Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Learning the Six Ways

It was a great privilege to say a few words before the performance of "A Clean Sweep" by the Pluto la Vie Theatre Company at the Festival Theatre this week. The performance was part of the Council's ongoing work to make Edinburgh a Dementia Friendly City. There's lots of good work going on involving businesses and communities, more details can be found via the Council website on this link. 

There you will find out more about the six ways to help a person with dementia and help them to feel included, -
  • Learning more about the facts 
  • Show patience, for example if someone is having problems with their words 
  • Include them in conversations 
  • Being kind and show respect 
  • Helping them to join in 
  • Be a friend
The performance itself is a visual Clown play. Dustin and Walt live in an absurd world full of brooms and brushes. They try their best to understand and control this world. They fail - but, as clowns do, in their generosity they share their failure with the audience.

People with Dementia still have a personality, a sense of rhythm, music and humour. A Clean Sweep engages on these levels. With simple objects and a simple activity, Dustin and Walt reveal their dreams, passions, obsessions, disagreements and above all their humanity.

The audience loved the play and after we adjourned for tea and a scone in the magnificent glass fronted first floor bar area of the Festival Theatre to chat and enjoy each other's company. The actors Ian Cameron and Tim Licata (above) and their musicians very generously joined us and helped to serve tea and keep the entertainment flowing.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Broon, HRH and Queen of Hearts

Ann Budge & Robbo unveil an unlikely free transfer signing...
What an interesting few days ! I imagine the rest of the campaign won't be as exciting but this Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday has been memorable on lots of levels.

On Monday I attended the Scottish Labour Press Event / manifesto briefing. It quickly became clear that the mystery guest speaker was none other than former PM Gordon Brown. After opening contributions from Kez Dugdale and Jim Murphy, Gordon provided more detail on the latest commitments for providing more powers to the Scottish Parliament. Among other things, I think the proposal with the most potential is to devolve Housing Benefit. It makes sense to have housing policy and investment decisions in the same place as the main benefit source (1.8bn in Scotland) and I think it's possible that more progress could be made in accelerating the provision of affordable housing across Scotland.

On Tuesday I made my apologies and left the Finance and Resources Committee slightly early to head for our Technology Hub Centre at Firhill where new technology is made available to people with disabilities and those recovering from strokes, brain injury and other conditions. The occupational therapists there do some wonderful work with some mind boggling kit. HRH Princess Anne was paying a visit in her role as Patron of the College of Occupational Therapy. The visit went very well with staff and service users meeting HRH and discussing how different devices had made a real difference to their lives.

Yesterday saw a joint business breakfast, hosted by the Council and Heart of Midlothian FC at Tynecastle. The aim was to make the case for payment of the Living Wage by local employers. Keynote speakers included Ann Budge, Chair of Hearts and Cllr Frank Ross, Convener of the Economy Committee. 

Cllr Gordon Munro, Vice Convener of the Economy Committee, chaired a panel discussion with Ann Budge and local businesses Standard Life, Bluebird Care and Rabbie’s. All speakers made a compelling moral, social and economic argument in favour of the Living Wage but all also stressed that they felt it had been beneficial to their business.

Gordon's Q&A session was very interesting and there was some good natured banter in view of his well known allegiance to Hibernian ! I was chuffed to get my photo taken on the pitch after with Ann Budge and John Roberston.

By the way, the current UK Living Wage is £7.85 an hour (minimum wage for 21 years and over is £6.50).

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Ready To Go...

I am delighted to have been selected as the Labour candidate for Edinburgh South West in this May's General Election. I consider it a great honour to represent the Labour Party in any capacity so I'm delighted and eager to get the campaign underway.

Alistair Darling will be a difficult act to follow but with hard work and a team effort I am confident that we can keep this seat Labour and help to evict David Cameron from Downing Street.

I'd like to reiterate my thanks to the many members who I spoke to over the selection process, we have a great mix of talent and enthusiasm throughout the constituency, and to everyone who took part in yesterday's final hustings meeting.

I also want to record my thanks and best wishes to the other candidates, who all ran impressive campaigns and will continue to contribute to Labour's cause.  

The meeting itself was pretty nerve wracking, hustings always are, but there was a great turn out and a good atmosphere. After 5 minute speeches from each candidate we took questions from the floor and then the business concluded and ballot papers were issued (to add to the postal votes already submitted).

After a nervous wait, I was delighted to be declared as the successful candidate.

Photos and phone calls followed and then a positive avalanche of texts and tweets and, - eek ! - I'm already being followed by the Labour Whips office at Westminster!

Very grateful for all the messages of congratulations and support and its been a busy day today talking to party colleagues and starting to make plans.

I'll do my best to update the blog regularly although I am expecting to be quite busy in the next few months !!