combat this issue by offering practical and emotional support to women and children suffering from domestic abuse. After facing criticism over whether they are still providing what vulnerable women need, the charity held a meeting yesterday to discuss the issues. One of the solutions discussed was to involve men directly for the first time in the organisations work.

A committee member at Edinburgh’s Women’s Aid said: “We often have people asking why Women’s Aid doesn’t offer certain services, or what we actually do now. People wonder whether we’re still relevant. So we thought, right, let’s open up the debate, ask the questions and see if we can all come up with some ideas to move forward.” Another Women’s Aid member said: “Men are part of the problem, so they need to be part of the solution.”

The Open Space event was held yesterday at St Andrew’s and St George’s church on George Street. The day was an invite only affair, titled: ‘What Next?’ Representatives from Police Scotland, the Local Council and key members from other domestic abuse charities including ‘Streetwork’ met to discuss the pressing issues decided by the guests themselves.

One of the issues voiced was whether men should have a more direct dealing with the charity. Currently, there are no men employed by Women’s Aid and any new vacancies specify that only women may apply. Whilst the charity currently works with men from other services, many of the industry specialists agreed that hiring men directly could be beneficial. This came alongside the debate that Women’s Aid suffers from an ‘out of touch’ public image.

A representative from another domestic abuse charity said: “People come to us and some do not want to turn to Women’s Aid because the perception is that they only help women ready to leave their partners. There is still this preconceived idea that Women’s Aid is run by ‘man-haters’.”

The general consensus remained that women should still form the majority of  board  members and employees for the charity. One attendee spoke of the needs of the women and children being the priority, but that positive male role models have been proven to be beneficial to some of the women and especially to the children.

The Women’s Aid event comes in amongst current global efforts to end gender based abuse. Monday the 25th of November, was the start of Unite’s campaign, International Violence Against Women’s Day. It precedes a sixteen-day global campaign to raise awareness, with statistics showing that 1 in 3 women worldwide are the victims of abuse. Secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, said: “Violence against women and girls directly affects individuals while harming our common humanity.”

Pace4Life Unveil Plans to ‘Recycle’ Pacemakers

© Christopher Gruver

© Christopher Gruver

By Lisa Moir

UK charity Pace4Life has unveiled controversial plans to ‘recycle’ life saving pacemakers for use in the developing world.

The charity, born in 2012, is working in partnership with the University of Michigan and their parallel organisation “My Heart, Your Heart” to research the reuse of the devices.

Pace4Life in conjunction with  The Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) have recently announced the initiative to collect and reuse the pacemakers collected in the UK.

Director of Abbey Funeral Services and executive committee member of SAIF, Jo Parker said: “As a funeral director, I have to arrange for the removal of pacemakers from the deceased if the family asks for a cremation as pacemakers cannot be cremated due to the lithium in the battery.   These pacemakers are then sent away to be destroyed. Following a chance meeting with Lavan we have been working closely together on this project.  As a member of the executive committee for SAIF,  I have rolled this idea out to our 1,000 funeral home membership. Many Funeral Directors have signed up to Pace4Life and are coming on board.   I see no reason for this not to work as the choice is destroy or recycle/reuse, the families I have dealt with are more than happy for the latter.”

After the 30th of November 2013, all pacemakers removed by SAIF members will require a completed next of kin consent form. This will allow Pace4Life to begin testing and sterilisation of the units enabling those meeting requirements to be exported for use in the the developing world. Any units not making the grade of at least 70 percent battery will continue to be recycled for the precious metal contents, providing essential funds to the project.

The initiative has been met with trepidation by global leader in pacemakers Medtronic. In a statement, Medtronic said: “Medtronic does not support the reprocessing or reuse of its implantable cardiac devices. Our devices are designed for one-time use only to maintain a consistently high level of quality and reliability that ensure safety and efficacy for patients. The sterility or performance of the device cannot be guaranteed with reused devices. These devices are complex and we believe these practices have the potential to introduce unacceptable risks to patient safety and quality medical care.”

Despite the concerns of pacemaker manufacturers, the plans are greeted with much enthusiasm from those involved. Pace4Life founder, Lavan Balasundaram, said: “By partnering with the University of Michigan in the United States, leaders in the research into the reuse of pacemakers this programme is being carefully constructed to allay any fears and ensure the highest level of care and devices are provided.”

Given that over 35,000 pacemakers are implanted in the UK each year, the potential for saving lives in the developing world by reusing old devices could be huge. As it stands,  having a brand new pacemaker put in  costs over £6,000, putting the life saving device out of reach of patients from poorer backgrounds. In comparison, the estimated cost of a reused pacemaker is at £200.

There are no current official examples of pacemakers being reused.

Pace4Life are looking to kick off implantation of the recycled units by the end of March 2014.

Grants Aim To End Stigma For Mental Health Sufferers

by Nicola Brown

image source: facebook.com/seemescotland

Caption: See Me logo            Charity fights stigma with £40,000 worth of grants.

In light of the controversial “mental patient” costumes sold by leading Supermarkets, Edinburgh charity ‘See Me’ has recently granted £40,000 to local groups in a battle to change attitudes.

With the stigma of mental illness still the dirty underbelly of Scottish society as shown through Asda and Tesco’s offensive Halloween costumes, a Scottish government initiative aims to tackle these issues. Recent government statistics have revealed that over a third of the population are affected by mental disorders each year. The most common afflictions being depression and anxiety. Yet many sufferers are still being stigmatised, which according to the Mental Health Foundation, can make it harder to recover. The charity ‘See Me’, which is fully funded by the Scottish government, aims to empower these people to speak out in a collective voice.

A spokesperson for See Me, Annie Ashby, said: “[The grants] seek to encourage organisations to take a lead in changing public attitudes and behaviours towards people with mental health problems by engaging with their local community. People with lived experience of mental ill-health have a key role in the delivery of each project.”

The changing attitudes are being achieved through the money awarded to 4 Young People’s Awards and 6 Local Grant Scheme Awards. Among the groups benefiting from the grants is HUG, with the project name ‘Vibrant Highland’, who have been awarded £4,000. The aim is to create a Highland youth group comprising 13-25 year olds with mental health problems. The grant will place them alongside other young people with the aim of educating them about their rights, as well as producing a DVD to highlight how attitudes have affected them. The charity think it important that these young people have a say in vital decisions that will impact their lives.

Another group to be awarded is LGBT Health and Well Being, also given £4,000. The Edinburgh based group is the largest community organisation helping young people affected by the stigma associated with their sexual orientation (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender). The grant will fund creative writing workshops held by professionals who have lived with mental illness. The workshops will encourage people afflicted by a diverse range of mental disorders to channel their experiences creatively. The participants writing efforts will then be bound in a book, with the writers offering training and guidance on how to design the layout. The book will be launched at a celebratory public event to raise awareness about their shared experiences.

The way in which society responds to those suffering from mental disorders is improving through the work carried out in the media. Monday night witnessed the twentieth anniversary of the Mind Media Awards. The night played host to journalists, broadcasters, bloggers and documentaries, which celebrated those depicting an accurate picture of mental heath and as a result, challenging the stigma. Chief Executive at Rethink Mental Illness, tweeted: “Very impressive to be celebrating 20 years of#VMGMindAwards great contribution to changing attitudes towards mental health.”

Childline Launches ‘Anti-sexting’ App for Teens

by Rachael Bell

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Zipit Product Shot
Credit: NSPCC

ChildLine have recently launched its first app to combat the pressures of sending sexually explicit images or videos. Zipit is a free app that offers users advice and witty images instead of explicit ones. It’s designed to discourage young people sharing explicit texts, videos or images.

The app responds to a ChildLine survey of 13-18 year olds revealing that a quarter of them have sent a sexually explicit image of themselves to someone else. In contrast, over half of the young people surveyed said they had received a sexual photo or video. In most of these cases young people said the images went to a boyfriend or girlfriend, a third said they went to someone they met online and 15% said they went to a total stranger.

Peter Liver, Director of ChildLine Services, said: “ChildLine are proud to be launching our first app for young people. We hope ‘Zipit’ will give them the tools to defuse the pressure to send, share or collect these images. We understand that young people may continue to take and send explicit images but we want them to know that ChildLine is here any time to offer non-judgmental support and advice.”

The survey also revealed that fewer young people are calling ChildLine to talk about issues. Most said they would approach a friend if they needed help. Only 17% would speak to their parents.

One 17 year old said: “Sexting is pretty normal at my age. My friends and I talk very openly about our experiences within our relationships, and the sort of things we’ve sent each other. It seems like everyone’s doing it.”

Zipit was developed in collaboration with young people from the NSPCC, Young Stonewall, and Livity. It is aimed at young people ages 14 and over. The app launched earlier this month and is available free at Google Play, Blackberry, and the App Store.

Ashes found in charity shop

A vase picture by Hohum. Not vase found in charity shop.

“They thought I was joking when I said what I found. It has been the most unusual thing we have ever been given in the charity shop by far.”

Ashes from a cremation have been found in charity shop Arthritis Research Campaign in Midlothian. They were found after chairwoman, Lena Skilbeck, handled the vase and spilled the ashes in the Bonnyrigg shop.

The ashes have been sent to Barclays Funeral Services to be determine whether they are human or animal remains. They will be kept in the town’s funeral parlour until they are claimed.

When they were originally found, Lena had a difficult time convincing the other staff members she was being serious. “It was about 18 inches across and quite heavy so only a wee bit fell out, but I sweept up as much as I could and hoovered up the rest.”

“I was going to sprinkle them, but my husband said the owner might be looking for them, so I phoned the undertaker instead.”

The results to determine whether the ashes are human or not will be released until next week. The charity shop are still trying to find the owner, Lena says “I reckon they’ll come back in”.

Anger after Archbishop’s comments on gay rights

Scottish gay rights charity, Equality Network has responded to a sermon given yesterday by the Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow, Mario Conti.

In the sermon he claimed that “tolerance” is turning into “tyranny” on the subject of gay marriage, accusing the political mainstream of “marginalizing” religious opinion.

The Archbishop claimed yesterday that the proposed introduction of gay marriage in Scotland is an attempt to “redefine marriage” according to “mores of the day” and is “putting the claim of ‘equality and diversity’ on a higher level than faith and reason”.

Archbishop Conti stated that creating equality between homosexual and heterosexual marriages is “contrary to the virtue of chastity” and as going against “natural law”.

The Catholic cleric went on to claim that society will “descend further into ethical confusion and moral disintegration” if the government continues to legislate on such issues.

Tim Hopkins, Director of the Equality Network, argued that legal equality should not be denied to gay people. “Archbishop Conti says the law is there to defend the rights of citizens, but he wants to deny those rights to people because they are gay. He says the law cannot redefine people and their rights, and yet the law has done that over and over.”

Referring to previous attempts by the law to discriminate against groups in society, Tim Hopkins stated, “In the past century the legal position of women has undergone a revolution, from non-persons without a vote, to legal equality. In the past 200 years, the legal position of Catholics in this country has similarly been redefined. It’s time that legal equality extended to LGBT people too.”

The gay rights campaigning group Stonewall has also weighed in on the controversy, stating that the Archbishop’s comments were disrespectful and intolerant. In a statement issued to ENN today, Colin Macfarlane, Director of Stonewall Scotland said that Archbishop Conti’s use of terms like “ethical confusion” were “disappointing and wholly untrue” and that “the majority of Scots support the right of same sex couples to express their committed relationships through marriage. When there 1.2 billion people in the world living on less than a dollar a day, it’s a shame that the churches’ priorities are focused on preventing a few thousand people doing just that.”

These comments come after Cardinal Keith O’Brian, Scotland’s most senior Catholic wrote in The Telegraph earlier in the month comparing legalizing gay marriage to slavery.

Previously Archbishop Conti has gone on record as supporting the controversial Section 28 of the Local Government Act that banned the “promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities. He has also voiced opposition against Civil Partnerships and IVF treatment and is a member of the Catholic Bishops’ Joint Committee for Bio-Ethics.

The Equality Network is a registered charity promoting LGBT rights and has been operating in Scotland since 1997.

One step closer to become a Fair Trade Nation

Scotland’s desire to become one of the world’s first Fair Trade Nations is on course to become a reality by the end of this year.

In July 2006, the  Scottish Government established a set of innovative measures to be met in order to make the ‘Fair Trade Nation’ status a real achievement.

According to the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, the main targets to be achieved in order to reach the goal depend on National and Local Authorities as well as on some public institutions such as schools or universities.

For Scotland to become a Fair Trade Nation all cities should  achieve the Fairtrade City status and at least 60% of Universities should have active Fair Trade groups working towards the same status.

So far, almost two-thirds of higher education institutions have achieved the goal and there are only four more local authorities needed for Scotland to see its dream of being one of the world’s first Fair Trade Nations become true.

In order to meet the criteria, the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government are also required to actively promote Fairtrade Fortnight each year since the campaign was launched in 2006.

With the theme “Take a step for Fairtrade” this year’s Fortnight runs from 27th February to the 11th March. Being a key year for the nation’s future to get the Fair Trade status, the Fairtrade Foundation is asking everyone to take a step for it.

A spokesperson for the Fairtrade foundation said “It can be a simple step, like swapping your tea to Fairtrade, or a bigger step, like asking everyone in your office to do it too.”.

For those willing to find out what events are taking place in Edinburgh as part of the Fairtrade Fortnight 2012, this link from the Edinburgh Council is a must: http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/info/20103/fairtrade/1130/fair_trade_news_and_events

Action Against Violence Towards Women

The City of Edinburgh Council and other local authorities
will be taking part in 16 Days of Action.

This event starts tomorrow and opposes violence against women. The event, which has the support of the UN, will take place from November 25 until December 10. This event comes after two sexual assaults were reported in The Meadows over the past week, bringing violence against women into the spotlight.

A “Reclaim the Night” event is set to occur tonight leaving from Bristo Square at 7.30pm in response to the recent sexual assaults and in anticipation of the 16 Days of Action, which starts tomorrow.

The event, which will be run by the Edinburgh Violence Against Women Partnership (EVAWP), aims to bring together a number of local services and charities in order to raise awareness and help the prevention of violence against women.

According to White Ribbon Scotland, a domestic violence incident is recorded every 10 minutes, and reports of domestic violence have risen by 8% since 2007. Domestic violence affects women disproportionately, with 84% of recorded incidents having a female victim and a male perpetrator. It is believed that 1 in 5 women in Scotland will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

Rape conviction rates in Scotland are currently at an all time low of 3.7%. Added to this, in 2007, 26% of Scots surveyed believed that a woman is at least partially responsible for being raped if she wears revealing clothing.

Superintendent David Carradice of Lothian and Borders Police has stated that the police are “committed to tackling violence against women and work alongside our partner agencies to bring those responsible for violent crimes to justice, while at the same time offering all the necessary support and advice to victims.”

Scotland climate change warning

Scotland is at increasing risk from climate change,
a new report published today claims.

The report, entitled, ‘How well is Scotland preparing for climate change’, argues that there will be both benefits to Scotland, and risks. It urges the Scottish government to take action to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Some of the benefits of a warmer climate detailed in the report include: fewer winter deaths, lower demand for heating, new opportunities for tourism, and increased agricultural capacity.

At the same time, the report details a range of risks. Flooding is a risk for densely populated urban regions, while Scotland’s disparate rural community is more likely to struggle with extreme weather, if transport links and essential services are disrupted. Scotland’s population profile is increasingly ageing, and the elderly, together with groups already vulnerable to health problems in deprived communities, are both identified as less adaptable to extreme weather.

Stan Blackley, Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said, “With the UN climate talks starting in Durban next week, this is a timely report. At those talks, we need all of the countries in attendance to commit to serious action to reduce carbon emissions and support those who are being worst affected by the impacts of climate change.

“While we already know the devastating effects climate change is having and will increasingly have on developing countries, this report shows that climate change will also impact negatively on Scotland, and that we need to both prepare for it and mitigate against it.”

Potential economic and ecological impacts are also identified by the report. One aspect singled out for particular attention is the potential loss of peat from Scotland’s sensitive peatlands. As well as providing an important ecological environment, peatlands form a significant carbon store, the report contends.

The Adaptation Sub-Committee of the UK Committee on Climate Change, who produced the report, make a number of recommendations to the Scottish government. These include setting specific ‘adaptation outcomes’ which seek to address potential consequences from climate change. They urge greater uptake of ‘low-regret adaptation actions’, the integration of adaptation thinking into policy and decision-making, and effective collaboration with the UK national adaptation programme.

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