Saturday 13 December 2008

Playing catch up

It's been quite the month. I've been running from meeting to meeting for weeks now, with little time to blog what I've been doing. This week, for example, as well as different things during the day, I was out until after nine at various events on Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday night was my surgery, Thursday was full Council and our work night out, and Friday was spent trying to deal with all the stuff I hadn't managed during the week! Still, nearly Christmas and time for a wee break.

I've flicked back through my diary for the past month, and will now attempt to give you edited 'highlights'! November first...

Monday 17th November - new boiler fitted. We've had no heating since we moved into this flat over a year ago, so this was a wonderful development. Toasty warm.

Tuesday 18th November - was at the relaunch of the Childrens Dental Service at Bridgeton Health Centre. Some wee ones from Bridgeton Family Learning Centre performed a song and everyone '"ahhh'd". The event was both to highlight the service already being provided, and to remind people that oral health, particularly in young children, is really important for general health and development. I remember going to a children's dental service in Wishaw growing up, and was horrified by the gruesome pictures of decayed mouths. It seems that these pictures are still a reality for many children, so the NHS in Glasgow are working with nurseries to make toothbrushing part of the daily routine. There's still a lot to be done in educating parents and working with the nurseries still to fully sign up to the scheme, but progress is slowly being made.

Also on the 18th, I visited the Dennistoun Support Service, which is being threatened with closure. The future of the service was to be considered at the CHCP board the following week and I wanted to see it for myself. It's very important to those who use it, but the physical condition of the one-room centre isn't ideal. Whatever decision is to be taken, the needs of the service users and staff must be paramount.

Wednesday 19th November - I attended the opening of Molendinar Park's new social housing development. This was a really great event to be at, having seen the development rise out of the ground over several months. The homes really are beautiful. The development itself is of great architechtural merit, having been designed by four firms on the one site - Page & Park, JM, Richard Murphy and Elder & Canon. The result is something quite special. What really made the day for me was speaking to one constituent who I had been fighting to get moved from the dismally poor homes further along the Gallowgate. He told me about the difference the move had made to his life; how much happier and more secure he felt. I'm very glad for him, and wish him all the best.

Wednesday also saw my Gran and her friend visit me at the City Chambers, a visit to a community group, and my surgery in the evening. Then I went to the Scotland - Argentina game!

Thursday 20th November - I attended the East End Drugs Forum AGM. This brings together many service providers across the East, and ties them in with the views and experiences of service users and their families. Some service users put on a very moving play, showing how difficult recovery from alcohol addiction can be. The event ran on the previous evening too, (at the same time as my surgery!) and was a huge success with a large turnout.

I had a very thought-provoking meeting in the afternoon regarding how blind and partially sighted people can be hampered by the city centre. More on this to come.

Friday 21st November - catching up with casework, and a visit to the Civic Amenity Site at Dawsholm to see the improvements to the recycling facilities there.

22nd and 23rd November
- there appears to be nothing in my diary, so I may have had this weekend off. I don't remember it!

Monday 24th November - Meeting of the East Community Health and Care Partnership (CHCP). I asked a lot of questions, and got some answers. I stood up for the service users and staff at the Dennistoun Support Service and got support from other members of the committee. I really enjoy the CHCP; there are so many interrelated health and social issues in the east of Glasgow that it can be difficult to see where to start, but the CHCP is certainly a good place to bring things together. I'll be joined shortly on the committee by Bailie McDonald. John Mason previously served on the CHCP and I've been the sole SNP Councillor there since his victory in Glasgow East. Having someone else to share the work of decoding lengthy papers will be really welcome!

After the CHCP, I attended a meeting to discuss our tactics for the following day's Land and Environmental Services Committee, and then SNP Council Group's fortnightly Group Meeting. The day finished brilliantly with some ice skating at the opening of the ice rink on George Square. I love ice skating and used to go every week in my early teens. I'd not been on the ice in years and felt a bit apprehensive in case I fell! I was inspired by 74 year old Mildred (pictured, from the Evening Times) who was whizzing around and I soon found my ice legs. It was totally exhilarating.

Tuesday 25th November - Surgery in the morning, followed by catching up on case work for much of the rest of the day. In the early evening I attended a seminar put on by Glasgow Centre for Population Health. The seminars are very interesting, and always make you pause from life as normal and think of the bigger picture and the reasons why we do things. In this lecture, Professor Avner Offer spoke on the question 'Should Government try to make us happy?'. He believed that it is best to concentrate on the reasons why certain of the populace are unhappy - poverty and deprivation for a start - but gave insight into things like the relationship between GDP and happiness. The lecture was so captivating, I missed body combat...

Wednesday 26th November - today showed one of the annoyances of being only one person. I can't be in more than one place at one time, and found myself double booked twice. Parkhead Credit Union and Pensioners Action Group East both had AGMs at 10am. I decided to go to the Credit Union first but was fairly late for PAGE as a result. I've agreed to to along to their next meeting to make up for it! I did stay for a chat (with tea and freshly baked scones - I took half a dozen back to the office too!) at Calton Parkhead Church. Land and Environmental Service PDS Committee met in the afternoon, and I asked plenty of questions on issues from elected members support to pot holes. Attending this meant I couldn't make a meeting on housing in my ward, which is pretty frustrating. I'm enjoying the committee, and finding ways to root out the important details. More work in the office, then my surgery in the evening.

Thursday 27th November - The last Thursday of the month is a crazy one. Three or four organisations usually hold their meetings, and I have to do my best to get round them all as often as possible. Tonight was Friends of Glasgow Green, the Calton Area Association AGM, and Auchenshuggle Community Council. FOGG was cancelled due to some venue problems, so I headed to the CAA AGM. This was very well attended despite sleet and hail! By the time it finished up, it was sadly too late to make it out to Auchenshuggle. Next time!

Friday 28th November - I had a meeting with the Chief Executive and staff of Clyde Gateway in the morning. Clyde Gateway is an urban regeneration company, charged with the sizeable task of bringing business, jobs and development to the inner east end of Glasgow, and part of South Lanarkshire. It was great to get an update on their work, and see the committment of their staff to improving the area. They also have strong views on how to avoid the disappoinment of previous projects. I'm very encouraged about the progress being made.

Saturday 29th November - Shettleston SNP had a workday in the morning to celebrate St Andrew's day. We handed out leaflets and saltires at the Forge, and were well recieved by shoppers. I think some people were surprised to see politicians and activists outwith an election!

Sunday 30th November - I visited my grandparents. My Gran and Papa Thewliss live in Motherwell and my Gran White in Wishaw and I really don't get out to see them enough. It was a nice finish to the month!