Mar 242017
 

With thanks to Clare Scott, Communications Consultant, CJS Communication & Marketing.

An Aberdeen-based family support charity is using Mother’s Day to highlight the important role that experienced parents can play in supporting new mums and dads.
Home-Start Aberdeen works with families in the city, with at least one child under five years old, who may be vulnerable or suffering from
isolation. 

It provides these families with weekly support, which is delivered in their own home by a trained home visiting volunteer.

The majority of Home-Start Aberdeen volunteers are parents themselves, who understand the challenges involved in bringing up a family.

Now one of the largest Home-Start schemes in the UK, Home-Start Aberdeen supports over 220 families and 360 children each year. Isolation remains one of the most common reasons for referrals and the charity has a waiting list of more than 30 families who are in need of help.

Georgette Cobban, scheme manager, Home-Start Aberdeen said:

“Many of today’s new parents don’t have immediate access to a solid support network.

“People move around a lot more, meaning that extended family are not always available to give a helping hand, or to provide new parents with a break.

“Our home visiting volunteers help to fill that role, by providing a regular presence along with advice and encouragement on how new parents can get involved with community life. As we approach Mothering Sunday, we hope that experienced parents might consider reaching out to others.

“The Home-Start model works very well as the relationship is equal. It is all about parents supporting other parents and we know that our volunteers, as well as our families, get a great deal from it.”

Now in its 30th anniversary year, Home-Start Aberdeen has launched a ’30 in 30’ campaign to recruit 30 new volunteers within 30 weeks. Volunteer induction courses are taking place throughout the year, with the next course starting on Wednesday, 3 May. For further information, go to www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk or email volunteering@homestartaberdeen.org.uk.

Home-Start Aberdeen has been working with communities in the city for 30 years. The charity provides vulnerable families with practical and emotional support in their own homes. Support is provided by trained volunteers, with supervision from a small team of coordinators. Families must have at least one child under five years old and live within the city, otherwise there are no barriers to access.

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Mar 242017
 

Aberdeenshire’s Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG) councillors – Paul Johnston and Martin Ford – have welcomed a report on ‘Augmented provision for young people’ being considered at a meeting of their Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee. 

The report recommends how to use the additional £100,000 for ‘youth work’ included in Aberdeenshire’s 2017/18 revenue budget passed on 9 February.

The DIGG included £70,000 for youth work (re-allocated from within the community learning and development budget) in its draft 2017/18 budget proposals published last November.

Following budget discussions, £70,000 of new money for youth work was included in the Aberdeenshire administration’s 2017/18 budget proposals published on 2 February.

The amount for youth work was then increased from £70,000 to £100,000 after the Scottish Government announced additional funding for councils on 2 February and further discussions took place between the DIGG and the administration regarding the extra Government grant.

The DIGG argued that new Council funding for youth work was required to support activities that now fall outside the scope of community learning and development, and suggested either direct provision by the Council or grants to community groups would be appropriate.

Both direct provision and grants are now being recommended by officers. 

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“The DIGG identified funding for youth work as a budget priority and we are very pleased £100,000 has been included in the 2017/18 revenue budget.

“The report to the 23 March meeting of the Education and Children’s Services Committee means a decision can be taken on how to use the additional money before the financial year starts at the beginning of April.”

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Mar 172017
 

With thanks to Ian McLaren, PR account manager, Innes Associates.

A north-east charity has launched a major appeal to raise £50,000 that will be used to support the region’s sick, disabled and disadvantaged children.
Cash for Kids is looking to recruit 500 people from across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire to be part of its 500 Faces fundraising campaign.

Each person that signs up will commit to raising £100 this year in order that the local children’s charity’s appeal target is reached.

Tradespeople, work colleagues, groups of friends, families and school classes are all encouraged to take part. It is hoped that the option of spreading fundraising over the course of a year will attract a number of participants.

All of the money from the 500 Faces appeal will be used to help fulfil applications to Cash for Kids’ unique grant funding programme. The charity provides grant funding to individuals, families and community groups across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire on a quarterly basis to help improve the quality of children’s lives.

For some families the grant programme is the only option open to them to fund the purchase of specialist equipment for their children, as often there are no other funding mechanisms. Each application made to the grant programme has to be endorsed by a third party such as a social worker or health visitor.

The 500 Faces appeal is taking place to ensure that as many grant applications as possible are fulfilled each quarter.  Currently, the total value of grant applications received by Cash for Kids outweighs the amount donated by the public and business community. The deadline for submitting applications for the next round of grant funding is Friday, 14 April.

Participants have nine months to reach their £100 goal – which equates to £2.50 a week – and can be as creative as they wish with their fundraising. Money can be raised through one-off challenges, a series of events or regular weekly or monthly donations.

People are expected to fundraise by undertaking sponsored running, cycling, swimming and even slimming challenges, beard shavings and leg waxing, or simply foregoing a weekly takeaway coffee and donating the equivalent value. For local businesses and tradespeople it may be as simple as donating their tips or a percentage of a month’s takings to the appeal.

Michelle Ferguson (pictured), Cash for Kids charity manager, said:

“The 500 Faces campaign is a really fun way for people to get involved with Cash for Kids and raise money throughout the year. There is real flexibility in how individuals can fundraise and no limit to how much each person raises.

“We hope that people across the region get behind the appeal and that all of those who sign up can help motivate one another in achieving their goals. The appeal website has individual and collective totalisers which should help to do this – they’re a bit like high-tech versions of the Blue Peter totalisers. 

“We are looking forward to our participants sharing their fundraising ideas, which will no doubt create some friendly competition.

“When £100 is broken down across the nine months to £2.50 a week, it is a relatively small amount and a manageable fundraising target. The impact that £100 can have on the lives of sick, disabled and disadvantaged children living in our communities is transformational. 

“From purchasing bread for breakfast clubs in deprived areas, to providing equipment for art therapy classes for disabled children, each donation does make a real difference.”

To register, visit www.northsound1.com/faces.

Cash for Kids is Northsound Radio’s listeners’ charity. It makes grants to individuals, families, children’s groups, organisations and projects throughout the Northsound transmission area.  All money is raised locally and spent locally to benefit local disabled and disadvantaged children and young people under 18. More information on Cash for Kids can be found at www.northsound1.com/charity, or telephone 01224 337010.

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Mar 102017
 

With thanks to Ian McLaren, PR account manager, Innes Associates.

Sick, disabled and disadvantaged children living in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire will benefit after six local couples said ‘I do’ to raising thousands of pounds for charity for the chance to win a dream wedding.
The brides and grooms to be were taking part in Aberdeen-based children’s charity Cash for Kids’ annual Win Your Wedding fundraising competition.

On offer for the couple who raised the most money was an exclusive wedding package at a leading four-star Aberdeenshire hotel. 

In total, the six duos raised £57,191.20 in just two weeks. They took on a wide range of fundraising challenges, including a five-a-side football tournament, pub quizzes, coffee mornings, auctions, bucket collections, a duck race, bag-packing and sponsored leg waxing and beard-shavings.

Raising the most money were Ellon couple Natasha Matthew and Grant Reid who collected £12,197.83. The reward for their efforts was a dream wedding day at the award-winning Meldrum Country House Hotel. The winners’ wedding package, which is worth around £25,000, includes a reception in the Oldmeldrum hotel’s new ballroom, which opened last year.

Also included in the wedding package are venue décor, a wedding dress, grooms’ wear, flowers, wedding rings, health, fitness and beauty packages, along with wedding cars, photography and childcare for the big day. All of the items have been donated by local businesses.

Natasha and Grant, who met at school and got engaged eight years ago, say they’re really proud of their achievement. Natasha said:

“Grant and I have really enjoyed raising the money for Cash for Kids, but we could not have done it without all of our supporters who have been so generous with their time and money. We really can’t thank everyone enough and we can’t wait to start planning our big day as soon as possible.”

Over the past six years the Win Your Wedding contest has seen couples who are planning to tie the knot raise over £185,000 for Cash for Kids. 

The charity provides grant funding to individuals, families and community groups on a quarterly basis and all of the money that the competition raises is used to help fulfil these grant applications. The deadline for submitting applications for the next round of grant funding is Friday, 14 April.

Michelle Ferguson, Cash for Kids charity manager, said:

“We are very grateful to our couples who have all made such an amazing effort to collectively raise more than £57,000. Our thanks must also go to everyone who has helped them raise this phenomenal amount of money by taking part in their fundraising initiatives and donating to Cash for Kids.

“Every penny that the couples raised is distributed to individual children, families and community groups in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, making a huge difference to their lives. The couples’ hard work and enthusiasm has been second to none.

“The support and generosity shown by the local businesses who helped us put together this fantastic package for Win Your Wedding is very much appreciated.

“Meldrum House is a stunning setting for a wedding and the hotel’s involvement has certainly helped generate interest in the contest. Without the support of all the businesses, we would not be able to run this competition or assist all the children that we do through our unique grant scheme.”

Cash for Kids is Northsound Radio’s listeners’ charity. It makes grants to individuals, families, children’s groups, organisations and projects throughout the Northsound transmission area. All money is raised locally and spent locally to benefit local disabled and disadvantaged children and young people under 18.

More information on Cash for Kids can be found at www.northsound1.com/cashforkids, or telephone 01224 337010.

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Feb 072017
 

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

Four Scottish youngsters with special needs have received play equipment that will help them build their independence and get out and about in their own communities to socialise and play.
Aberdeen Asset Management granted more than £3,900 to purchase two trikes, a standing frame and a walking frame for youngsters living in the Edinburgh and Aberdeen areas.

The global financial management firm responded to an appeal from Handicapped Children’s Action Group to fund the apparatus, which is not available on the NHS, and at purchase costs averaging £1,000 per  item, is usually cost prohibitive for families to purchase.

The charity receives over 800 referrals a year from health professionals, but only has the funding to help around 180-190 of these cases.

The charity  would love to be able to help every single applicant but with no government funding the charity is dependent on fundraising and the support of organisations like Aberdeen Asset Management to help it provide the much-needed equipment.

Carole Davies from Handicapped Children’s Action Group said:

“A trike gives independence and mobility to a child who has had to rely on an adult for every movement; a walking frame gives a child the ability to get up and walk freely without assistance while a buggy enables a family to take their child into the community without fear of safety issues. Play frames enable a child with autism to play safely and explore in a controlled environment.

“All equipment brings fun, movement, mobility and integration to children all over the country and without the help of people like Aberdeen Asset Management we would be unable to achieve this.”

More than £3,900 was spent on the purchase of two trikes, a standing frame and a walking frame for three children in Edinburgh and one in Aberdeen.

Handicapped Children’s Action Group is a registered charity based in Lincolnshire which assists children and families across the UK. When it started in 1988 it helped about a dozen families a year, but now it helps well over 100 with the purchase of equipment varying in price from £500 to £2,500 per item. Requests come from physiotherapists who recommend that the equipment will help the youngster with day to day living. All the items funded by Aberdeen Asset Management were delivered to families just in time for Christmas.

Euan MacNeish of Aberdeen Asset Management’s Edinburgh charity committee said:

“Equipment provided by Handicapped Children’s Action Group will help give children with special needs the independence and mobility they deserve. Through the support of Aberdeen’s Charitable Committee we hope we are able to give these  children the ability to join in with the activities of children their own age and no longer watch from the side-lines. We are proud to support the local communities in which we operate in this way.”

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Jan 192017
 

Eileen Wheeler of Sunrise Partnership

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

A charity that helps children come to terms with the loss of a loved one has been delivered a ray of hope from global investment management group, Aberdeen Asset Management.

Sunrise Partnership will be able to provide almost 60 specialist sessions for children and young people up to the age of 18 living in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire whose lives have been affected by loss and bereavement, after receiving a four-figure donation from Aberdeen Asset Management.

The sessions allow youngsters to learn coping strategies tailored to them that help prepare them for the future.

The free and confidential support continues for as long as is needed, with referrals coming from schools, health and social work departments, third sector organisations and self-referrals too.

For younger children, using tools like puppets, books, arts and crafts and worksheets can be helpful in breaking down barriers to make easier for them to express feelings and emotions. There’s no limit to the amount of support provided and it’s not unusual for children to revisit them months or even a couple of years later as they get older and may have a different understanding of their grief.

Eileen Wheeler, manager of Sunrise Partnership, explained that loss is not always a bereavement; support is also provided for children in kinship whose natural parents may not be able to care for them.

Eileen said:

“Every case is treated individually and sessions are tailor made for the child. There is no complicated referral process or forms to fill in. We are just a telephone call or an email away from anyone who may need us.”

The bulk of the charity’s work has been in Aberdeen City, but it has also supported children in Peterhead, Aboyne, Banchory, Inverurie, Kemnay and Kintore, travelling to children and families to ensure services are accessible to all.

The charity has been providing its specialist one-to-one, sibling, family or group sessions in City and Shire since its formation  in 2014, and last year received 52 new referrals.

Dominic Kite of Aberdeen Asset Management’s Aberdeen charity committee said:

“Sunrise Partnership seeks to provide the best possible support for children and young people through its specialist sessions, allowing them to achieve their true potential despite a significant loss or bereavement in their lives. To be able to help such an inspirational charity, and young people, in the city where our company was founded is very important to us.”

Sunrise Partnership can be contacted on  07827 755735 or by emailing: support@sunrisepartnership.org

Aberdeen Asset’s Charitable Foundation seeks partnerships with smaller charities around the world, where funds can be seen to have a meaningful and measurable impact and the firm encourages its employees to use their time and skills to support its charitable projects.

The main focus of the Foundation is around emerging markets and local communities, reflecting the desire to give back to those areas which are a key strategic focus of the business and to build on the historic pattern of giving to communities in which Aberdeen employees live and work.

For more information visit http://www.aberdeen-asset.co.uk/aam.nsf/foundation/home

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Dec 232016
 

With thanks to Yvette Rayner, PR Account Manager, Frasermedia.

An Aberdeen sports facility is urging kids to don their trainers over the festive break, following a report on child weight and obesity.
Aberdeen Sports Village (ASV), based in the city’s Linksfield Road, has a series of festive camps available for children from P1 – S3, to encourage youngsters to stay active and healthy during the Christmas break.

A new report from NHS Scotland, showed that almost a quarter of children starting school in Scotland are overweight or obese, sparking fears of long-term physical and mental health issues, including diabetes, heart disease and depression.

The body mass index of 92% of all 2015/16 primary one children was analysed, and results indicated that one in ten children starting school was already at risk of obesity, with a further 12% at risk of being overweight. The statistics, collected from all NHS boards in Scotland, also showed that NHS Grampian region had more overweight P1s than health boards in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

ASV, which was established in 2009, aims to provide world class sporting opportunities for everyone in the community, and the facility has a number of festive events during December and January, to keep Aberdonians of all ages fit and healthy.

ASV boasts a state-of-the-art gym, sports halls, indoor and outdoor athletics facilities, a range of exercise classes and indoor football pitches, as well as the Aquatics Centre, which includes an Olympic standard 50m pool and 25m diving pool.  

Two festive camps will take place, for children from P1 – S3, to give youngsters the chance to run off some steam after Christmas. The camps, the first from 27th – 30th December and the second a healthy start to 2017 from 3rd – 6th January, will ensure children go back to school feeling ready for the new academic session.

The ASV festive camps aim to give children the chance to try out a range of sports, from athletics to volleyball, as well as introducing some Christmas cheer with games of Quidditch and the famous ASV Aqua Run, an inflatable obstacle course in ASV’s 50m pool.

ASV CEO Duncan Sinclair, said:

“As adults we know we should exercise more, but for youngsters, particularly in winter when it is cold and dark outside, it’s all too easy to stay inside on the Xbox or watching YouTube.

“The Christmas holidays can be a long time for parents and so our festive camps will help the youngsters stay busy and entertained. Children from 4-15 will enjoy running around trying out new sports, and meeting new friends. Lifetime habits are learnt at a young age, so it is never too early for parents to introduce a wide variety of sports to their children.”

To book ASV festive camps, visit www.aberdeensportsvillage.com or call 01224 438900.

Aberdeen Sports Village (ASV):

ASV is the premier sports facility in the North East of Scotland and home to an array of first class sporting facilities and events.

ASV aims to deliver high quality sports services and opportunities for all at the home of sport in the North East. The facility, which opened in 2009, is the result of a joint venture by funding partners the University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen City Council and sportscotland.

For more information please visit www.aberdeensportsvillage.com

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Dec 062016
 
pupils-from-invergarry-primary-school-with-singer-and-harpist-claire-hewitt-medium

Pupils from Invergarry Primary School with singer and harpist Claire Hewitt.

With thanks to Richard Bunting, Director, Richard Bunting PR.

Schools in the Highlands are working with conservation charity Trees for Life to learn firsthand about native woodlands and rewilding through a new project that combines tree planting with storytelling, folklore, history, geography, poetry and song.

Around 300 pupils in Cannich, Balnain, Drumnadrochit, Fort Augustus and Invergarry are taking part in the Rewilding the Highlands project, which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“This is an exciting collaboration in which teachers and pupils are working together to discover more about our precious native woodlands and the importance of restoring Scotland’s ancient Caledonian Forest,” said Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life’s Founder.

Specially commissioned teaching resources written by Sallie Harkness and Carol Omand of Storyline Scotland – including stories, songs and puppets – are bringing the project alive for the schoolchildren. The pupils are also learning about past relationships between people and trees, Gaelic place-names, and the craft of the storyteller or seanachaidh.

Storyteller, singer and harpist Claire Hewitt recently visited Invergarry Primary School to share woodland folklore, songs and stories, while training upper primary pupils as apprentice storytellers.

Gaelic storyteller Ariel Killick also visited Invergarry Primary School and Kilchuimen Primary School in Fort Augustus, using her engaging workshop ‘Adventures with the Gaelic Tree Alphabet’ to explore environmental issues, Gaelic poetry and language, and the Highland clearances.

Kim Bentley, Head Teacher at Invergarry Primary School, said:

“This fantastic project is helping to strengthen our pupils’ appreciation and love of our native woodlands. It’s wonderful for them to be involved in the restoration of the Caledonian Forest, and to be part of something that will have a lasting impact on future generations.”

The project addresses a wide range of curriculum areas including outdoor learning, science, Gaelic, arts and literacy. Participating schools have visited Trees for Life’s acclaimed Dundreggan Conservation Estate in Glenmoriston to find out more about conservation and to help in the charity’s tree nursery. 

Plans for the schools also include community celebrations of the project, and walks in community woodlands with pupils who are to be trained as nature guides.

Next spring, poets Alec Finlay and Ken Cockburn will work with secondary schools on a Gaelic place-name map, using linguistic archaeology to reveal lost woods and wildlife in Glen Affric, Glen Urquhart, Glenmoriston and Glen Garry. Pupils will carry out research, with their discoveries added to the map.

The Caledonian Forest has been an important part of the Highlands’ culture and natural landscape for millennia, but is now one of the UK’s most endangered habitats – largely because of over-grazing, which prevents natural regeneration of its trees. For details about Trees for Life’s award-winning work to save the forest, visit www.treesforlife.org.uk.

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Nov 282016
 

With thanks to Yvette Rayner, PR Account Manager, Frasermedia.

asv-santa-1Budding Santas are being urged to don their festive gear to bring some cheer to a children’s charity.

Christmas is all about giving and a fun-filled festive event at Aberdeen’s world-class sports facility is offering people of all ages the chance to join lots of cheery Santas to give something back.

Aberdeen Sports Village (ASV), in Linksfield Road, is hosting its first ever Santa Run and Obstacle Course, in aid of Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS).

The seasonal sporting extravaganza will take place at the Chris Anderson Stadium at ASV on Saturday, 10th December 2016.

The entry fee of £12.50 for adults and £7 for children includes a Santa suit with a hat, and sporty Santas can run, jog or walk the one-mile race and/or the one-mile obstacle course. No previous experience or fitness level is required and the event is open to fun-filled Aberdonians of all ages, from children to grandparents.

CEO of ASV, Duncan Sinclair, said:

“Christmas is coming and it is time to don our Santa hats and get festive! The Santa run is the ideal way to kick off your Christmas season and gift donations to a very worthy children’s charity. The one-mile race and short obstacle course will not be too tough but are the perfect opportunity to get some exercise while celebrating the most wonderful time of the year.

“ASV is delighted to be supporting CHAS as they do a fantastic job caring for babies and children with life-shortening conditions. It is important to think of others at Christmas so we urge as many people to come along to our Santa Run as possible.”

Emma Moore, community fundraiser at CHAS, said:

“We’re really excited that Aberdeen Sports Village has chosen to support CHAS with proceeds from their first ever Santa run event. It is shaping up to be a really fun day out for runners and non-runners alike, and we’re definitely looking forward to seeing everyone in their Santa suits!

“At CHAS, we put a huge emphasis on producing memories, so that families make the most of the precious moments they have together. This event is no exception, we hope people in and around Aberdeen will get behind it and sign up to take part!

“CHAS is the only national hospice charity in Scotland, which provides care to babies, children and young people with life-shortening conditions. Our CHAS at Home service operates across Aberdeenshire and we have two hospices, Rachel House in Kinross and Robin House in Balloch.”

Entries for the Aberdeen Santa run and obstacle race can be made at www.entrycentral.com.

 

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Nov 252016
 

As the Aberdeen Press & Journal gets into the festive spirit by announcing on its front cover today that ‘there ain’t no sanity clause’ and it’s dangerous to encourage children to believe in him, Old Susannah aka Suzanne Kelly marvels at Damian Bate’s organ yet again, and how it has seized the spirit of good will with its attack on Father Christmas.

DictionaryAt this time of year, it’s important to realise how lucky we are, and to think of those who are less fortunate, who suffer, who are abused.

Imagine spending your days in a no-hope situation. A tyrant forces you to do things against your better nature. You are humiliated on a daily basis, and people openly laugh at what you are doing.

Let’s take a moment then and pause. We have our problems. We might have money and health worries. It’s freezing cold.

But at least we don’t have to write for the Press & Journal and Evening Express under Damian Bates and Sarah Malone Bates.

Some poor soul had to write the infamous ‘TRAITORS!’ article back in the early days of Trump’s planning campaign depicting councillors who dared to vote against the unprecedented Trump golf plans.

Some idealistic young thing who years ago dreamed of a career in journalism now takes orders to write articles praising Damian’s wife’s forays into running a 5 star resort (or is that 6 diamonds – as Turnip awarded himself a few years back?). Imagine the overpriced coffee, the clunky ‘temporary’ clubhouse where the invented ‘Trump family crest’* asserts itself on every piece of furniture, paper serviette and presumably loo roll too.

And you have to submit copy saying it’s fabulous.

While you are instructed to write yet another review of MacLeod House and its beautiful concrete fountain, all around you local writers are firing off Freedom of Information requests, digging into Companies House files, and uncovering stories which actually constitute investigative journalism while you try to find 250 words about why the chicken supreme is worth £40 per head, all the while ignoring the giant plaque staring at you through the clubhouse windows proclaiming that you are on the world’s largest sand dune system.

You might like to say something about this being a blatantly untrue fabrication – but you don’t really dare to do so.

At least you get paid for it. Rather like those girls around the harbour. At least they don’t have to put their name to their handiwork. And quite understandably, many of the AJL articles go without anyone claiming a byline.

santa-with-traumatised-children-creepy-santa-comAnd now this week one of you was handed an arcane, clearly deliberately provocative piece from two academics who believe perpetuating the Santa Claus fable is akin to child abuse. ‘Give me a front page story on Bad Santa’ Damian or one of his minions told you.

And you did it, didn’t you?

Did you care this angle has been done before? Was what you were going to bring to the argument so brilliant you didn’t care? Maybe you were happy to get away from Trump for a little, or you were happy to try and forget the real news stories in our area that a reporter would want to cover – Marischal Square and its genesis, who is linked to who in the curious companies Sir Ian Wood and others still keep afloat even though (theoretically) the Union Terrace Gardens parking lot scheme (for that was all it really was) is dead in the water.

Maybe you don’t want to think about the fact your newspaper (for lack of a better word) will soon need to metaphorically tug its forelock at the city council: what other newspaper would even remotely consider taking a free rent from a city council? Can you even keep track of the number of city council stories and dealings that should have been investigated by the local printed press?

No, you are now going to Google elves, Santa, and present your findings on the new throwaway theory Santa is Bad Santa. Someone else is going to look into Muse, Trump, Inspired, fraud inside the council, etc. etc. But not you or your fellow Aberdeen Journals writers.

And Result! Good for you!

The Facebook P&J page has hundreds of hits on this story. Of course most of them are ridiculing the fact your boss put this on the paper’s front cover, and some are angry that young children will see this and dissolve into tears – thus spoiling photoshoots for your next ‘adorable tot’ competition. Hits matter on Facebook to your boss – even if the paper is not exactly flying off the shelf. You may well put this into your cuttings book – another front page story for you.

At least it beats the brains out of having to type for the umpteenth time ‘breathe fresh life into the beating heart of the city’ and such. How do you breathe into a heart anyway?  How fast can you as an Evening Express reporter type the phrase ‘vibrant and dynamic?’ Do they pay you for the word much as some other professionals are paid by the hour?  I’ve always wondered.

Maybe someday they’ll give a Pulitzer for incisive, pithy front page stories about the Tooth Fairy’s negative psychological impact on children. Perhaps that brilliant headline your paper used when a young man was missing ‘search called off due to unforeseen circumstances’ about a no-show psychic should have received more acclaim – how the family must have laughed! But not today.

Just maybe your Father Christmas article will lead to bigger and better – there is no shortage of crackpot experts with degrees who write ridiculous papers to get noticed – not that the attack on the Santa belief wasn’t a serious, scholarly work. You’ll find them – or Damian will find them and tell you to write up an op ed. Can a piece about the Loch Ness Monster be that far off now? I guess we all aspire to something.

perhaps time for you to pick up an actual newspaper and see what other writers are doing

So, many of us who contribute to Aberdeen Voice will keep doing the work you’re too busy to do. We’ll keep revealing that despite Trump’s declarations to the contrary, he was definitely seeking compulsory purchase orders against his neighbours. That was an AV scoop, and it doesn’t seem you picked up on that.

Guess it didn’t have the gravitas a piece on the Easter Bunny will do when you write it.

We revealed the literally cozy relationship between the P&J and Trump International Golf Links Scotland. We found out how much money from the public purse was spent promoting the risible UTG project. Did you like looking at those lurid images of the ridiculous ramps arching over an impossible landscape of trees and open air theatre month after month?

You’ve gone all out to help the council (usually).  Remember the Evening Express story designed to lend creedence to the city’s plans for killing the Tullos Hill Deer?  The deer were going to be killed to plant trees on Tullos despite public outcry to just leave the hill, wildflower meadow and deer alone.  The trees aren’t growing, but the deer are dead.  Your paper helpfully announced ‘Two Deer Found Dead Ahead of Cull’ – implying the poor creatures needed to be culled for their own good.  Then I found out it was fully two years before the cull was proposed that the deer were found dead of unknown cause.  Your paper never did cover my story that deer had clearly been slaughtered in the Gramps – severed limbs were found.  The preposterous claim Ranger Talboys made was that the deer must have been killed somewhere else, then the poachers marched up two different hills to deposit the limbs.  I guess there wasn’t room for any of this as well as another review of MacLeod House.  The ‘cost-neutral’ tree scheme Peter Leonard of ACC forced on the taxpayer has now cost a five-figure sum – obviously that’s not newsworthy to Damian.

As I write, it’s nearly 6pm – knocking off time for you, or perhaps time for you to pick up an actual newspaper and see what other writers are doing. Does it bother you to read Monbiot, Rob Edwards, people who care about corruption, the environment, the threat Trump poses to world stability – or are you genuinely content writing about the latest P&J sponsored award show held at the AECC and who won a golden cabbage or whatever it is given out that helps generate advertising revenue and PR for your stable of publications?

From the rest of us, we feel sorry for you. It’s not news you’re writing. It’s not investigative journalism your paper offers as a norm. You are sucking up to your advertisers (remember when a certain diminutive housebuilder reportedly threatened to pull his advertising if you ever wrote a critical piece on him again? I do). The press should serve as a check and balance on the council; in the P&J’s case, the council’s cheques for ads total £200,000 a year, and press you into service.

Adios to ideals; to dreams of reporting and investigating, or choosing what stories to follow. The rest of us feel your shame, and we pity you. This has taken enough of your time though, and you will likely have a beautiful tot or beautiful bride layout to work on.

Some of us managed to believe (or half believe) the Santa Claus/Father Christmas mythology without it turning us into megalomaniacal would-be fascist dictators, preening newspaper editors whose Facebook page consists of a series of selfies and little else, or a woman in a job over her head who will do anything for money, however much that means swallowing racism, sexism and nationalism – just hypothetical examples of personality disorders, mind you.

I am very thankful. Thankful I am never going to work for you or those you serve.

STOP PRESS:  Be sure to take your children to Santa’s Grotto at the Trump International Golf Links Scotland; if you’re going to scar the offspring for life, do it somewhere where they know about great big men with odd hair promising lots of gifts to people who do what they are told to do (even if those gifts never materialise). A tenner a tyke.

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