New fund will strengthen access to out of school and holiday childcare for low-income families

The Access to Childcare Fund will provide grants to test models of delivering accessible and affordable school age childcare for low income families, allowing parents to reduce childcare costs, work more flexibly and increase their incomes.
The Fund is funded by the Scottish Government and managed by the national charity Children in Scotland.

  • The fund launched on 6 July and applications will be open for 3 weeks, closing on at 17:00 27 July.
  • Applications can be made electronically via Children in Scotland’s website.

Carer grants – a helping hand in hard times

From Jess Wade, Chief Executive, Carers of East Lothian

Grants for unpaid carers looking after loved ones in East Lothian

Carers of East Lothian (CoEL) has been supporting carers throughout the coronavirus outbreak with small grants to make a big difference to their families’ experience of the lockdown. This started with £5000 seed funding from the East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership (ELHSCP) to provide parents of children with additional support needs with grants of up to £100 for toys, games or other equipment to reduce pressure on the family. This money has helped over 50 families on low incomes, including 76 adult carers and 46 young carers, to find a bit of respite when the restrictions were at their height in April and May. 

Parent carers have used the money to purchase everything from basketball hoops to second-hand bikes, swingball sets to strawberry planters, tents to trampolines to keep their children engaged and entertained during a stressful period for everyone in the family. This has had a significant impact on their families’ daily lives.       

One carer reported:

“Phew, it’s helped me feel like I can breathe. I’m working from home so I can’t sort out irritations they [the children] have with each other when I’m in a meeting. Setting them some tasks to build something with the Lego has been really helpful. I have been stressed – who hasn’t? – but I feel we have options that we didn’t have before the grant.” 

Another carer noted:

“It’s been a relief! We are a family of five with only one salary”. This family were able to purchase a new phone for their son when his device was broken. Mum explained that her son was overjoyed with the unexpected gift: “He’s done loads of TikTok clips and has taken lots of photos. As he is deaf and non-verbal, photos are really important to him.” 

A third carer commented on the difference the grant has made to her emotional wellbeing:

“My child is happier – so I am happier! I have been able to purchase some craft projects that my child is really enjoying without having to do any time consuming preparation work myself, which would be hard to achieve when the children are awake.” 

The grant scheme has been particularly helpful for parents whose children do not have immediate access to outdoor space. One family used the money to buy an indoor swing and pull up bar. As they do not have a garden, this equipment gave their son an opportunity for much needed sensory movement to manage his behaviour. Mum said “It means he is less dysregulated and calmer, which makes my life easier.” 

Following the success of the parent carer grants, CoEL has secured funding from the Scottish Government Wellbeing Fund to offer micro-grants of up to £100 to carers looking after loved ones of all ages until 31st July 2020. This rapid response grant programme is designed to help carers, particularly those on low incomes, cope during the coronavirus outbreak. Carers can use the grant to cover some of the additional costs they are currently facing or to take part in activities to promote their wellbeing. 

CoEL is also continuing to administer Breaks from Caring grants, with funding from the Shared Care Scotland and the Scottish Government, to help carers on low incomes to take some time out from their caring role. Grants of up to £250 are available to carers, including parent carers until 31st July 2020, to organise breaks at home or away, as lockdown restrictions allow. Examples of breaks at home include purchasing an entertainment subscription, an online training course or garden furniture or exercise equipment to help carers focus on their own wants and needs for a short while.

For further information about any of the grants above, or to request application forms, please contact CoEL on 0131 665 0135 or via

In addition, CoEL is offering benefit checks to help carers maximise their income. Please contact CoEL on 0131 665 0135 to arrange a telephone appointment with our welfare rights worker.  

Jess Wade  
Carers of East Lothian                      
0131 665 0134 (centre)
0131 653 1056 (direct line)
07810 541 634

Meet our CWIC East Lothian Mental Health Line team

Over the next week, we are going to meet the people behind the CWIC East Lothian Mental Health Line Team. Today, meet Fiona Graham.

‘I’ve worked as a Mental Health Occupational Therapist for a long time now, which has been such a rewarding role to be in.  What has always mattered to me is being able to use my skills and experience to support people through times of mental distress.

‘I feel it is so important to be able to access specialist support quickly and at a time when it’s needed.

‘This is one of the reasons why I love being part of CWIC Mental Health because you can get an appointment usually on the same day.’

Fiona Graham, Mental Health OT, CWIC East Lothian Mental Health Line

Trading Standards Scotland Scam Share bulletin July 2020

From Trading Standards Scotland

In this edition of Scam Share we’ll look at some of the most recent scams which have been reported by consumers across Scotland, including those related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Since the National Cyber Security Centre launched their Suspicious Email Reporting Service two months ago, they have received one million reports from the public about scam emails. This has led to the removal of over 10,000 malicious URLs, over half of which were linked to cryptocurrency scams. If you receive a suspicious email, forward it to

It’s more important than ever to make sure that you stay Scam Aware and that you share information about scams with vulnerable relatives or friends. If you are worried about a vulnerable individual who is at risk from phone scams, visit our website to apply for a free call blocker.
Follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram for information about the latest scams reported by Scottish consumers.

Stay safe while online at home and report all scams to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000. Report scam emails to the National Cyber Security Centre.

Read full bulletin here.

Say good-bye to the Outlook autocomplete facility on council desktops and laptops

From East Lothian Council’s Email Alert

Due to a recent change in policy by the Council and to ensure the safety and security of Council data, IT have been asked to disable the Autocomplete facility within Outlook. This means addresses in the To, Cc & Bcc fields will no longer be completed automatically and previous addresses will no longer be remembered. You will need to type in the person’s address, look it up from the Global Address List or your own contacts list.

We suggest that for people external to East Lothian you create a contact within Outlook, so you can easily send emails without needing to remember their address.

Spell checking is not affected by this change, it is only for email addresses within the To, Cc & Bcc fields.

If you have any issues setting up contacts within Outlook, please email the IT Service Desk

Covid-19 Mental Welfare Commission Advice Note (updated 3 July)

The Mental Welfare Commission is being contacted for advice on mental health care and treatment related to this pandemic.

In light of this we have produced this updated advice note (version 11) for practitioners who are using the Mental Health Act and Adults with Incapacity Act when caring for patients.

Please read this Advice Note and share it with colleagues who may find it helpful. Please also note that it will likely be updated frequently as the situation develops. We will issue updates, but please also check our website for the latest version.

We hope you find this helpful and ask that you email us at if you have any questions or comments.

You can find the Advice Note here.

With our staff now all working from home, please also see here for details of contacting the Commission at this time.

The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland
Thistle House
91 Haymarket Terrace
Edinburgh EH12 5HE

Changes to bookings of East Lothian Council meeting rooms

From Eileen Morrison, Service Manager – Customer Services 

Due to the need to restrict numbers of staff using any of the buildings which are open, the meeting rooms in the following buildings can only be booked as follows:

Meeting rooms for staff meetings or training and interviews should only be used where there is no other option. Social distancing must be followed and the person taking the meeting must ensure strict hygiene arrangements are followed before and after the meeting. 

If you are seeing a member of the public, then you need to use a designated room with a screen in these buildings.

Thank you


Eileen Morrison

Service Manager – Customer Services 
Communities and Partnerships Division
East Lothian Council
Library and Museum HQ
Dunbar Road 
East Lothian
EH41 3PL
Tel. No. 01620 827211
Mobile No. 07771 943663

John Gray Centre Film Appreciation Club

From East Lothian Council’s Inform magazine

As part of the Scotland wide Virtual Cinema initiative, the John Gray Centre Film Appreciation Club has been holding informal video chats on selected films. During the Lockdown, our online meetings have been occurring bi-weekly, on Thursday evenings between 6.30-7.30 pm. Thus far, we have discussed selected films accessible via Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and All4 (Channel 4) player. So, if you love films and are looking for something different to do, then why not join our vibrant virtual film chat. 

Our next session will be Thursday 2 July at 6.30pm. We will be discussing a subtle and intelligent film entitled Leave No Trace (2018) available for viewing on Netflix. The film is directed by Debra Granik who also made Winter’s Bone (2010) which launched American actress Jennifer Lawrence to fame.

Find out more here.

Near Me Video Consultations Public Engagement | 29th June to 24th July 2020

From Maimie Thompson, Near Me Communications Manager

The use of video consultations in Scotland has rapidly escalated since the Covid-19 pandemic started. Prior to March, there were around 300 video appointments using the Near Me system, by June, there were almost 17,000 every week, with around 150,000 in total.

Building on this and looking to the future the Scottish Government has produced a vision that all health and care consultations in Scotland are provided by Near Me whenever it is appropriate.

To raise awareness about the vision a major engagement exercise will take place across Scotland. The purpose is to find out what people think about having their appointments by Near Me and how it might be improved for the future. We already know quite a lot about the experiences of people who have used Near Me – from the popup survey at the end of a video appointment – but we are less certain as to the range of reasons as to why people have not used Near Me.

Now the Scottish Government team behind Near Me has launched a major engagement exercise and public survey to find out what people think about the service and how it might be improved for the future.  Alongside this contact is being  made with a wide range of stakeholders including third sector, health and social care charities, patient and carer organisations, health boards, local authorities, health and social care partnerships, public sector organisations, professional bodies and staff who provide the service.

Call for Views

Please make your views known by taking part in the public survey:

The survey will run from Monday 29th June to Friday 24th July 2020

Maimie Thompson
Near Me Communications Manager
Phone:  07522 516043