I have been thinking a lot about women, our place in the world, society, business, academia, science, culture and of course politics. 

We have shared pain and embraced activism and it has achieved much progress over the centuries. From great literature to advances in science, technology and medicine women have been at the forefront, but still in many cases in the shadows of the men around us. We are judged, ridiculed and discriminated against in every aspect of life and work and yet we persist.

So, I wanted to pay tribute to a whole group of women who don’t get the praise they deserve - the women who look after us in our communities.

I am blessed in my Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse constituency to have some of the best and bravest women beavering away making life just that little bit better for those in their communities.

So, step forward Sally. Sally-anne and the team at the Cross Cafe in Stonehouse.

Sally’s soup not only nourishes and warms our bodies it also nourishes our souls. Everyone who walks through the Cross Cafe doors will be met with a love and warmth that encompasses them like a warm hug. Kindness and compassion in great quantities will be given if you need to use the pantry to get you through tough times. 

To the women at the Cross Cafe this tribute is for you. 

Moving up to Larkhall, if you need solace and support follow the beam of the Lighthouse, there you will get a cuppa and a place to think, discuss and plan. You will also get Nancy or Terry or one of the amazing women who keep this community resource open for those in need. 

To the women at the Lighthouse this tribute is for you. 

Staying in Larkhall we find the wonderful Larkhall District Volunteer Group so ably run by Sandra and her ever resourceful team who have created a sanctuary for older people, tackling loneliness with love, care and of course Mr T’s delicious food. 

To the women at LDVG this tribute is for you.

In Hamilton there are so many amazing organisations doing life-saving work every day like Isobel and her team in Hamilton district food bank. Literally feeding the most vulnerable in our communities. 

To the women at Hamilton food bank this tribute is for you.

Like a jewel in the crown of a Queen sits Dianne, Sandra and the Hillhouse tenants and residents association and the wonderful SOC Saving our Communities - the name says it all.

If they are not creating wonderful community spaces, they are running events to raise funds to give our children Easter, Halloween or Christmas fun. In SOC you can knit, craft, learn the guitar, train in mental health first aid and learn to cook, alongside the homework club.

There is magic in all they do at the community cafe from the food and clothing banks to the support services they partner with, they help repair lives broken by the ravages of a cost of living crisis. Oh and the cafe has good home cooking that fills bellies and doesn’t break the bank.

To Dianne, Sandra, SOC hall and the Hillhouse women this tribute is for you.

As I said earlier women should be justifiably proud of what they have achieved in many fields but this tribute is for the mammies, aunties, sisters and grannies who keep our communities in their hearts and use their daily toil to make life better. They are often forgotten hero’s in the story of our lives but what would we do without them? 

I write this tribute for that very reason and I thank them all each and everyone of them for all they do, happy International Women's Day. 

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Christina McKelvie, MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall, and Stonehouse had been contacted by Local Care Homes that were concerned by correspondence they had received from MPLC who enforce licencing on behalf of many of Hollywood’s biggest film studios demanding they pay for licences to play DVDs for residents.

Christina has written to MPLC asking them to reverse their “Dickensian” decision which could lead to a £5 million bill for Care Homes across the UK.  Christina has called on MPLC to avoid the mistakes of the miserly character of Scrooge from Charles Dickens' ‘A Christmas Carol’, urging the organization to “listen to the ghost of Christmas future” and adopt a more compassionate approach by exempting care homes in her constituency regarding DVD licence payments.

Christina made clear her concerns over the potential impact MPLC's demands could have on care homes, which already face financial pressures. She reaffirmed her commitment to working closely with affected local care homes to push for an end to MPLC's aggressive actions and to find a fair and equitable solution that respects the challenges faced by these vital institutions.

"While I may not expect MPLC to transform itself into a modern-day Bob Cratchit, I do hope that they will listen to the ghost of Christmas future and stop the Dickensian attempt to charge Care Homes a fee for showing old DVDs this Christmas." said McKelvie. "I have seen first-hand in my work as MSP the vital services provided to some of the most vulnerable members of our society by local Care Homes. The last thing the staff and residents deserve is having to worry about whether they can show an old copy of “It’s a Wonderful Life” in the common area."

McKelvie has also reached out to Disney, one of MPLC's clients, to discuss the situation and highlight the impact MPLC’s action could have on Disney’s brand.

"I understand that MPLC is in business to protect its clients' interests, but it seems to me that any reasonable person would recognise this action is disproportionate. In the Christmas spirit I would urge them to reconsider.

“If they are not minded to take this course of action however I remain dedicated to supporting the Care Homes in my constituency in their challenges to MPLC's demands. It is vital that residents are not threatened with removal of the ability to watch festive films if the Care Homes do not cough up for Hollywood. And the staff should not have to worry about whether their organisation will suffer a £5000 fine if they do not comply.”

 “Commenting Rachel McCreath, Manager at Clinton House Nursing Home said:

“Christmas is supposed to be a time of relaxation and enjoyment for Care Home staff and residents. Instead, Care Homes across Scotland have been hit with threatening letters from MPLC operating on behalf of Hollywood companies demanding they pay for the privilege of allowing residents to watch DVDs in the common areas.

“Care Home staff across the country will be facing undue concern and stress as they are met with the prospect of taking expensive legal advice due to the threats of prosecution made by MPLC in their correspondence. Staff in Care Homes would much rather have their full focus on making this a memorable and enjoyable Christmas for the residents in their homes.

“Christina McKelvie MSP has been working to get answers for us from MPLC and other organisations mentioned in their correspondence. Hopefully the Ghosts of Past, Present and Future can have a word with MPLC and convince them to reconsider their demands of Care Homes over the Christmas period.”

SNP MSP Christina McKelvie has welcomed recent figures that show 4,941 affordable and social homes have been completed in South Lanarkshire since 2007 – with 344 affordable homes completed in 2022/23 alone.

Statistics show that almost 10,500 low-cost ownership, mid-market rent, and social rent homes were completed across Scotland in the financial year 2022/23; bringing the total since SNP affordable housing programmes began in 2007 to over 122,200.

Scotland continues to lead the UK in affordable home provision. Between 2007/08 and 2021/22, the annual average supply of affordable housing per head of population in Scotland has been 13.9 homes per 10,000 population, higher than England (9.7 homes per 10,000 population), Wales (8.0), and Northern Ireland (12.7). The 10,458 affordable homes completed in Scotland in 2022/23 equates to a rate of 19.1 homes delivered per 10,000 population.

The SNP Scottish Government has also announced a further boost of £60 million to reduce the number of households living in temporary accommodation, supporting a national acquisition plan to increase the supply of social and affordable housing.

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Welcoming the new figures, SNP MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse Christina McKelvie said:

“Thanks to action from this SNP Government there is more affordable and social housing across Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse. Everyone deserves warm, safe, and affordable accommodation to call home – which is why this Affordable Housing Supply Programme really matters.

“Just last year, we saw 344 high-quality affordable and social homes built South Lanarkshire, bringing the total of affordable home completion figure in the area to 4,941 since 2007. This is supported by the Scottish Government’s five-year, £3.2 billion fund to accelerate affordable home provision, with the aim of delivering a further 110,000 affordable homes across Scotland by 2032.

“As the Tory cost of living crisis puts pressure on Scottish households, and Labour offer nothing but regressive U-turns, the SNP is showing what progressive government looks like, getting on with the day job and building a new Scotland – including right here in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.”

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