Thursday, September 04, 2008



Saturday is an important day in the centre of Paisley, it is the annual Choose life walk for hope, and the event just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Unfortunately I will not be able to make the march this year due to previous arrangement but I would urge as many people as possible to get along to Paisley Town Hall for 2pm.

Choose life do extremely important work helping those thinking of suicide and now those who have been affected by suicide. You will note that Scotland's suicide rates have been in the news reports lately and too many people can't see a way out and unfortunately end up taking their own lives, projects like breathing space and choose life offer someone to talk to when it gets too much.

If you know someone who has been affected by suicide or someone who has committed suicide please take the time and go to the march. The people I have had the pleasure of speaking to on these occasions are family members of those who have taken their own lives and their strength and honesty was completely overwhelming, their acceptance of new people and willingness to explain their situation made the whole experience humbling. Please go along an support them and go for a cup of tea afterwards have a chat see what I mean.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Alex 'Thatcher' Salmond

On Yer Bike

On Margaret Thatcher and her policies Alex Salmond apparently thinks that Scotland and I quote
"didn't mind the economic side so much. But we didn't like the social side at all." Of Course the problem we had with the Poll Tax wasn't the economics it had nothing to do with the fact that we were down and beaten by years of recession and unemployment with the decimation of our national industries, it was because well it just wasn't very nice!!

Does anyone else see the problem here? The fact that the First Minister of Scotland decided that in order to clarify his position had to call a radio call in show shows a level of desperation that no other leader of our country has ever even considered displaying, the scary thing is that the SNP will try and spin this as being in touch with 'the people'.

While talking to a few friends -a few of whom are SNP members- even they agreed that this made them look stupid, although on the back of the SNP locally awarding the directors of service a 16.7% pay rise and then having the bear faced cheek to write to the strikers that 2.5% was not enough, it kind of pales in comparison. I believe (and this is from sources actually present) the question put was if all of the workers and the directors are all in the same team will they be suggesting 16.7% for the ordinary worker?

I loved the fact that the SNP think that laughing in the face of Unison members when they ask the above is the done thing, it shows an incredible level of political naiveté from Cllr's Lawson, Mitchell and Adam who apparently think that the Unison members are beneath contempt.

Unlike the self proclaimed 'Tartan Tory' Salmond, I understand why Mrs Thatchers economics were bad for Scotland and I did mind them, as did the Coal miners, the small businesses and those of us affected by the Poll Tax. I wonder if Mr Salmond would consider this as a social or economic policy?

Watch his space for the next 'Salmondism' you know something like a 'Bushism' only not quite as politically articulate.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My Name

Raelene Boyle

Lots of people are named after their mother or father, or a loved one or friend I was lucky enough to be named after this woman (Photo above) an Olympic champion, so just in case you were interested here is a wee bit about Raelene Boyle

The woman above (Raelene Boyle) is an ex Australian sprinting champion and an Olympic silver medalist three times, she took part in a number of Olympics and is where my parents got my name, as they were watching when she was competing in the 1976 Montreal games. The number of people I have met that have said 'Rayleen that is an unusual name' is massive, even in University where I was surrounded by students from across the globe I always got the same thing.

My understanding is that the name Rayleen is not as unusual as you might think, well at least not in Australia and there is even a facebook group for the Rayleen's of the world to share stories of how we got our names etc and the spellings!

Raelene Boyle was the first woman to carry their Countries flag in the Olympic opening ceremony in 1976 and although she did not win any medals that year - from what I can tell this was mainly down to being disqualified for two false starts, which were later shown not to be false starts - she was widely recognised as one of the outstanding talents of her generation. Raelene Boyle has suffered from breast cancer and help set up a charity called 'Sporting Chance Cancer Foundation' which raises money for cancer awareness, you can donate to the charity or learn more about it by clicking on the name above.

I like that I am named after someone different, I suppose it is a little like being named after the Jamaican athlete Usian Bolt who yesterday smashed the Olympic record for the mens 100 meter, those children would have their own story to tell. Having an unusual name is great, people rarely forget your name and in itself it is a bit of an icebreaker which is great with me being the shy retiring type!

So if you are pregnant and sitting in front of the TV forget about calling your child Leona after the singer think about calling them after someone more unusual and interesting give them a story behind the name.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Social Work

What Went Wrong?

Sitting in work on one of my breaks during the week I noticed one of these trashy women's magazines that I almost never read (unless I am in the doctors surgery waiting room) in it I noticed an interesting article on the Social Worker involved in the Victoria Climbie case. She was cleared of being at fault in the case by a tribunal and I thought that it was interesting they showed her side of the story and her grief and anger over the whole tragedy. But at the time, the tragedy reminded me of something that struck me from a fairly early stage in my professional life, there are some sections of public sector workers who only ever get into the press if something goes wrong.

I don't think I have ever seen an article in the main stream press congratulating a social worker for helping a child with behavioural difficulties stick in at school and get their Higher results, or the teacher who gives up their spare time to take kids to the theatre because it will help explain what Romeo and Juliet or A Midsummer Nights Dream is actually all about, and most of us know one or both of those I have just described. Think about the relatively low paid social care worker in a children's unit helping give young people a sense of home and security as well as the emotional and intellectual support to continue in school and achieve academically.

I don't think enough emphasis is placed on public sector workers as a whole but, Social Workers definitely seem to get the rough end of the stick, it is their fault when a child like Victoria Climbie gets killed, it is their fault when a parole violator breaks the conditions of their parole and commits a crime and it is their fault when the unruly teenager decides to break the windows on their next door neighbours car because he wouldn't give them their ball back!

Society fails to acknowledge and accept that we can never fully mitigate such risks, and I know that is not a popular view I wish we could stop every tragedy like this happening but the simple truth is we can't. We could have the most robust system EVER in place and tragedies like this would still take place.

Social workers will never be able to stop every tragedy like Victoria Climbie but they can minimize them when the system works, that is why we have child protection committees in every council with all appropriate agencies represented. I have been to a few of these meetings as a Councillor and it is never easy but everyone present has one thing in mind what is best for the child. I loved the title of one of the reports to come out of the Scottish Executive when I was a Councillor ....
'It's Everyone's Job to Make sure I'm Alright' because it is.

For my part I wanted to say thank you to all of the Social workers who have helped shape my life. From my Aunts, one a retired social worker and one still serving, to the people I worked with while a sessional worker with Social Work and all of those I worked with while the Deputy Convenor on the Council. All of you made a profound impact on my view of what Social Work can do when it works, and the difference it can make not just to a child's life but, to the thousands of vulnerable clients throughout Scotland who rely on you for help.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Goodbye To A Friend

David Ramsay

As many readers of this blog might know before I was so heavily involved in Politics I was a long time member of Paisley Youth Theatre and as a member I met a lot of lovely people and made a number of close friends who are still friends to this day. Unfortunately recently we lost one of those friends and that loss is keenly felt by all who knew him.

David Ramsay until fairly recently was the Musical Director of PACE Theatre company and it was in this capacity that I came to know him and become his friend. I think myself lucky that I met David -although the first time I met him he had a parrot on his shoulder (long story don't ask)- he always had time for me and believed in me and my ability as a singer. David and his wife Pauline were probably more PACE for me than anything else, that is not to disparage the other excellent members of staff that PACE have, but I spent a lot of time hiding behind my big sister trying to be the third spear carrier from the left, and David or DR as we affectionately called him would not allow this and although he did not push you to the front he fostered your talent and helped you believe in yourself.

I will miss DR because he was and is my friend, I cannot begin to describe what he meant to me and I am not going to try, instead I am going to leave a memory in the hope that all of you reading this who knew him will similarly leave a comment with a funny/nice memory of your own. We have had to say goodbye to DR but we do not and will not forget him, to so many us he will never be forgotten he sneaked in and made a DR shape in your life so unassuming and quiet but always there if you needed him. David leaves behind his wife Pauline and two young sons as well as his mother and brother and extended family all of whom will miss him.

Recording the song for 'Cuts Both Ways' in the PACE office downstairs, we had been rehearsing for about five minutes when the workmen outside the office window started with the pneumatic drill and they continued for about half an hour in between bursts we tried to lay down the track and we would get almost all the way through and the drill would start again, after about an hour and a half of this DR says wait here a minute. Five minutes later he comes back in the room and says right we have ten minutes lets go! DR had went outside and convinced the workmen to stop for ten minutes so that we could record the track. And I must admit to being suitably impressed with the results, it's true what they say you can do wonders in post production.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Graduate Endownments

SNP and Education

I read today in the Herald Newspaper that the SNP has made a bit of a blunder with the Graduate Endowment and it's abolition, my reading of this is that 3000 students who had deferred payment due to continuing studies have been sent bills for £2000. Now the debate from the SNP camp (in the comments section) seems to be that either the Labour party fabricated this story, this is not supported by the statement from the Scottish Government spokesperson or that the officials were Labour supporters and so did this on purpose, again not supported by the SNP Scottish Government Statement.

Looking at the statement they have released it seems to be saying well that is just tough they can take out a student loan, but if we look back further we hear the SNP Education Secretary say...

A feeling she should possibly have shared with her colleagues! Or even better they should have better researched what this policy would mean and have told students the truth at the time instead of delivery 3000 bills for £2000 a piece.
This is also covered on the bbc news website

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bessie and Molly the Return

The Return of the Wonder dogs

OK took this one while out and about in the Fountain Gardens last Saturday with the dogs, the gardens are gorgeous at this time of year with the tress losing their blossoms and the paths redone all that is missing is the fountain, but it seems that the well of opportunity that existed under the Labour administration for upgrading the parks in Renfrewshire has run dry, much like this amazing fountain under the administration of the SNP and Liberal Democrats.


Please note all postings on this blog are of a personal nature and do not reflect the opinions of either Renfrewshire Council, the Scottish Labour Party or Renfrewshire Labour Group. NB No annonymous comments will be published on this blog if you have something to say have the courage to identify yourself.