Wishart calls for ‘immediate action’ to address young people’s mental health needs

Speaking in a Holyrood debate this afternoon, Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart called on the Scottish Government to take “immediate and material action” to respond to young people’s mental health needs.

The debate on ‘Mental Health Support for Young People in Scotland’ came as government figures published today showed just 60.6% of children who started mental health treatment in the quarter ending September 2020 did so within 18 weeks

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Wishart pays tribute to Shetland’s Third Sector

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has today paid tribute to Shetland’s Third Sector response the Covid-19 pandemic. Ms Wishart was speaking in a debate in Holyrood on “Valuing the Third Sector”.  

Ms Wishart used her speech to highlight the high level of volunteering in Shetland. According to the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, there are 232 charities in Shetland; only the Western Isles has more per 1,000 population. It is estimated that 55% of adults in Shetland volunteer formally, almost double the national average. Ms Wishart also highlighted Voluntary Action Shetland’s Community Spirit Awards 2020. 59 awards were handed out to individuals, organisations and businesses, recognising their contribution to their communities during the pandemic.

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Education review expands but no plans to report ahead of 2021 election

Scottish Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Beatrice Wishart has criticised the announcement by the Education Secretary that an OECD review of Scottish education will not report at all before next year's Scottish Parliament election. 

In September 2020, John Swinney confirmed he would be “very happy” to discuss the possibility of producing an interim report with the OECD. However, there was no mention of such a report in today's announcement. The OECD’s review into Curriculum for Excellence is due to be published in June 2021.

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Wishart speaks up against violence against women in Scottish Parliament debate

Shetland’s MSP Beatrice Wishart has spoken in the ‘Making Scotland Equally Safe’ debate in the Scottish Parliament today about the global problem of violence against women, as part of the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.

Ms Wishart took the opportunity to highlight the need for legislative changes to make sure that people aren’t forced to give up their family home to escape an abuser.

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Wishart questions Christmas travel plans

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has questioned the extent to which the islands have been considered in the formulation of Christmas travel plans, following changes to guidance hours after its publication.

At a session of Holyrood’s Covid-19 committee today, Ms Wishart asked Cabinet Secretary Mike Russell what consideration had been given for extra travel days for people to get to and from the islands. Mr Russell reiterated that travel is between 23 and 27 December for the whole country, before then conceding that guidance published earlier today would now be updated to clarify that people beginning their travel on 27 December by overnight ferry can complete their journey within the rules. 

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Wishart pushes for answers for isles students

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has today pushed the Scottish Government for answers on when Shetland students will be able to travel home for Christmas.

With students reporting they have received no further details on the government plans for testing and staggering departure dates, and with travel now prohibited to and from Level 3 and 4 areas from Friday, Shetland students on the Mainland and their families have contacted Ms Wishart seeking advice. 

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Isles representatives take energy issues to Ofgem

Northern Isles representatives Alistair Carmichael MP and Beatrice Wishart MSP have written to Ofgem to seek an urgent meeting to address steep energy price rises and poor customer service from suppliers.

Following a call for public views, Mr Carmichael and Ms Wishart received representations from numerous constituents frustrated with energy price increases and difficulties getting in touch with providers to address billing issues. Mr Carmichael and Ms Wishart are now asking the energy regulator to tackle “energy increases over and above the rate of inflation, staggering billing issues and appalling levels of misinformation.”

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Wishart highlights seafood industry concerns about Brexit

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has highlighted concerns about the impact of Brexit on the fish processing and aquaculture sector, following an evidence session of Holyrood’s Europe committee.

Responding to questioning from Ms Wishart, Jimmy Buchan, Chief Executive, Scottish Seafood Association told committee members “labour is a serious concern” for SSA members, with the UK immigration salary threshold affecting seafood companies’ competitiveness in the global market.

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Wishart comments on student testing plan

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has welcomed government acceptance of the need to test students ahead of Christmas travel but warned that rollout of the programme must take account of the needs of islanders.  

Further and Higher Education Minister, Richard Lochhead today announced Scottish Government plans to support students to return home for Christmas. Steps include staggered departures from institutions and testing asymptomatic students twice before the end of term.

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SQA overhaul needed to win back teacher's trust

Scottish Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart has today called for an overhaul of SQA bureaucracy after the Scottish Parliament's education committee took evidence from the authors of a review of the 2020 exams process. 

Following questioning from Ms Wishart, Professor Mark Priestley told the committee that the SQA saw their role as putting in place a “technical solution” for assessment following cancellation of exams but that subsequent problems with pupils being unfairly downgraded could have been avoided had there been greater engagement with education stakeholders.

Mr Priestly said: “in the exceptional circumstances of this year, we believe that a more collaborative decision-making approach to co-construct a system would have been more effective and would have been more equitable. Simply because it would have been owned by the profession more it would have mitigated a lot more of the subsequent criticism that came,”

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