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.
You can phone or email me at any time but I am unable to hold face-to-face surgeries while the Covid-19 regulations are in place.
But I am very much still here to help you. Just leave a message on the main number below and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.
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.
Thursday 6 May, in case it isn’t already etched onto your brain, is election day in Scotland!
There are 64 days between today, 3 March, and Thursday 6 May and all of the political parties are going to be very busy getting their messages out to voters.
Do make sure that you and your family have your details on the Electoral Register and that you have applied for a postal vote if required.
You'll find all the details here:https://www.mygov.scot/register-to-vote-scotland/
International Women's Day
The 2021 campaign theme for Women’s Day on 8 March is #ChooseToChallenge.
A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions - all day, every day.
We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.
From challenge comes change, so let's all choose to challenge.
Strike the Choose To Challenge pose and share on social media using #ChooseToChallenge #IWD2021 to encourage further people to commit to helping forge an inclusive world.
Individuals and organizations are invited to send in their #ChooseToChallenge images as we share images from around the world in the lead up to International Women's Day 2021.
So strike the #ChooseToChallenge pose with your hand high to show your commitment to choose to challenge inequality, call out bias, question stereotypes, and help forge an inclusive world.
Submissions are photographs of individual or group compositions striking the #ChooseToChallenge hand up pose to potentially be shared on the IWD website and social media feeds - and are ideally 16:9 aspect ratio (landscape composition; max 3000 pixels width). All gender identities welcome.
Please submit #ChooseToChallenge images as early as possible.
Rapid Covid-19 tests now available for people in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse without symptoms
The community testing initiative – in partnership with the Scottish Government, NHS Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire Council – aims to drive down local Covid-19 rates and transmission by identifying positive cases more quickly, as people can spread the virus to others before symptoms appear.
And South Lanarkshire residents who don’t have any of the three Covid symptoms (a new continuous cough, temperature, loss or change in sense of taste or smell) are encouraged to get tested.
Testing is available at Larkhall Leisure Centre, 9.30am to 5.30pm, and there is no need to book.
This site is only for people without symptoms. Anyone with Covid-19 symptoms should book a test in the usual way via nhsinform.scot or by calling 0800 028 2816.
Residents will be tested using lateral flow devices, which can give people their results in around 45 minutes. Any positive cases will then be confirmed by PCR test.
Anyone who receives a positive LFD or PCR test result will be asked to self-isolate.
Dedicated support is available to those who meet certain criteria and who need to self-isolate, including food packages and financial support.
Gabe Docherty, NHS Lanarkshire’s director of public health, said; “Covid-19 can be spread by people who don’t have symptoms or the symptoms are so mild people may not recognise that they have the infection.
“For the benefit of yourself and your community, I would encourage people who do not have Covid-19 symptoms to get a test. The test results will help to detect the virus and limit its spread.”
Michael McGlynn, South Lanarkshire Council’s executive director of community and enterprise, said: “The majority of people across South Lanarkshire have been doing their bit and keeping to the restrictions but, inevitably, some people in our towns and communities will be infectious with Covid-19 but won’t have any of the known symptoms. Because they don’t know they are infectious, this means they may be unwittingly spreading the virus while they are moving about in public.
“The new rapid community testing facility provides a further opportunity to identify and support people who may be positive so they can isolate, and it will help to reduce the spread of coronavirus and keep people in South Lanarkshire safe.”
Further advice and information on what support is available for people who need to self-isolate is available from nhsinform.scot
Fund to back locally sourced food and drink projects
The Scottish Government fund to celebrate locally sourced and produced food and drink has received a welcome additional £50 million for 2021-22.
So if that’s your sector, get your application in soon! The deadline is 15 March.
The Scotland Food & Drink Partnership was launched to help the sector with its recovery from COVID and prepare for Brexit, supported by £5 million from Scottish Government for 2020/21. An additional £50 million will be provided over 2021/22.
Since 2018 the fund has awarded over £350,000 to 79 creative, innovative & collaborative projects across the regions of Scotland.
Grants of up to £5000 are available to applicants.
Our world-class food and drink sector has faced an extremely challenging year, so this funding - which will contribute to recovery from Covid-19 - comes at an important time.
Between Brexit and Covid-19, there are very few food and drink businesses which haven’t been seriously affected - but it’s vital our food and drink industry keeps growing and bringing benefits to Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse and throughout Scotland.
This money will play an important role in promoting food and drink in local communities and delivering benefits to Scotland’s local food and drink sector over the long-term.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO HELP COVID SERVICES?
The community spirit shown by people across Lanarkshire has been heart-warming. If you would like to offer your help, there are a whole host of new groups working across Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.
They are working together to help spread cheer and make sure the most vulnerable in our area are getting the necessities they need.
The range of services provided include delivering shopping to elderly or vulnerable neighbours, using online group chats to combat social isolation and loneliness, and handing out care packages to the elderly and vulnerable.
If you are in Hamilton, you can find more information about the Hamilton COVID-19 Warriors here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/213851619986142
If you are in Larkhall, you can find out more information about the COVID-19 Rainbows – Larkhall here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1092656721095368/permalink/1092743704420003
If you are in Stonehouse, you can find out more information about Stonehouse Coronavirus Community Support here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/3402877913061116
At this time, it has never been more important for us all to look after our neighbours and family.