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Council to take forward plans for reconfigured TIF scheme in Glasgow

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Glasgow City Council today approved (18 April) approved the preparation of a revised business case to reconfigure the Tax Incremental Finance (TIF) scheme for the city centre.

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The proposed TIF – while smaller in size and level of investment, from £80million to around £45 – £50million – is expected to create the same economic impact for the city as the earlier scheme.  The revised scheme is now focused on the creation of office space with some complementary uses in the former Queen Street Station car park on North Hanover Street.

 

The TIF model is a way of funding enabling infrastructure that is necessary to kick-start new development through:

  • Identifying the enabling infrastructure necessary to support a particular development;
  • Demonstrating through detailed financial appraisals that the development would not proceed without the enabling infrastructure being in place; and
  • Estimating the tax revenue / increment (non-domestic rates) that would be realised on completion of the development made possible through the infrastructure being in place.

 

A TIF scheme is based on the ‘But-For’ principle: but for the TIF, private-sector – or associated public-sector investment – would not happen on the same scale, quality or timeframe.

 

In terms of the Glasgow city centre TIF, the original (2011) proposal was based on a redevelopment of Buchanan Galleries (owned by Land Securities) that would have incorporated infrastructure and public realm works such as a new entrance to the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (GRCH), the pedestrianisation of Dundas Street, upgrade of Cathedral Street Bridge, a contribution towards the redevelopment of GRCH to incorporate the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and improvements and linkages to nearby streets and spaces.

 

Part of the Buchanan Galleries redevelopment would have taken place on land beside Queen Street Station – owned by Network Rail – and the parallel Edinburgh – Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP) proved to be a complicating factor, with no agreement on how both schemes could be delivered around the same time meaning that Land Securities (LS) deferred the redevelopment in September 2015.

 

LS are now no longer considering the larger extension of Buchanan Galleries, but are progressing on the southern extension and the refurbishment of the rest of the Galleries.

 

As a result of this deferral, Network Rail approached Transport Scotland as the original LS proposal contained vital operational facilities essential to the running of Queen Street station, and this resulted in a £15million variation on the station redevelopment project that would provide staff accommodation, operational facilities and limited retail opportunities.  LS – with colleagues from Scottish Government Finance, Scottish Futures Trust, and Glasgow City Council – approached Transport Scotland to investigate an alternative proposal to this £15million variation as the latter was viewed as extinguishing the development potential of the former car park site and the probable failure of the TIF.

 

Network Rail was then instructed by Transport Scotland to undertake a feasibility exercise to determine what could be delivered at the site, and this confirmed that it could be developed as a prime office location that responded to the shortage of Grade A office space in Glasgow city centre. The location could support up to 300,000 square feet of such office space above the three storeys of station retail.

 

A revised business case on this reconfigured TIF scheme will now be developed, and while early indications suggest that the original TIF investment of £80million will be now be revised downwards to around £45 – £50million, it is expected that the economic impact will be around the same and therefore proportionally greater for this investment.

Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “Our city centre is hugely important to the economic, cultural and social life of Glasgow and any new development brings with it the opportunity to make the centre a more desirable place to visit and in which to live and work.  The revised business case for this project promises to enhance public spaces; support one of our major transport hubs, and deliver more much-needed Grade A office space in the heart of the city.”

During the development of this business case, potential council investment through the TIF will be identified, including public realm improvements in the station environs and the George Square improvement scheme.

 

Funding for the proposed revised TIF would come from Glasgow City Council, with the council allowed to keep the non-domestic rates from this development.

 

An amendment was passed at today’s City Administration Committee to consider all financial models as part of the business case for the revised TIF.

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People Who Beat Drugs Employed to Help Others Conquer Addiction

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People who have conquered drug addiction have earned jobs with Glasgow services helping others on the road to recovery.

Glasgow Alcohol and Drug Recovery Service (GADRS) recently employed 13 new staff – half of whom are people with personal experience of addiction.

Thomas1

Dad-of-three, Thomas (aged 50) of the Gorbals, started sniffing solvents as a teenager in the 80s and later began to use opiates. Heroin addiction saw him overdosing more times than he can remember and spending years in and out of hospitals and prisons.

Thomas said: “I was aware of the potential consequences, but it was about trying to fit in and find a sense of belonging. It was a form of self-harm to cope with childhood trauma and it had a massive impact on my social, physical and psychological development.

“It also impacted on my family. They tried to be supportive, but they couldn’t understand it, and didn’t know what to do for the best. People understood alcohol addiction in the 1980s, but no-one was prepared for the explosion in drug addiction.”

Attitudinal change in the criminal justice system around the year 2000, set Thomas on the route to recovery after decades of destructive behaviour and stints in prison. Instead of jailing him for shoplifting to feed his habit, a sheriff gave him an 18 months suspended sentence and ordered him to undergo treatment in the community.

Thomas said: “The courts realised they weren’t solving anything by just locking people up. They gave me a chance. I started to engage with services, my care manager was supportive and helpful. I got access to psychotherapy to deal with childhood trauma and the underlying issues of my drug taking. I was sofa-surfing at the time, so I also got involved with homelessness services.”

Six months in rehab at Rainbow House in Glasgow helped him come off drugs and, despite a brief relapse in 2013, he hasn’t looked back. Thomas got involved with the South East Recovery After Care Group – one of the city’s first peer led groups to come out of discussions about service redesign with people with lived experience.

He volunteered full-time with the group and later earned a part-time post as a peer educator. He’s since gained SVQs in health and social care and community development, completed a three week placement in Sweden where he learned about the country’s work to get people recovering from addiction into employment and advised medical professionals and social workers on new treatment options in Glasgow such as the Heroin Assisted Treatment facility and the proposed Safer Drug Consumption Facility.

Thomas has been thrilled to help others in the Gorbals where he admits he was previously known for his addiction and is now known for his recovery.

He is now about to start a permanent, full-time post as a Social Care Worker with South Glasgow Alcohol and Drug Recovery Service.

His message to anyone grappling with addition is: “There is a better life out there. Sometimes it’s just about grabbing it with both hands, accepting help and creating and developing your own opportunities. There is a way out and there are people there to help you.”

Susanne Millar, Glasgow’s Chief Social Worker, believes the views of people with lived experience offer service providers real insight into the barriers to recovery.

She said: “Knowledge from people with lived experience is invaluable to the city’s Health and Social Care Partnership.

“They can understand and empathise with other people who are wrestling with addiction better than anyone else. They know the challenges people face and, importantly, they know coping mechanisms, how to tackle challenges and all about the various services available. We work closely with people with lived experience on many projects. Their input continues to help shape and redesign services, so that they are more easily accessible and deliver better outcomes for people with complex issues.

“People like Thomas are living proof that addiction can be overcome to rebuild successful, productive lives free from drugs and alcohol. I congratulate everyone who recently earned jobs with the recovery service and look forward to working with them all going forward.”

RECOVERY CAFES 

Glasgow has a network of recovery cafes across the city including Govanhill, the Gorbals, Whiteinch, Parkhead, Ibrox and Easterhouse.

They aim to reduce stigma around addiction, promote recovery by making it visible within communities and upskill people for new and improved lives after addiction.

Activities for people in recovery include table tennis, art classes, massage, yoga, reiki, welfare rights and housing advice, healthy lunches, shared experience sessions, recovery meetings, beauty and nail treatments. Children’s 1st also provide activities for children during the sessions.

The cafés aim to boost people’s self-confidence, help them overcome barriers to recovery and develop new skills to increase their employability.

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Glasgow’s Winning Venues

Blythswood Square Hotel

Three Glasgow licensed premises have won recognition in this year’s Best Bar None Scotland National Awards.

Blythswood Square Hotel, The Croft and The Garage received top titles despite stiff competition from other Best Bar None member premises.

The Garage scooped Best Nightclub award for the second year in a row. The award for Best Hotel went to Blythswood Square Hotel – which it won in 2014.

Blythswood Square Hotel

The Croft received a Platinum Award.  The award was introduced in 2017 and recognises continued excellence and innovation.

The three Glasgow winners were chosen out of 40 other fellow finalist venues across Scotland.

Awards for 10 categories were announced at the Best Bar None Scotland’s National Awards ceremony held in Dunblane last night (28 March).  Eight Glasgow venues were finalists in seven categories.

They included: The Croft (Best Pub category); McNabbs (Best Independent Pub category); Driftwood (Best Independent Bar category); Blythswood Square Hotel (Best Hotel category); The Garage and The Cathouse (Best Nightclub category); University of Strathclyde Students Union (Specialist Entertainment Venue) and Deoch and Dorus (Heart of the Community category).

The awards reflect the winners’ efforts in creating safe and responsible environments for their customers, whilst recognising best practice, leading to a strong, positive experience for customers.

Lise Fisher, City Centre Operations Manager at Glasgow City Council, said: “Our Best Bar None venues have shown an excellent standard of practice and take great pride in their premises and surroundings. We are absolutely delighted for our winning venues and, of course, for all the pubs, clubs, bars and hotels involved.

“The Best Bar None initiative has grown significantly in recent years and we hope many more of Glasgow’s licensed premises sign up this year.”

Licensed premises in Glasgow can be part of the Best Bar None initiative. Please contact Louise McMonagle on 0141 276 7552 or email louise.mcmonagle@glasgow.gov.uk for details. Alternatively, visit www.bbnglasgow.com

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Appeal for relations of those who perished in James Watt Street Fire to steer memorial plans

james-watt

An appeal is being made for relatives of those who perished in Glasgow’s deadliest fire to help decide the detail of a memorial and the associated installation ceremony.

It’s being led by councillor, Bailie Marie Garrity, whose constituent, Mrs Anne Benedetti (78) lost her husband in the notorious James Watt Street inferno. Mrs Benedetti was among those lobbying last year for a permanent memorial to mark the 50  th   anniversary of the tragedy.

james-watt

The fire claimed 22 lives on 18 November 1968 including 15- year-old Elizabeth Taylor, the youngest victim, whose mother Mary Taylor (29) also died.

Bailie Garrity, has secured a donation of a paving-stone style memorial from Co-op Funeralcare and is keen for affected families to take ownership of the project.

Bailie Garrity said: “I’m looking for relatives to get in touch with me. I’d like to meet with them, update them about the progress that’s been made and involve them throughout this process. One of the significant challenges has been coming up with a suitable way of commemorating those who, so cruelly lost their lives. The former factory is now a car park. That’s why a paving-style stone inserted in the ground seems the best option.

“The 50 th anniversary was a very emotional milestone. Although this fire happened half a century ago, it’s still very raw for relatives. The generosity of Co-op Funeralcare means so much to those left behind. They’ll finally have a permanent stone remembering their loved ones.

Those who died at the former whisky bond premises, found themselves trapped or overcome by poisonous fumes inside the three-storey building housing the Stern upholstery factory and glass making business, G. Bryce.

Some died from the effects of the fumes from the polyurethane foam blocking the stairs that caught fire, or found doors leading to fire escapes locked. Eye witnesses also spoke of the trauma of seeing people perish at windows with security bars.

Around 100 firefighters attended the inferno that broke out at 10.30am and took more than four hours to bring under control. The tragedy, one of a spate of fires in Glasgow, reinforcing its reputation as the Tinderbox City. Often the result of poor buildings standards and the inappropriate change of use of buildings.

A subsequent Fatal Accident Inquiry led to the introduction of improved workplace fire safety laws and greater powers for the Fire Brigade.

Mrs Anne Benedetti said: “It’s really nice of the Co-op. If it happens it will be great. It’s a long time coming.”

Colin Thomson, Senior Funeral Director at Co-op Funeralcare, who oversees 18 of the city’s funeral homes, including the one at Tradeston near the site of the fire, said: “I saw the coverage of the anniversary of the fire and contacted Bailie Garrity to say the Co-op would like to give the relatives a memorial. We’re proud to offer our help.”

The black polished granite stone, measuring two foot by three foot, and two inches thick, will carry the names, engraved in relief, of those who lost their lives.

Relatives can contact Bailie Garrity on 0141 287 4909 or email:  Marie.Garrity@glasgow.gov.uk .

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GLASGOW REPRESENTED AT NATIONAL BEST BAR NONE AWARDS

best-bar-none

Eight Glasgow venues are in the running to be named the nation’s best licensed premises.

The pubs, clubs, bars, and hotel venues have been shortlisted as finalists in the Best Bar None Scotland National Awards which take place on 28 March at Dunblane Hydro Hotel.

The eight Glasgow venues were selected from hundreds of Best Bar None member premises and will be competing against other finalists from across Scotland.

There are ten categories in the National Awards which recognise best practice, leading to an enhanced experience for customers.

best-bar-none

Glasgow is represented in seven categories. The finalists are:

The Croft (Best Pub category); McNabbs (Best Independent Pub category); Driftwood (Best Independent Bar category); Blythswood Square Hotel (Best Hotel category); The Garage and The Cathouse (Best Nightclub category); University of Strathclyde Students Union (Specialist Entertainment Venue) and Deoch and Dorus (Heart of the Community category).

Lise Fisher, City Centre Operations Manager at Glasgow City Council which runs the Best Bar None Glasgow initiative, said: “We are extremely proud of the eight Glasgow venues shortlisted for the national Best Bar None awards this year. They work so hard and deserve to do well.

“Best Bar None is about improving quality in licensing standards and supporting premises to adopt positive management practices in support of a safe night out. We really hope more Glasgow licensed premises sign up to this year’s awards when we launch on 17th April. Being a BBN member brings with it many benefits for both the business and its customers.  It also makes a valuable contribution to fulfilling Glasgow’s City Charter – ensuring citizens are well-informed and can confidently support local businesses and the wider city economy.”

Best Bar None is a national initiative which encourages best practice among the licensed trade. Glasgow’s BBN has been running since 2005 and is delivered on behalf of Glasgow’s Alcohol & Drugs Partnership, in partnership with the city council, Scottish Business Resilience Centre, Police Scotland and the licensed trade.

The focus of the BBN initiative is on public safety and customer care, together with the following key principles: prevention of crime and disorder, securing public safety, prevention of public nuisance, protecting and improving public health and the protection of children from harm.

An independent assessor inspects Glasgow’s BBN member premises and, if they meet the criteria, they earn a bronze, silver or gold award at an annual gala dinner. Overall gold winners in each category of the Glasgow annual awards ceremony then qualify for the national awards.

Best Bar None is sponsored by Diageo, Chivas Brothers Pernod Ricard, Maxxium UK, Heineken, Tennents and Edrington-Beam Suntory.

Find out more about Best Bar None Glasgow at www.bbnglasgow.com

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New Birth Registration Scheme Makes it Easier for Glasgow Babies to Have the Best Start

baby-glasgow

Bringing a baby into the world is wonderful but can also put a strain on your finances. Now, a new scheme that links the council’s birth registration process to benefit entitlement ensures that no new parent, that meets the eligibility criteria, leaves council offices, without being given the opportunity to make an application.

baby-glasgow

So far more than 200 families in the city have been helped to apply for the Best Start Grant (BSG) and staff expect to be assisting around 30 families per week, some of whom were unaware of the grant, to apply for the payment they are entitled to.

The changes mean the council can support new parents, sometimes with a host of other things on their mind, to apply for BSG. They also provide digital support, where needed, with the online application process.

Best Start Grants provide lower-income families with financial support during the key early years of a child’s life. They replace and expand on the UK Government’s Sure Start Maternity Grant by providing entitled families with £600 on the birth of their first child and £300 on the birth of any subsequent children.

The council’s new system is held up as an example of best practice in a local authority by Social Security Scotland. It includes a number of questions being asked when people make an appointment to register the birth of their child, which must be done within 21 days in Scotland.

These answers allow staff to determine at the appointment stage if the parents meet the qualifying criteria for the first stage of the BSG, the pregnancy and baby payment, or if they have already applied.

Confirmation messages then tell them what they need to bring to their appointment for the registration and additional information for the online BSG application.

On the day, once seen by the registrars, customer service agents can help to complete the online application form.

Applicants need to be receiving one or more benefits including Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Universal Credit, Income Support, Pension Credit, Working Tax Credit, Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) to qualify.

City Treasurer, Councillor Allan Gow, said: “By changing the way we work and linking our internal processes we are able to identify parents that are eligible for this payment, but may have been unaware of it.

“When you have a new baby finding out about benefit entitlement, filling in forms and applications and remembering documentation is probably at the bottom of the ‘To Do’ list! For some, completing an online form can also be a daunting prospect. Our staff help simplify things and overcome the barriers to making an application, making sure parents get what they are entitled to and that can help get things off to a good start.”

Council officers are now also looking at how they can increase the uptake of other BSG payments as this summer the Scottish Government are looking to introduce two additional payments of £250, per child, to help with the costs of early learning and when they start school.

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Woman’s Hour Craft Prize comes to The Lighthouse in Glasgow

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A new exhibition at The Lighthouse in Glasgow – Woman’s Hour Craft Prize – showcases the work of the 12 finalist of the inaugural prize, a collaboration between BBC Radio 4, the Crafts Council and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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The exhibition opens on 30 March.

 

The prize was established to find and celebrate the most innovative and exciting craft practitioner or designer-maker in the UK, and seeks to reward originality and excellence in concept, design and process.

 

The work on display includes handwoven willow structures, futuristic glass figures and carefully darned clothing to bespoke bicycles and unfired clay installations.  The pieces exhibited explore issues as varied as consumer culture, identity and heritage.

 

The winner of the inaugural prize was ceramicist Phoebe Cummings.

 

Councillor David McDonald, Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “We are delighted to welcome this exhibition to The Lighthouse, one not to miss for the many people who are interested in craft and designer-making.  The work on display comes from some of the finest practitioners in the UK.”

 

More information on the exhibition, which runs from 30 March – 26 May, is available at: http://www.thelighthouse.co.uk/visit/exhibition/womans-hour-craft-prize.

 

The exhibition tour was organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

 

The Woman’s Hour Craft Prize is in association with BBC Radio 4 and the Craft Council

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Sighthill Circle stands again as symbol of the rebirth of a Glasgow community

sighthill circle

Today (20 March) was a landmark date in the £250million regeneration of Sighthill in Glasgow, with the Sighthill Circle restored exactly 40 years after the stones were first erected.

 

The Sighthill Circle was first completed at the Spring Equinox of 1979, through the then Glasgow Parks Department Astronomy Project, and guided by the Scottish author Duncan Lunan.  This was the first stone circle to be created in the UK in over 3,000 years.

sighthill circle

Glasgow City Council and contractors Morgan Sindall have been working very closely with Duncan on the re-erection of the Circle.

 

The standing stones of the Sighthill Circle were removed temporarily in April 2016 as part of the Sighthill Transformational Regeneration project for the area.  The stones and top layer of soil were removed as part of the remediation work to tackle land contamination there as a result of the area’s industrial past, and are now standing in their new resting place.

 

The Circle has been relocated within the new landscape, around 200 metres to the south-east of the former site and the original site that Duncan had chosen, however this location was not suitable back in 1979 due to the multi-storey flats then in the area obscuring the horizon sight lines.

 

The new location means that it is now correctly aligned astronomically – when first erected, this was the first stone circle to be created in the UK in over 3,000 years.

 

The Sighthill Circle’s location on a mound gives tremendous views of the city centre – underlining how close the area is to central Glasgow – and neighbouring communities as well as the Campsie Hills.

 

The regeneration of Sighthill is the biggest project of its kind in the UK outside of London, and in the coming years, the area, located immediately to the north-east of the city centre, will be transformed to create a community with:

 

  • almost 1000 new high-quality homes for sale and rent (141 GHA homes are already built and occupied) for the existing community and new residents;
  • a new community school campus with sports facilities, which will open in late 2019;
  • a new cyclist and pedestrian bridge across the M8, creating a ‘street in the sky’ to connect Sighthill with the nearby city centre;
  • a new road bridge across the railway line to link the communities of Sighthill and Port Dundas; and
  • improved parkland – the new park will create a landscape through Sighthill that includes open spaces, play areas, trim trails, recreation areas, paths and accessible water features – and allotments, commercial businesses and public spaces.  The new Sighthill Park will open in early 2020.

 

The Sighthill Circle is another symbol of the area’s regeneration, and can be viewed as a gateway to Sighthill on its south-east boundary.  It is expected that visitors should be able to come to the Circle from Summer 2020 onwards.

 

The regeneration of Sighthill had not been scheduled until the late 2020s, but as a result of the bid for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games, which would have supported the redevelopment of the area for the 2018 Athletes’ Village, the commitment to accelerate the regeneration was given by Glasgow City Council, GHA and the Scottish Government.  Although the 2018 bid was ultimately unsuccessful, its legacy is the regeneration of Sighthill is happening much more quickly than it would have otherwise done.

 

The regeneration of Sighthill – the Sighthill Transformational Regeneration Area (TRA) – is being delivered by Transforming Communities: Glasgow, a partnership between Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Housing Association, the Scottish Government; and is part-funded through the Glasgow City Region City Deal.

 

Bailie Jacquie McLaren, Chair of the Sighthill Local Delivery Group, said: “It is fantastic to see the stones of the Sighthill Circle standing once again, and they really are a symbol of a Glasgow neighbourhood undergoing tremendous change.  The Circle represents a connection between the area’s past and present, and will be a great attraction for locals and visitors as Sighthill continues its regeneration.  Beyond the circle, just some of the things we can look forward to at Sighthill over the next couple of years include a new park, a new community schools campus, and a landmark bridge over the M8.”

 

Duncan Lunan, science writer and Manager of the original Glasgow Parks Department Astronomy Project, said: “It has been quite moving to learn how much the circle has meant to so many people since we built it in 1979, and I hope they’ll come to it again at its new location, where it will be more visible and accessible.  On its specially created platform, this time the stones will stand at their true height, and several additional features have been added that were planned back in ’79.  Using the observations compiled over the last 40 years, and computing methods which weren’t available back then, the alignment of the stones will be still more accurate than before.  The contractors and the council have gone to great lengths to do that, so it’s exciting to see it all come together after so long.”

 

More information on the Sighthill TRA project, unusual in that very rarely is there regeneration on this scale so close to a city centre, is available at: www.glasgow.gov.uk/sighthill.

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TEENAGER TWINS CHOSEN TO LAUNCH THE 25TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS OF RACE FOR LIFE IN SCOTLAND

Cancer survivor Erin McCafferty with David Walliams at Britains' Got Talent auditions

COURAGEOUS teenager Erin McCafferty who beat cancer has been chosen with her twin sister Nicole to launch the 25th birthday celebrations of Race for Life in Scotland.

The twins shared almost everything together growing up but never the same birthday. Despite entering the world just 25 minutes apart, they were born on separate days with Erin arriving at 11.50pm on November 1 while Nicole was born in the early hours of November 2, 2000. But after Erin was diagnosed with leukaemia only three days before her 15thbirthday, Nicole vowed to do everything she could to share that heartache, standing by her every step of the way through treatment.

Cancer survivor Erin McCafferty with David Walliams at Britains' Got Talent auditions

Now Erin has been given the all clear, the twins are marking another milestone – the 25th birthday of Cancer Research UK Race for Life in Scotland. Scotland’s first Race for Life event was held in Glasgow in spring 1995. Since then, millions of pounds have been raised to fund vital research in to gentler and more effective treatments for cancer. Thousands are set to take to the streets again to take part in Scotland’s biggest Race for Life at Glasgow Green on May 19. Money raised will help scientists find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease, helping save more lives.

And there’s a chance to join the Race for Life 25th birthday celebrations at a special event on Argyle Street, Glasgow on Saturday March 30 between 10am and 5.30pm. Shoppers can decorate a sign to say who they’ll join the Race for Life for this year as well as submit their entry for this year’s event and take part in some fun glitter face painting.

Erin, now 18, said: “I’ve just celebrated the first year of being cancer free and it’s been the best year of my life.

“Nicole may be my little sister by 25 minutes but she’s also been like a best friend.  I’m lucky to have a twin sister who I’m so close to. When I had my hair shaved off after I was losing it due to the side effects from chemotherapy it was Nicole who held me for ten minutes as we cried in the toilets. But I didn’t actually cry the first day I was told I had cancer. I think I was just in shock. When you’re a teenager you feel that you’re invincible. Cancer was something that happened to other people. It didn’t even enter my head that I might get the disease.

“Cancer made Nicole and I grow up very quickly. We got through it and now if we can help other people get through it then we’ll do everything we can.”

Every day, 88 people are diagnosed with cancer in Scotland and the number of people being diagnosed with cancer has now reached around 32,000 people every year.*

Erin of Carluke, South Lanarkshire, knows exactly how vital the power of research is. Erin was in her fourth year at Carluke High School when she first started feeling unwell, developing unexplained bruises and fainting on the way to school. She recalls vividly the moment her life was turned upside down on October 29, 2015, at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow after tests revealed she had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Erin endured two and a half years of treatment including eight cycles of chemotherapy in total. Her lowest point was in May 2016 when a chest infection led to pneumonia and Erin was in the intensive care ward, watched over anxiously by her parents, Yvonne McCafferty and Vincent Mooney, both 47.

Erin in Race for Life tshirt

Erin said: “I thought I was going to die.

“I felt so terrible. I remember even saying to my mum that if this was really it then she should just let me go. I felt so unwell then but my consultant Dr Brenda Gibson was amazing, very calm and explained what we were going to do to get me well again.”

As Erin slowly recovered there were good days too. Her twin Nicole rallied family and friends to raise more than £31,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust. It was fixed up for the twins to meet the Britain’s Got Talent stars including Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and comedian David Walliams and they also jetted to London to a gig where they met singer Olly Murs. But the greatest highpoint was on February 27 last year after Erin took her final chemotherapy pill and was able to ring the ‘End of Treatment bell’ at hospital. Now Erin is keen to train as a nurse to help others.

Erin said: “I was very scared in the early days when I got cancer and there were some really special, highly skilled nurses who stepped in to help me saying just the right thing at exactly the time I needed them to.

“I’d love to be that special person for someone else in the future and to give something back.”

Cancer Research UK has funded pioneering research in to understanding different types of childhood leukaemia, which has improved the way children are treated today, meaning more survive.

Organisers are appealing for Scots of all ages and abilities to stride out to help beat cancer with Scotland’s first Race for Life 5K and 10K events of the year kicking off in Stirling and South Queensferry on May 12, closely followed this spring by events across the country, everywhere from Edinburgh to Irvine, Falkirk to Fife. Scotland’s biggest Race for Life event is on Sunday May 19 at Glasgow Green.

Lisa Adams, Cancer Research UK’s spokeswoman in Scotland, said: “We’d like to thank Erin and Nicole for helping us celebrate Race for Life Glasgow’s 25th birthday this spring.

“Our Race for Life events are fun, colourful, emotional and uplifting. They help people with cancer by raising money for research, including clinical trials which give patients across Scotland access to the latest treatments. You don’t have to be sporty to take part. You don’t need to train or compete against anyone else.  All you need to do is go to the Race for Life website, pick an event, sign up and then have fun raising money in whatever way you like.

“Taking part in our Race for Life events enables like-minded people to get together and remember loved ones lost to cancer or celebrate the lives of those who have survived.  At the same time, they are helping to make a difference to people with cancer, right now.  Our Race for Life events were women-only when they started, over 25 years ago.  But we now feel the time is right to open them up so that everyone – women, men and children – has the chance to participate together.

“One in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer, at some point during their lifetime.  Sadly, this means nearly everyone is touched by the disease, either directly or through a loved one or friend.  To make a significant difference in the fight against cancer we need to harness as much energy and commitment as possible – so what better way than involving everyone in the community in our events.

“This spring, we’re urging mums, dads, nans, grandpas, brothers, sisters, friends and workmates to show their support by joining the Race for Life.  It’s a perfect example of everyday people doing an extraordinary thing – uniting in a common cause to beat cancer.”

Cancer survival in the UK has doubled since the early 1970s and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress. Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, the charity was able to spend around £38 million last year in Scotland on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research. Glasgow is home to the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute where a thriving community of cancer scientists and doctors are working to reduce the impact of this disease around the world. An exciting programme of work has been established to look for ways to tailor treatment for pancreatic cancer. Our scientists in Glasgow first manufactured the brain cancer drug, temozolomide. Thousands of people now benefit from treatment with this drug worldwide.

Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with Tesco, is an inspiring series of 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy and Pretty Muddy Kids events which raise millions of pounds every year to help beat cancer by funding crucial research.

To enter Race for Life today visit raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.

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Roll out of Chatty Cafe Scheme in Glasgow venues helps tackle loneliness

chatternatter

Simply passing the time of day with a stranger could bring some longed-for human contact to someone’s day.

That’s the premise of the Chatter & Natter table, within the café at St Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life and Art.

chatternatter

The museum’s café, run by Encore Hospitality Services, has joined The Chatty Café Scheme that is looking to include chatter and natter tables in establishments, as part of our everyday café culture.

The table, in the café, is marked with distinctive signage indicating that customers who sit at it are happy to talk to other customers, while they enjoy their refreshments.

Part of the city’s support for The Campaign to End Loneliness, a Chatter & Natter café creates a space for people to talk; whether it’s for five minutes while you have a quick cuppa, or half an hour of good conversation.

Since its inception, around six months ago, café staff noticed that the table was particularly busy during peak tourist season when tour guides and Glasgow Cathedral staff take to sitting at the table talking to visitors and residents alike.

Ann Cameron, Encore Catering Manager at St. Mungo’s, said “When we introduced the Chatter & Natter table we didn’t quite know how it would be received.

“Some days are busier than others at the table, but if it’s quiet and staff see someone sitting at it, we always make a point of going over to have a conversation with the person.

“We know that our five minute chat might just have a big impact on someone’s day.

“Recently, I also spoke to a mother visiting with her daughter, whom she cares for, who had come specifically to the cafe to sit at the table and were looking for other venues to visit.”

The scheme is now being rolled out to other Encore cafes in Bellahouston Leisure Centre, Tollcross International Swimming Centre, Kelvin Hall and Tramway in Glasgow.

The move to include other venues comes as last year The Campaign to End Loneliness revealed that more than two-thirds of Glaswegians had experienced loneliness at some point in their lives. With nine in 10 people in Glasgow believing loneliness in older age is now “more likely than ever.”