Service helping child abuse victims in care gets cash boost

Up to £9m will be awarded to the Future Pathways group, which provides therapy and training to survivors.

A service which supports people who suffered abuse while in care during childhood is receiving a multimillion-pound cash boost.

The Scottish Government has announced up to £9m is being awarded to the Future Pathways group, allowing it to extend its work for another two years.

It currently provides abuse survivors with therapy and psychological counselling, as well as assisting in areas such as education and training.

Future Pathways is an alliance organisation which brings together the Mental Health Foundation, Health in Mind, Penumbra and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

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More than 1400 people have registered for its help since it was set up by the Scottish Government in 2016.

Flora Henderson, of Future Pathways, said the financial boost would “allow for further continued support to survivors of historical child abuse in care in Scotland”.

She added: “Although over 1400 survivors have already registered with us, we know there are more people out there who have had similar experiences and who could really benefit from our help and support.”

Mental health minister Clare Haughey said: “The support provided by Future Pathways is vital to help people abused or neglected as children while in care to lead full, healthy and independent lives.

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“It’s one of a number of initiatives which the government is funding to support those abused while in care.”

Kelvingrove Park gates locked amid alcohol crackdown

The move comes after more than 400 people with alcohol were refused entry to the beauty spot last weekend.

STV News

Gates to Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park have been locked as part of a crackdown on drinking alcohol in public.

It comes after more than 400 people with alcohol were refused entry to the beauty spot last weekend.

Nine of the park’s 16 gates will be shut on Friday and Saturday.

Officers from the council’s community enforcement team and Police Scotland knocked back 413 groups or individuals trying to enter with alcohol last week.

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Many others were also ejected from the park for consuming alcohol, in violation of a city by-law, and some young people aged between 14 and 17 were so intoxicated they had to be taken home by police.

Officers had to clear the busiest areas of the park twice due to concerns over a lack of social distancing among people who had gathered in large numbers.

Coronavirus travel restrictions and meeting limits were eased across Scotland last Friday.

Stephen Egan, the council’s head of parks and street scene, said: “Kelvingrove Park remains a stunning open space but we cannot tolerate the anti-social behaviour that is being experienced in the park.

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“So much of that behaviour is being fuelled by alcohol and we have to take steps to protect the park for everyone who wants to visit.

“Sadly, it is young people who are invariably involved in the disorder and we are increasingly concerned that many are actually putting themselves in harm’s way.

“We are very clear that alcohol is not welcome in Kelvingrove Park and we are urging parents and guardians to help us convey that message to their children.”

Warm weather is expected to continue this weekend and many people are again expected to head to Kelvingrove.

The local authority and Police Scotland have been working on a plan to manage access to the park through a limited number of open gates this Friday and Saturday – closing nine of the 16 entry points.

Chief inspector Natalie Carr said: “Police Scotland is working closely with Glasgow City Council to prevent repeated incidents of anti-social behaviour from occurring in Kelvingrove Park.

“Officers will be visible and accessible to park users should they need police assistance.

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“We have received reports of children and young people getting into vulnerable situations and I would like to appeal to parents and guardians to make sure they know their children’s whereabouts.

“One person has already been arrested, charged and is due to appear at court following an assault on a 19-year-old.

“We would like to remind anyone planning on visiting the park that alcohol is not permitted and should incidents of anti-social behaviour take place, then those responsible will be dealt with robustly.”

Meanwhile, there will also be additional patrols by park rangers and environment enforcement officers in Edinburgh over the weekend.

Police had to disperse crowds at the popular park in the capital earlier this month, while a video surfaced of a mass brawl between young people.

One officer suffered a facial injury while trying to enforce coronavirus laws as people gathered to enjoy the sun over the Easter weekend.

Edinburgh City Council leader Adam McVey said: “We’ve been working closely with colleagues in Police Scotland to address the issues and put in place an action plan that will drive home the message that this anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated.”

Chief superintendent Sean Scott of Edinburgh Police Division said: “Following recent issues with disorder in some areas of Edinburgh, particularly the Meadows, we are continuing our extra high visibility patrols this weekend.

“The vast majority of people enjoy our beautiful green spaces responsibly and I welcome their continued support, but the small minority who intend spoiling it for others will be targeted and dealt with effectively.

“Anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated and we will continue to work closely with the council and other key partners in preventing and tackling these issues, both in the immediate future and long-term.”


Coronavirus: One death and 255 new cases reported

The death total in Scotland now stands at 7647 under the daily measurement.

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Coronavirus: Cases increase slightly from Thursday.

One person has died in Scotland after being diagnosed with coronavirus in the past 24 hours, latest figures have shown.

On Friday, statistics released by the Scottish Government showed there were 255 new cases of coronavirus reported in the past 24 hours, an increase of 24 from the previous day.

The daily test positivity rate now stands at 1.5%, up from 1.1% on Thursday.

The death toll of those who tested positive currently stands at 7647, however weekly figures on suspected Covid-19 deaths recorded by National Records of Scotland suggest the most up-to-date total is now more than 10,000.

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Meanwhile 93 people were being treated in hospital have recently tested positive for coronavirus, with 12 in intensive care.

The figures also revealed that 2,758,381 people have received the first dose of the Covid vaccination and 949,228 have received their second dose.

More on:

Education: The lessons that must be learned after election

Teachers and pupils on the key issues facing education ahead of the Holyrood election.

STV News

Justine Milne has been on one-year contracts since graduating from teacher training in 2018.

Every time the summer holidays roll around, she is left without a job and has to rely on supply work until another fixed-term position becomes available.

She’s currently working in a Covid recovery role as a physical education teacher, however the funding ends in June and once again she’ll be unemployed.

“There’s not enough jobs for people to get into the profession and get a permanent post,” Justine says.

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“All the political parties are saying we’ll recruit this amount of teachers, but it’s not about recruiting more teachers.

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Justine Milne

“There’s plenty of us sitting here. It’s a case of finding a way to make them permanent positions.

“We want them to push for smaller class sizes. That would then increase permanent posts for people, and help with the Covid recovery and closing the attainment gap.”

Education is a key issue in the Holyrood election campaign as parties set out how they propose to support pupils and teachers who have spent long spells out of the classroom.

What do the numbers tell us?

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Figures show the number of probationary teachers going into temporary contracts is at its highest level since 2007.

In 2019-20, 1404 probationary teachers went into fixed-term jobs – up from 972 the year before, a 44% increase.

Justine is one of more than 1700 staff who wrote an open letter saying they are unable to secure permanent work because of local authority policy and practices.

They highlighted that the majority of the 1400 posts created with Covid-19 funding were due to end in June and said fewer posts were being advertised at a time when pupils needed the most support.

Unions have warned that councils are unwilling to create permanent posts using temporary Covid funding.

They say one in 10 teachers is on a temporary contract with the frustration driving many from the profession.

‘I might have to walk away’

Justine is among those losing patience.

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“If I’m in this position again next year, going on to my fourth year of it, I think I’m going to have to walk away,” she says.

“It’s so stressful. It’s so worrying. It gets you to the point where you just want to cry about it.

“You’ve got no stability in life whatsoever. You can’t try and think about the future because you have no idea where you’re going to be.”

For pupils, the end of the Easter holidays meant a full return to the classroom for the first time since Christmas.

“It’s been difficult being at home, trying to motivate yourself and keep going, but being back at school is good,” says sixth-year pupil Innes.

Senior pupils are facing a second consecutive year without sitting exams, so grades will be determined by teacher judgement and backed up by evidence.

The approach varies across schools, with some complaining assessments are formal exams by another name.

The confusion has led to calls for reform of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to ensure greater transparency and accountability.

The SQA says it has made it clear that there is no requirement to replicate full formal exam or prelims.

What do pupils think?

Gabby: “It’s not based on one or two exams, it’s based on your overall performance of the whole year so the teachers get to see you and you can do monthly tests.”

Amelia: “I tend to get really anxious and nervous. I think it’s such a good opportunity to get a better grade that you could actually use in the future.”

Kyle: “I think it’s a better system than last year. We’ve been more prepared for it, so I think it will be a bit more fair on the pupils.”

Closing the gap

The pandemic has also laid bare inequalities; Audit Scotland recently found the gap between the achievements of the least and most well-off pupils remains wide.

Many teachers feel a gulf has opened between them and policymakers when it comes to helping the most disadvantaged pupils.

Teacher Zem Chefeke says: “If pupils feel that their wellbeing has been taken care of, if they feel safe in our classrooms and our schools, if their mental health is something that we value and take seriously and we work to address that, then the attainment will come.

“But we’re not being asked that, and even if we are being asked, it doesn’t seem that what we are asking is being put in place.”

A survey of more than 2000 teachers on a support group agreed the focus should be on teacher numbers.

Nuzhat Uthmani was among those who carried out the survey.

“The number one priority, said 66 per cent of respondents, is smaller class sizes above anything else that we really need to make an impact on our teaching and learning experiences both for staff and for pupils.”

Smaller classes and more jobs creates an “opportunity to build something better” after the election, says teacher Gemma Clark.

She adds: “There are thousands of teachers who are on zero-hours contracts that could be given jobs and there are also student teachers who have been left in a difficult position who have been told they haven’t completed enough placement time because of the pandemic to be allowed to qualify.”

What are the parties pledging?

SNP

  • Invest £1bn over the next parliament to close the school attainment gap;
  • Recruit additional 3500 teachers and classroom assistants

Scottish Conservatives

  • Recruit 3000 more teachers;
  • Set up a £35m national tutoring programme

Scottish Labour

  • Provide every pupil with a personal comeback plan;
  • Scrap national standardised assessments.

Scottish Greens

  • Recruit 5500 additional permanent teachers;
  • Reform the SQA and Education Scotland.

Scottish Liberal Democrats

  • Guarantee every qualified teacher a job to cut class sizes;
  • Minimum teacher starting salary of £30,000.


Sixty North Sea workers flown ashore after Covid outbreak

The outbreak took place on a floating hotel platform around 140 miles from Aberdeen.

Pixabay
Oil Rig: More than 60 people flown ashore.

More than 60 people have been flown ashore from a North Sea platform after an outbreak of coronavirus.

Four offshore workers tested positive for Covid-19 on a floating hotel platform around 140 miles from Aberdeen.

The first positive test was confirmed on Monday with the following three coming two days later.

A further 61 people were flown ashore as a precaution.

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A Shell spokesperson said: “Our priority is the health and wellbeing of our people and contractors, and safe operations across all our activities.

“We are taking all appropriate precautions, in line with our procedures and national protocols related to coronavirus.”


Witness accused of ‘untruths’ over Trainspotting actor’s death

Bradley Welsh was fatally shot at his flat in the west end of Edinburgh on April 17, 2019.

Ross Parker via SNS Group
Bradley Welsh was fatally shot in 2019.

A witness who told police of plans to murder a T2 Trainspotting actor in the month before his death has been accused of speaking “fantastic untruths” to try and help officers.

Bradley Welsh, 48, was fatally shot at his flat in the west end of Edinburgh on April 17 2019.

Sean Orman, 30, has pleaded not guilty to all 15 charges against him, including murder, attempted murder, firearms and drugs offences, and is on trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Dean White previously told the court he had seen the accused at his brother Robert’s home in Duddingston Row with a man known as Peem, James Davidson, in March 2019.

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The 49-year-old said the accused spoke about attacking a man and his son with a machete in the Oxgangs area for money.

It was heard Orman also claimed he was being paid £10,000 to “get” Mr Welsh with a shotgun.

On Friday, Mr White was repeatedly questioned by defence counsel Ian Duguid QC about his recollection of events and why they did not always match with his statements given to police.

The lawyer put it to Mr White that he was “not afraid of anything in this scenario” and had made up events about a Ford Kuga’s involvement in the incident to help police.

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Mr Duguid said: “The reason you mentioned the Kuga is because police have apparently revealed information that there was a Kuga believed to be involved in Bradley Welsh’s murder.

“I would suggest it’s a fantasy, you are speaking fantastic untruths.”

The witness said: “No, I’m not fantasising, I’m telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

He added: “I have been removed from my loving family I will never see again because of the statements I gave.

“I told police exactly what was going to happen, this guy would still be alive today.

“I have been removed and I can’t have any contact with my family today.

“If I wasn’t afraid, I would still be in Edinburgh.”

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He then accused the lawyer of trying to confuse him over his version of events.

Mr Duguid explained he was not trying to confuse the witness but instead wanted to clarify the timeline of events.

The lawyer then put it to Mr White that other people, his brother and Mr Davidson, should be able to give the court evidence which corroborates his version of events.

Mr White said: “They won’t, because they’re not grasses.”

The court also heard Mr White had been smoking cannabis at the time of that meeting while also on prescription drugs and methadone to fight heroin addiction.

Orman is also accused of driving at speeds up to 123mph on the Edinburgh bypass on April 22 2019, where the limit is 70mph, and failing to stop for uniformed police officers.

He faces an accusation of having driven on the opposing side of the carriageway of Clovenstone Road “in excess of 92mph”, where the limit is 30mph.

Another charge alleges he drove without insurance and was in possession of the class A drug diamorphine and class C drug diazepam.

The trial, before judge Lord Beckett, continues.


Primark stores set to open from 7am as restrictions ease

Some shops will open early in a bid to reduce queues and make shopping safer as Covid restrictions are relaxed.

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Primark: Chain to open some stores as early as 7am.

A number of Primark stores across Scotland are set to open from 7am on Monday as coronavirus restrictions are eased. 

The retail chain has announced earlier opening times for most stores following months of closures due to the pandemic. 

Stores at Braehead Shopping Centre, Glasgow’s Argyle Street, East Kilbride, Dundee and Motherwell will open from 7am, with other units set to open from 7.30am, 8am and 8.30am across the country.  

The company said that by opening stores earlier, queues will be reduced and customers will be given more time to be able to shop safely.

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Primark CEO, Paul Marchant, said: “We saw a great response to our reopening by our customers in England and Wales last week, and we know our customers in Scotland will love our new Spring/Summer offering too. 

“Safety remains at the front of our minds. We have extended opening hours across almost all of our stores in Scotland to help meet demand safely but we’re also asking our customers to keep up the support and spirit they showed last year, particularly if queuing outside or in-store.”

Restrictions on non-essential stores are due to be relaxed from Monday, as the number of cases of coronavirus continue to fall. 

Braehead Shopping Centre said some of its stores would open from 8am, including Marks and Spencer, New Look, Mac Cosmetics and Next.

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Braehead centre director, Peter Beagley said: “We have a raft of measures in place to make sure everyone is protected from the Covid virus.

“They include social distancing, insisting people wear a mask unless they have dispensation, floor stickers and signage showing a one-way system for getting around the centre, enhanced cleaning regimes and free hand sanitisers throughout the centre.

Gyms, pubs and restaurants will also be able to open from Monday under the new guidance, which was confirmed by the First Minister during Tuesday’s coronavirus briefing.


Rennie: Vaccine certificate work should be on hold for election

The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader’s took an 'invigorating' karate lesson in the Meadows as campaigning continues.

Jane Barlow via PA Ready
Willie Rennie took a karate lesson in the Meadows.

Work on a coronavirus vaccine certification system should be put on hold until Parliament has had a chance to debate it, Willie Rennie has said.

The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader’s comments came after he took an “invigorating” karate lesson in the Meadows, Edinburgh, as campaigning continues for the election on May 6.

The Scottish Government is working on a digital system which would allow people to prove their Covid vaccination status and provide other data, in preparation for an international requirement for so-called Covid passports.

Speaking to the PA news agency on Friday, Rennie said: “I think the plan should be delayed at least until we get a chance to debate it properly in the Parliament, to explore how far this is going to go.

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“I think it’s going to be an expensive administrative process and it’s also going to divide society.

“Lots of people have made huge sacrifices over the last year but they’ve also not had the vaccine, so why should they be left out of accessing wider services?

“So let’s call a halt to this just now until we can have a wider debate in Parliament.”

Earlier, national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch said discussions on a potential certification system are ongoing.

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The digital system currently being developed would allow people to show if they have been vaccinated, recently had a negative test, or have natural immunity after a previous Covid infection.

Prof Leitch told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme: “We’re also working on a digital solution to ‘Who’s been tested, who’s been vaccinated?’

“But the more important question is what does that mean, and that’s not really for clinical advisers, that’s really for policy leaders and politicians – about what it will allow you to do.

“And the private sector, the airlines and others who will make choices about who they allow on the plans or who they allow into their institutions.”


Greens: Climate strikers must be heard at Holyrood election

Patrick Harvie pays visit to climate striker Dylan Hamilton and says 'it's time for a green recovery to secure our future'.

Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
Patrick Harvie paid a visit to climate striker Dylan Hamilton in Edinburgh.

The stark warnings for politicians from climate strikers must be heard at the 2021 Holyrood election, the Scottish Greens said on Friday.

With two weeks until the election, the party’s co-leader Patrick Harvie paid a visit to climate striker Dylan Hamilton, who has spent the last week on a vigil outside Edinburgh’s City Chambers calling for this to be a climate election.

Dylan is an activist with the Scottish climate strikers as part of the Fridays for Future movement, which Swedish climate striker Greta Thunberg brought to prominence.

Harvie said: “What the climate strikers do to raise the threats we all face is humbling, because their generation has been failed by the lack of action from governments. But while they have a right to be angry, they are also determined, because they know that that it isn’t too late to make a difference if we act now.

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“Teenagers like Dylan are demanding that we face up to the science that tells us we have less than ten years to turn this around. That’s why it is alarming that all other parties at this election back major road expansions and fail to commit to stopping new oil and gas exploration.

“It’s time for a green recovery to secure our future. The Scottish Greens have the solutions to the climate emergency, which is why it is time to vote like our future depends on it.”

Scottish Tory leader urges transparency amid lobbying row

Douglas Ross highlighted communications between the PM and Chancellor and business leaders.

PA Ready via PA Ready
Douglas Ross highlighted communications between the PM and Chancellor and business leaders.

Concerns raised over communications between senior UK Government officials and business leaders “cannot be allowed to continue”, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has said.

A number of parliamentary and independent investigations have been set up after communications between Chancellor Rishi Sunak and former prime minister David Cameron about Greensill Capital came to light.

The Chancellor said in a text to Cameron he had “pushed” Treasury officials to consider proposals that could save the firm, which eventually collapsed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also accused of approving “tax breaks by text” after he told billionaire inventor Sir James Dyson the Chancellor would “fix” a tax issue for his staff working on making ventilators in the early part of the pandemic.

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Ross said he believes governments should operate in “the most transparent and open way”.

He added: “The serious concerns that have been raised just in the last few weeks cannot be allowed to continue.”

Ross, a former minister in the Scotland Office who resigned from that role last year over the lockdown rules breach by Johnson’s then chief adviser Dominic Cummings, also said he is “almost certain” he was never lobbied by text during his time in Government.

“I never received a text message directly from a business leader,” he said.

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“I would say to the best of my knowledge, I can’t remember every single text message I received, but I would be almost certain that I never received a direct message, certainly not asking me to do anything – maybe just to set up a meeting that would be with officials.”

He added he was trying to be “categorical” in his denial, but could not be fully sure such communications never occurred.

As the UK Government comes under ever more scrutiny in Westminster over lobbying, Mr Ross was asked if he fears the issue could impact on the Tories’ chances in the Scottish Parliament election next month.

“I think people can see this issue is being dealt with as a matter of priority with a huge amount of seriousness attached to it,” he said.

“Given the level and number of investigations that are taking place, but it’s also right that we wait for these investigations to return their reports, because they will all be looking at this issue in the round, but from separate different angles and I think it’s right that we see the conclusions of those inquiries.”


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