Ash Denham MSP and her constituency office staff will be pulling on the hiking boots this May to walk up one of Scotland’s highest mountains to raised money for a much-loved Edinburgh-based animal welfare charity.

The Edinburgh Eastern MSP and her team will complete the six-mile hike of Perthshire’s Ben Vorlich to raise money for the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, which was founded in 1883 and welcomes lost, stray and abandoned pets from all corners of Edinburgh and the Lothians.

Ben Vorlich is one of the most popular Munros and stands tall at 3,232 feet – over two times the height of the Empire State Building. The team intend to complete the challenge during the first week in May.

Ash Denham MSP said:

“I’m really looking forward to taking part in this charity challenge with my office staff to raise money for the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, a long-standing charity based in Seafield in my Edinburgh Eastern constituency.

“I’ve visited the Home on a number of occasions to learn more about their incredible work and most recently visited the charity to congratulate them on becoming accredited Living Wage Scotland employers.

“The Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home is one of the oldest animal welfare charities in Scotland and fundraising efforts like this one go towards the annual costs to ensure hundreds of lost, stray and abandoned animals from Edinburgh and the Lothians are cared for each year.

“My team and I will soon begin training in preparation to hike one of the highest mountains in Scotland and we will take on the challenge in a safe and responsible way – such as taking a map and compass, wearing the right clothing and footwear, and keeping any dogs we take on a lead near livestock.”

Nicola Gunn, Director of Development and External Affairs at Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, said:

“After her visit to Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home last year we are very excited to hear Edinburgh Eastern MSP Ash Denham and her office staff will be tackling Ben Vorlich to raise funds for the Home.

“We provide a safe, warm and loving environment for hundreds of animals that come through our doors each year and support such as this helps us in our mission to rescue, reunite and rehome dogs and cats across Edinburgh and the Lothians. Wishing them all the best with their trek – we are extremely grateful to Ash and the team for taking on this challenge!”

Anyone wishing to donate can do so on the following link:


Learn more about the work of Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home on their website:

Pictured: Ash Denham MSP is pictured alongside Lindsay Fyffe-Jardine (Interim CEO at Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home)



Edinburgh Eastern MSP, Ash Denham, has hailed a Scottish Government announcement which would commit £645 million to expand early learning and childcare provision across Scotland and save families in Edinburgh up to £4,500 per child a year.
Announcing the Scottish Government’s draft budget proposals for 2020/21 in Holyrood, SNP Minister Kate Forbes announced investment that will support the SNP’s plan to almost double the free provision of childcare to 1140 hours from August 2020 for all 3 and 4 year olds and eligible 2 year olds.
As well as improving outcomes for children, this investment will save families up to £4,500 per child per year and give parents and carers more choice over how they access their child’s funded hours and flexibility to explore work, education or training opportunities.
The Scottish Government will also invest £180 million in raising attainment in schools, and support the building, refurbishment and extension of around 880 nurseries.
By the end of this parliament, childcare spending will have more than doubled to £990 million.
Commenting, Ash Denham MSP for Edinburgh Eastern said:
“This commitment from the SNP to almost double the provision of free childcare will help ensure children across the capital are given the best possible start in life, and Scotland becomes the best place in the world to grow up.
“That £645 million investment will save families in Edinburgh up to £4,500 per child per year and give parents and carers more choice over how they access their child’s funded hours and flexibility to explore work, education or training opportunities.
“A massive investment in childcare is something all parties can get behind – I hope to see MSPs from across the Chamber back the Scottish Government’s plans in Parliament next month.”



Ash Denham MSP has welcomed recent figures which show 20,949 baby boxes have been delivered to families across Edinburgh and the Lothians since their introduction by the Scottish Government in April 2017.

The figures which are up to 17th January this year, show that across Scotland a total of 120,193 baby boxes have been delivered, with 96% of expectant parents taking up the opportunity to receive one – while the latest parent survey showed 100% satisfaction.

Adapted from the Finnish model, Scotland’s baby box balances practical items, such as the clothing, the hooded bath towel and the changing mat, with items designed to have a positive impact on parent-child interaction through the inclusion of books, a baby wrap and a play mat to support attachment, early learning and play.

Last year, the box – which costs £8m annually to produce and administer – also included the option of a reusable nappy voucher. At present 1,200 of these vouchers have been distributed to families by NHS Lothian, and the figure is at 5,171 nationality with take up at 14%.

Commenting, Ash Denham MSP said:

“I am proud to be part of a government that is determined that every child – regardless of their circumstance – should get the best start in life, and Scotland’s baby box ensures that every family with a newborn has access to essential items needed in the first six months of a child’s life.

“Figures show that across Scotland 96% of expectant parents in Scotland are now requesting a baby box – that’s a huge vote of confidence in the baby box. To date more than 120,000 have been delivered, of which 20,949 have been sent to families across Edinburgh and the Lothians, including my Edinburgh Eastern constituency.

“The introduction in April last year of reusable nappy vouchers has also proven popular with parents, particularly in the NHS Lothians region which has seen more applications than anywhere in Scotland with 1,200.

“The baby box is part of a much wider programme by the Scottish Government to help tackle deprivation, improve health and support parents during the first few months of their child’s life.”



Baby Boxes delivered by Health Board as of 17th January 2020 

Health Board Baby Boxes Delivered
NHS Ayrshire and Arran 7294
NHS Borders 2228
NHS Dumfries and Galloway 2838
NHS Fife 7713
NHS Forth Valley 6245
NHS Grampian 13495
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde 29967
NHS Highland 5877
NHS Lanarkshire 13507
NHS Lothian 20949
NHS Orkney 442
NHS Shetland 503
NHS Tayside 8679
NHS Western Isles 456
Total 120,193

List per Health Board of nappy voucher uptake as of 17th January 2020

Health Board Applications for Reusable Nappy
NHS Ayrshire and Arran 220
NHS Borders 108
NHS Dumfries and Galloway 122
NHS Fife 293
NHS Forth Valley 253
NHS Grampian 723
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde 1141
NHS Highland 297
NHS Lanarkshire 331
NHS Lothian 1200
NHS Orkney 24
NHS Shetland 45
NHS Tayside 392
NHS Western Isles 22
Total 5,171



Ash Denham MSP has praised the Scotland’s animal welfare charity, the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Scottish SPCA), for delivering animal welfare education lessons to over half of the capital’s children in 2019.
Over last year, the charity reached 210,727 children across Scotland and 52% of of kids across the city of Edinburgh (61% across Edinburgh and the Lothians as a whole).
The Edinburgh Eastern MSP, who in her Ministerial role recently invited the charity to take part in her Fireworks Review Group to address firework misuse on Bonfire Night, learned about the animal welfare school education programme whilst visiting their Edinburgh & Lothians Rescue Centre in Balerno. At the rescue centre she met with the Scottish SCPA’s Chief Executive, Kirsteen Campbell, and the charity’s Head of Education & Policy, Gilly Mendes Ferreira.
Ms. Denham said:
“I’m delighted to congratulate the Scottish SPCA for their school education programme which has seen the charity reach almost a quarter of a million children across Scotland in pre-school, primary and high school age groups in 2019 alone.
“This child-focussed education programme includes workshops on how to care for your pet properly as well as holding mock court room sessions where children use real life investigation examples to generate discussion and debate.
“In particular I was interested to hear about their exciting new programme using ‘animaltronics’ which has helped pupils, including many in my constituency, to understand the importance of treating animals with kindness and compassion.
“It goes without saying the SNP in Government recognises the incredible work of animal welfare charities such as the Scottish SPCA, and that is being demonstrated by our commitment in our Programme for Government to take forward legislation in a number of areas relating to animal welfare, including the Animal Health and Welfare (Amendment) Bill which will increase penalties for the most serious animal welfare offences.”

Gilly Mendes Ferreira, Head of Education & Policy, added:

“Our unique partnership with Robo Wunderkind has allowed us to use robotics as a great tool that captures seven to 13 year old children’s imagination, encourages them to have fun and be creative, links with the STEM curriculum and brings home how amazing animals really are.

“Giving children the opportunity to build and code their own robot enables them to recognise that animals are actually born with these ‘in-built’ sensors and how important it is that we are aware of these senses when interacting with animals.”



Edinburgh Eastern MSP Ash Denham has called on opposition MSPs to support the Scottish Government’s Budget for 2020/21 which includes an expected spend of at least £1.4 billion supporting low‐income households.


This coming year will also see the £21m allocated to the new Scottish Child Payment which, when it is fully rolled out in 2022, will lift 30,000 children out of poverty. The payment has been described by the Child Poverty Action Group as a ‘game changer’ in the fight to end child poverty and will make a ‘real difference to families’.


The Scottish Budget statement, delivered by Finance Minister Kate Forbes on Thursday afternoon, also pledges to invest around £645 million in the revolutionary expansion of early learning and childcare, improving the life chances of our children, delivering better opportunities for parents and carers to balance work and family life, and setting fair work standards for those that will deliver the expansion.


Ash Denham MSP said:


“I call on opposition MSPs to back the Budget put forward by the Scottish Government, recognising in particular the funding it has allocated to tackle child and family poverty. On average almost one in four children across Scotland live in poverty – and 65% of those children live in working households.


“Challenges to the economy often have the hardest impact on the most vulnerable, and so this Budget will continue to value growth, but will also provide progressive support targeted at those on low incomes and most in need of support.


“The initial roll out of the new Scottish Child Payment – which will lift 30,000 children out of poverty when it is fully implemented in 2022 – has been allocated £21m in this Budget and has been described by the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland as a ‘game-changer’ in the fight to end child poverty.


“At a time when the UK Government has cast aside the needs of Scotland by delaying the UK Budget, the Scottish Government is working to bring certainty, fairness and growth to the Scottish economy and I strongly urge opposition parties to support it.”





End Child Poverty estimated that 30% (after housing costs considered) of children in the Edinburgh Eastern constituency live in poverty, based on statistics from 2017/18.


Last Friday (31st January), job seekers in the Gilmerton area were able to meet some of the city’s biggest employers at a Jobs Fair hosted by Ash Denham MSP.

The event, which was co-organised alongside Jobcentre Plus, attracted employers such as Edinburgh Airport, FUSE Recruitment, BUPA and The City of Edinburgh Council, who were able to discuss job opportunities directly with members of the public who attended the fair.

Among the 14 tables, there were also a number of support organisations including the Prince’s Trust and the Venture Trust who offer help into employment through training programmes and support with cv-writing and developing interview skills.

Ms. Denham said:

“The Jobs Fair was a real success and surpassed the attendance expectations of Jobcentre Plus and I would like to thank Jobcentre Plus, the employers, employment support organisations and constituents who attended.

“It was pleasing to see so many members of the public attend ready with a CV and being offered a job interview on the day while many were also able to sign up to an employment support programme which will enable them to apply for job vacancies in the future.

“As the local MSP for Edinburgh Eastern I want to do all I can to support constituents who are looking for work, and the success of this fair means I will aim to put other similar events on in other parts of the constituency.”

David Wise, Employer Adviser at Jobcentre Plus, added:

“This was a very successful event, enjoyed by employers, support organisations and local residents. I would like to thank Ash for arranging this event, her team for all their efforts in organising it, and all those who attended for their participation.

“We hope this event has helped local people to gain new skills, opportunities and jobs and we look forward to working on similar events with Ash and her team in the future.”



Last Saturday (25th January) Edinburgh Eastern MSP Ash Denham hosted an advice surgery in Portobello for EU citizens who had questions about the EU Settlement Scheme and how Brexit will affect them.
53 constituents, representing nine EU nationalities, attended the surgery which took the form of an open Q & A session led by Ms Denham and Karen Brown from Citizens Advice Scotland.
Ms. Denham had written to all EU citizens in her constituency to make them aware of the surgery and to provide details of support services available to help them complete their Settled Status application, including information on the Scottish Government’s ‘Stay in Scotland’ package of support.
Ash Denham MSP said:
“As the constituency MSP and with only days until Scotland is taken out of the European Union by the UK Government, I felt it was important to put on this event to make sure that EU citizens felt reassured about the EU Settled Status Scheme and to give them an opportunity to ask questions specific to them and their family circumstances.
“There was a strong turn out of 53 constituents of all ages representing nine different EU nationalities, and everyone was given an opportunity to ask questions and, if required, to arrange a personal meeting with Citizens Advice Edinburgh at a later date.
“Both at the meeting and in the letter sent to EU citizens in my constituency, I made it clear that EU citizens are valued for the contribution they make to our society and our culture, and that I want them to stay.
“If any EU citizen would like advice or support in completing their application, the Scottish Government has committed to providing a ‘Stay in Scotland’ package of support, including the funding of Citizens Advice Scotland, which has a help line available weekdays between 9am and 5pm on 0800 916 9847. EU citizens in Edinburgh Eastern can also seek advice from my constituency office, which can be contacted by emailing or calling 0131 659 4707.”
Pictured: Ash Denham MSP and Karen Brown of Citizens Advice Edinburgh at the Bellfield Community Centre last Saturday.
You can find out more information on the ‘#StayInScotland’ support service by visiting
Citizens Advice Scotland will also be helping those citizens who would like to apply for settled status, but have more complex support needs. You can find out more at

A full-time national helpline is available on 0800 916 9847 (lines are open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday).


Ash Denham MSP is pleased to announce that she will be hosting a jobs fair in her Edinburgh Eastern constituency on Friday 31st January.

The event, organised alongside Jobcentre Plus, will be held at the Gilmerton Society Hall (diagonally opposite the traffic light crossroads from Gilmerton Community Centre) and will include employers with a number of local vacancies, including Fort Kinnaird Retail Park, Edinburgh Airport, BUPA, Search Recruitment and others who are looking to take on new staff members.

For constituents who may be in need of some support prior to taking up employment a number of third sector agencies such as Princes Trust, Springboard, Community Renewal, Venture Trust and Bruce Robertson Training will also be in attendance.

The event is free to attend and will be held between 11am-2pm and applicants are encouraged to attend dressed to impress.

The Edinburgh Eastern MSP said:

“I’m delighted to host this event which will give my constituents in the Gilmerton and surrounding areas the opportunity to speak to some local employers face to face about vacancies they are looking to fill. I would encourage anyone who is looking for employment, as well as those looking for a career change, to drop in and see what the jobs fair has to offer you.

“Sometimes people just need a chance to either start a new job or restart their careers following redundancy elsewhere. I am immensely grateful to all the companies and organisations who have signed up so far and I hope they are able to recognise the potential of those who go along on the day.

“I would like to thank David Wise and his Jobcentre Plus colleagues who have been extremely helpful in assisting my office to organise this important event.”

David Wise, Employer Adviser at Jobcentre Plus in Edinburgh, added:

“Jobcentre Plus are happy to be working with MSP Ash Denham and a variety of local employers and partners to support the Edinburgh Eastern community towards and into employment.”

If you would like more information about this event please email or phone 0131 659 4707.


No one should have no one, especially at Christmas.

Ahead of Christmas, it’s important for constituents to remember to spend time and look out for their elderly neighbours, friends and relatives and include older people in their plans for the festive period.

For most of us Christmas is a time we very much look forward to – a time when we come together with friends and family and enjoy each other’s company.

But for some people Christmas can be a very lonely time of year – research carried out by Age Scotland suggests older people feel lonelier at Christmas than at any other time of the year, and that those who have been widowed were most at risk. The consequences of loneliness can lead to poor physical and mental health and has been linked with conditions such as heart disease and dementia.

I visited Age Scotland a few months ago at their Edinburgh-based headquarters to support their petition to retain free TV licences for over-75s. The charity told me that 100,000 older people in Scotland feel lonely all or most of the time, and that almost half of over-75s say that their main form of company is the TV or a pet.

That needs to change. So I’m urging people across Edinburgh to remember the older people in their community and check in on them over the Christmas period, as well as at other times of the year.

Something as simple as having a cup of tea with an older people can make a huge difference to that person and helps tackle their feelings of loneliness and isolation. At all ages, people’s attitudes and self-esteem are significantly affected by feeling needed and appreciated.

In April this year, Christina McKelvie, Minister for Older People, published the Scottish Government’s ‘A Fairer Scotland for Older People: framework for action’ plan, which followed the ‘A Connected Scotland’ strategy – published last December – to tackle social isolation and loneliness and build social connections. Both of these strategies demonstrate that we are taking action, and that tackling loneliness is something the Government takes extremely seriously.

I also strongly endorse Age Scotland’s fantastic ‘#ShareWhatYouLove’ campaign, encouraging members of the public to share a hobby of their with an older person who lives alone, giving them an opportunity to go out, meet new people and feel part of society.

I have already committed to taking part in this campaign in the New Year by inviting elderly constituents out to do something I really enjoy in my spare time – walking!

It’s a fantastic idea for a campaign which will make a real difference to an older people feeling lonely at any time of the year. If you would like to take part in this initiative please visit and pledge your time to someone who would really appreciate it.

No one should have no one, especially at Christmas.


Edinburgh Eastern MSP, Ash Denham, is backing the campaign to keep the Venchie Children and Young People’s Project charity alive.

The #SaveTheVenchine campaign has so far raised over £1,000 to allow it to continue running until potential grants which have been applied for would allow the charity to become more sustainable.

Ms. Denham has also written to Government ministers John Swinney and Maree Todd to see if they could offer any assistance with funding.

The Venchie currently runs a morning wake up, transport and breakfast club service for vulnerable children in the Craigmillar area as well as running an after-school club, drama club, parents’ and toddlers’ club, family days, holiday schemes and a free packed lunch club. Earlier this month the charity held a celebration to mark the 20th anniversary of their breakfast club, which they have now renamed the PANDAs club.

Ash Denham MSP said:

“The Venchie is a much-loved charity at the heart of the community here in Craigmillar in my Edinburgh Eastern constituency, doing so much work to support local children and parents both during and outwith school term time.

“It would be a huge loss to both the users of this service and the community as a whole if the Venchie was to close and the charity hopes that funding streams will become available next year to make the services they provide more sustainable to ensure the Venchie can continue its decades of service to the Craigmillar community.

“I have also previously written to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills and the Minister for Children and Young People to understand if the government could assist in supporting the Venchie to continue its work.

“My office will continue to engage with The Venchie as well as parents and children using the service, as we have been doing for a number of months now, to do all we can to see the charity’s work continue for many years to come.”


Fundraising page: