Coronavirus news from across the sector #NeverMoreNeeded
Job fears at aid charity
Development charity Plan International UK has put 28 roles at risk because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The charity, which employs 219 peoples, said it had to make savings due to the “damaging impact” of the coronavirus outbreak on the economy. It was keen to stress that many of the at-risk roles were already vacant, so expected that the total number of people who would be made redundant would be significantly lower. According to its last annual report, Plan International UK's income was £61m in 2019, down 9% on the previous year. In a statement, the charity said: “We are extremely saddened to be in the regrettable position of having to initiate a cost-reduction programme, which will involve a small number of staff redundancies. Though the effects of Covid-19 are still unfolding, we are already seeing the damaging impact on the economy. Faced with such uncertainty, we must take steps now to reduce our costs whilst ensuring we can continue to deliver our vital work for children, especially girls, all over the world.” The charity said the decision had been taken after an extensive consultation period with all staff on the proposals, and it was still in the process of finalising the plans.
Call for free school meals for all primary kids
A Glasgow councillor has called on the Scottish Government to extend free school meals to all primary school pupils, a call backed by charities. Councillor Paul Carey has pleaded with Holyrood to provide funding to local authorities across the country to ensure every student will receive a free lunch. The Labour politician insists families faced with financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic will slip through the net as they're above the earning cap to receive benefits. Cllr Carey said: “Given the fact that we are in the midst of a pandemic and many people have lost their jobs or seen their incomes greatly reduced, I'm calling on the Scottish Government to fund local authorities so we can extend free school meals to every child in primary school with the aspiration to extend it to the secondary schools in the future. “We have a great deal of people that are on the breadline in this country - these are the people that we need to get to. They may be just a couple of pounds above the threshold, therefore, do not qualify for help for free school meals." Currently, all pupils in primary one, two and three are entitled to a eat at the school's dining hall for free - regardless of their parents income. While children in primary four and above only qualify for the meals if their parent or guardian is in receipt of certain benefits. However, Cllr Carey fears hundreds of working families could be left to struggle if changes aren't made. He added: “In order to help these people, we need to introduce free school meals for the primary schools as a matter of urgency and this government must fund it.”
Campaign launches to save city’s leisure services
Scottish Greens are calling on the Scottish government to hand over a bailout to Glasgow Life, the council-run leisure services charity, to ensure the opening of all libraries and leisure centres in the city. With no clear reopening date mooted for three South Side local libraries, fears have grown that the community hubs may permanently close. While Glasgow Life has not given a clear timeline to the question of the future of Govanhill, Langside and Pollokshields libraries, an SNP council insider said there are no plans to close them. Patrick Harvie MSP said: “Libraries are a lifeline for communities and will be even more so in the months ahead, when many people will need them to get online to look for jobs, access learning, or just have a place to get away from it all. “Glasgow Life’s financial losses are so great that they will need urgent government help if they’re to safeguard services for the public and avoid damaging job losses. That’s why I’m calling for an urgent bailout so these essential services can reopen as soon as possible.” A petition set up by Govanhill resident Alishia Farnan calling for the future of the three venues to be secured has gained more than 6000 signatures in a matter of days. Now the Greens have set up a campaign asking residents to contact their MSPs to ask for cash for Glasgow Life to plug a £38 million gap in funding caused by the pandemic.
Empty home lets increase
The number of empty homes let by social landlords increased by more than 76% in July when compared to the previous month, new data from the Scottish Housing Regulator has revealed. July’s monthly dashboard report showed that lets to people who are homeless increased by around 28%, and when added to empty homes put to use as temporary accommodation account for about 47% of total lets. The number of people applying as homeless and the number of people in temporary accommodation both increased. The report is designed to help the Scottish Government and social landlords to understand the continuing impact of coronavirus and to support the work of the Social Housing Resilience Group. Since April, all social landlords have been providing the Regulator with a monthly return on a small set of key measures that focus on the main areas of impact on landlords’ operations. Landlords are due to submit the next monthly return for August on September 7.
Rugby players cycle West Highland Way
With virtually no cycling experience between the four of them, a quartet of Scotland rugby stars biked the 234 miles of the Caledonian Way for charity at the weekend. Ruaridh Jackson, who earned 33 caps between 2010 and 2018; Richie Vernon, the first man to go to World Cups for Scotland as a forward then as a back; Ryan Grant, the former Scotland prop and 2009 Lions tourist and Andrew Easson, the former Edinburgh and Scotland Sevens player, were hoping to raise £5,000 in aid of Doddie Weir’s My Name’5 Doddie Foundation and Unite Against Cancer. At the weekend the four intrepid cyclists passed through Fort William on their way to Fort Augustus as part of the ride from Campbeltown to Inverness that by Monday had already raised more than £7,000. Vernon, who retired at the end of the current 2018/19 season after a 13-year career that saw him play for Glasgow Warriors, Sale Sharks and London Scottish, as well as earn 24 caps for Scotland, told the Lochaber Times the cycle had gone well so far.”We have been really cracking on and making good time. This is a bit different from our usual training and activity, so our legs are getting quite sore and it can be a bit hard going tackling the inclines,” he said.