RSA drop-in eye test event 27th November 2013

I attended an RSA Insurance Group event on Wednesday 27th November, and you can see my official press release below.

Jean Urquhart MSP calls on all drivers to have regular eye testsRSA and Specsavers 'Fit to Drive' road safety and eye health drop-inRSA and Specsavers 'Fit to Drive' road safety and eye health drop-in

On Wednesday 27 November Jean Urquhart MSP attended an RSA Insurance Group’s ‘Fit to Drive’ road safety and eye health drop-in eye test event in the Scottish Parliament. Supported by road safety charity Brake and Optometry Scotland and held just after National Road Safety Week, the event saw MSPs from all political parties tested to see whether they meet the UK’s minimum eye health standards.

Research shows that poor vision results in nearly 3,000[1] casualties in the UK each year. In addition to injury and loss of life, road crashes are costly for individuals, their families and the wider economy. The total cost of crashes due to poor driver vision is estimated to be £33m[2] a year.

During the event Jean Urquhart MSP found out more about how this issue affects the Highlands and Islands Region and had her eyes tested by a qualified Specsavers optometrist.

Jean Urquhart said:

“Drivers should take their responsibilities for their own and other people’s safety extremely seriously. An important part of this is making sure their eyesight meets the standards required and they wear their glasses or lenses every time they drive if they need them.

“Thousands of crashes happen every year because of poor vision, at great cost to those involved and to the economy as a whole.

“I’m glad to say that I’m fit to drive but it’s vital everyone gets their eyes tested regularly to make sure they are safe too.”

Adrian Brown, CEO of RSA UK & Western Europe, said:

“Regular testing helps maintain good eyesight and that means fewer crashes and safer roads. It’s good to see MSPs getting this message out to their constituents.

“We also want existing EU rules on driver eyesight to be properly implemented in the UK. We’re currently lagging behind many other countries and that means our roads aren’t as safe as they could be.”

Sam Watson, Chair of Optometry Scotland, said:

“Sight loss and road crashes are two major and interlinked public health challenges.  Both are also largely avoidable and an excellent first step to addressing them is to encourage regular sight tests for all drivers. We urge local authorities, the public health community and local eye health networks to work together to relay this message to drivers and the general public.”

Notes to editors

1.  With a 300 year heritage, RSA is one of the world’s leading multinational quoted insurance groups. RSA has major operations in the UK, Scandinavia, Canada, Ireland, Asia and the Middle East, Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe and has the capability to write business in around 140 countries. Focusing on general insurance, RSA has around 23,000 employees and, in 2012, its net written premiums were £8.4 billion.

2. The full report, Healthy Eyes, Safer Roads is available for download from news.rsagroup.com

3. The total cost of UK road accidents due to poor driver vision is estimated to be £32.9m in 2012, with the average total cost per driver involved estimated to be £16,047. This includes:

•           health care costs for casualties;

•           productivity losses for casualties;

•           costs of police time in dealing with accidents;

•           property damage due to accidents; and

•           welfare losses associated with the above.

These figures are taken from the Cost benefit analysis of more frequent eyesight testing for UK drivers, October 2012 report, commissioned by RSA Group and written by Deloitte.

4. RSA’s Fit to Drive campaign is endorsed by Brake, the road safety charity, The Optical Confederation and Optometry Scotland.


[1] RSA Group, Cost benefit analysis of more frequent eyesight testing for UK drivers, October 2012 (Deloitte Access Economics)

 [2] Ibid.

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Climate Challenge Fund Advice Surgeries

 

The Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) has made 563 awards to the value of over £46.9 million since its launch in 2008. The fund helps community groups who have projects designed to help reduce their carbon footprint, and funded projects in the past have included community growing projects, initiatives to reduce, reuse and recycle and energy efficiency advice.

To encourage potential applicants, the Scottish Government will be holding two further advice surgeries in the Highlands and Islands next week to provide information to local community groups and interested parties. These will be held between 9.30am and 12.30pm on Tuesday 23rd July at the Merkinch Community Centre in Inverness and between 9.30am and 2pm on Thursday 25th July at the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Council Building in Stornoway (with videolinks to the Council Offices in Balivanich and Barra).

I would encourage any and all community groups with any ideas to pop along to these events in Inverness and Stornoway to hear more from the CCF. More information can be found at their website.

Photos: Dogs Trust Visit, July 2013

On July 4th, I was lucky enough to visit the Dogs Trust Rehoming Centre near Uddingston. The Dogs Trust are a fantastic charity whose dedicated employees and volunteers rehome over 1000 dogs every year. Each rehomed dog is neutered, vaccinated and microchipped, and is matched carefully to its new owners.

I discussed key dog welfare issues with front line staff at the rehoming centre – issues such as microchipping, which is a simple and effective tool that Dogs Trust believes should be made compulsory in Scotland to help trace abandoned pets back to irresponsible owners and reduce the number of healthy dogs unnecessarily put to sleep in the country.

Sadly abandonment is one of the main reasons dogs come in to the centre, and in 2012 they saw 4,524 dogs picked up in Scotland. This equates to 12 dogs being picked up each day by Local Authorities. Dogs Trust strongly believe that these numbers could be reduced by the introduction of compulsory microchipping.

I really enjoyed my visit to Dogs Trust Glasgow, especially meeting all the lovely dogs and dedicated staff who work so hard to care for them. The service that Dogs Trust provides for the dog population in Scotland is invaluable, and I greatly support the work that they do. I’ve been a supporter of compulsory microchipping, and hopefully the Government’s consultation later this year will yield further good news for man (and woman!)’s best friends.

Jean with Ben Hope, one of the centre's puppies
Jean with Ben Hope, one of the centre’s puppies
Jean and the team with Ben Hope.
Jean and the team with Ben Hope.
The Centre has dogs of all shapes, sizes and ages, but there's been a growing number of breeds requiring regular exercise such as huskies, malamutes and collies being brought to the Centre.
The Centre has dogs of all shapes, sizes and ages, but there’s been a growing number of breeds requiring regular exercise such as huskies, malamutes and collies being brought to the Centre.
The dogs in the Rehoming Centre are very well looked after- as well as temperature-controlled rooms, the dogs are well groomed and have at least one long walk a day
The dogs in the Rehoming Centre are very well looked after- as well as temperature-controlled rooms, the dogs are well groomed and have at least one long walk a day
The Centre receives about 3 or 4 dogs every day, and houses 100 or so dogs at any time. Some dogs stay for only a few weeks; others remain at the Centre for years waiting for the perfect owner. So far, 489 dogs have found new homes in 2013.
The Centre receives about 3 or 4 dogs every day, and houses 100 or so dogs at any time. Some dogs stay for only a few weeks; others remain at the Centre for years waiting for the perfect owner. So far, 489 dogs have found new homes in 2013.
Jean with Sandra, the Manager of the Dogs Trust at Uddingston. Sandra was kind enough to show us around the facilities and answer all of our questions.
Jean with Sandra, the Manager of the Dogs Trust at Uddingston. Sandra was kind enough to show us around the facilities and answer all of our questions.

 

Screen Machine Event, Scottish Parliament

Last week, I was able to catch up with some old friends when the Screen Machine  rolled into Parliament for its 15th anniversary. The Screen Machine is a tremendous mobile cinema, lodged inside a 35-tonne articulated lorry and taken into every nook and cranny in Scotland to bring the latest films to rural communities.

Thanks to funding from Creative Scotland, HIE and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, as well as support from RBS, the Screen Machine was able to visit 34 different communities in 2012/3, and is soon to be on its travels again. One of the films being shown is the much-lauded crowdsourced documentary We Are Northern Lights, and I was lucky enough to meet its director outside the Screen Machine last week.

Full details of the current tour and programme, including details of how to book tickets, are available at: www.screenmachine.co.uk or by phone on 0871 902 5750 – more information can also be found on their Twitter and Facebook pages.

Jean with Nick Higgins, Director of We Are Northern Lights (photo by Hannah Houston)
Jean with Nick Higgins, Director of We Are Northern Lights (photo by Hannah Houston)

 

Plockton Railway Station Plaque Unveiling

On April 26th, I was privileged to unveil a plaque at Plockton Railway Station to recognise a unique partnership initiative which has driven down anti-social behaviour.

Following complaints of low-level anti-social behaviour at the station by pupils from the neighbouring high school, it was felt the best way to encourage a feeling of responsibility and ownership was by bringing together a collaborative committee of those affected.

As a result incidents have been reduced considerably and the committee, which is made up entirely of pupils, has now gone one step further and adopted the ScotRail station. They now play a part in the station’s upkeep such as maintaining poster boards, planters and picking up litter.

 

Plockton & Kyleakin 26.04.13 003 Plockton & Kyleakin 26.04.13 005 Plockton & Kyleakin 26.04.13 006 Plockton & Kyleakin 26.04.13 009 Plockton & Kyleakin 26.04.13 013 Plockton & Kyleakin 26.04.13 025 Plockton & Kyleakin 26.04.13 026 Plockton & Kyleakin 26.04.13 031 Plockton & Kyleakin 26.04.13 035 Plockton & Kyleakin 26.04.13 038 Plockton & Kyleakin 26.04.13 039 Plockton plaque unveiling

Event: Abolition 2000, April 18th 2013

 

 

 

 

I was able to attend the closing event in the Scottish Parliament for “Abolition 2000”.

Abolition 2000 is a network of over 2000 organisations in 90 countries who are working to achieve nuclear disarmament, and it was great to have a chance to meet and share experiences with international experts on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, including the Scottish Parliament’s own Bill Kidd MSP, an A2000 Global Council Member and Co-President of PNND.

We also heard from Dr. Tad Akiba, Chairman Middle Powers Initiative, former Mayor of Hiroshima, and Karipbek Kuyukov, Honorary Ambassador, ATOM Project.

Abolition 2000 Part 2

 

Abolition 2000

 

Photos: Signing Kevin Stewart MSP’s Anti-Bedroom Tax Letter

Along with other SNP, Green and Independent MSPs, as well as a number of voluntary organisations, trade unions and disability groups, I signed an open letter to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne MP calling on the Bedroom Tax to be scrapped in this year’s Budget Statement on March 20th. City of Edinburgh-20130313-00046 City of Edinburgh-20130313-00047 City of Edinburgh-20130313-00050 IMG-20130313-00028 IMG-20130313-00029

Photos: Planting Potatoes at Hilton Primary School, Inverness

Despite the sudden flurries of snow, I was able to attend Hilton Primary School’s potato-planting session as part of the “Grow Your Own Potatoes” project this morning. It was great to see so many kids so enthusiastic about getting their hands dirty; projects like this and Crofting Connections, which teaches kids about crofting, are fantastic, and long may they continue.IMG_0374 Jean at Hilton PS P5 Hilton PS Potato Planting at Hilton PS

Photo: IF Campaign Parliamentary Reception

I attended the IF Campaign Parliamentary Reception last night. Enough Food for Everyone IF is a coalition of more than 150 organisations which have joined together to campaign for action by the G8 on the issue of global hunger. The last time these groups worked together at this scale was for Make Poverty History. Now that the G8 group of world leaders are returning to the UK, they are demanding the G8 take action on hunger. 2013 won’t be the end of hunger, but it could be the beginning of the end.Take a look at www.enoughfoodif.orgIF CAMPAIGN