Wednesday 19 May 2010

Out and about

I love going out and about and meeting people in my ward - getting an insight into people's lives is one of the great privileges and pleasures of this job.

Today was particularly busy, but kicked off with me lying in bed this morning, sniffling and whimpering, waking after a poor night's sleep with a heavy cold. It was so tempting to call off the many things I had scheduled, but I hate to stand people up.

First on the agenda was a meeting of Pensioners Action Group East. I love this group - they're so committed to helping other pensioners, and society at large. Many of the members volunteer time to help with other groups and work a lot with young people. The Chair, Andy, does so much, and even found the time to do a bit of hillwalking to raise funds for PAGE. I hadn't been to see the group for a wee while, so it was good to catch up. I was really touched that they had gotten me a present for the baby. Lovely people.

Next up was a quick visit to Tots Bots. While researching real nappies online, I noticed this company were based in the East End in Carntyne. I decided to nip in, and found them very welcoming. I'm quite keen to avoid contributing to the landfill waste that disposable nappies create, and after having seen the products Tots Bots produce, I'm seriously thinking of giving them a try. It's also nice to know that the nappies are produced right here in the East End, rather than in some remote factory. I aim to go back once the baby is born - I don't have room to store things in the flat just now!

I attended the weekly maternity exercise class at the Princess Royal at lunchtime. It's reassuring to know that the exercise I'm doing is appropriate and supervised. The class is a small one, but I've enjoyed the social aspect of meeting other pregnant women. I would recommend it!

After the class, I rushed off to meet with housing, GCSS and LES officers, and my fellow ward Councillor at a site in Barrowfield. Residents have been complaining for some time about fly-tipping, which has reached epic proportions. The site is owned by a private developer, and local people cut across the site as a short cut. It's been a tricky one to resolve, but enforcement officers hope to be able to get the site cleared, and charge the owners accordingly. Owners should take responsibility for their sites, but all too often, they are left for years without any kind of maintenance. The effect of this is a blight on communities; it's completely unfair to those who take care of their properties and try to improve their area.

Attending the class and the site visit meant that I couldn't be at today's Finance and Audit Committee. I'm loathe to miss Committee meetings; over the past three years I think I've only missed one or two and only when it's been completely unavoidable. It's difficult to get so many officers together for a site visit at any one time, so this time the Committee had to take second place.

I headed over to London Road Nursery to hand in some Tesco vouchers for clubs and schools. I try to share around the vouchers I collect, and this year some have also gone to St Anne's Primary and Elba Lane Nursery. It seems to take a lot of vouchers to get anything, so I hope my wee contribution helps a bit. If you have any stashed at the bottom of your handbag, please hand them in to your local school as soon as possible! It was nice to catch up with the head teacher at the Nursery, and see what's been going on since the last time I was in. I was already aware that nusery places are still oversubscribed in this part of Glasgow - as expected, the closure of Queen Mary Street and Mile End have only made this more difficult. I'm not sure how this can be resolved; it's a serious problem for families, especially those who work.

After visiting St Anne's last week, I popped back in again to see their parent-child cookery classes in action. In this pilot programme, parents and children participate in a series of classes, run by staff at the school, which teach them about cooking and nutrition. Basic cookery might sound simple, but many people have never made a meal from scratch, and have little idea what goes into the food they eat. Roasted vegetables, macaroni cheese and muffins were all on the menu tonight; the parents were amazed at how easy, cheap and tasty the meals were, and the children really enjoyed working together with their mums and dads as well as their teachers. I heard from the parents how much they valued the experience, and the staff spoke about the changes they had seen. The course has proved to be an important step for some, and has really broken down the barriers between school and community.

I also heard about the early progress being made by the Triple P programme. It's early days, but from what was said, it sounds as if it's already making an impact on some parents.

I finished my day with a surgery at Dalmarnock Primary. It was quiet tonight, so I got a chance to catch up with emails and prepare for tomorrow. Pretty tired, but it was a really interesting day!

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