Claire Welcomes Malawi to the Scottish Parliament

Recently I was delighted to welcome representatives from Malawi and give them a tour of the Scottish Parliament.

The group were visiting Scotland as guests of Dalgety Bay Parish Church who have a working partnership with Engcongolweni’s Church of Central Africa Presbyterian.

It was really good to meet members of both churches and hear about their relationship which has brought many positive benefits to communities in rural northern Malawi. This includes a project that provides clean water supply to the area, reaching over 7,500 people.

I was pleased to play my part in continuing efforts to strengthen the strong relationship Fife has established with this community in Malawi and I very much hope that they enjoyed their visit to Scotland.

Coalfields Home Internationals

I was delighted to attend the recent Coalfields Home Internationals at Forthbank Stadium to watch teams from Benarty and Alloa battle it out with teams from Derby, Hartlepool, Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil.

Coalfield Regeneration Trust do a great job in supporting and empowering coalfield communities across the country and this football tournament was the culmination of a nationwide competition that pitted teams of 14 to 16 year olds against each other.

I was delighted that my region was hosting the final and that two local teams had made it through the Scottish section. I was also pleased to see Kelty & Blairadam Pipe Band providing the entertainment throughout the day.

Congratulations to the team from Hartlepool who were the overall winners.

Newburgh Train Station

Recently I visited Newburgh in the north of my region where I met with locals who are campaigning for a re-opening of the local train station.

Like another such projects that I support, including Levenmouth Rail Campaign, the area in and around Newburgh would benefit greatly from its reintroduction.

The Newburgh Train Station Campaign is a campaign which deserves greater support and I was delighted to sign up to it. I have also written to the Minister for Transport and the Islands, Humza Yousaf MSP, to call for action.

If you want to join me in supporting this campaign you can visit their website here: http://newburghtrainstation.org.uk/

2016 Coalfields Home Internationals

I’m pleased to support the 2016 Coalfields Home Internationals – which take place at the end of this month – with a motion in Parliament. Good luck to all teams taking part, including the teams from Benarty and Alloa, in my region.

I lodged the motion after meeting with staff at the Coalfields Regeneration Trust in their offices in Alloa last week. I was pleased to catch up with the team and hear about the work they are doing to support former coalfield communities across Scotland. Continue reading

Fife Gingerbread AGM

This week I went along along to Fife Gingerbread AGM. It was a moving and inspiring event. We heard from families who have worked with Fife Gingerbread and their experiences of supporting their children, building their own confidence and getting on in life.

It was great to see the way Fife Gingerbread are imaginatively using creative writing and art with families. It was clear to see how much everyone had benefited from expressing their creative side.

It was also great to hear about the progress of the Teen Fife Teen Parent Project and the awards they have been winning. It was a real pleasure to present the AGM awards this year and help recognise the women’s achievements. Looking forward to next year!

FRAE Fife Conference

I was delighted to be invited to FRAE Fife’s conference on Equalities and Citizenship in the current international, national and local context to give a keynote speech.

The conference, which took place in in the Old Kirk in Kirkcaldy, was well attended and informative and included speeches from politicians, lecturers and leading campaigners from across Scotland.

The event was an opportunity to discuss the impact of international and national events on Fife along with the approach of the UK and Scottish Governments to the implementation of equality policies.

I was pleased to be able to discuss the work I have done in the Scottish Parliament on the ongoing refugee crisis, the case of Sheku Bayoh’s death in police custody and the contribution people from around the world make to Scottish society.

I’d like to thank FRAE Fife for the opportunity to attend and speak at the conference. I hope that it will kick start a positive debate locally on how we ensure fairness, race awareness and equality in Fife.

Home-start Kirkcaldy celebrates 21st birthday

On Monday Home-start Kirkcaldy celebrated their 21st birthday and AGM and I was delighted to join them along with Fife Councillor Judy Hamilton.

Home-Start Kirkcaldy offers support, friendship and practical help to parents with young children in Kirkcaldy, Kinghorn, Burntisland and Cardenden. You can find out more about them on their website: http://www.homestartkirkcaldy.org.uk/

Claire visits Fife Migrants Forum

Scotland has proudly led the UK in our response to the refugee crisis and it is important that we continue to do so. We must ensure that refugees that come to Scotland are given more than just a place to stay but also hope of a better future.

That is why the work undertaken by organisations such as Fife Migrants Forum is so important and I was delighted to be able to visit their offices in Kirkcaldy to highlight their efforts in ensuring that migrants and refuges are integrated into their local communities. The visit followed a roundtable meeting on the ongoing crisis in the Scottish Parliament which we both took part in.

Following the UK Government’s announcement that they would be accepting 20,000 Syrian refugees over the course of Parliament, the Scottish Government has agreed to their share of at least 2,000. Fife Council has signed up to accepting a number of these refugees to the Kingdom, with the first refugees due to arrive in the next few weeks.

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Fife Neonatal Unit going from strength to strength

Recently I visited Fife’s Neonatal Services for a tour of the facilities at Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy. The service, which relocated to the Victoria Hospital two years ago, looks after over 400 babies a year on average, and which has in that time included 8 sets of triplets.

I was delighted to be invited by the staff, particularly Jeana Arnott, at the Neonatal Service for a tour around their facilities and I want to thank them for the opportunity to see first-hand the department in action.

The work that the staff undertakes is a credit to the NHS in Fife and they should be proud of all that they have achieved as the service continues to go from strength to strength. Since the move to the new department at the Victoria there has been changes which aim to improve the service and these have been positively received by both the staff and patients. Continue reading