Dogs for veterans charity needs emergency funding to continue

Bravehound has seen an increase in demand for its services but has been forced to freeze waiting lists.

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A charity that supplies ex-military personnel with companion dogs says it needs more funding to be able to continue.

Bravehound has seen an increase in demand for its services but has been forced to freeze waiting lists due to a lack of funds.

The organisation has appealed for more help with additional funding required to guarantee its long-term future.

One of the ex-servicemen to be helped by the charity is Graham Hunter, a former Major who said his companion dog Kyrra has “given me my life back”.

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Medically discharged from the Army, Graeme noticed the effects of PTSD creeping in back in 2017. 

During lockdown he hit crisis point, shutting himself off from family and friends.

His wife convinced him to reach out to the charity Bravehound, who work in supplying support dogs for ex-military personnel.

Graham was matched with Kyrra, a labrador who is trained to recognise signs of stress and discomfort in people as well as carrying out tasks such as fetching medication.

She’s been able to restore his quality of life and he’s been able to return to work in the NHS.

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Graham told STV News: “She can sense when I’m becoming anxious or agitated, she’ll come up and put her paws on my knee or lick my face.”




Caution urged as Covid-19 restrictions set to ease

Professor Leitch indicated that Glasgow may have to stay in level 3 restrictions for longer than a week.

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Leitch: Urging caution as restrictions set to ease.

Scots should be “cautious and careful” when Covid restrictions ease across most of the country on Monday, national clinical director Jason Leitch has said.

Professor Leitch said the decision to keep Glasgow in Level 3 restrictions went “down to the wire” and indicated the city may have to stay at the current level for longer than a week.

With the exception of Glasgow and Moray, which are dealing with Covid-19 outbreaks, all mainland areas will move from Level 3 to Level 2 restrictions.

Changes to the rules include the ability to hug loved ones again and indoor socialising in homes.

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Many island communities will move to Level 1.

Nicola Sturgeon announced on Friday that Glasgow and Moray would have to stay at Level 3, with the situation being reviewed at the end of next week.

Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Show, Prof Leitch said initial signs suggested the Indian variant was “part of the challenge” in Glasgow.

Discussing the decisions to keep Scotland’s largest city in Level 3, he said: “Certainly the toughest we’ve had to give advice about for months and months.

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“It was really down to the wire on what was the right thing to do, but we’ve learned in Scotland and around the world that acting fast and hard always works.

“Delay rarely works and that is why we gave the advice we did.”

Asked if the outbreaks were likely to spread to other areas, he said: “I think we should watch and be cautious and careful.

“We have decided, with advice, that on Monday the rest of the country is safe to move to the next stage.

“But we all said the hugging, the increased hospitality, that should all be done very cautiously.

“So don’t go crazy but we think it can be kept under control.”

Prof Leitch said it “may well be” the case that Glasgow stays in Level 3 for longer than a week, as he urged people in the city to take tests for the virus.

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On Monday in the Level 2 areas, up to six people from three households can socialise indoors in a private home or garden without physical distancing.

Physical contact such as hugs with loved ones will be allowed again, though the government says people should use their judgment around how often this takes place.

Pubs can open and sell alcohol indoors until 10.30pm in two-hour booked slots. Local licensing laws will apply outdoors.

On Sunday, a total of 292 cases of coronavirus and no new deaths were recorded in the Scottish Government’s daily figures.

A total of 3,020,335 people have received the first dose of a Covid vaccination and 1,621,031 have received their second dose.

Coronavirus: 292 new cases recorded in last 24 hours

Scottish Government figures showed there had been no further deaths of those who had tested positive recently.

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Covid-19: 292 new cases in Scotland.

Scotland has recorded 292 positive coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.

That number represents 2% of all the tests that reported results, meaning the positivity rate increased from 1.6% on Saturday.

Latest figures released on Sunday showed that there were no further deaths of people who had recent tested positive for the virus.

However, three people remain in intensive care with recently confirmed Covid-19.

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Since the start of the pandemic more than 10,000 deaths have been registered in Scotland where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Over three million people, around two thirds of adults in Scotland, have received their first dose of the vaccination.

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Charity aims to make sure every child has their own book

Footballer Marcus Rashford said: 'Enjoying reading can't just be a privilege.'

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Reading: New initiative aims to ensure every child has access to a book.

The National Literacy Trust has teamed up with WH Smith, Macmillan Children’s Books and England footballer Marcus Rashford for an initiative aimed at ensuring every child has access to their own book at home.

WH Smith shops will act as donation points for customers to donate to the scheme, with funds going to the National Literacy Trust reading charity.

The retailer will also gift a copy of Manchester United star Rashford’s book You Are A Champion: How To Be The Best You Can Be for every one that is sold.

The National Literacy Trust will distribute the books to “tackle literacy issues in communities at a local level across the UK”, according to a statement from WH Smith.

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Rashford said: “Enjoying reading can’t just be a privilege; all children should be able to access books, no matter what their background.

“Having good literacy skills supports children to succeed in life and everyone should have the opportunity to discover a love of reading.

“This last year has shown us just what we can achieve when we work together.

“By joining forces with WH Smith and the National Literacy Trust we are giving everyone the best opportunity to get involved in supporting getting every child reading.

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“There’s a WH Smith on nearly every high street in the UK, they’re online and also in major travel hubs so we’re making this really accessible and would encourage everyone who is able to, to get involved.

“Everyone can play a role, big or small.”

National Literacy Trust chief executive Jonathan Douglas said: “Marcus Rashford is an extraordinary campaigner of the societal imbalances that can have a lifelong impact on disadvantaged children.

“We hope this brilliant WH Smith initiative, in partnership with Macmillan Children’s Books and the National Literacy Trust, will make essential steps in addressing one of the key barriers to literacy and learning.”

Vaccine roll-out reaches two-thirds of adults in Scotland

Over 66% of adults have had at least one jab as of Friday.

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Vaccine: Two thirds of adults vaccinated.

More than three million people in Scotland have had their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccination as the roll-out reaches two-thirds of the eligible population.

Over 66% of adults have had at least one jab as of Friday.

Nataliya Dasiukevich from Milngavie was among those vaccinated on the day the milestone was reached.

The 45-year-old received her first dose at the Allander Leisure Centre in Bearsden.

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She said: “I am delighted to have had my first vaccine and I hope it encourages everyone in my age group to take up their offer of a vaccine as it is by doing so and following restrictions we can start to think about a return to normal life.

“I want to thank everyone at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde – all the staff were reassuring and the process was clearly explained. I was also given a leaflet with further information. I look forward to getting my second dose in around twelve weeks’ time.”

The national vaccination programme is now moving through those aged 40 – 49 and more than 50% of this age group have come forward to receive their first dose.

As the programme progresses through this group, appointments are being scheduled for those aged 30-39 years old.

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In line with the latest advice, people in this age group will be offered an alternative to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine when it is appropriate to do so.

Meanwhile 1,599,519 of the population have received their second dose which offers greater and longer lasting protection against the virus.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith said; “It is down to the enormous efforts of our vaccination teams around the country that more than three million people in Scotland – two thirds of the adult population – have received their first dose and I would like to say a huge thank you to them and all those who have taken up their offer of a vaccine.

“The vaccination programme is one of the main ways – along with restrictions and testing – that we are working to beat this virus and so it is crucial that everyone attends for their appointments when they are offered.”

Director of Public Health for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Dr Linda De Caestecker said: “Thank you to everyone who has come out to get their vaccination so far. The rollout has been the most significant of any vaccination programme ever undertaken by the Health Board and the numbers of doses administered both within NHSGGC and across Scotland is hugely encouraging.“

Coronavirus: 413 new cases reported in last 24 hours

Scottish Government figures showed there had been no further deaths of those who had tested positive recently.

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Covid: 413 new cases in Scotland.

There have been 413 new cases of coronavirus reported in Scotland in the last 24 hours.

Scottish Government figures released on Saturday showed there had been no further deaths of people who had recently tested positive for the virus.

Of the latest 27,866 tests that reported results, 1.6% were positive.

Over three million people have now received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccination and 1,599,519 have received their second dose.

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On Friday, 64 people were in hospital with recently confirmed coronavirus, with three of those in intensive care. Seven people with the virus had been in intensive care for more than 28 days.

Public Health Scotland said a data issue meant the numbers reported on Friday were artificially low and all data missing from that update had been included in Saturday’s figures.

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Glasgow and Moray to remain under level three Covid restrictions

First Minister says both local authority areas will not move to level two on Monday along with the rest of mainland Scotland.

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Glasgow and Moray will not move to level two coronavirus restrictions along with the rest of mainland Scotland on Monday due to concern over rising cases, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Friday.

Speaking in Parliament, she told MSPs that both local authority areas will remain in level three of the Scottish Government’s strategic framework for at least another week.

People have been asked not to travel in and out of Moray or the city of Glasgow during that time unless their journey is essential.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board is encouraging people, particularly those living in the most affected areas of Glasgow, to visit their local asymptomatic testing centre and take a Covid-19 test.

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Latest figures published on Friday showed Glasgow has overtaken Moray as Scotland’s Covid hotspot.

The city recorded 80.4 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to May 11, pushing it ahead of Moray where there were 68.9.

Sturgeon said there was evidence that the outbreak in Glasgow was being driven by the Indian B.1.617.2 variant, adding that the situation in Scotland’s largest city is causing even more concern than the recent spike in cases in Moray.

She said: “An additional and very significant factor in Glasgow is evidence suggesting the outbreak, which is heavily centered at the moment in the south side of the city, is being driven by the so-called Indian variant.

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“We do not yet have a full understanding of the impact of this variant including on the protection afforded by the vaccines. However, I do want to stress that nothing at this stage suggests that it is causing more severe illness.

“However, it is thought that this variant could be significantly more transmissable than even the Kent variant that was identified before Christmas and that alone calls for an appropriate degree of caution.”

The First Minister added she was optimistic that increased testing and vaccination would help to curb the increased spread of the virus, while also stressing that Scotland’s battle against coronavirus “remains good”.

Regarding the situation in Moray, she said: “Case numbers remain more than double the Scottish average and so the judgement of the local incident management team, which has informed this decision, is that it is prudent for Moray to remain at level three for a further week, so that we can be more confident that the situation is firmly under control.

“In my judgement, it is sensible though difficult to be cautious now and allow Moray to move with more confidence to level three, rather than ease restrictions prematurely and risk having to go backwards later.

“It is inevitable that as we continue to navigate our way through this pandemic, we will hit bumps in the road, however, if we exercise suitable caution as we’re seeking to do today, then even though that is difficult, we are much more likely to stay on the right track overall.”

Scotland recorded two coronavirus deaths and 215 new cases in the past 24 hours, according to the latest Scottish Government figures released on Friday.

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It brings the death toll under this daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – to 7664.

A total of 228,908 have tested positive for the virus and the daily test positivity rate is 1.3%, up from 1.2% the previous day.

Of the 215 new cases, 110 were in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area. This was followed by 37 in NHS Lothian, 21 in NHS Lanarkshire, 16 in NHS Fife and 15 in NHS Grampian.

Friday’s announcement is also another blow to the hospitality sector in both Glasgow and Moray.

A drop to level two would mean widespread relaxations over rules in hospitality and entertainment, including venues being able to serve alcohol indoors and the reopening of cinemas, theatres and casinos.

Andrew McRae, the Federation of Small Businesses Scotland policy chairman, said the news was “crushing” for businesses and their customers.

He said: “The damage of this change, especially in Glasgow, is exacerbated by the lateness of this announcement.

“It means wasted stock, disappointed customers and increased debt. Scotland’s largest city has faced tough restrictions for months and months, doing untold harm to local firms.

“While the action proposed may or may not be necessary, pushing it out the door at close of play on a Friday will further undermine independent businesses.”

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stuart Patrick said it was “deeply disappointing news” that the city can’t move to level two as planned.

He said: “There will be many businesses that have been planning and incurring costs to move to level two operations and once again they are caught up in developments outside their control. 

“We are very keen to see lessons learned quickly about the management of these spikes through testing and vaccination so that lockdowns on such a wide geographical basis do not need to be an ongoing tactic.  

“Both UK and Scottish Governments should also review the availability of financial support to businesses caught up in local lockdowns.  We do welcome the intention to review within one week and sincerely hope this is brought under control swiftly.”

Mario Gizzi, owner of The DRG group which owns brand such as Di Maggio’s and Cafe Andaluz, branded Friday’s announcement an “absolute disgrace”.

He said: “Not only have our plans been thrown up in the air but it’s been done last thing on a Friday night.

“At just one of our sites, The Citizen in Glasgow, we’ve spent more than £6000 in staff costs getting ready and roughly the same in fresh produce.

“As a standalone unit, all this food will be wasted and can’t be transferred to another restaurant.

“It’s outrageous to have these hugely damaging decisions taken by people who have no idea of how the hospitality industry runs.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish Hospitality Group said it had asked the Scottish Government for advance warning of any changes on Wednesday and “did not get anything back”.

Spokesman Stephen Montgomery said: “We’re in exactly the situation we wanted to avoid for the hospitality businesses in Glasgow.

“Here we are a full year on and it seems decision-makers have learned nothing and it’s shameful to be treating people this way.

“Staff are getting ready for their shifts, or have been working flat out to prepare for opening, and have ordered stock. You can’t just turn this stuff on and off like flicking a light switch.”

Scottish Government announces 4% pay rise for NHS workers

The uplift will be backdated to December 1, 2020, and will cover a period of 16 months.

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A pay increase for NHS staff is to be 'immediately implemented'.

A pay increase for NHS staff is to be “immediately implemented”, the Scottish Government has announced.

Following talks, a majority of NHS unions voted to accept a deal offering an average increase of 4%.

The uplift will be backdated to December 1, 2020, and will cover a period of 16 months.

It is in “recognition of an exceptional year of significant pressure for staff”, the Scottish Government said, and will be on top of the £500 thank-you payment for health and social care workers.

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The increase is estimated to impact around around 154,000 employees who are covered by the ‘Agenda for Change’ NHS pay and grading system.

It includes nurses, paramedics and allied health professionals, as well as domestic staff, porters and healthcare support staff plus other front line health workers.

Staff are expected to receive the payments, including the backdated uplift, in the summer.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she is “delighted” the government is able to recognise the service and dedication of healthcare workers.

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“I am delighted that unions representing a majority of NHS staff have voted to accept our offer of a pay rise of 4% on average,” said Sturgeon.

“We all rely on the hard work and dedication of NHS Scotland, and never more so than during this pandemic. This pay rise, the biggest pay uplift for NHS staff since devolution recognises the unwavering commitment of NHS Scotland staff.

“If the Department of Health sticks with the offer it has proposed, staff in Scotland will be considerably better off in 2021-22 than their counterparts in England.

“This has been an exceptionally challenging year for our health service and I am delighted that the Scottish Government has been able to recognise the service and dedication of our healthcare staff.

She added: “On behalf of us all, thank you for all you have done and for all you continue to do.”


MSPs elect new deputy presiding officers at Holyrood

Liberal Democrat Liam McArthur and the SNP's Annabelle Ewing were elected on Friday afternoon.

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Elected: Liberal Democrat Liam McArthur and the SNP's Annabelle Ewing.

Liberal Democrat Liam McArthur and the SNP’s Annabelle Ewing have been elected as deputy presiding officers at the Scottish Parliament.

Following several rounds of voting on Friday, MSPs elected Mr McArthur and Ms Ewing to the roles, succeeding Labour’s Lewis Macdonald and the SNP’s Linda Fabiani who did not seek re-election as MSPs.

They will assist Scottish Greens MSP Alison Johnstone who was elected as Holyrood’s presiding officer on Thursday.

Deputy presiding officers are able to act in place of the presiding officer such as chairing proceedings in the debating chamber.

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Unlike Ms Johnstone, who is required to renounce her party affiliation during her term, Mr McArthur and Ms Ewing will be able to continue to support their parties.

They will also still be able to take part in parliamentary business such as speaking in debates and voting – unless they are chairing proceedings.


COP26 president ‘planning for a physical summit’

Alok Sharma said that every possible Covid security measure is being explored.

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Alok Sharma confirmed plans for a physical meeting in Glasgow.

The president of the UN’s climate change conference has said that “every possible Covid security measure” will be explored as he confirmed plans for a physical meeting in Glasgow.

Alok Sharma said that testing, vaccines and other measures would be utilised in order to keep the COP26 summit free from the virus.

Mr Sharma, who was appointed as president of COP26 in February and was previously the UK business secretary, made the remarks in a speech delivered online on Friday.

Speaking at Whitelee wind farm outside of Glasgow, he said: “For me, it is vital that developing countries are able to sit at the same table, face-to-face, with the larger countries, the big emitters. I have always championed the need for a physical COP.

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“The desire for one is what I’ve been hearing loud and clear from governments and communities around the world.

“So we are planning for a physical summit, where ensuring the safety of delegates and the local community will be paramount.”

Mr Sharma continued: “Along with our colleagues in the Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council, Public Health bodies and the UN, we are exploring every possible Covid security measure.

“And that includes testing, vaccines and other measures to keep COP26 Covid free.

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“In due course, we will share our plans so that delegates coming to Glasgow, and indeed the whole of the British public, have confidence in COP26 going ahead safely.”

In his speech, Mr Sharma pledged that talks at the summit in November must consign coal power to history, and said that keeping to 1.5C of warming is critical.

Scottish Greens MSP Mark Ruskell said that Mr Sharma should “get the UK Government’s house in order before lecturing others”.

He continued: “Coal is already in rapid decline and very low hanging fruit when it comes to climate policy – it drove down emissions in Scotland a decade ago, but we need to be looking beyond that now.”

Mr Ruskell added: “If you want to pick the planet, you need to pick where you invest public funds, and Alok Sharma’s government is not investing in the alternatives.

“Without putting his money where his mouth his, today’s speech is nothing more than hot air.”


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