By Bob Doris MSP
Friday 13th September 2019
Ambition To Extend Under 5’s Reading Programme Across Maryhill and Springburn
I have been leading discussions with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and local social housing providers to roll out an ambitious pre-5 book initiative across our constituency. The Imagination Library provides a quality, age-appropriate book every month to children from birth to their 5th birthday.
Books are personally addressed to every child and posted out to them. The initiative can support literacy and language development from the earliest of ages and boost a reading culture within families.
On Friday (13th September) I was joined by social housing providers, Children’s Minister Maree Todd MSP and City Government Education Convener Cllr Chris Cunningham to find out more.
Social housing providers in the constituency such as Blochairn Housing Association (the venue for this week's event) Wheatley Housing Group Limited and West of Scotland Housing Association already back the programme. It was fantastic that others open to considering delivering the scheme. My thanks to ng homes Queens Cross Housing Association & Maryhill Housing Association for discussing the opportunities today. And for the interest of Spire View Housing Association Hawthorn Housing Cooperative and Cadder Housing Association who although could not attend today’s meeting have expressed an interest.
Together I hope we can deliver this reading initiative right across the constituency.
Victory In Fight For School Buggy Path
It was good to finally celebrate the news that the schools at Benview Campus in Ruchill Park will get a new buggy path at Panmure Street. Parents have been fighting for a buggy path since the new campus opened in 2013 to try and prevent many families having to bump prams and buggies up dozens of steps twice a day. The previous Council administration crazily failed to ensure access to the new campus was fully accessible and family-friendly.
When I became the areas constituency MSP in 2016 I got involved with the campaign, supported parents and made repeated representations to the Council. The new path will make a huge difference to many families who have had to struggle up the Panmure steps with small children in all weathers over the years.
Our first representation to Glasgow City Council was fruitless. The Council stated that a buggy path would be too expensive and claimed that some of the land required for the path was owned by Scottish Enterprise (SE). They stated that Scottish Enterprise would not part with the land.
I am delighted that we persuaded Scottish Enterprise to provide the land and that sufficient funds for the path have now been identified. This victory should never have taken so long but I am delighted we have got there. Work to deliver the buggy path commences today. My thanks to everyone who backed our campaign and to Liz, Leanne and others for not got giving up on this campaign. My thanks also to Councillors Gow and McLaren for their assistance.
Addressing drug-related deaths in Scotland
In parliament this week I supported Monica Lennon MSP's event and spoke in the Members Debate on drug-related deaths in Scotland. Unity of purpose across Government and Opposition parties will be crucial. We must consider solutions and the consequent funding that will be required.
People are dying in Maryhill, in Possil, in Springburn and right across my constituency. It is not just a tragedy, it is also a public health emergency. I have been told stories about people who have been pursuing recovery being refused lower doses of methadone by their general practitioner despite the fact that they are trying to move into recovery. I have heard about people who have suffered a relapse but were still committed to recovery finding themselves being put on even higher doses of methadone than they were on before they sought recovery when their GP found out about the relapse. They did not want that.
I have heard similar stories about constituents’ experiences with addiction workers. On occasion, addiction workers have actively discouraged individuals from moving into recovery or into abstinence-based programmes, and it has been unclear why. The explanations that have been offered to me by people who have lived experience include that that is the addiction service’s culture; that not enough people who have been through recovery are part of addiction services; that support pathways are weak, do not exist, or are not joined up; that addiction services are poorly resourced; and that addiction workers have too many clients and are not able to give the required individualised support
The drugs task force will meet shortly. I welcome that. It will not be judged by its meetings but by its actions, so the jury is out on it. It would be remiss of me not to mention the concerns that have been expressed about the lack of lived experience of addiction and recovery on the drugs task force. We need more direct representation on the task force; we will have to do something similar to what we did with the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018. There needs to be an addiction and recovery experience panel, and it should not meet just once as a gimmick; it should meet regularly and feed in the lived experience of people who are in recovery to the task force’s work. I hope that the Government can agree to that.
Street Valium is killing my constituents right now, and we need a direct strategy for that as soon as possible. We need a new consensus, and it will have to come at budget time. The bun-fighting between parties must end, and we must decide the resource that is required and the outcomes that we want to drive.
Wear it Pink
Once again, I was happy to support the #WearItPink campaign organised by Breast Cancer Now who champion the needs of all breast cancer patients.
You can find out more about their work at https://breastcancernow.org/
Visiting the Chinese mid-autumn festival
On Monday evening I had a lovely evening celebrating the Chinese mid-autumn festival in north Glasgow. I am always happy to support our Chinese community in the constituency, who always put on such great events and demonstrate true community bonding.