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 102017
 

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

An Aberdeen-based charity is marking thirty years of support for vulnerable and isolated local families by hosting a 1930s-themed afternoon tea fundraiser.

Organised by the Friends of Home-Start Aberdeen, the event takes place at The Marcliffe Hotel & Spa on Sunday, 21 May.

Those who attend can look forward to an afternoon of opulent nostalgia from the era, including Rat Pack-inspired music and dancing.

Guests will be greeted with a welcome drink on arrival, with the opportunity to browse a variety of stalls. Refreshments and entertainment will then follow in The Marcliffe’s ballroom. Well-known master of ceremonies Doug Duthie will preside over the afternoon’s activities, which include exclusive prize draws and a charity raffle.

“This year’s afternoon tea is set to be particularly special, as it coincides with Home-Start Aberdeen’s 30th year in the city,” says Ally Cartwright, chairperson, Friends of Home-Start Aberdeen.

“The 1930s theme is a wonderful one to work with and we hope that people really get into the spirit of it. While there is no obligation to dress according to the era, we’ll be delighted if guests choose to do so.

“Home-Start Aberdeen has experienced phenomenal growth over the past three decades, however a list of families awaiting support continues to exist. All funds raised by the event will go towards recruiting and training new volunteers so that we can reach these families more quickly.”

Tickets for the 1930s-themed anniversary tea cost £30 each, with tables arranged in groups of 12. Orders can be placed by emailing admin@homestartaberdeen.org.uk or by telephoning 01224 693545. Guests are also being encouraged to bring along a bag of unwanted clothing or accessories; these will be collected on-site for Home-Start Aberdeen’s George Street charity shop.

Home-Start Aberdeen has been working with families in the city for 30 years. The charity provides families who may be vulnerable or suffering from isolation with emotional and practical support. This support is provided by trained volunteers, who spend two to three hours per week with a family in their own home.

Those who need help, or want to help, can find out more at www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk.

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Feb 242017
 

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

Georgette Cobban

A local family support charity has received a welcome 30th birthday gift in the form of a substantial donation from a major energy company.

Nexen Petroleum U.K. Limited has made a recent donation of £5,000 to Home-Start Aberdeen as the charity prepares to celebrate its thirtieth year of supporting families in the city.

Home-Start Aberdeen is a voluntary organisation that offers families who may be vulnerable, or suffering from isolation, with emotional and practical support in their own homes.

The charity has just launched a ’30 in 30’ volunteer recruitment drive to coincide with its 30th anniversary year.

It aims to attract and train 30 new home visiting volunteers in 30 weeks, to allow it to reduce the number of families that are currently waiting for support.

This latest donation from Nexen’s community investment fund follows a series of previous funding gifts. Home-Start Aberdeen has received £19,000 from the energy company since 2013; Nexen has also provided Home-Start in Hillingdon, which is located nearby its London headquarters, with funding support.

Ray Riddoch, Nexen’s managing director UK & senior VP Europe said:

“Nexen is committed to helping to strengthen the communities where we live and work. We focus on supporting initiatives that build inclusive, safe and thriving communities. Home Start provides opportunities and resources for families who need a step up, often helping them before they reach crisis point and in the safety of their own homes.

“Their mentoring programme delivers long term, positive effects for the families they help, resulting in stronger and more resilient communities across the areas where they work. We’re delighted to be able to continue to support Home Start in 2017.”

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

“Nexen’s generous support has made a genuine impact on our work in recent years. We have experienced a significant increase in demand from families during this period and Nexen’s funding has enabled us to grow to meet these demands. Home-Start Aberdeen takes a great pride in the quality of training that we offer our volunteers, as this training ensures that our families receive the best possible support.

“We currently have over 30 families on our waiting list. This latest donation will help us to run additional volunteer preparation courses so that we can reach these families more quickly.”

Home-Start Aberdeen’s 30th anniversary year commenced on Monday, 13 February 2017. The charity, which supports around 200 families and 300 children each year, works with referred families to help them access relevant health and welfare services, manage family budgets and nutrition, engage with their communities and enjoy family life again.

Further information is available at www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk.

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Jan 272017
 

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

Family support charity Home-Start Aberdeen has issued a plea for new volunteers as it prepares to celebrate its thirtieth year of support and friendship for vulnerable city families.

The Aberdeen scheme, which has grown to become one of the largest Home-Starts in the UK, is aiming to recruit 30 new volunteers in 30 weeks in order to drive down numbers on its waiting list.

Home-Start Aberdeen provides local families who may be vulnerable, or suffering from isolation, with emotional and practical support in their own homes.

This support is delivered by trained home visiting volunteers, who are carefully matched with a local family by their Home-Start Aberdeen co-ordinator. The charity’s small staff team currently supervises the efforts of over 100 volunteers who, in turn, provide around 200 families and 300 children with weekly home-based support.

“Home-Start Aberdeen has come a long way since its beginnings as a small project operating from a box room in the Mastrick area of the city,” says Georgette Cobban (pictured), scheme manager, Home-Start Aberdeen.

“Our formula of allocating families a home visiting volunteer, who normally has parenting experience themselves, is proven to be of genuine benefit to those who, through no fault of their own, may be struggling to cope with family life.

“We receive family referrals on an ongoing basis from health visitors and social workers, who see first-hand the positive difference that Home-Start Aberdeen can make. At present, we have a waiting list of over thirty families and we are desperate to give them the help they need as quickly as possible.

“No qualifications are required to become a Home-Start Aberdeen volunteer – we provide full training and ongoing co-ordinator support. All that is required in return is a willingness to help and a time commitment of 2-3 hours per week.”

Home-Start Aberdeen’s next preparation course for new volunteers starts on Thursday, 16 February 2017. Additional training courses will take place throughout the year to support the charity’s ‘30 in 30’ target. To find out more email volunteering@homestartaberdeen.org.uk or call 01224 693545.

Home-Start Aberdeen provides vulnerable local families with emotional and practical support in their own homes. The charity has been working with communities in the city for 30 years. Its team of trained home visiting volunteers work with referred families to help them access relevant health and welfare services, manage family budgets and nutrition, engage with their own communities and enjoy family life again. Further information is available at www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk.

Home-Start Aberdeen’s thirtieth anniversary year commences on Monday, 13 February 2017

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Nov 172016
 

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

28/10/16 Home start Chair- Roberta Eunson-

Home-Start Aberdeen’s chairperson, Roberta Eunson, with a book bundle ready for delivery.

An Aberdeen-based family support charity has been overwhelmed by the response to an appeal for donations of children’s books towards its 2016 book advent.

Home-Start Aberdeen launched the book advent appeal in September. The initiative encourages parents to read a book with their children each day in December prior to Christmas.

It is believed that reading together encourages families to bond, as well as helping with literacy, communication and imaginative skills.

The charity, which works with local families who are vulnerable or suffering from isolation, was inundated with interest. Sufficient donations of books were received well within the stipulated cut-off date of 4 November.

Home-Start Aberdeen representatives have now received and wrapped a total of 2225 books. These have been stacked into bundles of 25 books for each of the 89 Home-Start Aberdeen families who asked if they could be included in this year’s book advent.

Roberta Eunson, Home-Start Aberdeen’s chairperson, said:

“The support we have received in connection with this year’s book advent has been fantastic.

“Our thanks go out to all of the playgroups, schools, community organisations, businesses and individuals who have collected books on our behalf. We are also very grateful to Kirsty Blackman MP and Peter Vardy Aberdeen who offered their premises as additional book collection points.

“Our final thank you goes to the volunteers who worked tirelessly to sort all the donated books into age-appropriate bundles and beautifully gift wrap them. The book bundles will bring tremendous enjoyment to the families Home-Start Aberdeen supports and we are looking forward to distributing them prior to 1 December.”

2016 is the third year of the Home-Start Aberdeen book advent. Demand for books has grown alongside the charity’s own development. Now one of the largest Home-Start schemes in the UK, Home-Start Aberdeen supports around 180 families, including 297 children, per year. Its unique blend of emotional and practical support is delivered by over 100 trained volunteers, who visit their allocated family each week in their own home.

Further information about Home-Start Aberdeen is available at www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk, or by calling (01224) 693545.

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Sep 162016
 

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

01/06/15 Open day at new HOME START offices

Home-Start Aberdeen’s chairperson, Roberta Eunson, reads a book with young Jack Evans

Family support charity Home-Start Aberdeen is appealing for donations of children’s books towards its 2016 book advent. Introduced by the charity in 2014, the initiative encourages parents to read a book with their children in the 24 days leading up to Christmas and on Christmas day itself.
It is believed that reading together encourages families to bond, as well as helping with literacy, communication and imaginative skills.

This year’s book advent is set to be the charity’s biggest yet and represents a mammoth challenge in terms of collecting, wrapping and distributing book parcels.

Home-Start Aberdeen currently provides over 180 city-based families with emotional and practical support via its trained home-visiting volunteers. The team are therefore urging people to get behind the campaign by donating both excellent-quality children’s books and rolls of Christmas wrapping paper.

“The feedback from previous years indicates that our book advent is an extremely worthwhile initiative that is greatly appreciated by the families we support,” says Georgette Cobban, scheme manager, Home-Start Aberdeen.

“We require significant additional quantities of books and wrapping paper this year, so we are launching our campaign early in the hope that people will remember us – particularly if they are having their own pre-Christmas clear-out.

“Last year some local playgroups and other organisations organised their own mini-collections for us, which was very helpful.  We would love others to follow suit this time.  We have also introduced some additional drop-off points to make it easier for groups and individuals to get their donations to us.”

Children’s books, which should be in excellent condition, and donations of wrapping paper can be dropped off at Home-Start Aberdeen’s headquarters at 1A Alford Place or at its charity shop at 101 George Street, opposite John Lewis.

The charity’s corporate partner, Peter Vardy Vauxhall, is accepting donations at its premises on Lang Stracht. The appeal is also supported by Kirsty Blackman MP, whose constituency office at 46 John Street is a further drop-off point.  All donations should be made by Friday, 4 November.

Home-Start Aberdeen provides vulnerable local families with emotional and practical support in their own homes. The charity has been working with communities in the city for 29 years. Its team of trained home visiting volunteers work with referred families to help them access relevant health and welfare services, manage family budgets and nutrition, engage with their own communities and enjoy family life again.

Further information is available at www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk

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Mar 302012
 

By Bob Smith.

On mither earth faar we div bide
Thingies noo are fair on the slide
On iss sphere in the universe
The gweed life noo is in reverse

Flora an fauna are aa in decline
As the human race dis undermine
The basics fer the warld’s survival
Yet maist fowk’s brains are in denial

We build an drill an pull oot trees
The polar regions nae langer freeze
The kwintraside noo aa tar scarred
As motorin groups they lobby hard

Mair an mair hooses biggit near toons
Coverin fertile fields we kent as loons
Rape an winter wheat full fairmer’s parks
Nae placies left fer the peesies or larks

Aathing noo maun be neat an tidy
In winter time things canna be slidie
If sna faas doon at the rate o faist
It’s look’t upon as bein a bliddy pest

Yet sna we need ti fill lochs an rivers
It melts in the hills an rins doon in slivers
So we can aa drink a draught o H20
The watter levels shudna be ower low

We cut doon rainforests so cattle can graze
Or palm ile is socht ti mak soap fer yer face
An fowk faa hiv bade in thae forests fer ‘ears
Throwen oot o their hames bi firms’ owerseers

Mither Earth provides us wi aa wi need
Sustainable? Aye bit nae fin there’s greed
We maun use less of fit Mither Earth dis gie
Some fowk in oor warld iss they canna see

I hiv some hope Mither Earth wull survive
As the younger fowk weel they div strive
Ti gither an protest aboot fit’s aa gyann on
Mither Earth micht yet see a brand new dawn.

.

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© Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie”2012

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Image Credits:
GRASSHOPPERS © Steffen Foerster | Dreamstime.com 
PLANET EARTH © Foto_jem | Dreamstime.com

Mar 152012
 

With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

A new cloud covers the controversial Union Terrace Gardens Referendum today, as a care home worker came forward with concerns about postal votes sent to a residential home.

The worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, approached Aberdeen Voice to say that over a dozen postal vote envelopes arrived at one residential home – but when the worker went to retrieve them a short time later – they were not where they had been left. No one at the residence seemed to know precisely what became of them.   The concern is whether or not the residents’ votes were properly distributed and managed.  The matter is still being looked into, and no allegation of wrong-doing has been made at this stage.

Aberdeen Voice’s Suzanne Kelly is researching further, and contacted the elections officer, and the other recognised campaigning organisations on the issue.

Kelly asked the elections officer for the marked Register to be checked with a view to how many care home residents returned votes, and whether there are any unusual voting patterns.  However, the elections officer’s position is that “it would be illegal for me to provide this in terms of the Representation of the People(Scotland) Regulations 2001.”  In an election relevant parties would normally  be able to view the marked Register.

Crawford Langley, the Elections Officer for the Union Terrace Gardens referendum vote, previously contacted the police over potential postal vote fraud in May 2005 when he was elections officer and a small number (between 6 and 12) of anomalies arose, where people appeared not to have received their postal vote forms.

Langley was quoted at the time as saying:

“We are talking about a very small number but, given the publicity elsewhere and the tight ship we run in elections in Aberdeen, it was sufficiently unusual that I needed to do something about it.”

The controversial referendum, which was over the future of Aberdeen’s Victorian Union Terrace Gardens, gave residents a choice to either ‘retain’ the gardens, or to endorse a £140 million pound scheme called the Granite Web. This entails the city obtaining a £70 million pound TIF loan, which will be matched by Sir Ian Wood / The Wood Family Trust (£50 million), £5 million from an anonymous donor, and another £15 from as-yet unnamed private sources. The TIF scheme is still in trial stages in Scotland.

many feel the media bombardment influenced the vote

The referendum was dogged by controversy. Official campaigning groups were entitled to place a 300 word essay into the voting pack, and had to adhere to strict expenditure limits.

The Green Party’s statement was not printed in full. Also controversial were the actions of a ‘secretive’ group (as described by a BiG Partnership employee) known as ‘Vote for the City Gardens Project.’ This federation of businessmen and women, who prefer to remain anonymous, are thought to have spent tens of thousand of pounds to promote the City Garden Project Granite Web.

Their glossy, A3 full colour brochure went to households in Aberdeenshire which were not eligible to vote as well as to City residents. The group also issued a four-page newspaper format item, and had several full-page spreads in the local press. Local radio stations broadcast pro City Garden Project commercials. None of the officially recognised campaigning groups would have been able to afford such a campaign, and many feel the media bombardment influenced the vote.

The materials produced by the group used projections by PriceWaterhouse Coopers to claim the scheme would create over 6,500 permanent jobs and mean £122 million to the local economy every year until 2023. Those who tried to contest these projections being used as fact found that the Vote for the City Gardens Project group was not accountable either to the elections officer or the Advertising Standards Agency. Other points of contention have been brought to the election officer’s notice as well.

Willie Young of the Labour Party, who were an official campaigning organisation, had this to say:

“We really do need to see the mark register so we can prove to ourselves that the referendum was run correctly. In a democracy we need checks and balances and the Electoral Commission is clear that those involved in an election should be given access to the mark register. I am not suggesting anything is untoward, but it is our right to make sure that it isn’t. We are baffled by the stance taken by the counting officer”.

Suzanne Kelly commented:

“It is abundantly clear to me why my source wishes to stay anonymous. They are keen to continue in the job they love, and are all too aware of what can happen to a whistle-blower. This issue is still being investigated, but I thought bringing it to the election officer’s attention immediately was the right thing to do.  This is why we need to check the votes sent to all of our residential care homes – we must ensure no one has been exploited and no votes have gone astray. Were all the votes sent to the homes used, and if not, what percentage went unused? Did the vote split at the residential homes echo the nearly 50–50 split the total vote saw? If not, then further research will be needed.

There is at present no allegation of any wrong doing by any individual – but it is clear that we need to have the transparency we were always promised concerning Union Terrace Gardens, but which we so sadly lacked. We’ve seen redacted minutes – minutes where lines of text have been ‘blacked out’ to keep the public in the dark. Why should there be any secrecy over what is common good land?”

Kelly was chair of one of the recognised campaigning organisations (‘Democracy Watch’) and has been liaising with other campaigners; a number of issues remain over the referendum, and these will be reviewed soon.

Mar 092012
 

Referendums, deer culls, employers telling employees how to vote, services cuts, classroom assistants under threat.  Old Susannah cuts to the heart of the matter and ponders upcoming Lord Provost parties.

Tally Ho!  It’s been a boring week in Aberdeen; referendums, deer culls, habitation destruction and other criminal activity notwithstanding.  I will write a column over the weekend once a few conditions have hopefully been met.

First, I need to find something important and local to write about, and second – I must find an outfit to wear for the Lord Provost’s upcoming parties.  I’ll need everything from some evening gowns to designer jeans for the nearly £28,000 worth of partying just approved by the ‘Lord Provost Sub Committee’ – and that’s on top of the £4,000 party to launch his £9,000 portrait. I am sure my invitations will arrive shortly.

At the time of writing it is not clear whether residents of a home for people with paralysis issues are still being told not to drink too much fluid at night and buy rubber mattresses, as their overnight on-site assistants are no longer affordable.  Perhaps Lord Provost Stephen will invite some of them to one of his little get-togethers.

Hopefully my party invitatins from the Lord Provost  won’t arrive as late as the bundles of postal votes which showed up too late to be counted in the aforementioned referendum.  Hard luck, eh?  Kind of reminds me of when I personally handed in 63 individual postcards protesting the deer cull to the city’s Town House – only to get a letter from Valerie Watts saying she’d had a total of less than 40 from all sources.  But it would be wrong to mention that, or the deer cull.

Unfortunately national media are about to cover the cull, with one reporter telling me this tree planting/deer cull is ‘bizarre’.  Clearly only Aileen HoMalone (newly crowned queen of the Lib Dems – not counting Nick Clegg), Pete Leonard and Ian Tallboys can understand the importance of ripping up existing habitat to expose industrial waste and rocks on which to plant trees that can’t possibly thrive.  The rest of us are thick.

Being busy with the important business of buying new outfits for all the upcoming Lord Provost events means there’s no time for a column just yet, but don’t despair  – the link below will take you to a spread sheet you can download to keep as a little gift.  This shows how our favourite councillors have voted over Union Terrace Gardens and culling deer – with plenty of room for you to fill in the results of your favourite votes as well.

This may be a handly little reminder when it comes time to vote of who is dynamic, forward-thinking and so on.

Here is the link:  http://oldsusannahsjournal.yolasite.com/

You will also find an additional present with this spread sheet – Old Susannah has made her own portrait of the Lord Provost, complete with wife and glamorous security guard.  I would be happy to sell it for less than £9,000, and rather than holding a £4,000 drinks party to celebrate my artwork, I’d happily go down to BrewDog for a pint instead.

So that’s it for now – more in a few days, if I can find some subject matter.  Cheerio!

Nov 252011
 

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look at the week that was in Aberdeen and beyond and concludes that this is no country for old men (nor for old women, people with special abilities, school children and infants or animals either).

Old Susannah has been busy this past week.  There was an excellent two-day conference at Fyvie Castle.  The speakers seemed to believe our heritage, buildings, archaeology and environment are being affected by something they called ‘climate change’. Hard to believe, but some of these speakers think that our weather and climate are changing.

I’ve no idea why they would come to such a conclusion.  There was some person from the Met Office (whatever that is), who seems to think a case can be made for climate change because he has statistics that show it’s happening now.

Stranger still, he thinks this climate change might be somehow linked to people burning lots of ‘fossil fuel’.  If anyone hears any news about this unlikely story, please let me know.

The general thrust of the conference was that our ancient buildings are under moisture and temperature stresses they’ve not faced before, and many are at risk of actually crumbling.  Something called ‘Skara Brae’ in the Orkneys might get washed out to sea before long.

This would not be a huge loss. As far as I can see, it just a bunch of old stones.  The site is crying out for a nice high rise building, holiday homes, shops and parking – if not a monolith and a giant glass worm.  As to our wildlife, seasons are getting wetter and warmer, affecting growth and breeding cycles.  This is no time to be a bird of prey (or any other type of wild creature either.  Just don’t mention deer).

Despite the fact these animals are protected, we still have people who poison, shoot, and loot eggs.  Mixed with the changing seasons and related change in availability of food, things look rather bad for these creatures.

This two-day course was run at Fyvie Castle by the Scottish Traditional Building Skills Centre, an organisation which trains people (of all abilities) in the skills needed to maintain our historic built heritage.  The Traditional Skills people seem to think preserving Scotland’s historic buildings and monuments is a worthwhile thing to do.  (If certain local developers have their way, this centre won’t be needed much longer).

Further information is available on their website:
http://www.traditionalskills.com/

We must have skilled craftspeople in future who can ensure the glass worm/teletubbieland, concrete ramps, etc.  will remain beautiful, as I’m sure they will be when they are built.

I couldn’t help going away from the conference thinking what I’d do if I had £50 million burning a hole in my pocket.  It might involve a little bit of BrewDog, but it would not involve getting rid of listed trees to build a carpark with decorative worm.

It would have been very hard for staff to figure out that this frail woman had a wound so deep you could see her bone

I was glad of the two-day course and its speakers, if for no other reason than there’s not much else going on in the wider world for me to write about this week.  I think I heard something about an American policeman offering some protesters a peppery snack treat, and there may be one or two minor problems in Europe and the Middle East.

I also get the feeling that there might be some financial issues concerning our European economic paradise.  Other than that, I’ve not much to say just now.

Close to home, news these past few weeks has been short on happy endings.  For one thing, the Monolith was not shortlisted as a Union Terrace Garden design.  But looking through recent news items, I conclude this is no country for old men.  Or old women, women, people with special abilities, school children and infants.  And this is definitely no country for animals.

For example take the case of 87 year-old Jamesina Mackenzie who died from a bedsore which became so exposed you could see the bone.  This didn’t happen in the ‘dark’ or middle ages; it’s just happened.

So let’s move on to a definition or two.

Bedsore: (compound noun, English) A type of pressure sore caused by the sufferer lying prone in one position without movement over time.  A wholly avoidable type of ailment.

The owner of the Highland ‘care home’ where Ms Mackenzie suffered with the sore that killed her told an inquiry into the death that his staff ‘did the best they could’.   According to this  manager, the problem was that ‘…there had been some errors in staff’s record keeping’.  What would have been the result if they were negligent or slacked off, Old Susannah wonders.

I was glad to hear the staff did the best they could.  After all, paperwork can be pretty heavy going.  It would have been very hard for staff to figure out that this frail woman, who must have been in excruciating pain, had a wound so deep you could see her bone.  You would have to have some kind of medical background to work that out.

Older people are always happy to sell up their own homes

My granny had been head nurse of a hospital in Massachusetts.  The old-fashioned, primitive way to prevent bedsores was to encourage movement and if necessary, actually help people to move.

This hospital was very inefficient in that it had more nurses and doctors than managers.  Far too much money was spent on patients’ food, and far too much time was spent on actually caring for people.  I’ll bet the place didn’t even have a good profit margin.

Care Home(compound noun, English) a residential institution dedicated to long-term care offering rest and re-cooperation of infirm people, usually elderly.

‘Care home’ – the word even sounds warm, safe and snug.  The problem is running these homes costs money which could be put to other use.  Older people are always happy to sell up their own homes so they will be able to afford a care home of the type which looked after Ms Mackenzie so well.

Saving money and keeping a home in order to have something to leave to your children is so passe.  Sure you might get one or two dozen stories a month about older, frail people being abused in care homes, but who are you going to believe – them and their relatives, or the highly-paid (sorry – highly-trained) caring staff who run these places for profit.

Since most regional authorities and councils decided to ‘outsource’ their care responsibilities, there may have been a few minor hiccups or injuries and deaths.  But outsourcing is here to stay.

Still our City council knows best, and despite the collapse of a major private care home operator, Aberdeen is still looking into privatising more of its homes.  Which leads me to a definition I might have already done, but seems to need updating.

Outsourcing: (noun; modern English) To take a service or operation away from its parent/owner and have it run by a third party.

We are desperate to save money in Aberdeen (those portraits and jeans for the Lord Provost don’t pay for themselves, you know) and in order to do so, we are giving our money to consultants.  The totally impartial consultants come in and look at your business.  They decide which services should be outsourced, and then the money saving starts instantly.

clearly they just want to give the best care possible to your grandparents or children.

Coincidentally, they often want to outsource the same services that they are able to provide.  Old Susannah has yet to hear of a consultancy saying ‘let’s hire more people so we can run things better and have nicer schools and care homes’.

This just proves that the consultancies are impartial businesses which have to make tough choices.  It must be very hard for them indeed.

After the consultants have been paid a modest sum for their expertise, the city fires/lets go/lays off its existing staff who initially performed the services.  That’s a saving right there in salary expense.  In the case of childcare or nursing homes, this may upset the clients initially (the word ‘client’ as used by the City is an old, infirm or young human being to the rest of us).

The ‘clients’ may lose any relationship they’ve built up with their previous carers, but never mind.  If you play your cards right, you might even fire enough people to pay part of the consultant’s bill.

The economics of outsourcing get greater for the city involved.  Now that they are no longer providing a non-profit service with taxpayer money, they turn the taxpayer money over to people who exist to make a profit.  It might seem as if these private operators would cut a corner or two to make money, but clearly they just want to give the best care possible to your grandparents or children.

In the old days you might have thought the purpose of paying tax was so that the government could provide you the services you needed, but which were not designed to be money-making businesses.  If we read the odd case of an older person abused (or given a salt shaker instead of an asthma inhaler as happened recently), then that’s the breaks.  The other breaks often involve bones.

Thankfully in these modern, enlightened times, we realise that making money is more important than anything else.  Including poor Mrs Mackenzie and the other stories that don’t make the paper.

Stop Press!  Aberdeen City Council has approved its budget! Read all about it here in this unbiased City Council report:  
http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/CouncilNews/ci_cns/pr_budgetrevcap_100211.asp

It’s all central government’s fault for not giving us lots more dosh.  This might be in part because we waste so much of the stuff on monolith research, portraits and so on, but hey.  You will I’m sure be happy to know that only a few hundred posts will either go unfilled (keeps the existing staff busy covering lots of jobs – they enjoy it) or will go altogether.

Re-roofing an unfit building makes as much sense as anything else going on here

We’re holding on to teaching assistants, which is interesting because we’ll be cutting expensive, boring music and art lessons for children.  If you don’t have time to visit the city’s website, then just rest assured of one thing:  the 50 metre swimming pool is still very much in the cards.  Result!

We may pay for it from the Common Good Fund (remember the good old days when this was c. £35 million? Things have changed).  To help balance the books, it looks as if Tullos Swimming Pool will stay shut.

Old Susannah is told that it recently had brand new lights installed, and its roof is brand new.  Which is odd, because the city now say the building is unstable.  Re-roofing an unfit building makes as much sense as anything else going on here.

Consultants have also produced a brilliant 10 page report (took about a year to do, as you can imagine), showing that Aberdeen has many more swimming pools per population than other parts of Scotland.  Of course these consultants counted in all the pools we’ve got:  Ardoe, Palm Court, etc. etc.  I guess the families of Torry will just have to hop into their BMWs and pay to swim for a day at a hotel pool once Tullos is gone.

Still, we’ll have saved money, and we may eventually produce a swimmer who may win a shiny medal.  If Aberdeen wins an Olympic medal in a few decades, we’ll all agree it’s been worth it.