Estranged Students Campaign
Over the last twelve months, I have been struck by the experiences of a group of vulnerable students that are recognised by very few – those who have become estranged from their families.
Estranged means they have no family support and there is a permanent breakdown in their relationship with their parents or guardians.
I have been working with Stand Alone, a charity which supports estranged adults and students who have faced homelessness and poverty as a result of their estrangement, to call for more support.
These estranged students often experience severe financial difficulties, loneliness and the threat of homelessness during the holidays or after graduation.
Scotland is already leading the way when it comes to widening access to higher education and I want to ensure that estranged students don’t fall into a gap. I want to see these young people having access to the right support in every college and university across Scotland.
After meeting with the Deputy First Minister and SAAS last week, I am delighted the Scottish Government is now planning a study into the numbers of estranged students in Scotland and the support they need. The plan will also include considering the extending our existing care-experienced bursary to those who are estranged.
Get our Track Back
I have been hard at work campaigning for the rail link between Dyce and Ellon to be re-opened. I recently launched my campaign ‘Get our Track Back’ along with a local survey to constituents asking for their views.
The railway line, which linked Aberdeen with Fraserburgh and Peterhead, was closed as part of the Beeching cuts of the 1960s.While the opening of the AWPR has been a huge investment for the North-east, reducing pollution and cutting journey times for commuters, I believe that additional rail services in my constituency would allow more people wider access to travel in and out of Aberdeen, and further reduce the numbers of commuters on the roads.
Last year the Scottish Government announced a climate emergency and it’s imperative we look at all options for reducing traffic on our roads with more access to rail for commuters being a top priority.
I am calling for people to ‘Take 5’ when out and about in a bid to help prevent plastic pollution.
Previously I have written to the major supermarkets asking what further steps they are taking to reduce the amount of excess plastic packaging earlier this year. I also met with Scottish Retail Consortium to discuss the excessive use of plastic packaging in shops.
Now, I am calling on my fellow MSPs, businesses and individuals to back my pledge to ‘Take 5’ by collecting at least five pieces of litter when out on walks in the neighbourhood, forests and beaches. This year I will also be bringing my ‘Take 5 Tour’ to local schools, to engage with local children and young people about littering.
As someone who regularly goes on walks along many of the natural beauty spots in Aberdeenshire, I am unfortunately all too aware of how often litter can accumulate with plastics ending up on our shores and riverbanks. While some work is being done to reduce plastic waste by certain major supermarkets, we must also be mindful when out and about of how we can all play our part as individuals to help reduce plastic by collecting it in reusable bags.
Our behaviour and our attitude will either reduce littering, waste and pollution or increase it. We face that choice every day – and in 2020 we can continue to make a difference. I would encourage everyone to ‘Take 5’ when they’re out and about because it really can make the difference to our environment, keeping our waters clean and helping to protect wildlife and marine life too.