‘Almost two thirds’ of people say nature improves mental health

Research also found that almost half of adults in Scotland said they were not connecting with nature often enough.

Nature: Loch Quoich in the Western Highlands of Scotland. lucentius via IStock
Nature: Loch Quoich in the Western Highlands of Scotland.

Nearly two thirds of adults in Scotland said being close to nature improves their mood but one in ten found it difficult to access it, according to a new survey.

The research for Mental Health Foundation Scotland also found that almost half of adults in Scotland said that they were not connecting or feeling a close engagement with nature often enough to help their mental health.

The Foundation announced the research on Monday to mark the start of its Mental Health Awareness Week, which this year focuses on nature.

It has released a new report, “Nature: Mental Health Awareness Week 2021”, which calls on the Scottish Government to introduce a Green Spaces Strategy to guarantee safe and accessible green spaces for all, transform Scotland’s relationship with the outdoors and improve mental and physical health.

ADVERT

Lee Knifton, national director of Mental Health Foundation Scotland, said: “Connecting with nature is good for our mental health as it helps reduce feelings of worry, anxiety and stress. In turn, it boosts positive emotions such as joy and calmness.

“That’s why we’re encouraging people this Mental Health Awareness Week to connect with nature in a way that feels good to them, whether that’s going for a walk in the park, looking after a houseplant, outdoor swimming, or bagging a Munro.

“The most important thing in terms of boosting our wellbeing is the quality of the experience and how we absorb the benefit by taking in the sights, sounds and scents of our surroundings.

“Many people may assume that because we live in Scotland with a wealth of beautiful natural spaces to enjoy, that we can all get into nature when we need to.

ADVERT

“However, this is not the case with one in ten adults in Scotland finding it difficult to access nature.

“That’s why we need the Scottish Government to produce a national Green Spaces Strategy and for each local authority to produce its own local strategy to ensure that everyone can avail of the mental health benefits of connecting with nature.

“This includes protecting and enhancing green spaces in urban areas, ensuring all new housing developments include high quality green space, and expanding outdoor learning opportunities for children to increase levels of wellbeing and good mental health.”

The survey found that 65% of adults in Scotland say that being close to nature improves their mood and 60% say being in nature has led them to experience positive emotions such as calm, wonder and joy.

However more than one in ten adults in Scotland found it fairly or very difficult to access nature when they wanted to and almost one third of them spent less than three hours in nature per week with 11% spending up to one hour or less.

Almost one quarter of women in Scotland said that not feeling physically safe had hindered them from enjoying nature, compared to 6% of men.

The survey of 1055 adults in Scotland was carried out by YouGov between April 6 and 8.

ADVERT

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “In previous statements, the Scottish Government has recognised the many benefits of contact with nature and exercise outdoors for physical and mental health and wellbeing, and supported efforts to help people experience these.

“Reflecting the importance of the fundamental relationship between physical and mental health, the Covid-19: Mental Health Transition and Recovery Plan, published in October 2020, includes action to build on the positive sport and physical activity behaviour changes we have seen during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Caroline O’Donnell, 43, a mother-of-three from Glasgow, said she has discovered that wild swimming in local lochs has helped her mental health.

She said: “The last year has been tough with the pandemic, lockdowns and being made redundant. Being out in the open water and experiencing nature in such an all-encompassing way really helps me to feel calm and feel really present in the moment.

“It helps me relax, forget my worries, and just decompress.”


Fully vaccinated UK travellers can visit the US from November

The White House will lift the 18-month blanket ban on foreign travellers from entering the country.

ronstik via IStock
The White House will lift the 18-month blanket ban on foreign travellers from entering the country.

Fully vaccinated UK travellers will be able to visit the US from November.

The White House will lift the 18-month blanket ban on foreign travellers from entering the country, which was introduced by former president Donald Trump at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “delighted” that US President Joe Biden is “reinstating transatlantic travel”.

He added: “It’s a fantastic boost for business and trade, and great that family and friends on both sides of the pond can be reunited once again.”

ADVERT

The announcement is a major boost for airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, and Heathrow Airport.

They have repeatedly blamed the travel ban for limiting the recovery of passenger numbers during the virus crisis.

Heathrow has gone from being Europe’s busiest airport in 2019 to tenth, behind rivals in cities such as Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt.

Around 3.8 million British nationals visited the US every year prior to the pandemic, according to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

ADVERT

The timing of the change in policy by the US was unexpected, as Johnson and new foreign secretary Liz Truss were due to press President Biden on the issue when they meet at the White House on Tuesday.

On Sunday, Johnson told reporters: “I don’t think we’re necessarily going to crack it this week. I’ve got to warn you I don’t think this is going to be necessarily fixed this week.”

White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients, who announced the end of the travel ban, said all foreign visitors will need to demonstrate proof of vaccination as well as proof of a negative test taken with the previous three days.

Airlines will be required to collect contact information from international travellers so that they can be traced if required.

British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle said: “Today’s news, which will see our two nations reunited after more than 18 months apart, marks an historic moment and one which will provide a huge boost to global Britain as it emerges from this pandemic.

“We are immensely grateful to the Prime Minister and his Government for all the hard work that’s gone into securing this deal with the US, and which builds upon last Friday’s announcement on the lifting of many travel restrictions.

“Our customers should now feel that the world is re-opening to them and they can book their trips with confidence.”

ADVERT

Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said the easing of restrictions is “a major milestone to the reopening of travel at scale, allowing consumers and businesses to book travel to the US with confidence”.

He went on: “The UK will now be able to strengthen ties with our most important economic partner, the US, boosting trade and tourism as well as reuniting friends, families and business colleagues.”

Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye said: “Connectivity between the US and the UK is part of the bedrock of the global economy.

“The Prime Minister has secured a massive win for global Britain in getting these links restarted.”


Stretch of M8 closed by police after four-vehicle crash

The road remained closed on Monday afternoon with police still in attendance.

FifeJammerLocations via FifeJammerLocations
The scene near to Junction 3A

A four-vehicle crash on the M8 has closed the motorway westbound near Livingston, West Lothian.

On Monday, at around 11.15am, emergency services were called to the scene near to Junction 3A.

The road remained closed on Monday afternoon with police still in attendance.

There were no reports of injuries.

ADVERT

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 11.15am on Monday, September 20, 2021, police were called to a report of a four-vehicle road crash on the M8 westbound near to Junction 3A at Livingston.

“Emergency services are in attendance and the road is currently closed.

“There are no reports on injuries at this stage.”


Bomb squad in attendance as shops and National Gallery evacuated

Emergency services are at the scene on Edinburgh's Princes Street.

STV News
Crowds gathering: Officers are dealing with the ongoing incident.

A busy Edinburgh street has been closed off with a bomb disposal unit in attendance.

Emergency services were also at the scene on the capital’s Princes Street, with several buildings left behind a police cordon.

Officers have since confirmed that a suspicious package found at the scene was confirmed as being non-viable.

Shoppers told how they had to be evacuated through backdoors as emergency services were called to the area on Monday afternoon.

ADVERT

The incident took place near to the city’s National Gallery, which had to close along with several shops and other businesses from Frederik Street to St Andrew’s Square.

Posts on social media show bomb disposal officers at the scene along with the ambulance service and police.

Crowds also gathered at the end of Frederik Street where the cordon begins.

Scottish Citylink confirmed that Princes Street has been closed and asked customers to board at the bus station or west end of the city instead.

ADVERT

And Lothian Buses said vehicles are being diverted away from the scene.

Police Scotland later confirmed that a suspicious package that was found in the area was found to be non-viable.

A spokesperson for the force said: “At around 1.40pm police received a report of a suspicious package found at a building on the Mound, Edinburgh.

“Emergency services attended, the building was evacuated and a cordon put in place.

“EOD attended to examine the package and confirmed it was non-viable.

“All surrounding road are in the process of being reopened.”


Seven-year-old boy missing overnight found hiding in gran’s loft

Carson Shephard sparked a major police operation with a helicopter, divers and dog units searching areas in New Cumnock.

STV News

A seven-year-old boy who went missing on Sunday night has been found “safe and well” following a major search operation.

Carson Shephard was found in his grandmother’s loft in a wall cavity after disappearing from Afton Bridgend in New Cumnock, East Ayrshire.

The schoolboy was reported missing after having last been seen in the village at around 7.20pm on Sunday.

Carson was still missing on Monday morning with police deploying a helicopter, divers, dog units and receiving aid from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service water support unit.

ADVERT

After the schoolboy was found safe, Carson’s mum said he had spent the night in the loft and was discovered only after police using thermal equipment scanned the area on Monday.

‘I’m laughing now but, believe me, I wasn’t laughing before.’

Gemma Glover, Carson’s mum

Gemma Glover, 27, from Glasgow, said he had been staying with his grandmother Jacquie McCartney in New Cumnock for the past few months.

She told reporters: “It’s such a massive relief.

“Police searched the loft three times last night but came in with specialist equipment this morning.

ADVERT

“I’ve never felt anything like it, it was crazy. All night I was thinking how cold it was and in my mind I was like ‘he’s not survived that’.

“It was so cold last night and we genuinely thought he was out the house. The main thing is he’s all right. I can’t explain the emotion, it’s crazy.”

She added that Carson had wrapped himself in insulation and was tucked away at the end of the loft.

Carson’s mother Gemma added she discovered he was missing at about 11.30pm on Sunday through Facebook before rushing through from Glasgow to help search for him.

The mother of two, who also has a little girl, praised the search efforts of locals, adding: “The amount of people who drove through to search for him was amazing.”

She went on: “We hunted the house but the loft goes a bit back and he was in there.

“I’m laughing now but, believe me, I wasn’t laughing before.”

ADVERT

As she spoke to reporters outside her mother’s house, Carson peeped through the blinds to see what was going on.

Carson’s uncle Alec McCartney said it was a “massive relief” for the whole family after his nephew was discovered by specialist cameras “lying sleeping, sort of covered” with a wrap of insulation over him.

“There were so many people out searching for him this morning, it’s really helpful having people around about you. It’s a good outcome for everybody,” he said.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We are pleased to report that seven-year-old Carson Shephard, reported missing from New Cumnock has been found safe and well.

“Officers would like to thank everyone who assisted in this inquiry.

“He was found hiding in a wall cavity during a detailed search of his home address by specialist officers.”


Man dies and woman injured in ‘human swan’ paragliding crash

Sacha Dench and her support staff member Dan Burton were in the final stages of a Round Britain Climate Challenge.

Andrew Milligan via PA Media
Ms Dench is currently in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in a serious condition.

A man has died and a woman has been seriously injured in a paragliding crash in the Highlands.

Emergency services were called around 4:45pm on Saturday to the incident near Loch Na Gainmhich.

Sacha Dench, dubbed the “human swan”, and her support staff member Dan Burton, 54, were in the final stages of a 3000-mile Round Britain Climate Challenge.

Mr Burton died at the scene and Ms Dench is currently in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in a serious condition.

ADVERT

The PA news agency understands that Ms Dench had been flying earlier in the day with Mr Burton, whose role includes documenting the climate challenge from the air, taking film and photographs.

The pair had landed before taking off again at around 3:30pm.

The ground crew, who communicate with the flyers and pick them up when they land, thereafter lost contact.

In statement, the trustees of the Conservation Without Borders, which was founded by Ms Dench, said: “We are very sorry to have to confirm that Dan Burton, the support paramotorist has died as a result of the accident.

ADVERT

“Sacha Dench is seriously injured and is being treated in hospital. Her injuries are serious but not life-threatening

“Both highly experienced paramotorists, our thoughts are with the family of Dan Burton to whom we offer our sincere condolences.

“The incident was attended by police and medics and enquiries are underway to establish the details of the accident.”

The statement added that the families of those involved had been informed and that the Round Britain Climate Challenge would now be put on hold.

Ms Dench had begun her climate challenge in June, taking off from Stevenston in North Ayrshire.


Dad gets new heart just in time to see first child born

Ross Peters spent months in hospital waiting for a heart transplant while his wife was pregnant.

Ross Peters via Contributed

A young dad who spent months in hospital waiting for a heart transplant got home just in time to see his son arrive into the world.

Ross Peters was too sick to leave the Golden Jubilee in Glasgow as he waited for a donor – while his pregnant wife Shauni was preparing to give birth for the first time.

After eight weeks in hospital, he was woken by a nurse who gave him the life-saving news that a suitable heart had been found.

That meant 27-year-old Ross – telling his story to mark Organ Donation Week – could be at his wife’s side when their first child, Louis, was born.

ADVERT

‘Motivation to keeping going’

“Everything worked out perfectly, timing wise,” he told STV News. “It couldn’t have been timed any better.

“I was absolutely terrified I was going to miss the birth, it was a motivation to keep going and make sure I stayed as physically fit as I could for the operation, so I would recover quickly.

“But there was a part of me that genuinely didn’t think I would be there [at the birth]. I was told I could watch it through a webcam, but I said that wasn’t happening.”

ADVERT

No other cure

Ross, from Dundee, was just 21-years-old when he suddenly felt unwell while out with friends, and the next morning found himself struggling to catch his breath.

After being taken by ambulance to Ninewells Hospital, he was soon transferred to the Scottish National Adult Heart Failure Service at NHS Golden Jubilee, where he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a disease that affects the heart’s ability to pump blood around the body.

Ross was fitted with a defibrillator but was told there was no cure – other than a heart transplant.

Ross Peters via Contributed
Ross Peters recovers in hospital after his heart transplant.

In January 2020, the heart-starting device activated twice, and by the summer, Ross’s health had deteriorated so much that he was placed on the urgent transplant list and told he was too sick to leave hospital.

Over the next two months, coronavirus restricted the amount of time he could spend with his family, including his pregnant wife.

He said: “I went into the Golden Jubilee thinking it wouldn’t be that bad and was then told I was so ill I couldn’t leave the hospital and actually needed a heart transplant.

ADVERT

“It was during lockdown, my wife was pregnant, it was awful and all I could think about was being well enough to be at my wife’s side at the birth of our son.”

Ross Peters via Contributed
Ross holds a newly born Louis.

Ross is now at home and loving life with his young son Louis and wants others to discuss organ donation with their families.

“I take 15 tablets every day, but I roll out of bed – I can do anything I want,” he said. “Nothing stops me.

“I can raise my son and none of that would have been possible without a heart transplant. I’m so grateful and so lucky.”

‘We all celebrated’

For staff at the Golden Jubilee – who have performed 36 heart transplants since the start of the pandemic – getting Ross home in time to see Louis being born was a special moment.

Consultant transplant cardiologist Dr Jane Cannon told STV News: “With Ross, I know his partner was pregnant and we all felt part of that journey.

“So for him to get home and see the birth of his son – we all celebrated in that.”

‘So many people waiting’

Organ Donation Week – which runs from Monday, September 20 – aims to encourage people to speak with their families about their wishes once they die.

Scotland has moved to an opt-out system, which means it’s assumed organs will be donated unless people state otherwise or are in an “excluded group” – under 16s, adults who lack capacity and those who have lived here less than a year.

Dr Cannon said: “Organ Donation Week is an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation and transplant in general.

“This is an important topic which may not come up in everyday conversation, but it’s important to discuss with family and friends so your wishes are known.

“Despite best efforts, there are so many people waiting for a life-saving operation.”


Coronavirus: No deaths, 2917 new cases and 1088 people in hospital

However, it was noted that the NHS Grampian lab has failed to submit files since Saturday.

BlackJack3D via IStock
Covid-19: The fight to stem the spread of the deadly virus goes on.

A further 2917 new cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Scotland, according to official figures.

A total of 29,098 new tests were carried out, with 10.8% testing positive – up from the 9.1% reported the previously day.

However, it was noted that the NHS Grampian lab had failed to submit files since Saturday.

A spokesperson from the health board later told STV News: “A temporary internal IT issue resulted in a delay in forwarding test data to the national system.

ADVERT

“This issue has been resolved and results are now being transferred correctly out of NHS Grampian and the backlog has been cleared.”

Of the new cases reported on Monday, 768 are in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region, 483 are in Lanarkshire, 393 are in Lothian and 254 are in Ayrshire and Arran.

The rest of the cases are spread out across ten other health board areas.

A total of 1088 people were in hospital on Sunday with recently confirmed Covid-19, a rise of 14 overnight. Out of those, 97 patients are in intensive care.

ADVERT

No further deaths were recorded.

The lab-confirmed death toll of those who tested positive within the previous 28 days currently stands at 8378, however figures including suspected Covid-19 deaths recorded by National Records of Scotland suggest the most up-to-date total is now at least 10,688.

It was also confirmed that 4,157,613 Scots have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, an increase of 2565 from the day before.

A total of 3,810,775 people have received their second dose, a rise of 3795.

Travel testing policy ‘could destroy hopes of recovery in 2022’

More than 40 businesses have signed an open letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Vasil Dimitrov via IStock
Scotland will merge its amber and green lists for international travellers entering the country.

The Scottish Government’s decision to retain its testing policy for international travellers entering the country could “destroy any hopes of recovery in 2022”, according to the head of a tourism body.

The Scottish Tourism Alliance has put its name to an open letter calling for an urgent meeting with ministers and officials in the Scottish Government following the decision, announced last week.

Under new regulations, Scotland will merge its amber and green lists for international travellers entering the country, while the red list – which requires a stay in a quarantine hotel – will remain the same.

The move mirrors that of the UK Government, which would cover England and see the changes come into effect on October 4.

ADVERT

But the Scottish Government declined to change its testing regime, with a pre-departure negative test still required and travellers from abroad who have been vaccinated still required to produce a negative PCR test on the second day after their arrival – while travellers entering England will be able to use a lateral flow device instead.

A letter from more than 40 tourism organisations to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and economic officials in the Scottish Government said the changes will benefit England’s tourism sector and harm Scotland’s.

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said: “I have received a steady stream of messages over the course of the weekend from businesses presenting direct and immediate evidence of the impact of the Scottish Government’s decision on international travel restrictions; as an example, one inbound operator has been told to direct all future bookings to airports south of the border.

“It is the grave concern of many that international bookings, revenue and visitors are being lost not just now but should this policy remain, it could destroy any hopes of recovery in 2022.

ADVERT

“Unless there is a swift change, the Scottish Government’s position on international travel will effectively write off international tourism to Scotland for another year to the detriment of our businesses, communities, supply chain and wider economy.

“Our industry has gone above and beyond guidance and legal requirements to protect public health and support the Scottish Government’s efforts to curtail the spread of the virus and curb cases; we have requested that a member of the Scottish Government’s public health team also attends this meeting to explain how the most recent analysis of data supports the view that international travel is driving transmission.

“This policy is causing immediate damage to revenues and represents high-risk self-harm for jobs and the economy in the short, medium and long term.”

The letter added: “The need for all aspects of Scotland to remain competitive is key to driving recovery; as a nation we are out of alignment with Europe and England; in fact, the Scottish Government’s decision on Friday will benefit England’s tourism and wider economy hugely while putting Scotland’s economy at great risk of long-term decline.”

More on:

Asda announces launch of first refill store in Scotland

Customers will be able to use their own containers to buy unpackaged products such as pasta, rice, tea, coffee and cereals.

Asda via
Asda has said that all unpackaged products will be the same price or cheaper than their packaged equivalents.

Asda has launched its first refill store in Scotland in a bid to help customers to shop more sustainably.

From Monday, shoppers at Asda’s Toryglen store in Glasgow will be able to use their own containers to buy unpackaged products such as pasta, rice, tea, coffee and cereals.

Customers can alternatively purchase a reusable container in store for use.

The supermarket has partnered with brands including Kellog’s, Yorkshire Tea, Napolina and Unilever to provide over 60 products sold loose and unpackaged in specific aisles of the store.

Customers will be able to use their own reusable containers or buy one in store. (Asda)
ADVERT

Asda has said that all unpackaged products will be the same price or cheaper than their packaged equivalents.

Susan Thomas, director of commercial sustainability at Asda said: “We have chosen Scotland as the location for our second refill store because it is an important market for Asda and a place where we regularly receive constructive feedback from our customers.

“This feedback is very important to us as we refine our refill offering in stores and work towards a goal of making refill and reuse part of every shopping trip.  

““With COP26 coming to Glasgow, there has certainly been an increase in interest in environmental issues across the country, so to see refill land in the host city and with such engaged customers is a really important moment for us.”


You're up to date

You've read today's top stories. Where would you like to go next?