How the sector is responding to the pandemic #NeverMoreNeeded
Human rights concerns
Scottish civil society groups have expressed concern about potential serious human rights breaches during the coronavirus crisis.
Thirty organisations have written to MSPs to highlight a raft of 34 urgent questions that they are looking for answers to. From reductions in government transparency, to unnecessary risk to the right to food; from reducing people’s say about their own lives, to teenagers being at increased risk of criminalisation – the groups are calling for more to be done to protect human rights during this crisis.
The submission to the Equalities and Human Rights Committee, coordinated by the Human Rights Consortium Scotland says that from now on, the government must carry out and publish human rights analysis of all of its coronavirus decision-making. This analysis must not be an afterthought or a tick-box but should be there right at the beginning of law and policy-making. It must measure decisions against international and domestic human rights law obligations. And it must be open for all to see.
Mhairi Snowden, Coordinator of the Human Rights Consortium Scotland said: “The human rights law and standards that Scotland is signed up to are exactly for times such as these – they are there to make sure that all of us have the basics and the freedoms that we need in order to live.”
Cycle lane fears
Sight loss charity RNIB Scotland is urging local authorities to ensure that new plans to create temporary cycle-lanes do not endanger blind and partially sighted people.
Last month, transport secretary Michael Matheson invited Scottish local authorities to take advantage of reduced traffic levels to introduce additional cycle-lanes or expand existing ones.
Matheson also urged councils to engage with disability organisations so plans do not "compromise the ability of people who have impaired mobility to cross roads and to use pedestrian crossing facilities".
While welcoming the 'Spaces for People' initiative, RNIB Scotland fears this could still exacerbate problems it has been campaigning on for years if too hastily introduced. "New cycle lanes must be created with full regard to pedestrians with sight loss or other mobility issues," insisted director James Adams.
"The problem is that blind and partially sighted people might not be able to see or hear cyclists approaching, while cyclists might simply assume a pedestrian will see them coming. Mobility aids such as white canes getting caught up in bicycle wheels is a further hazard to both.”
The charity is calling for any extra space for cycle-lanes to be allocated from roads and not pavements, for raised kerbs to be maintained, and for warning signs to alert cyclists when they are approaching a crossing.
The charity is promoting its Coronavirus Courtesy Code to encourage better understanding of the needs of pedestrians with disabilities.
Virtual Glee challenge launched
Primary school children across Scotland are being invited to join an initiative by a Fife-based charity The Frisson Foundation is aiming to create a country-wide virtual Glee choir and raise funds for Children 1st. More than 700 children have already joined the choir, which has been set up to motivate, engage and support children’s health, confidence and well-being during the coronavirus crisis.
Children will have a chance to learn through workshops and challenges before recording two songs and their own dance performances, which will be cut together to create a virtual recording of the choir’s performance. The virtual Glee Challenge is the imaginative idea of Bill Breckenridge, co-founder of the Frisson Foundation, which has been running an annual Scottish Primary School Glee Challenge to develop children’s skills and confidence and widen their opportunities since 2013.
He said: “We are delighted that over 700 children, at home and in hub schools, from the Borders to the Isle of Lewis have already joined this very special challenge. Music and song have an incredible power to enhance your health and wellbeing, so when we had to cancel this year’s live challenge because of coronavirus, a virtual choir seemed like a fantastic way to keep children entertained and motivated through lockdown.
“We took inspiration from Italy, where over 700 children joined together to sing Nessun Dorma last month and we’re hoping to beat their numbers.”
The virtual Glee challenge is open to all children of primary school age, with the approval of their parent or carer. Parents and carers can join their child up through the registration site.
Donate meals to vulnerable people
itison is launching a fundraiser for Social Bite tomorrow (Wednesday 13 May at 9am) to help those hard-hit by the Covid-19 crisis. The online experiences site is asking big hearted Scots to donate £5 to buy a food pack for the most vulnerable people across the country right now including the homeless; families relying on school meals and the elderly.
Thousands of individuals and families have fallen through the gaps of support and are struggling; homeless people who need food; families reliant on school meals and people on low incomes who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. itison’s £5 fundraiser will help Social Bite get food packs to as many people as possible hard-hit by lockdown.
Oli Norman, chief executive of itison, said: “We’ve been partnering with Social Bite since 2014 and every year we’re blown away by the generosity of our members. Tomorrow, we’re asking for your help again, to help those hardest-hit by this crisis. It’s never been more important that we look out for each other - by donating £5, you’ll be putting food on people’s tables at a time when they truly need our help.”
To donate £5 to buy a meal for a vulnerable person in Scotland visit the itison website tomorrow from 9am.