“Today the Scottish Government published Scotland’s route map out of COVID. As President of COSLA I welcome its publication, the clarity it provides and sense of direction it gives to all of us, as we all work individually and collectively to move through and beyond this crisis.
“Local Government in Scotland will continue to work closely with our partners in Scottish Government and across communities as we progress as appropriate through the phases.
“I also note the heroic role that Local Government has already played throughout this Pandemic – from the initial mobilisation through to continuing to deliver essential services to our Communities.
“I would like to thank Local Government staff for their incredible efforts and continued support. The jobs that Local Government workers do have made such a difference to communities all across Scotland.
“Thanks also to those within our Communities who have listened to the advice and have stayed at home and helped save lives.”COSLA President Councillor Alison Evison
Safe return planned through mix of school and home learning
Pupils will return to schools in August subject to scientific advice that it is safe to do so, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has confirmed.
Schools will return on 11 August, one week earlier than planned for most pupils, while Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) settings will open over the summer.
An agreement reached between councils, professional associations and parent representatives means:
- schools will implement physical distancing measures, such as providing seating that is two metres apart and staggering arrival, departure and break times
- increased hand-washing or use of hand sanitisers, enhanced cleaning, robust protocols for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases and ongoing risk assessments will be implemented
- class sizes will be significantly reduced as a result of the new way of working, with most pupils spending around half their time in class and half learning at home. Time in school will increase further as soon as it is safe to do so
- teachers and other education staff will return in June – subject to appropriate safety assessments being completed – to prepare and plan for the new way of working and welcoming pupils back
- existing ‘hubs’ will continue to run to provide vulnerable children and those of key workers with childcare over the summer
- the school estate will be expanded where necessary and possible by using libraries, community halls, leisure centres, conference venues or taking short-term leases of vacant business accommodation to increase the time children can spend with their teachers
- innovative use will be made of existing teachers and staff and, where necessary, consider the role former teachers can play either by returning to the classroom or teaching virtually to support in-home learning
To maximise the time pupils can have in the classroom and support children in the new model of schooling, including digital home learning, the Scottish Government is investing £9 million for 25,000 laptops or tablets – with internet access provided – for disadvantaged children as part of the first phase of provision to support their learning outside school. Working with local authorities, a second phase of investment will see further funding to support digital inclusion.
Education Scotland will also deliver new national digital learning resources to support schools’ own arrangements for children and young people.
Mr Swinney said:
“In reopening Scotland’s schools, our overriding priority is ensuring the health and wellbeing of our pupils and staff and giving parents the confidence schools are safe.
“Subject to public health guidance, teachers and other school staff will be able to return in June to prepare for a new model of learning from August. Comprehensive health and safety guidance will be in place prior to staff returning to school.
“This is not, however, a return to schooling as we knew it – schools are not returning to normal at this stage.
“To keep our pupils and staff safe we will implement physical distancing, staggered arrival and departure times, staggered break times, increased hand hygiene, enhanced cleaning regimes and a range of other measures
“That means a new model of teaching, learning and support will have to be delivered. Precise details will vary from school to school but for the vast majority, classes are going to be much smaller to allow physical distancing and, as a result, children are likely to spend about half their time learning at home.
“To maximise time in the classroom, we will work with local authorities to expand the size of their school estate where that is possible by using outside space, libraries, leisure centres, community halls and anywhere else that can safely be made to work.
“And, with classes being split in two or even in three, we will examine whether we can expand the number of teachers by asking those recently retired to return.
“In all of this, we recognise that some pupils will need extra help, particularly those who don’t have the technology at home to learn effectively.
“That’s why we will provide an initial tranche of 25,000 free laptops – bundled with a free internet connection – to pupils who need it. Education Scotland will support digital learning through new national digital learning resources that will bolster schools’ own arrangements for children and young people.
“We don’t know how long schools will have to work this way, just as we don’t know how long Coronavirus will be a threat. As long as that is the case, school life will feel quite different to before COVID-19.
“We have a mission to make this work, to educate Scotland’s pupils and, above all, to keep them safe. Working with our teachers, school staff, and councils this plan gives us a way to do that.
“We can safeguard our children’s future and get them learning alongside their classmates again. This plan will do that and get our young people safely back to school.”
COSLA Children and Young People spokesperson Councillor Stephen McCabe said:
“In planning for a return to face to face schooling the safety of our children, young people and staff is paramount. In preparing for this we have been acutely aware of the impact that not being in school has on our children and young people, particularly those who are most vulnerable. The wellbeing of all of our children and young people is at the heart of everything we do.
“A key part of this agreement is that local authorities will have the flexibility to plan and deliver a return to education which suits local circumstances and takes the needs of all of the children, young people and parents in their area into account. Where it safe to do so and the scientific advice allows, local authorities will also have the flexibility to bring some children back to school in June with a particular focus on those at the key transition points of P1 and S1.
“This has been developed with key partners in education. To make sure we get it right for all of our children at this challenging time we will continue to work closely together.”
The plans for schools and ELC are explicitly contingent on scientific and medical advice that it is safe to proceed and that there is implementation of complementary public health measures such as Test Trace, Isolate and Support (TTIS) and enhanced hygiene measures including:
The reopening of early learning and childcare services will be supported by further public health measures which reflect the needs of younger children, including caring for children in small groups and maximising use of outdoor spaces.
The Scottish Government will publish the underpinning scientific advice shortly.
Getting help for someone who’s at risk from harm
It is vitally important that we all follow Scottish Government guidance to limit the spread of Coronavirus. However, being at home can increase tensions and affect mental health, meaning some people in our communities are more vulnerable. Children and adults can be at risk of harm, and some people may be experiencing financial difficulties or struggling with addiction.
The East Lothian and Midlothian Public Protection Committee is made up of different agencies who work together to improve the protection of people in our local area. The Committee is urging everyone to keep their eyes and ears open for people who may be at risk of harm, abuse or neglect during the COVID-19 coronavirus public health emergency. It is just as important as ever for you to speak up if you are concerned about anyone who you believe may be at risk, or indeed if you need help yourself.
East Lothian and Midlothian Public Protection Committee Chair Anne Neilson says:
“”The East Lothian and Midlothian Public Protection Committee hope that members of the public will take an active role when it comes to protecting people at risk of harm and abuse in our area, and take action if they’re concerned. Protecting people and ensuring safety is our top priority and we are keen to highlight the role everyone can play in looking out for others. If something doesn’t seem quite right for a child, or an adult, it’s better to say something than do nothing”.
If you have immediate concern for anyone at risk of harm, you should always dial 999.
Otherwise, if you have concerns, contact the Police on 101, East Lothian Social Work (adults and children) on 01875 824 090, Midlothian Social Work 0131 271 3413 (children) / 0131 271 3900 (adults) and out-of-hours social work on 0800 731 6969.
Support is also available through Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline on 0800 027 1234 or Women’s Aid East and Midlothian on 0131 561 5800 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. FearFree domestic abuse service for men and any LGBT+ person can be reached by text or WhatsApp on 0131 624 7266 / www.fearfree.scot
From Elaine Gale, Our Community Kitchen
Volunteer Centre East Lothian (formerly STRiVE) and Our Community Kitchen have been awarded £95,000 from the Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities Fund via The National Lottery Community Fund to directly help our communities who are responding to COVID – 19.
Volunteer Centre East Lothian and OCK have been chosen as Community Anchor Organisations by the Scottish Government to manage and distribute their Supporting Communities Fund to local organisations/community groups across East Lothian who are directly responding to help communities due to the COVID – 19 crises. Funding is available of up to £3,000. If you or any group could benefit from this, please contact Maureen@strive.scot to discuss this.
The National Lottery Community Fund is one of several organisations distributing the Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities Fund. To date, up to £10 million is being made available as an initial sum to support community anchor organisations, and a further allocation of £10 million has been approved to support the second phase of the Fund.
We would appreciate your sharing this information far and wide across East Lothian.
Our Community Kitchen
Scottish Charitable Organisation SC048677
Maureen Allan writes…
I’m not sure if you will remember but about a month ago I, as the TSI, was asked to nominate 20 organisations to receive an immediate small grant of £2k. Well, I have just received another email from SG to ask for up to 30 further nominations in our area to receive £2k. This is the information I have been given:
(Please note that the organisations MUST be nominated by the TSI, if an organisation would like to be nominated all I need is for them to supply me with the following:
Name of Organisation, Contact Name, Email address & Phone Nos.)
- In order to contact an organisation, Corra Foundation needs a current email address for them, so please make sure you include this in the information you provide. This will ensure organisations receive the information they need to access this funding as quickly as possible.
- Corra Foundation will check all nominated organisations against the list of those which have already been contacted as part of this programme, which included early awards by national funders. If organisations you nominate have already been contacted through that process they will not be contacted twice. However, organisations can also have an award (£5-100k) through the Wellbeing Fund Open Call fund, so any application they have made through the open application process will not affect their ability to access this immediate small grant.
- While the third sector organisations you nominate do not have to be constituted, awards will not be made to individuals.
- If any of the organisations you nominate do not have their own bank account, payment can still be made but it will take slightly longer because of the additional information that will be required to carry out the necessary due diligence checks.
- This funding is to provide immediate support to at-risk people who have been affected by Covid-19 and is not intended to pay for the longer-term work of organisations.
- Corra Foundation will follow up with every organisation funded through the Community Wellbeing Fund, so there is no need for you to do this. This post-award follow-up is being co-ordinated with the other partners who are involved in the fund.
- It is a requirement that we know where the grant will be spent. If it is to be spent in a location outside of the area registered by the organisation’s post-code, this must be detailed by the group when they respond to Corra Foundation.
The Scottish Council for Learning Disabilities has produced a whole new suite of leaflets for people with learning disabilities, including information about corona virus together with a series of guides for parents and carers.
- Introduction to Coronavirus Booklet
- A Guide to using an Introduction to Coronavirus Booklet
- Feeling Down Booklet
- A Guide to using the Feeling Down Booklet
- A Good Night’s Sleep Booklet
- A Guide to using A Good Night’s Sleep Booklet
- ‘You can do it!’ – Being Active and Keeping Better Booklet
- A Guide to using the ‘You can do it!’ Booklet
- ‘Sort it out’ – A way to help you solve your problems Booklet
- A Guide to using the ‘Sort it out’ Booklet
- Feeling Anxious about Coronavirus Booklet
- A Guide to using the Feeling Anxious Booklet
- How to relax video version 1
- How to relax video version 2
- A Guide to the Video Relaxation Exercises
Covid and Financial Hardship: Standard Life Foundation has commissioned YouGov to conduct a monthly tracker on the financial impact of the coronavirus pasndemic across the UK. Researchers questioned 6,500 people on how their personal and household finances were affected by the pandemic and the likely impact it will have over the next 12 months. There were asked about their income, payment of bills, borrowing, debt, savings and ability to pay for other essentials such as food. RESEARCH
Volunteers: Aileen Campbell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, has written a letter thanking volunteers for their work. LETTER
Empowered Digital Parenting: SWGfL is providing these webinars to employees, on behalf of Scottish Government. SWGfL is a charity ensuring that children benefit from technology, free from harm. SWGfL is lead partner in the wider known UK Safer Internet Centre. The presenter is Jess McBeath (formerly Midlothian Council), an Online Safety Consultant based in the Scottish Borders. DIGITAL PARENTING
Policing: Police Scotland is undertaking a survey to track public confidence levels and experience of our approaches to policing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey will capture peoples’ feeling of safety, what we are doing well, and any concerns they have which we can address operationally and through our information campaigns. The survey will also capture feedback from those who have contacted us during the COVID-19 pandemic. SURVEY
Wellbeing Fund: If you would like to apply to the Wellbeing Fund, the current round closes on Friday. This is for activity to address current and unfolding community needs caused by the pandemic, and which will take place by the end of July. WELLBEING
Foundation Scotland: The Response, Recovery & Resilience Fund criteria is changing. They are moving away from immediate response to service change and address mental health and well-being. You need to have an income of less than £250,000. RRR
Armed Forces Covenant: The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust COVID-19 Impact Programme opened this week. This is open to Armed Forces Charities and CIC and the closing date is 29 May 20. Any organisations awarded funding will need to be able to start their project by 1 August 2020 at the latest, and complete by 31 October 2020. AFC
From NHS Education for Scotland
Unprecedented times and digital opportunities call for a chance to innovate; and to explore new and different ways of working.
Many teams are considering opportunities and implementing new ways of working. This, in addition to existing methods, will allow us to deliver high quality person-centred care.
Cathy Simpson (National Video Conference Manager) will demonstrate how digital resources can be used to deliver group sessions. There will also be examples of digital groups currently running.
There will also be time to highlight resources and tools to support practice, and for questions and answers with the speakers and educators.
Date and time: Wednesday 27 May 2020 from 11am to 12.15pm
For: Useful for clinicians and support workers delivering group sessions
Julie Paterson has been appointed chief executive of the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, and will take up the position on 3 August, 2020.
Julie is currently divisional general manager (Fifewide division) at Fife Health and Social Care Partnership, and has had a career in social work in the region.
Julie qualified as a social worker/mental health officer. Her career has demonstrated leadership and transformation across a diverse range of health and social work/social care services including mental health, learning disability, psychology and addiction services.
Julie had a two year secondment to the Mental Welfare Commission in 2007 before returning to Fife Council. She has been in her current post for five years.
Sandy Riddell, chair of the Mental Welfare Commission, said:
“I am delighted to announce the appointment of Julie to this post. She brings many years’ experience across a range of senior roles at Fife Council, and since 2015 has been in a key post at Fife Health and Social Care Partnership.
“Positive joint working with health and social services is a key part of the Commission’s business. Julie’s experience – combined with her skills in leadership, strategic planning and relationship management – will be a huge bonus for the Commission.’
Clare Haughey, minister for mental health, Scottish Government, said:
‘I’d like to offer warm congratulations to Julie on the announcement of her new role. I know she is joining an organisation that’s doing tremendously important work in protecting and promoting the rights of people living with mental illnesses and learning disabilities in Scotland. Given the current situation and the potential impact on mental health in Scotland, I expect that the Commission’s work will assume even greater importance, and I’m sure that Julie’s considerable experience and leadership skills will prove to be invaluable.’
Julie Patterson said:
‘I spent two years on secondment to the Mental Welfare Commission in 2007 and I am very aware of the tremendous work undertaken to safeguard and promote the rights of people with mental illness, learning disabilities, dementia and related conditions.
‘I feel privileged to now be appointed to lead the Commission and very much look forward to working with the Board, staff and stakeholders at this very important time of legislative review.
Julie follows Colin McKay as chief executive of the Commission. Colin left the organisation in March 2020 after six years in post to take on the roles of adviser to the review of the Mental Health Act and professor at Edinburgh Napier University.