Ash Regan chairs first meeting of Edinburgh Eastern Action Group on mental health

Ash Regan MSP recently chaired the first meeting of the Edinburgh Eastern constituency mental health action group, which took place via a video conference.

The organisation of the Group was a re-election pledge of Ms Regan ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections last May. It is believed this may be the first time an MSP has formed such a group looking specifically at mental health in their constituency.

Locally-based charities Carr Gomm, Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre and The Thistle Foundation were in attendance alongside NHS Lothian where a discussion was held over a range of issues, including identifying the mental health needs of Edinburgh Eastern compared to other parts of the Capital and the country.

Ms. Regan said:

“I was pleased to chair this meeting to bring local charities together, alongside NHS Lothian, to understand the specific mental health needs of the Edinburgh Eastern constituency and if there’s more that can be done on a local level to meet those needs.

“Edinburgh Eastern includes some of the areas of highest deprivation in Scotland and because there are known links between poverty and issues relating to mental health, we may need a greater level of support than other constituencies and areas.

“The Scottish Government made mental health a key priority in September’s Programme for Government announcement by pledging to increase mental health investment over the course of this Parliament by at least 25%. In addition, over the next 12 months the government will complete the commitments to recruit 800 additional mental health workers, ensure community wellbeing services are available in every local authority, and to expand the Digital Mental Health Programme.”

Helena Richards, Carr Gomm’s Edinburgh Community Projects Manager, said:

“This was a really good opportunity to meet with our local MSP and share our concerns about the provision of services in our area. As a charity which works in the local community with people around their mental health issues it was great to see Ash taking a lead in finding out more about what the needs and gaps are. We look forward to continuing to engage with her on these issues.”

ENDS

Edinburgh Eastern MSP promotes benefits of real Living Wage to local employers

Ash Regan MSP has written to businesses across her Edinburgh Eastern constituency to promote the real Living Wage and has encouraged them to consider signing up to the scheme.


The real Living Wage, which is a scheme supported by the Scottish Government, is an independently calculated rate based on the costs of living and is paid voluntarily by employers. The rate is currently £9.50 and is calculated each year in November by The Resolution Foundation on an analysis of the wage that employees need to earn in order to afford basics such as housing, childcare, transport and heating costs for a decent standard of living.​


The real Living Wage is higher than the National “Living Wage” and, unlike that UK government-set rate, applies to everyone aged 18 and older. Studies have shown the numerous benefits to employers of paying the real Living Wage, including a higher quality of work, improved morale, lower absenteeism, and retaining more staff.


Ms Regan has been a champion of the real Living Wage scheme in Edinburgh Eastern, regularly highlighting local employers who have become accredited, writing to the Council to see Edinburgh become a Living Wage City, and holding an event at the Scottish Parliament to recognise local employers, and their employees, who are part of the real Living Wage family.


Commenting, the Edinburgh Eastern MSP said:


“I am delighted to support the real Living Wage by writing to local employers asking them to consider signing up to the scheme which would see them pay their employees and all contracted workers a wage which can afford the costs of living.

“Studies have demonstrated the numerous benefits to both employers and employees of paying the real Living Wage, with businesses reporting a higher quality of work, better morale, lower absenteeism, and being able to retain more staff.

“In return, employees feel more valued and crucially can afford the basics in life and can have that opportunity to save money or even to give up an extra job so they can spend more time with their loved ones.

“It has been encouraging to see 7 local employers become newly accredited in the past 12 months so I hope we can see even more signing up as part of this local campaign.”

ENDS

Photo: Taken in February 2020 at a real Living Wage event Ms Regan held at the Scottish Parliament.

Westminster control threatening rights of children

Ash Denham, MSP for Edinburgh Eastern has said being under Westminster control is threatening the rights of children in her constituency and across Scotland and only independence can ensure we protect everyone in Scotland from the Tories.

After a legal challenge by the Westminster Tory Government, the UK Supreme Court ruled that the Scottish Parliament could not enshrine the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scots law, a bill that was unanimously passed by the Scottish Parliament. The judgement laid bare the limitations of the devolution settlement in Scotland.

On the same day, the Tories at Westminster cut Universal Credit by £20 a week, taking away from the most vulnerable at a time when they need it most.

Commenting, Ash Denham said:

“The SNP Scottish Government introduced the UNCRC Bill to put the needs of children here in Edinburgh Eastern and across Scotland at the very heart of every decision made by Government and local authorities.

“However, those noble intentions have been scuppered by the Westminster Tories’ challenge. The court judgment lays bare the limits placed on the Scottish Parliament and within the devolution settlement that we cannot introduce vital protections for our young people – leaving them at the mercy of a callous Tory UK government.

“We cannot trust the Tories to protect future generations in Scotland as they cut Universal Credit this week and plunge 20,000 children into poverty.

“Families in Edinburgh will face a decision of whether to heat their homes or feed their children as the cost of living skyrockets with energy bills increasing and food bills going up.

“The only way we can ensure we protect the future of Scotland from this uncaring Tory UK government is with the full powers of independence.”

ASH DENHAM WRITES TO COUNCIL OVER DISCONTINUED NUMBER 69 BUS SERVICE

Edinburgh Eastern MSP Ash Denham has written to the City of Edinburgh Council asking the local authority to engage with community transport charities HcL (HandiCabs) and LCTS (Lothian Community Transport Services) to support members of the public affected by the loss of the number 69 service, which was discontinued last year.


The written request comes following a public meeting organised and chaired last night by Ms. Denham which allowed local community councils and constituents to ask questions directly of Lothian Buses and the City of Edinburgh Council regarding bus services.


Representatives from HcL and LCTS were both in attendance at the meeting and stated a willingness to look at all possible solutions to ensure members of the public with mobility challenges in this part of the Capital can more easily access essential services.


Speaking following the meeting, Ms. Denham said:


“I was pleased to organise and chair a meeting to give my constituents and community councils in Edinburgh Eastern an opportunity to ask questions they had for the Council and Lothian Buses regarding bus services.

“A number of issues were raised, including the number 69 service which was discontinued early last year to the disappointment and frustration of bus users in the Northfield and Willowbrae community council area.

“It was clear during the meeting that community transport charities working in Edinburgh are open to engaging with the Council to help find a much needed solution. I have now written to the Council to ask if such an engagement can be made a priority.

“I will also engage with the Council and Lothian Buses with the other questions and suggestions highlighted to me in advance of the meeting by local community councils that we didn’t have time to cover.

“I wish to thank community councils, Transport Convener Lesley Macinnes, council officials, Lothian Buses, community transport charities, and constituents for taking part in the meeting.

“I would also like to thank Lothian Buses and the many bus drivers across the Capital for all they have done and continue to do as key workers to keep our capital city moving during the pandemic – not least ensuring NHS staff and other key workers were able to attend work during the lockdowns.”


ENDS

Ash Denham writes to Council to see Capital become a Living Wage City

Ash Denham MSP has written to the City of Edinburgh Council to ask if and when it intends to commit to moving the Capital towards becoming a Living Wage City.

Such an announcement would follow in the footsteps of Scotland’s only current aspiring Living Wage City, Dundee, which made the move in 2019 after launching a city-wide action plan in collaboration with Real Living Wage Scotland to drive uptake of the accreditation scheme.

The Real Living Wage scheme is one supported by the Scottish Government and encourages businesses to pay their employees and all regular third-party contracted staff a wage which at a minimum has been independently calculated based on living costs.

Now the MSP for Edinburgh Eastern, who has been a champion for the Real Living Wage within her constituency and made it a key re-election commitment to encourage more businesses to sign up, has requested a timescale for when it is hoped the City will move towards becoming Scotland’s second Living Wage City.

Ms. Denham said:

“This scheme makes a real difference because instead of employees struggling to make ends meet every month being paid the real living wage helps to lift more people out of in work poverty.

The benefits to employers cannot be overstated too as evidence shows paying employees the real living wage leads to increased productivity, better morale, and lower sickness absence.

“For these reasons and others I have worked to champion businesses in my constituency who have become accredited Living Wage employers and I held an event in Parliament in February 2020 (pictured) to meet local employers and their employees to hear first hand how this scheme has improved their lives.

“My office wrote to the council in 2019 stating that I would fully support making Edinburgh an aspiring Real Living Wage City and I am optimistic we are now close to realising that ambition. I have written to the Council to ask if any timescales have been put in place to move towards this objective and have offered to do anything I can to support it.”

ENDS

Edinburgh Eastern MSP writes to government over play parks funding

Ash Denham MSP has written to the Scottish Government to ask for details over how the £60m play parks fund will be rolled out across Scotland.

The fund was announced as part of the SNP Holyrood manifesto to renew all play parks across the country and last month the First Minister outlined that this will be set out within the first 100 days of the new Parliament.

Ms. Denham has written to the newly appointed Minister for Children & Young People, Clare Haughey, to ensure Edinburgh Eastern – which contains areas of high deprivation – gets its fair share of funding.

Commenting, the Edinburgh Eastern MSP said:

“There are many undoubted benefits of children having a safe area to play in rather than on the street and I want us to work towards having more play parks in Edinburgh Eastern because they are an investment in future generations.

“The pledge to fund play parks with £60m of funding across Scotland demonstrates how much the SNP values play in the development of young children and the mental and physical health benefits it brings.

“I have written to the government to ensure constituencies like Edinburgh Eastern, where there are areas of high deprivation, will receive their fair share of funding.

“I’ve also asked if consideration will be given to providing additional funding to Edinburgh Eastern for more play parks to be built where needed. In the letter I highlighted and commended the efforts of two local groups – the Friends of Figgate Park and Craigentinny & Meadowbank Community Council – for their work in seeing new play parks built across the constituency.”

ENDS

EDINBURGH EASTERN MSP SUPPORTS CALLS FOR EU SETTLEMENT SCHEME TO BE EXTENDED

Ash Denham MSP is supporting calls for the UK Government to extended the 30th June deadline for EU citizens to apply for the Settlement Scheme.

As it stands, EU citizens living in the UK have just 30 days to go through the application process with many thousands yet to apply.

Ms. Denham believes the deadline should be extended to allow more EU citizens to become aware of the scheme and to avoid the life-changing consequences of not applying in time.

The Edinburgh Eastern MSP said:

“I fully support Scottish Government calls for the Prime Minister to extend the EU Settlement Scheme deadline.

“Edinburgh Eastern is home to many of the estimated 39,000 EU citizens who live in the Capital and they bring so much to our culture, our communities, and our way of life. Many are key workers in our hospitals and care homes or in the food and hospitality sectors who went above and beyond to help keep the country going through the lockdowns.

“The risks of not applying for the EU Settlement Scheme are life-changing – such as being unable to work, study, drive a car or open a bank account.

“I demand the UK Government thinks again on this and extends the deadline and I encourage all EU citizens to apply for the scheme as soon as possible.

“Scotland is your home, you are welcome here, and I want you to stay.”

ENDS

For more information please email ross.cunningham@parliament.scot

Photo: Ash Denham is pictured at an EU citizen advice surgery held in Portobello alongside the Citizens’ Advice Bureau in January 2020.