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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Mar 022017
 

With thanks to Guy Ingerson.

This weekend Scotland learned that the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, and possible future contender for Labour leader, thinks the Scottish Independence movement is on par with the rise of far-right nationalism across Europe and the election of Donald Trump.

While the war of words in both the press and social media raged on, Aberdeen Greens grappled with being lumped in with the likes of the BNP.

Aberdeen Branch Co-Convenor and candidate for George St/Harbour ward Guy Ingerson said:

“Waking up of a morning to see Sadiq Khan compare pro-independence parties like ours with Donald Trump was frankly baffling and enraging. We Greens have been leading the fight against Trump and people like him since our inception. We seek to build bridges between communities, not burn them.

We call for Aberdeen Council and Labour leader Cllr Jenny Laing to clarify if she agrees with Sadiq Khan? Does she really thing pro-independence voters are bigots?”

Branch Co-Convenor and prominent independence campaigner Myshele Haywood said

“The vast majority of the independence movement has been internationalist and opposed to racism. We want an independent Scotland in order to be an example to world of what a sustainable and socially just society can look like. The movements Sadiq Khan is comparing us to are the polar opposite.”

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

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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Feb 022017
 

This driver stopped in the marked disabled bay while he loaded a Christmas tree while two cars with disabled badges had to move on.

By Mark MC.

“I’ll just be two ticks!” A not uncommon response to someone parking where they shouldn’t, but what if that is a disabled parking bay?

The Court has recently ruled on wheelchairs over prams on buses; but is this the right way to go?

Has it gone far enough?

Even now the media and people appear to have different views on what the ruling stated so what is going on?

What has happened to the old-fashioned courtesy, of giving up a seat for someone in more need than yourself….is chivalry dead?

Most of us will get old, some will become disabled, some of us are already there; so should we expect ‘special treatment’, preferential treatment?

This important issue covers far more than just buses or parking bays; there appears to be a basic disregard for people that require more, even if that doesn’t actually cost anything just, simply taking up space that could be used by someone else: the selfish gene?

Unfair appraisal? While it is true that many people would happily give up their seat, how many of those people would take a disabled parking space? The concept behind the aging Goofy cartoon behind the wheel springs to mind; where the perfect gentleman Goofy changes like Jekyll and Hyde.

Whatever your viewpoint there is sufficient concern to raise the question, what is going on? Why do so many feel that it is OK to keep a marked disabled seat or park in a disabled parking space without authority?

These actions can have severe effects on those that need them.

A tent display, clearly far more important than disabled people.

There are too may conditions to list here but lets just look at one, a more generic situation of chronic pain. Chronic pain affects hundreds of thousands of people; that is a pain that is constant over time, it might effect standing, walking, even sitting.

Many sufferers still try to maintain what is as near ‘normal’ lifestyle as they can but in order to do so they need just a little extra help, and that might be in the form of a specialised seat or parking space near to a shop, chemist or doctors. Is that really too much to ask?

A seat and/or a parking space, reserved for someone that needs it, in order for them to be part of the community without being an extra burden?

In the case of the bus court case it should never have gone that far, the bus driver already had the ability to sort it out; the current situation does little to help, the driver can simply wait for others on the bus to get angry about being held up; causing further animosity to either the disabled, elderly or pram pusher.

In the case of the selfish driver taking a disabled bay, even if just for a short time may have caused someone that needs that space to drive on; perhaps even to return home unable to get their shopping or prescription, because their pain to just too much for them to wait or to keep driving around looking for what is often far too few disabled parking spaces close to where they need to be.

Tackle these people at your peril; as even a ‘nice’ approach can be taken as an affront on their liberty, or at least that can be the impression assumed by the verbal abuse or even violent response.

Some countries don’t suffer from the same issues.

Some countries carry real fines, big fines if people disobey, plus they have law enforcers willing to issue fines. In a few countries the locals would never even dream of taking a disabled space. How have they done it?

It would be nice if legislation was not required, but in our current modern selfish age, the situation is unlikely to improve without a big stick….lets hope those people wont need it to get around!

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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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Dec 162016
 

By Anne Foy.

Aberdeen police have issued an appeal to the public to disclose any information they may have regarding the drugs trade in the city.

This follows an interesting year for drugs in Aberdeen, with high-profile busts combining with a general rise in drug use to form a chequered pattern for the police drugs squads.

At a meeting with Torry Community Council, Police Scotland Sergeant Garry Garrow warned of a marked increase in drug dealing in the area, and issued an appeal for Torry residents to come forward with any information they have on drug use or drug dealing within Aberdeen (in general) and Torry (in particular) [1].

The police describe this as “not a high priority issue”, but note nonetheless that Aberdeen’s drug problems are on the rise – speaking of a potential trafficking link with Liverpool.

Aberdeen Committed To Tackling Drugs:

This has been an interesting year for those working with drugs issues in Aberdeen. On the one hand, as mentioned above, we’ve seen a steady rise in drug dealing and the antisocial behaviour associated with it. On the other, measures designed to tackle the causes of drug use and provide solid support [2] to those trying to get clean have responded magnificently to the challenge.

A project within Aberdeen Sheriff Court, which aims to identify the reasons behind an offender’s drug use and eliminate them had its first anniversary last month, and has been hailed as ‘pioneering’ [3]. The project will be expanded next year, and already has several new cases on its books. Law enforcement has been similarly hot on the issue, with hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of drugs seized in Aberdeen raids over the last few years.

However, authorities are concerned that a strong and coherent trafficking ring are at work, pumping drugs into the city through insidious routes, possibly stemming from Liverpool or thereabouts. Getting more information on drug-related activity seen by the public could help the police to shut down these routes – hence the appeal.

Aberdeen Drug Busts:

Aberdeen’s law enforcement services have a strong track record in beating drug problems. In 2016 alone, they seized hundreds of thousands of pounds [4] worth of Class A drugs in a series of raids, building upon the general success of Operation Maple (Aberdeen Police’s anti-drugs operation) in the past [5].

They also helped to bring to fruition the biggest drugs bust ever to take place in British history.

Back in April last year, authorities from Aberdeen helped to bring a vessel in the North Sea suspected of carrying drugs into Aberdeen harbour. Upon a deep and intense search of the vessel, she was found to be transporting £500 million worth of cocaine [6] – roughly the same amount in a single bust that is found in an average year’s worth of drug seizures. Impressive stuff.

Liverpool – Aberdeen Drugs Route:

However, the scale and expense of the drugs recovered in the raids does tend to indicate that there is a sustained effort to get drugs into Aberdeen, and a reasonably steady, reasonably heavy flow running down the trafficking routes. Past successes perhaps indicates that relevant information may well lead to a successful raid, which could make a meaningful difference to the problem.

It is thought that drugs may be coming into the city on a route from Liverpool. Merseyside currently has a drug-related crime rate higher than anywhere else in the UK, a reasonably recent development (crime rates had, until about 2014, been falling in Merseyside). Anyone who knows anything about this, or who has any kind of information regarding drug dealing in Aberdeen or the surrounding area, is asked to contact the police.

All information will be treated with discretion, and kept in the utmost confidence.

Sources:

[1] Evening Express, “Police Issue Appeal To Crack Down On Drug Dealing After Rise In Aberdeen Community” , Nov 2016

[2] Detox.net, “Withdrawal: Standing By Them Through It All”, Jul 2016

[3] Scottish Legal News, “Justice Secretary visits Aberdeen problem solving court”, Dec 2016

[4] BBC News, “Seven charged over £100,000 of drugs in Aberdeen”, Apr 2016

[5] Police Scotland, “Operation Maple: £2m worth of drugs seized, Aberdeen”, Apr 2014

[6] Aileen Clarke, Christopher Sleight, “How the UK’s biggest drugs bust was made”, BBC News, Jul 2016

Images courtesy of Pixabay. Copyright owner: Sammisreachers – used under creative commons licence. 

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Aug 182016
 

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

quarriersHousehold essentials that help make a house a home are being provided to young homeless people in Scotland who are overcoming significant challenges and taking up their first tenancies.

Starter packs containing the basics like curtains, bedding, pots and pans, towels and cleaning items are being provided to young people who have experienced homelessness when they move into their first homes through an initiative by leading social care charity Quarriers.

Aberdeen Asset Management’s Charitable Foundation has given £2,000 to provide starter packs to help 40 young people kit out their new home, giving them a more comfortable start to life in their first secured tenancy.

Youth homelessness remains a real issue in Scotland and young people supported by Quarriers’ youth housing services have often travelled a harrowing road with exposure to neglect, violence, abuse, relationship breakdowns with family and friends, and substance misuse which has affected their health, emotional and psychological development, confidence and self-esteem.

A number of young people have also experienced the care system at some point in their lives.

Many have encountered difficulties at school which has hindered their progression and acquisition of basic literacy and numeracy skills.

Increasingly, Quarriers is also supporting young refugees and asylum seekers whose extreme experiences and negligible resources severely limit their ability to survive, let alone thrive, in their new country.

Young people speak of their feelings of despair, abandonment and isolation; many have turned to alcohol, drugs and high risk behaviours to try to escape their situations and feelings.

Quarriers last year supported over 300 young people to regain their confidence and get their lives back on track, providing them with the means and skills to live independently and successfully within their community. These youngsters, often referred by social work or related services, receive up to two years support from the charity, depending on their circumstances.

Moving into their own tenancy – be it in mainstream or supported accommodation – is a significant step forward full of challenges for young people with few belongings, let alone basic furniture.

Providing basic household items including bedding, curtains or blinds, towels, cutlery and dishes, a kettle, toaster and pots, cleaning goods and other items when possible and funding permits helps young people get settled in and feel like they are in their own home, rather than just a safe room with a roof.

Alice Harper, Quarriers Chief Executive, said:

“Quarriers is committed to providing high quality services to help young people experiencing homelessness. Practical support such as providing these starter packs makes a real difference and we would like to thank Aberdeen Asset Management wholeheartedly for their support.

“Together, we are helping the young people we support to develop essential life skills and work towards a brighter future.”

Dominic Kite of Aberdeen’s Charitable Foundation, added:

“Having a place to call your own is a milestone in any young person’s life but for anyone who has faced homelessness it must be all the more significant. Quarriers has recognised the difference it makes to provide an assortment of basic home items right at the start of a new tenancy and we’re pleased to be able to provide starter packs for 40 young people.”

Aberdeen Asset Charitable Foundation was established in 2012 to formalise and develop the Group’s charitable giving globally. It 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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Aug 042016
 

With thanks to David Forbes.

David Forbes with Devon ThompsonVoluntary Disabled Charity Future Choices Celebrates it’s Eighth Year this year with the introduction of it’s youngest committee member taking up the role of Vice Chairman.

Devon Thompson (21) joined Future Choices a few years ago and then had to leave to pursue others life commitments before recently returning to help out with many of the Charity’s key projects.

He works tirelessly to make sure the members are catered for when the group meets up every Tuesday from 11-2 at their base at Inchgarth Community Centre in Garthdee.

Charity Chairman, David Forbes explained:

“Having Devon on my management committee has been a tremendous asset to running the group and now he’s taking the role on as my deputy, he’s the perfect man for the job, young, energetic and very inspirational. In my view this is the greatest motivation to many young volunteers out there – that you can achieve success with hard work and determination.”

Devon said:

“I am deeply and truly honoured to be elected as Vice Chairman of Future Choices. I have served in the care sector for four years now and have never come across such a dedicated and hardworking Charity, with a constant hunger to grow and develop as an organisation that puts the emphasis on the well being of their members, I am truly humbled that they have shown support and faith in my abilities.”

David added:

“Devon taking up this role is very humbling to me as the Charity heads to it’s biggest milestone of 10 years in 2 years time, so to keep the group vibrant and progressive is something Devon will be involved with alongside me and the rest of my team.”

Devon Concluded:

“It is my deepest desire to rise to the challenge and develop. In my experience, collaboration is the stuff of growth and I look forward to working further with the committee to provide for our members greater choices, for the future.”

For more information on Future Choices, visit www.future-choices.org.uk

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Jun 102016
 

outside_cover_vol_3_Bennachie_Duncan Harley reviews Bennachie Landscapes Series 3.

In this, the third publication in the Bennachie Landscapes Series, further aspects of the story of Grampian’s favourite hill are discussed in often minute detail.

Dedicated to Gordon Ingram, treasurer to the Bailies of Bennachie until 2000, and with a foreword by Dr Jo Vergunst of the University of Aberdeen’s Department of Anthropology this publication focuses on both our historical and our modern day relationship with the Bennachie range.

Funded through the Connected Communities programme the content reflects the work of project partners including the University of Aberdeen, The Forestry Commission Scotland and The Bailies of Bennachie.

The book presents as 10 research papers, each distinct but related and written by both Bennachie experts and Bennachie enthusiasts.

The ecology and social history of the area feature alongside the geology, flora and the exploitation of both peat and stone on and around the hill. Additionally there are excavation reports featuring Colony houses and Drumminor Castle.

Several of the papers make for highly technical reading and are not for the faint hearted. Peter Thorn’s description of the geological setting around Drumminor Castle is a case in point. Other chapters such as the interim report into the excavations at Drumminor Castle are written with the general reader in mind and should be accessible to anyone happy to sit through an episode of Time Team.

The site of the Bennachie Colonists comes under particular scrutiny. Sue Taylor provides insight into the social and domestic lives of the crofters, who made a living on the slopes of the hill, through the interpretation of pottery found at the Bennachie Colony site.

The excavations during 2011 – 2013 at Shepherd’s Lodge and Hillside yielded both sponge decorated and transfer printed earthenware indicating perhaps a previously unsuspected degree of economic sophistication amongst Colony settlers who often lived at subsistence level.

Barry Foster’s introduction to the peat lands of the hill not only gives the reader food for thought but illustrates clearly, using aerial photographs, the scale of the 18th century peat cutting industry.

In 2013 a partnership between Keig School and the Bennachie Landscapes Fieldwork Group surveyed the ecology and landscape use within the Lordship of Forbes. The research report makes for fascinating reading and describes the discovery of a previously unknown water-mill in the grounds of Castle Forbes.

A dig at the Back of Bennachie by students of Kemnay Academy features alongside an investigation of the English Quarry by Andrew Wainwright and a paper, by Colin Millar, reflects on the controversial 19th century seizure and “Division of the Commonty of Bennachie” by a group of powerful local landowners.

Illustrated throughout with both images relating to Bennachie and survey maps describing the digs and investigations, this book is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the North East and clearly illustrates the value of community partnership research.

At 115pp, Bennachie Landscapes Series 3 is available from Inverurie Library and at www.bailiesofbennachie.co.uk  p
Price £10. ISBN 978-0-9576384-1-9

This review was first published in the May 2016 edition of Leopard Magazine.

Words © Duncan Harley

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