SNP MSP Ash Denham has welcomed confirmation Capital families unable to access food due to coronavirus will get support from the Scottish Government.

Local authorities are sharing £30 million of new investment from the Scottish Government Food fund to support those struggling.

The City of Edinburgh Council authority has been allocated £1.651m from the fund – the funding is one part of the £350 million Communities Fund.

The funding will support those most in need including families with children who are eligible for free school meals, older people, those with long-term health conditions and pregnant women.

Councils will have flexibility to use this additional resource in ways that best meet emerging local needs and circumstances, working with community groups and businesses to support home delivery, provide financial help and meet dietary requirements.

Commenting, Ash Denham MSP said:

“Coronavirus has brought enormous disruption to all of our lives, and some people will be concerned about accessing food.

“This investment will help those in the Capital at most risk, such as older people and children eligible for free school meals, to access food through this unprecedented crisis.

“Free school meals are vital for families across Edinburgh and are an important way of ensuring children receive the nutritious food they need. That is why it is so important that support continues while schools remain closed.

“This is just one part of the support the Scottish Government is providing to individuals and businesses to protect jobs and incomes.”



The £350 million Communities Fund was announced by Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell on 18 March 2020.

Since it was announced, over £100 million of new support has been delivered to local authorities to assist their efforts. This includes £50 million in hardship funding, £22 million to bolster the Scottish Welfare Fund and £30 million from the Food Fund.

The guidance shared with local authorities outlines seven key principles to support local thinking about how funding can best be targeted and deployed.

People worried about food during the COVID-19 crisis should contact their local authority for further information on the help and support available to them.


People in Edinburgh at highest risk of severe illness from coronavirus will begin to receive home deliveries of essential groceries today (Friday, 3rd April).
Letters from the Scottish Government have been issued this week to those who are at greatest risk from the virus, to offer guidance on shielding from infection and information about the support available, which includes access to home deliveries through a text message service.
Locals who have already signed up to the service have been texted with the option of starting their weekly deliveries of essential food items including soup, pasta, rice, fruit, vegetables, tea, coffee and biscuits, as well as toiletries such as shower gel and toilet roll.
Those in the high risk group who have received a letter but do not have access to a mobile phone will be able to register for deliveries by contacting The City of Edinburgh Council through their contact page ( or 0131 200 2000 in an emergency.
Commenting, Ash Denham MSP said:
“This is the greatest test we’ve faced in a lifetime and this scheme will ensure those most at risk from coronavirus get the support they need.
“The community spirit shown here in the Capital over the last few weeks has been absolutely amazing with friends, family and neighbours going that extra mile to look out for one another.
“But it’s hugely important that everyone who receives a letter, and requires this support, signs up to this service immediately to make sure they are fully stocked with essential items.
“We have to prioritise those most in need, and by continuing to work together we can ensure everyone in our community remains safe.”
The grocery delivery service will be led by Brakes and Bidfood with the first deliveries expected on 3 April.
The six categories of risk – as agreed by the UK’s Chief Medical Officers – are:
1. Solid organ transplant recipients
2. People with specific cancers:
a. People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
b. People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
c. People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
d. People having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
e. People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
3. People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD
4. People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell)
5. People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection
6. People who are pregnant with significant congenital heart disease

Further information can be found here:


Ash Denham MSP has written to the City of Edinburgh Council’s Education, Children and Families Committee ahead of today’s meeting to approve funding for local charities, asking councillors to “re-consider” council officers’ recommendations.

In the letter, the Edinburgh Eastern MSP said she believes the funding recommendations, contained within the 2020/23 Communities and Families Grant to Third Parties Programme report, “are not spread evenly through-out the city of Edinburgh” and that not funding projects run by the likes of the Health Opportunities Team, the Venchie Children & Young People’s Project and the Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre will “be of detriment to my constituents” and “inconceivable”.

Ms. Denham pointed to statistics from the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation Index showing the areas in and around Craigmillar and Gilmerton are among the most impoverished parts of the capital, yet they have not been recommended to receive the same levels of funding for charities and projects based in those areas as in other parts of the city.

Ash Denham said:

“I have written to councillors on the Education, Children and Families Committee ahead of this crucial meeting which will set out the council’s funding of charity and community-run programmes for the next three years.

“I have urged the committee members to re-consider supporting the recommendations held within this report, as I do not feel funds have been allocated proportionately across the city to the areas most in need and who rely on programmes delivered by the likes of the Health Opportunities Team, the Venchie Children & Young People’s Project and Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre.

“First and foremost I am an elected representative of the Edinburgh Eastern, and so on behalf of these organisations doing outstanding work in my constituency, I call on councillors to understand the need for these areas to receive the funding and the support they deserve.”



65,000 young people in Edinburgh – including 12,199 in the Edinburgh Eastern constituency – will benefit from free bus travel to be introduced by the SNP in government.

The new concessionary scheme was set out in the Scottish Government’s budget, which will give free bus travel to those aged 18 and under.

Latest figures produced by National Records of Scotland estimate there were 12,199 people aged between 5 and 18 in the Edinburgh Eastern constituency in 2018.

The Scottish Government will undertake work on design and due diligence with a view to introducing such a scheme in January 2021.

Commenting, Edinburgh Eastern MSP, Ash Denham said:

“Free bus travel will be an enormous benefit to young people across the capital – keeping money in their pockets and improving their opportunities to work, study and socialise.

“Alongside the £500 million investment in bus infrastructure previously announced by the Scottish Government, this radical and innovative approach will help deliver a step change in the use of public transport.

“Encouraging the use of public transport is an essential part of our world-leading efforts to tackle the climate emergency, and will benefit over 12,000 young people in my Edinburgh Eastern constituency alone, and 65,000 across the whole of the city.

“Concessionary travel has brought enormous benefits to those aged over 60 and I’m delighted that it will now be extended to young people.”



Ash Denham has this week launched a campaign calling for businesses across her Edinburgh Eastern constituency to commit to paying the real Living Wage, and become accredited Living Wage employers.

The real Living Wage in Scotland is £9.30 per hour, which has been independently calculated based on what employees and their families need to live on. The UK Government minimum wage is currently set at £7.70 for under 25s and £8.21 for over 25s.

To launch the campaign, Ms. Denham invited accredited Living Wage employers who work in her constituency to the Scottish Parliament last Friday for a round table discussion on the benefits of the real Living Wage for both employers and workers.

The campaign will see the Edinburgh Eastern MSP write to over 100 local employers with information on the benefits of paying the voluntary rate and how support can be sought from Living Wage Scotland on becoming accredited.

The Edinburgh Eastern MSP said:

“I was delighted to invite Living Scotland accredited employers to the Scottish Parliament to host a round table discussion on the benefits of paying staff a wage that has been independently calculated based on what employees and their families need to live on.

“Not only were we able to hear from employers on the benefits to the organisations on becoming accredited, but we were also able to hear first-hand from employees themselves at the meeting about the significant difference it has made to their lives.

“Paying the real Living Wage and becoming accredited treats people fairly, benefits the economy and sends a positive signal about the organisation into the wider community.

“I will now make it a priority to engage directly with employers in Edinburgh Eastern to promote the benefits of becoming accredited and to understand any barriers which prevents them from doing so.

“I would like to thank Living Wage Scotland and the Poverty Alliance for their support with the event and for working alongside me to promote the benefits of the Living Wage scheme in my constituency.”

Jack Evans, Manager at Living Wage Scotland said:

“We are a movement of over 1,700 Scottish employers who together want to go further than the government minimum to make sure that all their staff earn enough to live on.

“We welcome local efforts to raise awareness of the positive benefits the real Living Wage can deliver for workers, businesses and communities. There are currently over 360 accredited Living Wage employers based in the city of Edinburgh, and we look forward working with many more on becoming accredited.

“There are small, large and iconic Scottish employers signed up for Living Wage accreditation, such as SSE, Standard Life, Barrs, Mackie’s, ScotRail, DC Thomson and many more. These businesses recognise that the Living Wage accreditation is a mark of a responsible employer and they join us, because they too believe that a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.”

Carla Tait, Kennel Assistant at Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, said:

“At first I was planning on putting the extra money aside for my wedding or towards fuel for the car but in reality I’ve found that I spent it more on socialising and treating myself, which I think has had a big impact on my mental wellbeing.

“A lot of work in animal care is on minimum wage but it’s really hard work, both physically and emotionally, so being paid the Living Wage shows how much Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home appreciates us. I think everybody feels more valued. I was always proud to work here but this was an extra boost for everyone.”



Pictured in the attached photo (left to right): Lynn Anderson (Poverty Alliance/Living Wage Scotland), Craig Purves (Carr Gomm), Lucy Wren (Carr Gomm), Ash Denham MSP, Roseanne Reddington (Carrick Home Services), Jane Gillies (Carrick Home Services), Carla Tait (Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home), Nicola Gunn (Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home).

Living Wage Scotland website:


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.