Reflection 14th November 2021

Today is Remembrance Sunday and soon, as we did on Thursday, we will pause and reflect to remember those who sacrificed so much for us today. It is 100 years since the poppy became the national symbol of remembrance and I was pleased to see Lerwick Town Hall lit up in red this weekend. I have long supported Poppy Scotland and the work they do for veterans.

Both my parents served King and country in the Second World War. They got to come home and rebuild their lives, but so many of their generation didn’t, and I will reflect on that when I stand at the war memorial this morning.

COP26 has now concluded and we can pause and reflect on what has been achieved and what opportunities have been missed. I am hopeful for humanity and our planet. I do not think that there is a problem we cannot overcome. I believe that, in time and by working together, sharing technology, science and innovation we will tackle climate change. That pathway just looks a little longer this weekend. 

In the Chamber this week I spoke in Alex Cole-Hamilton’s debate on Long Covid. It was the first time this topic was debated in the Chamber. You can see my contribution here. Scottish Liberal Democrats would:

  • Hold specialist Long Covid clinics in every health board, 
  • Train Long Covid community nurses to offer in-home support,   
  • Provide country-wide access to Long Covid physiotherapy and multi-disciplinary rehab, 
  • Implement a policy of no financial detriment for workers who are absent for long periods of time due to long Covid.

There are an estimated 79,000 living with Long Covid in Scotland. In June I called on Shetland residents suffering from Long Covid to contact NHS Shetland and myself to ensure island sufferers are able to get the assistance they need. You can contact me regarding Long Covid or any other matter I may be able to assist with on - [email protected] or phone: 01595 690 044.

My campaign for a new, modern hospital for Shetland continues. If you have not yet signed my petition you can do so here.

On Wednesday morning I had the privilege to chair the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment (RAINE) Committee, the first time since my appointment as Deputy Convener in early September, while the convener attended a COP26 event. The session focused on animal welfare with evidence given by panellists from the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission. The work of the RAINE Committee has a direct impact on Shetland. There are many challenges and opportunities facing the committee as we work to environmental targets and develop new policies outside of the European Union framework. Island communities face unique challenges and a primary focus of the committee is to tackle them. I look forward to the upcoming work.

During Wednesday’s Justice questions I asked the Cabinet Secretary to clarify if the Crown Office findings of a 9% increase in reported charges with a “domestic abuse identifier” include any evidence of increasing abuse to pets. Such an indication can point to coercion and control of their partners by perpetrators of domestic abuse. I look forward to a written response from the Cabinet Secretary to clarify if increasing abuse to pets is included. It is widely suspected levels of domestic abuse rose dramatically during lockdown. Victims of domestic violence had no option but remain at home. Organisations such as Shetland Women’s Aid are available to help, more information can be found online.

On Wednesday afternoon I took part in the annual Scottish Parliament debate on fishing. Local fisherman have been telling me that there is a disparity between scientific data and what is happening on fishing grounds. There is genuine concern that limits on catches could mean vessels unnecessarily going bankrupt. Shetland may be small and perfectly formed, but we are a large ocean community and when those who work on the sea suffer, the repercussions will be felt on land. You can see my contribution here.

Among local meetings this week I held an Advice Surgery on Friday, and I met with the charity Magic Breakfast. On Thursday I met with the Scottish Campaign on Rights to Social Security (SCoRSS) to discuss the issues surrounding the UK Government’s changes to the £20 Universal Credit uplift. The uplift was brought in at the start of the pandemic, and Liberal Democrats oppose the subsequent changes. We also discussed some of the detail as we prepare for the Scottish Government to take on competence for social security. We must get the detail correct now so that there is a smooth transition.

PS Please pass my petition for a new hospital for Shetland to your friends and family. They can also sign up to my eNews here.

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