South Scotland MSP, Joan McAlpine has marked this year’s World Cancer Day by signing up to Cancer Research’s Sugar Free February fundraising campaign, a nation-wide initiative aimed at raising funds while also raising awareness of the dangers of excessive sugar consumption.
Joan, a self confessed “chocoholic” is keen to use the month to improve her own health and contribute to research that will help beat cancer, she also sees it as an opportunity to talk about something close to her own heart; cancer in older people.
“My dad, Jim, died of cancer in 2015,” explains Joan. “He was a very fit, active and healthy man who never sat down. He was also a carer, he contributed to his community, his church, and like many older people he spent his retirement making a difference to his family and the people around him.
“I know we were lucky to have him so long but cancer in older people can be devastating. It’s not always true that cancer progresses more slowly, and it certainly was not true in my dad’s case as he was dead within a few weeks of diagnosis and I’m afraid he suffered greatly.”
The number of people over 75 diagnosed with cancer is set to rise by 80% within the next 20 years and it’s often diagnosed later leading to poorer outcomes. Despite the prevalence of cancer in the elderly, treatment studies rarely include people older than 70, leaving doctors without clear guidance on what works best for such patients.
“As our population ages this is no longer acceptable,” says the SNP MSP. “Older people live worthwhile lives, they are often the lynchpins of their community, as volunteers and family carers for example.
“So we really should be investing in research that improves outcomes for this age group, which Cancer Research UK are doing. I am also pleased that McMillan have been doing a lot of work in this area, lead by specialists in geriatric oncology.
“My fundraising page has raised £180 so far in pounds sterling,” continues Joan. ”If I can convert that to pounds in weight lost I’ll be very happy. But most importantly if it can help fund studies that improve treatment and care of all people with cancer, I’ll be even happier.”
If you’d like to contribute to Joan’s campaign you can visit her fundraising page at fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/joan-takes-on-sugar-free-february-5
Link to Cancer Research Sugar Free February campaign – www.cancerresearchuk.org/get-involved/find-an-event/sugar-free-february
She condemned the Labour and Conservative parties for voting against the budget, which finances the recruitment of more GPs, extends mental health care for young people and introduces free personal care for chronically sick and disabled people under 65, including those with dementia.
The SNP budget, supported by the Green Party, also continues the massive expansion of early years and childcare with a £500m investment plus £180m to improve attainment in schools.
It is being delivered despite a massive £2 billion reduction in Scotland’s resource grant from Westminster since 2010.
Ms McAlpine said: “This budget offers stability when all we see is chaos at Westminster. People voted to prioritise the NHS and that’s exactly what we have done.
She continued: “Under the deal reached, Dumfries and Galloway Council will receive an additional £9.6 million in spending power compared to last year’s budget, as part of a total overall settlement of £11.1bn for local government.”
“This is a fair tax budget – unlike the proposals from the Tories who wanted to hand wealthy people, including MSPs, a £500m tax cut. As an MSP I am happy to pay a bit more to fund public services. Only the top 1% of earners in Scotland will pay more tax. This budget means that 55% of income taxpayers will pay less than those in the rest of the UK.
“By voting against this budget the Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats voted against increased for health including another 800 GPs. They voted against personal care for the elderly and increases in benefits such as Carers Allowance. They should be ashamed. “
South Scotland SNP MSP, Joan McAlpine has written to Scottish Conservative Spokesperson for Mental Health, Public Health and Equalities, Annie Wells MSP, to ask that she remind Conservative party colleagues in Dumfries and Galloway Council of their obligation to support equal opportunities for disabled children.
Ms McAlpine made the intervention following reports that the four Conservative Party councillors had voted against awarding planning permission for the Catherine Street Inclusive Play Park and Community Garden development in Dumfries last week.
The councillors in question, David James, Ian Carruthers, Doug Fairbairn and Ian Blake, had been taking part in a meeting of the council’s planning committee on the 17th January when they voted to reject the application.
Commenting Ms McAlpine says,
“The organisation behind Catherine Street Inclusive Play Park is a voluntary group made up of parents of disabled children, working with local families to create opportunities for all children, regardless of ability, to enjoy play. This is something that Dumfries & Galloway council support, having already allocated half a million pounds in funding to promote inclusive play across the region.
“It beggars belief that these four tory councillors voted to deprive disabled kids of this amazing opportunity to take part in play activities alongside their friends and siblings instead of having to watch from the side-lines. Fortunately, a greater number of councillors saw the value of the proposal so the planning permission was granted and the project will now proceed.
“As Spokesperson for Mental Health, Public Health and Equalities, I know that providing disabled children with equal access to play will be something Annie Wells takes very seriously. I hope, therefore, that she’ll condemn the actions of her colleagues and remind them of that they should be supporting equal play opportunities for disabled children.”
Minutes of planning committee meeting on 17th January 2019
The controversial vote took place on Tuesday night. The MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale was one of 317 MPs who voted in favour of the Prime Minister’s plan to re-write the EU withdrawal agreement to replace the Irish backstop with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine says:
“Two weeks ago David Mundell told us he was backing Mrs May’s ill-fated withdrawal agreement because it was the only deal on the table. He claimed it was final and no changes could be made. He stated live on national television, ‘It can’t and won’t be changed.’
“Now he’s voted in favour of a deal that would make the changes he previously told us were impossible. So he either failed to tell the truth two weeks ago or he’s now voting for a deal that he knows cannot be delivered.
“The EU27 have made it clear they have no intention of abandoning the Irish backstop and I know from regular visits to Brussels that they mean what they say. This vote simply kicks the can down the road and makes the calamity of a no deal Brexit more likely. It is deeply irresponsible.
South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has marked Holocaust Memorial Day by attending a talk by 86 year old Holocaust survivor, Janine Webber, hosted by the Scottish Parliament.
Commenting Ms McAlpine said,
“It was such a privilege to listen to Janine Webber as she spoke in Parliament this week. The horrors that she, and millions of others, endured during the war are unimaginable and you could hear a pin drop as the audience listened to her incredibly moving story.”
The SNP MSP was speaking as she signed a Holocaust Memorial Day Book of Commitment in the Scottish Parliament.
“No words of mine can express the enormity of the systematic killing of 6 million other Jewish people, so instead I paraphrase the words of a survivor, the Nobel Prizewinner Elie Wiesel who swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings were enduring suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Holocaust Memorial Day reminds us of this, to be indifferent to suffering means we take the side of evil.”
Janine, a Polish Jew, endured unimaginable horrors during the Second World War, including the murder of her grandmother, father and brother by the Nazis and the death of her mother from Typhus. From the ages of seven to twelve she survived by living in holes in the ground or under stables and relying on the kindness of strangers.
By the time the war ended, 91% of Poland’s three million Jews had died. Janine was one of only 9% who survived. She moved to France as a teenager and then England where she has lived ever since.
Mrs Webber now spends her time working with the Holocaust Educational Trust, talking in schools about her experiences because she believes it’s vital that the world never forgets what happened.
The Holocaust Educational Trust’s mission is to educate every person from every background in the UK about the Holocaust and its contemporary relevance. https://www.het.org.uk/
Attached: image of Joan McAlpine MSP signing the Holocaust Memorial Day Book of Commitment at the Scottish Parliament
SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has challenged her political opponents across Dumfries & Galloway to back the Scottish Government’s plans to invest over £8 billion in Scotland’s education system.
Announcing his draft budget proposals in the Scottish Parliament last month, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP outlined plans to commit £180 million for raising attainment in schools, including £120 delivered directly to head teachers – helping schools address the poverty related attainment gap and helping children overcome barriers.
This funding is to be spent at the discretion of headteachers, enabling them to secure the additional staffing or resources they need to support pupils affected by poverty and boost attainment levels.
MSPs will vote on the Finance Secretary’s draft budget proposals next month.
Commenting, South Scotland MSP, Joan McAlpine said:
“The SNP recognise that every child, regardless of their background, should have the same opportunities and chances to succeed.
“With education the Scottish Government’s number one priority, this £180 million investment, including £120 million direct to headteachers, will help close the attainment gap here in Dumfries & Galloway and ensure no child is left behind.
“I hope local politicians from all parties will get behind the Finance Secretary’s plans and secure this substantial investment for schools throughout the region.”
Statement on Education from Scottish Government
Education graphic pdf
South Scotland MSP, Joan McAlpine has branded local MP David Mundell’s support for Theresa May’s Brexit deal “unforgiveable” – claiming it puts jobs, businesses and livelihoods at risk across Dumfries & Galloway.
On Tuesday night in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister was left humiliated after suffering the largest defeat for any government in modern history, as MPs rejected the EU withdrawal bill by 230 votes.
Tory MP Mundell, who is elected to represent Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, chose to back the bill despite the 53% percent of Dumfries & Galloway who voted to Remain.
With Theresa May’s proposed deal in tatters, the SNP MSP has now challenged David Mundell to get behind proposals for a second referendum – allowing his constituents to have their say on the plans.
Commenting, Joan McAlpine said:
“It is totally unforgiveable that David Mundell has backed a Brexit deal that will destroy local industry, drive down living standards and damage our vital public sector services here in Dumfries & Galloway,
especially as he knows that the region will be hit particularly hard by the backstop in the agreement which gives Northern Ireland an economic advantage over Scotland.
“With almost two thirds of Scots voting to remain part of the European Union, I’m sure the people of Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale can’t wait to have their say on David Mundell and the Tory party’s calamitous Brexit shambles at the next election.
“With Theresa May and her Tory Government incapable of governing, and Jeremy Corbyn unable to oppose chaotic Brexit plans, the SNP will continue to stand up for Scotland both at Westminster and Holyrood.
“David Mundell has a duty to his constituents to face up to reality and get behind proposals for a second referendum before it’s too late.”
Joan McAlpine MSP has welcomed the news that a Dumfries family threatened with deportation will be allowed to stay.
The SNP politician has been campaigning for Dami Samuel, 20, and her brother John, 12, who were born in the UK, to stay. Ms McAlpine recently took the family to The Scottish Parliament to meet the Minister for Migration, Ben Macpherson MSP, to raise awareness of their plight.
John, Dami and their mother have no source of income and Dami was unable to study midwifery at college as a result of the Home Office decision.
Ms McAlpine said:
“I have written to the Home Office about the Samuel family on more than one occasion and as a result of my intervention the Scottish Government Minister for Migration recently pleaded their case with the UK government.
“I am delighted that we now have a result and they have Leave to Remain. But it has taken too long. They have depended on charity and live under enormous pressure because they were forbidden from working even though they are desperate to do so. Dami’s life has been on hold and I hope she can now finish her education and fulfill her considerable potential.
The MSP also added:
“Praise should go to the First Base Charity who have supported the family along with their many friends and supporters in Dumfries. They put food on the table and a roof over their head, giving them time to fight this case. “
Ms Samuel commented saying:
“It has been a very stressful and emotional journey. However, I am very excited about this wonderful news; I can now study to become a Midwife.
The intervention of Joan McAlpine MSP and the Minister for Migration at the Scottish Government Ben MacPherson has been very helpful”
Picture of Samuel family in The Scottish Parliament L-R: Joan McAlpine MSP,Dami Samuel, John Samuel, Christiana Samuel and Minister for Europe, Migration and International DevelopmentBen Macpherson MSP
South Scotland MSPs, Joan McAlpine and Emma Harper will take part in a day of action in Dumfries on Saturday to highlight the devastating impact that Universal Credit has across the region.
Both MSPs have experienced an increase in the number of constituents contacting them for help after finding themselves without an income due to the new system. They will encourage constituents to sign a petition against the benefit and say recent changes announced by Amber Rudd, The UK Work and Pensions Secretary, do not go far enough.
Universal Credit is a new payment to replace several working age benefits, including housing benefit and tax credits. It was first introduced by the UK Government in 2013 and has been rolled out gradually across the country ever since. It’s in place across Dumfries and Galloway for all new claimants.
The system is widely criticised across the UK because of five-week delays in processing payments, causing claimants to fall behind in rent and forcing them to rely on emergency welfare support. The UK Government refuses benefit for families with more than two children if they are born after 2017. Charities have criticised it for causing households unnecessary stress and worry. The Scottish Government previously secured a concession which allows rent in Scotland to be paid directly to landlord. The “Scottish Choice” also allows the benefit to be paid twice a month, although the benefit itself remains firmly controlled from London.
SNP MSP, Joan McAlpine says:
“Amber Rudd offered some concessions but not nearly enough – and she vowed to roll out Universal Credit by 2023, despite the hardship caused. Every day we’re seeing more and more evidence of how the system is failing, with distraught constituents getting in touch because they’re being forced into debt or don’t have enough money to feed their children.
“Our calls for the rollout to be halted have been ignored and Universal Credit has now reached all areas of Scotland. So on Saturday we’ll be asking concerned constituents to sign a petition asking the UK Government to fix the fundamental flaws in the system before even more people are forced to suffer unnecessary hardship.
“Universal Credit is entirely reserved to Westminster and it’s time Tory ministers listened to the concerns being raised about the suffering that built-in delays are causing.”
The petition can be found online at www.snp.org/universalcredit
Emma Harper MSP agrees with her SNP colleague. She says:
“Universal Credit is a broken system – it’s leaving people destitute, driving kids into poverty, and is making families turn to school uniform banks just to clothe their kids. Additionally, Universal Credit is causing a rise in the number of people using food banks across South West Scotland.
“Since Universal Credit was rolled out in Dumfries and Galloway, and indeed Ayrshire, I have seen a significant rise in the number of constituents contacting me about the horrendous and disrespectful way they have been treated by the Tory Government’s Department for Work and Pensions, through the administration of Universal Credit.
“Money is being diverted away from key public services to cover the costs to mitigate the damage caused by this appalling change being imposed by the UK Government on Scotland. This is fundamentally unfair. The announcement from Amber Rudd to halt the rollout of certain elements of Universal Credit is too little too late, and I would call on the UK Government to fully devolve powers over welfare to the Scottish Parliament in order to allow the SNP Scottish Government to develop a fair and socially just system for all.”
Emma and Joan will be joining the Day of Action in Dumfries Town Centre on Saturday from 12 noon onwards. They are happy to take up any individual cases of problems with Universal Credit brought to them.
Image attached : Joan McAlpine MSP and Emma Harper MSP campaigning against Universal Credit