City MP welcomes progress on safe injecting facility

Alison Thewliss MP sitting at her desk in Parliament

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, has today welcomed progress on the introduction of a Safe Injecting Facility (SIF) in Glasgow.

The decision to approve a site and commence planning applications for the supervised injecting facility was taken today at a meeting of the Glasgow City Integration Joint Board. It follows several months of consideration, research and scrutiny of the proposal for an SIF by the Alcohol and Drug Partnership, which received approval in principle by the Integration Joint Board in October 2016.

Today’s approval of the plan means that leasing of a site for the SIF will now go ahead, alongside a range of measures to engage local residents and businesses regarding the implications of the SIF and obtain the planning permission required for the facility.

Speaking after today’s decision, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“The issues of drug injecting and needles being discarded in Glasgow are not going to go away, without serious steps being taken to address them. These issues have been raised with me regularly in the 10 years I’ve represented Glasgow, both as a councillor and now as an MP; with the recent increase in drug deaths and infections I support action to tackle this difficult and sensitive issue head-on. The status quo leaves people injecting in dirty back lanes, on waste ground and in closes, which is unsafe for everyone.

“It is evident from research and the experiences of other countries that have opened such facilities that safe injecting facilities save lives, take drug injecting off the streets and reduce the amount of needles being discarded. These facilities often open up vital conversations between drug users and support services, which is the all-important first step in promoting recovery from drug addiction. It’s for these reasons that I believe that a safe injecting facility is the best option to reduce deaths from overdose and reduce the risk of harm to the public from needles being left in closes and lanes.

“I welcome the progress that has been made today by the Integration Joint Board to take the action needed to reduce harm to both drug users and the general public. I hope that the SIF will make a significant contribution towards improving the health of the drug-injecting population and reducing the amount of drug-related litter on Glasgow’s streets.”

Alison Thewliss MP supports campaign to revolutionise Parkinson’s research

This Parkinson’s Awareness Week Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central, has pledged their support to the charity Parkinson’s UK’s We Won’t Wait campaign, calling for urgent action to unlock the promise of research developments that could pave the way to better treatments and stop Parkinson’s drugs ‘falling behind’.

Alison Thewliss MP said;

“While great strides have been made over the past 200 years, people with Parkinson’s are still waiting for a treatment that can tackle the condition head on.

“Because of this, I am supporting Parkinson’s UK’s We Won’t Wait campaign: we need a complete step change to deliver better treatments and a cure faster.”

Research released by the charity revealed that despite being an incurable, degenerative condition which can affect anyone, in Scotland:

• Almost half (48%) of people are unsure, or wrongly say that it is possible to prevent Parkinson’s.
• Four in five (83%) are unsure, or incorrectly think that there is no limit to the amount of time Parkinson’s medication works for.
• Two in three (65%) wrongly believe that Parkinson’s medication does more than mask or ease the symptoms of the condition.

Parkinson’s UK wants to drive forward crucial developments in Parkinson’s research and to pioneer more effective treatments that are desperately needed for the 11,000 people in Scotland currently living with the condition.

Commenting on Alison Thewliss MP’s pledge, Katherine Crawford, Scotland Director at Parkinson’s UK said;

“We are delighted that Alison Thewliss MP is supporting our crucial campaign to transform Parkinson’s research. People with Parkinson’s across Scotland are telling us that they need access to new and better treatments to improve their lives, and ultimately a cure for this cruel condition.”

SNP politicians welcome rejection of city centre student accommodation proposal

Angus Millar, SNP Councillor for Anderston/City ward and Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central, have today welcomed the decision by Glasgow City Councillors to reject a student accommodation development in Glasgow city centre.

Ms Thewliss and Cllr Millar, along with many other local residents and organisations, objected to the proposals to build a large student accommodation complex directly in front of Glasgow School of Art’s iconic Mackintosh building. A decision on the application was originally deferred on 7th March to allow a further hearing to take place and enable residents to voice further concerns about the proposed development.

Following the hearing this morning, councillors decided to reject the application entirely.

Commenting on the committee’s decision, Cllr Angus Millar said:

“I am delighted that this application has been refused, having attended the hearing this morning to argue against these proposals, which were overwhelmingly opposed by the community.

“The Mackintosh Building is a unique part of Glasgow’s cultural heritage and any development on this site must respect and enhance the character of the area – unlike these deeply damaging plans to throw up yet more private student accommodation.

“Communities in the city centre are all too clear that their areas are saturated with unwanted private student housing, instead of the kind of positive development and mixed communities we should be creating.

“I am so pleased to congratulate the Garnethill community, the Art School and all of the others opposed to these damaging plans for their brilliant success in persuading the council to refuse planning permission.

Commenting on the application, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“Like many others, I was pleased to learn today that yet another monolithic student development, which would dwarf an iconic part of Glasgow’s skyline, has been refused planning permission.

“The decision to reject this application is very much welcome. I am delighted that councillors have taken on board the views of residents at today’s hearing, which further exposed the folly of these plans and highlighted the significant misgivings the local community have about this wholly inappropriate development.

“Whilst today’s decision is excellent news for many residents, it’s clear that significant concerns remain about the saturation of student accommodation in the city centre. Currently there is no means of establishing the need for this type of accommodation, this must be addressed urgently through a comprehensive housing strategy.

“The SNP understands that Glasgow needs a mixed approach to housing; voting for SNP councillors on 4th May will deliver the high quality housing Glasgow needs for future generations to come.”

Alison Thewliss MP supports Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central is supporting Bowel Cancer UK’s campaign to urge more people to take part in bowel cancer screening and save lives, as part of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month in April.

More than 1,500 people die from bowel cancer in Scotland every year, it’s the country’s second biggest cancer killer.  However, it shouldn’t be. It’s treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early. Bowel cancer screening can save lives but at the moment in some areas of the country only half of those who receive a test complete it. Thousands of people are missing out on the chance to detect bowel cancer early when it is easier to treat.

Alison Thewliss MP said, “I am committed to improving uptake rates for bowel cancer screening, both locally and nationally. Glasgow has one of the lowest uptakes of screening for bowel cancer and I would urge my constituents who are sent a bowel screening test to use it.  Taking part in bowel cancer screening is the best way to get diagnosed early.  If you are over 50, take the test when you receive it in the post. If you are younger, tell the people over 50 in your life to take the test. Early diagnosis really can save lives.”

Deborah Alsina, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said, “I’d like to thank Alison Thewliss MP for supporting our campaign during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month to raise participation levels for bowel cancer screening. In Scotland, one in 15 men and one in 19 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime but it is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early.”

The Scotland Bowel Cancer Screening Programme can detect bowel cancer at an early stage in people with no symptoms when it is easier to treat. If you’re registered with a GP and aged 50-74, you will receive a test in the post every two years. You carry out the simple test at home in private and it comes with step by step instructions. The test looks for hidden blood in your poo, which could be an early sign of bowel cancer.

Alison Thewliss MP supports Be Cervix Savvy roadshow in Glasgow

Glasgow Central MP Alison Thewliss is supporting Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust’s first ever cervical cancer prevention Roadshow. The Be Cervix Savvy Roadshow is in Glasgow from 20 – 31st March and aims to raise much needed awareness about cervical cancer and how to prevent it.

Commenting on the roadshow, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“Cervical screening provides the best protection against cervical cancer yet the number of women attending this potentially life-saving test in Scotland is at a 10 year low and Glasgow has the lowest attendance rate across Scotland. This needs to change. I am proud to support Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust in their efforts to raise awareness of cervical cancer and how it can be prevented. It is vital more women understand the signs of cervical cancer and how the HPV vaccination and cervical screening can reduce risk of the disease.”

Robert Music, Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said:

“We are delighted that Alison Thewliss is supporting our Roadshow. Cervical cancer is largely preventable, yet every year over 3,000 women are given a life-changing cervical diagnosis, and every day two women lose their lives to the disease. Through our Roadshow we hope to reach hundreds of women across Glasgow, providing vital and potentially life-saving information about how they can reduce their risk of the disease and where they can access support. I want to encourage anyone with worries or questions to come and have a chat with our trained team.”

The Be Cervix Savvy Roadshow will visit 11 cities over a 14 week period across the UK. The Roadshow will visit four locations in Glasgow, George Square (20-21 March), Buchanan Street (23-24 March), Shandwick Square (27-28 March) and Forge Market (30-31 March), and the charity hopes to engage with over 800 women in the city.

MP makes Earth Hour pledge for climate change

Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central, has signed up to support WWF’s tenth Earth Hour by making a special pledge to help protect the planet. The world is changing – fast – and it’s never been more important to show support for action on climate change. Ms Thewliss is one of many who joined WWF in Westminster at their reception this week to show they care about the future of our planet, ahead of the global lights out event, taking place on Saturday 25 March at 8:30pm. Earth Hour Heroes is supported by the players of the Peoples’ Postcode Lottery who joined the event.

MPs from all political parties are celebrating Earth Hour, sending a united message that this is a pivotal time for our planet and more needs to be done to tackle climate change and build a sustainable future.

Commenting on the pledge, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“I am delighted to support WWF’s Earth Hour this year to demonstrate how important it is that we take climate change seriously. The SNP-led Scottish Government have already exceeded the level of their world-leading 2020 target for a 42% reduction six years early. I will continue to urge the UK Government to follow the excellent example set by the Scottish Government on reducing emissions and tackling climate change.”

Each year, millions of people around the world come together to call for action to protect our brilliant planet. Last year a record 178 countries took part and iconic landmarks across the UK switched out their lights, from Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, to Brighton Pier, Edinburgh Castle and Caerphilly Castle. This year is set to be the biggest yet as it’s the 10 year anniversary of Earth Hour. With 2016 breaking temperature records for the third consecutive year, it’s never been more important to tackle climate change.

Naomi Hicks, Head of WWF UK’s Earth Hour, said:

“We are at a real crossroads when it comes to our planet’s future. We all need to act and do what we can to protect our planet from the impacts of climate change. That’s why it’s great that MPs are giving their support to this year’s campaign and we hope they will inspire many others in their constituencies and communities to sign up and get involved on 25th March.

Rape clause emergency debate application turned down

Alison Thewliss MP joins supporters at the launch of her campaign to scrap the rape clause

SNP MP, Alison Thewliss, has expressed her frustration at the decision of the Speaker of the House of Commons to reject her application for an emergency debate on the UK Government’s proposed rape clause, due to come into force on Thursday 6th April 2017.

Speaking from Westminster after invoking Standing Order 24 and calling for an emergency debate – which was rejected – Ms Thewliss said she would not give up the fight to protect vulnerable women and families. Tory Ministers last week quietly used a negative statutory instrument to try and railroad the rape clause onto the statute books without a parliamentary debate or vote.

The Government has stated that it will expect nurses, doctors and social workers to act as third party arbitrators. This means that public service workers will have to judge whether or not a child has been conceived as a result of rape, simply in order for a woman to be exempt from the two child policy. Recent parliamentary answers given to Alison Thewliss MP suggest that the over 660,000 nurses, doctors and social workers in the UK have not been given adequate sexual violence awareness training to exercise the exemption.

Commenting after Mr Speaker rejected her application, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“For 18 months, I’ve pursued this Tory Government relentlessly on its plan to introduce a pernicious two child policy and medieval rape clause. Today’s decision not to allow the emergency debate is incredibly frustrating, but I won’t just give up.

“In determining that my application did not merit an emergency debate, the Speaker noted that I had tabled an arcane motion of prayer to annul the law – indeed, at the advice of Commons clerks. What the Speaker did not say was that the last time such a motion of prayer worked was in 1979. This is just one example of the many ways in which the procedures of the House of Commons are so arcane, irrelevant and medieval that it fails the people we, as MPs, seek to represent.

“The clock is ticking; the rape clause is due to come into force in the next couple of weeks but I’ll keep on working to make this Government think again.”

Alison Thewliss MP meets local engineer at STEM for BRITAIN event

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, met local engineer Layla Mir Bruce at STEM for BRITAIN, a poster competition in the House of Commons involving over 200 early stage or early career researchers, organised by the Parliamentary & Scientific Committee.

Layla Mir Bruce from the University of Strathclyde was shortlisted from hundreds of applicants to appear in Parliament and her poster about using ultrasound to remove impurities from paracetamol was judged by professional and academic experts against dozens of other scientists’ research, in the only national competition of its kind.

Commenting on the event, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“These early career engineers, mathematicians and scientists are the architects of our future and STEM for BRITAIN is a great opportunity to meet them and learn about their work. My constituency is home to 3 universities, all producing world-class scientific, technological, mathematical and engineering research, and their work is vitally important for building the industries that will sustain our economy for many years to come.

“I enjoyed meeting Layla Mir Bruce today and found her work on purifying paracetamol fascinating. I wish her every success in the future.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP, Chair of the Parliamentary & Scientific Committee and Science & Technology Committee said:

“Today’s event is a two-way process designed to strengthen the dialogue between Parliament and the science and engineering community. Many colleagues in the House of Commons will meet researchers who live and work in their constituencies and will forge links and cultivate their contact in the future.

“I hope they will be invited to visit laboratories or companies to see research at first hand. I also hope that researchers can increase their awareness of how Parliament deals with science and STEM issues and learn about the political process. Perhaps in future years some will return as Members of Parliament themselves. Both Parliament and Government benefit from having scientific expertise within their ranks.”

MP visits Freedom From Torture project

Glasgow Central MP, Alison Thewliss, spent Thursday morning visiting Freedom from Torture, a charity which is based in the Gorbals area of her constituency.

As a leading charity providing support to refugees and asylum seekers, Freedom from Torture provides expert medical assessments to support survivors’ asylum claims as well as specialist psychotherapy support. They also facilitate more informal groups on gardening, music, creative writing and cookery.

Ms Thewliss had a chance to meet with some of the refugees who use the service and hear their experiences of interacting with the Home Office.

Speaking after her visit to the Adelphi Centre, where the project is based, Ms Thewliss said:

“I was really grateful for the opportunity to visit Freedom from Torture this morning. The work they do to support some of the most vulnerable asylum seekers in our country is heart-warming and ensures refugees get the love and support they need after such awful ordeals.

“The opportunity to listen to the experiences and testimony of the refugees was incredibly moving – particularly regarding some of the ill-treatment at the hands of the UK Home Office. I cannot help but conclude that traumatic situations are exacerbated by an uncaring and cold hearted Home Office, which is clearly ill equipped to deal with survivors of torture. It is so important that survivors of torture have their cases heard properly, particularly when Freedom from Torture have provided expert medico-legal evidence to support their claim. I’ll certainly be taking this up with the Home Office to ensure survivors of torture are treated with more respect, sensitivity and dignity.”

MP Backs Registration to Resuscitation Campaign

Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central, showed their support for the Scottish Ambulance Service’s Registration to Resuscitation campaign today. The Service is appealing to communities to register potentially life-saving public access defibrillators on its dedicated website.

Commenting on the campaign, Alison Thewliss MP said,

“Public access defibrillators can be found all over Scotland and are vital pieces of equipment in the crucial early minutes following a cardiac arrest before an ambulance arrives.

“There is currently no legal obligation to register defibrillators, which is why the Scottish Ambulance Service is asking people in Glasgow to ensure they know where these are, so when someone calls 999 they will know where the nearest defibrillator is if it is required.

“I am encouraging leisure facilities, schools, libraries, community centres and other public places with defibrillators in my constituency to register their devices on the Scottish Ambulance Service’s website.

“Everyone else in Glasgow can get involved too by asking whenever they see a defibrillator if it has been registered.”

Launching its Registration to Resuscitation campaign, the Service’s national resilience manager, Murray McEwan, said:

“We are grateful to have Alison Thewliss MP behind our Registration to Resuscitation campaign as we know she works closely with community groups, projects and other organisations in Glasgow.

“When someone experiences a cardiac arrest they are unconscious and not breathing, or not breathing normally, and their life is in immediate danger, which is why these defibrillators are so important.

“If we know where defibrillators are in every community, our call handlers may then be able to direct bystanders to a defibrillator in the event of somebody experiencing a cardiac arrest and talk them through action to take.

“This is a campaign which will help save more lives and everyone can really get behind. We need the custodians who look after these defibrillators to register them on our website.

“We are also working with the manufacturers as well as our partners, community leaders and community first responder groups to register as many of these defibrillators as possible.”