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Keeping up with you

Hello and welcome to all of you in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.

Thank you for taking a moment to look at this email. I want to keep everyone in touch with what’s going on in the constituency and what it might mean for you.

My door is open to anyone who seeks advice and support, so you can  phone or email me at any time.

You also have the option of visiting constituency surgeries on Mondays. You don't need to make an appointment.

If you haven’t yet subscribed to receive your personalised copy of this newsletter, which we are sending out every two weeks, then please do  sign up here.
Kicking off the new season
First, today is the end of the recess at the Scottish Parliament. It’s looking to be a historic time for the UK to put it mildly, but we in the SNP haven’t given up yet!
Far more important, Saturday 7 September is the first Hamilton League Game of the season at the Rugby Club in Hamilton.

I’ll see lots of you there, I’m sure!
It’s been a busy summer, with lots of interesting events and people to talk to. I’ve enjoyed myself, even if the weather hasn’t  been great!

Talking about suicide
Suicide is a very difficult subject for a lot of people to talk about, including those who have been directly affected by it. That the @FFAMS_UK charity offers brilliant support makes a huge difference to the lives of people who continue to live with that special kind of grief.
I walked the Let’s Walk and Talk about Suicide route with a family who had lost a brother/uncle. I heard from many families who have had amazing support from FFAMs. The concept of walking and talking really works.


Paddy, my border collie, loved the long walk and numerous dips into the loch. I got a medal and Paddy got a rosette!
Here’s how FFAMS describes their work: “FFAMS is a Lanarkshire based charity that provides emotional and practical support to anyone affected by murder, suicide or suicidal behaviour. It provides a grass roots befriending service that can be accessed by telephone, email, face to face or in group support. All support services are free of charge.
“FFAMS befrienders will have personally experienced the loss of a loved one through murder and suicide, or experienced the distress caused by suicidal thoughts and behaviour.”
The Helpline number is 01698 717 424 9 to – 5 on weekdays or 07932 855 82412 outside normal working hours.
Hamilton Citizens Advice Bureau

Hamilton CAB held its AGM on 23 August, and it was wonderful to hear about the valuable work they do in our community, and present them with a Scottish National Standards for information & advice providers award. Hamilton CAB is the first advice organisation in Lanarkshire to be accredited by the new scheme, the award was accepted by trustee Rosemary Robinson, congratulations to everyone at Hamilton CAB on their hard work.
Future care in Blantyre
At the end of July, I joined an extremely useful information session on the future of care in Blantyre, with South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care partnership.
The plans for the new Care Hub opening in Blantyre were discussed in detail with opportunities for feedback from visitors. 
The new style of care being put forward here helps ensure that as many people can be supported to continue living as independently as possible in their own homes through the support on offer in this hub. 
The hub is also set to contain houses with technology enabled care as part of placing independence at the heart of the social care system. 
A few days before that, I joined a coffee morning at the Douglas View Care Home. I met with some of the residents and staff and found out more about the support provided to those living with Parkinson’s Disease.

Ivan McKee MSP and Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, visits the Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse constituency
I was delighted to welcome Ivan McKee MSP to show him around a couple of fantastic businesses here.
We had the perfect weather for our visit to Equis Ice Cream, one of Hamilton's best known exports. Thanks to Scottish Enterprise Equis is receiving extra funding to take advantage of their success and grow their business future.

Then we visited Probe Test Solutions Ltd who are blazing the trail when it comes to electronics right here in Scotland! They are competing with companies all over the world and investing that success in training and employment opportunities for young people living in Scotland. 


Mobile Men’s Shed

On a lovely bright, sunny day in Larkhall at the end of July, I met up with the Mobile Men’s Shed as part of its South Lanarkshire Tour!
It was great to hear about all the work being done bSeniors Together and volunteers across South Lanarkshire as part of Scottish Men's Sheds Association to help make social isolation and loneliness a thing of the past.
You can keep up to date with their work and find out how to get involved here:
Best Start Grant pays out nearly £13 million

The new Best Start Grant package is putting more money in the pockets of low income families than the DWP system it replaced.

Since it started making Best Start Grant payments last December, Social Security Scotland has made more than 42,000 payments to families in Scotland, totalling £12.9 million.

Of the total paid out between December and June, £6.1 million was for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment, which replaced the UK Government’s Sure Start Maternity Grant in Scotland.

In the entire 2017/18 financial year DWP paid out a total of £2m Sure Start Maternity payments in Scotland.

The Best Start Grant also introduced two brand new payments, the Early Learning Payment, which has paid out £4.3 million and the School Age Payment, which has paid £2.4 million.