Emma Roddick MSP urges people across the Highlands & Islands to shop local this winter.

SNP MSP Emma Roddick is urging people across the Highlands & Islands to shop local this Winter, ahead of tomorrow’s [Saturday 3rd December] Small Business Saturday.

Ms Roddick has stressed that the pressures facing small businesses over the last few years means that there has never been a more important time to shop local whenever you can. Highlighting the recovery from the pandemic, the challenges of Brexit, as well as the cost-of-living crisis, Ms Roddick said that shopping locally is one way that individuals can ensure they are playing a part in supporting their local businesses and economies.

Commenting Ms Roddick said:

“Shopping locally this winter has never been more important. Local businesses have been under immense pressure over the last few years, from the pandemic, to Brexit, and now the cost-of-living crisis. Showing your support can make the world of difference.”

“Local businesses provide so many jobs across the Highlands & Islands and play a big role in making our communities so vibrant.

“The SNP government is helping businesses recover as much as it can, but we can all play our part individually too. Small, local businesses make such a huge difference to our communities and their local economies, so I encourage everyone to get involved this Small Business Saturday and show your support where you can.”

Emma Roddick MSP says fallout of Brexit is an unwelcome distraction for Scotland’s haulage industry’s journey to Net Zero.

Highlands & Islands MSP Emma Roddick has stated that Tory economics have had a detrimental impact on the road haulage industry in Scotland.

Citing fuel costs, complex Brexit paperwork, driver shortages, and cabotage and groupage issues linked to the Tories’ hard Brexit, Ms Roddick said that the industry has been fighting an uphill battle.

Minister for Transport, Jenny Gilruth, agreed, stating that damaging UK Government policies had posed a huge challenge to the industry, but that the Scottish Government remained committed to its transition to net zero and was continuing to make progress.

Ms Roddick said:

“Brexit, along with other damaging UK Government policies, has had a devastating impact on the road haulage industry. The last couple of years has been an uphill battle.

“Driver shortages and complex paperwork preventing companies from carrying out their day-to-day deliveries are just a few of the challenges we saw facing the industry as a result of the Tories’ disastrous Brexit.

“We are lucky that the industry was so resilient during these challenges whilst also contending with a global pandemic.

“Despite the challenges faced, at the hands of reckless UK Government economic policy, I am pleased that the Scottish Government continues to make progress in the industry’s journey to net zero here in Scotland.”

Highlands & Islands MSP announced as Centre for Homelessness Impact ‘End it With Evidence’ Ambassador

MSP for the Highlands & Islands Emma Roddick has recently been named as a Centre for Homelessness Impact ‘End it With Evidence’ Ambassador. The UK-based charity champions evidence-led change by better collection and use of data on homelessness.

Speaking in the recent online Impact Forum run by the charity, Ms Roddick shared her own experience with homelessness, highlighting the importance of the organisation’s work in providing accurate data and information on homelessness and breaking down stigma.

She said:

“I am absolutely delighted to be onboard with Centre for Homelessness Impact, an organisation that is passionate about seeing real change.

“Having been homeless myself in the past, housing and homelessness are issues I care about deeply and I have first-hand experience of the stigma and misunderstanding surrounding them.

“I also see it every day through my work as an MSP. Homelessness in my region, the Highlands & Islands, often presents differently from what you might find in the Central Belt.  People know there isn’t housing available in their community and that they cannot afford to compete with absentee landlords making large offers on homes in tourist hotspots, so many will stay in overcrowded situations and not even register as homeless – it’s very hard to measure the extent of this hidden homelessness. 

“We need all the data we can get on these unique challenges if we stand a chance of understanding the context of hidden, rural, and island homelessness.  So, I’m excited about the work Centre for Homelessness Impact is doing and look forward to shouting about it and getting involved in every way I can.”

“Labour and Tories in absolute lockstep,” SNP MSP Emma Roddick say both the UK Government and their opposition are ignoring Scotland’s needs.

Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick has called out Labour and the Tories for ignoring Scotland’s immigration needs.

Questioning the Scottish Government on the effects of increased inflation on Scotland’s public services, Ms Roddick highlighted the value of those coming to live and work in Scotland, stating the need for more powers to deliver a welcoming system of migration.

Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, stated that whilst the Scottish Government were developing schemes such as the Rural Visa pilot, a fuller range of powers were required to fully address the negative effects of the UK Government’s migration stance.

Ms Roddick said:

“Many of Scotland’s public services are still recovering from the pandemic. Increasing inflation, matched with the impact of a disastrous Brexit, is making that recovery all the tougher.

“People coming to live and work in Scotland are vital for our public services and should be welcomed with open arms, yet the Labour and the Tories are in absolute lockstep with each other as they continue to ignore Scotland’s needs.

“With independence, Scotland will have the powers it needs to ensure an open and welcoming system of migration – one that supports our public sector, ensures we can fully recover from the pandemic, and allows us to deliver the standard of services that people in Scotland deserve.”

Highlands & Islands MSP meets Social Security Scotland’s Local Delivery Team in Inverness

MSP for the Highlands & Islands Emma Roddick met today [Friday 18th November] with Social Security Scotland’s Local Delivery Team for the Highlands in Inverness to speak about the service they provide in the area.

Social Security Scotland’s Local Delivery service was launched in November 2021 and offers support to people face-to-face or over video or phone call in all 32 Scottish Local Authorities.

During the visit, Ms Roddick heard how the team support and advises people through the process of claiming benefits, from application to delivery.

Commenting on her visit, Roddick said:

“Having scrutinised recent progress on social security in the Parliament, I was so pleased to be able to meet the local delivery team for the Highlands.  The work they do is incredibly important in supporting people through their claims process, something that can be very difficult for many.

“Social Security Scotland is taking a different approach to the UK’s punitive and degrading system. One that is compassionate and puts the claimants’ needs first.

“These local delivery teams are an integral part of that and a reflection of the kind of society we want to be here in Scotland. The delivery of ten different benefits, seven of which are unique to Scotland, simply would not be possible without these incredible people who are determined to deliver a fair and supportive welfare system for all.

“It’s really important that people know the help that is available, especially that their local delivery team will carry out home visits rather than make you travel to get to them and support you in getting the benefits you’re entitled to – the team really is here to help, not catch you out.

“I am grateful to the Highlands team for having me along and look forward to working with them in the future.”

ENDS

Notes

  • Ms Roddick was recently appointed Deputy Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Social Justice and Social Security Committee. Today’s visit was organised prior to that appointment.

Highlands & Islands MSP presses Government on the impact of carbon offset schemes on rural depopulation

Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick has told the Scottish Government that private investment in carbon schemes needs to complement, not damage, the needs of surrounding rural communities.

The SNP MSP linked the schemes, which often involve rich private investors buying up land in the Highlands to sell carbon credits, to depopulation, saying that communities need to be involved in how their land is used if they are to survive.

In response, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, Michael Matheson, expressed the Scottish Government’s commitment to acting to ensure that increasing levels of natural capital investment delivered benefits for rural communities.

Ms Roddick said:

“Highland communities are sick of private interests running roughshod over their needs and wishes. 

“Some private investment to help us reach our climate targets may be helpful, but that has to be done alongside – or even by – those who live and work in the area, rather than be something that is done to us.

“The Highlands is home to many people and livelihoods and, if we are going to prevent further rural depopulation, the Scottish Government needs to empower folk to have a say in how their land is used; not teach them that their voices will be drowned out whenever private companies produce an eye-watering amount of money to do things their way.”

Highlands and Islands MSP calls for pain pathway after meeting with Ehlers Danlos Organisation

Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick has called for the Scottish Government to use its plan to improve services for those with chronic pain to introduce a pathway for dealing with conditions that cause it, after meeting with groups who campaign for better treatment of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a rare connective tissue disorder.

The SNP MSP, who is Deputy Convener of the Cross-Party Group on Musculoskeletal Conditions, highlighted to her party’s Minister for Public Health, Maree Todd, that “inappropriate” prescribing of physiotherapy or self-management could make patients’ pain worse.

She said:

“The focus the Scottish Government has put on providing specific training on chronic pain and its impact is very welcome. It can be extremely difficult when you’re in the position of dealing with a healthcare professional who doesn’t understand your condition.

“Self-management that is prescribed inappropriately, or without medical support alongside, can be dangerous for people suffering severe and chronic pain. We have to make sure folk who genuinely need medical intervention, too, don’t feel they are being fobbed off.

“I deal with pain and hypermobility every day and recently reached out to Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome campaigners to discuss how people can be better supported when presenting with these symptoms.

“At the meeting, we discussed cases where EDS patients were offered treatment which made them worse. Clear pathways, informed by evidence, need to be set out to avoid this happening.  I will keep pressing the Scottish Government to progress this.”

Highlands & Islands MSP says the narrative of Gaelic and Scots as languages of the past must change

Highlands & Islands MSP Emma Roddick has told the Scottish Parliament that there is a future for Gaelic and Scots as languages, expressing that the Scottish Highlands are still rich in Gaelic culture.

Speaking in the debate on the Future of Gaelic and Scots, delivering part of her speech in Gaelic, Ms Roddick welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to promoting the languages, but warned that strategies should not give up on Gaelic outwith the Highlands.

Ms Roddick also urged the Scottish Government to support efforts to ensure more opportunities are available for immersion in Scotland’s languages.

She said:

“I have my concerns about the policy to create a Gàidhealtachd, not only because I grew up believing I lived in it, but because I worry this may mean giving up on Gaelic elsewhere.

“The more I learn about the Gaelic language, the more I realise how much of the Highland Scots I know is influenced by it. I didn’t know some of the words I had heard growing up were Scots until I came to Edinburgh and started using them, to the confusion of my friends.

“There are too few opportunities to learn Gaelic. I remember the difficulty my friends who took Gaelic classes had in immersing themselves in the language outside the small classroom they learned in. I, therefore, very much welcome the announcement that the Gaelic Capital Fund will develop school units in Tain and Skye in my region.

“When I went to Bridgend Nursery, I remember the teachers being very strict with me on some of my vocabulary. I spent the first three years of my life in Cardross and might have picked up some Weedgieisms there.

“In my region, many places are still hurting from historic oppression of Gaelic and our culture in general, and that perhaps makes me a bit sensitive to these things, but if we want both these Scottish languages to survive, we can’t be teaching kids that it’s bad or wrong to speak them.”

Highlands & Islands MSP sponsors social housing shelter event in Scottish Parliament, sharing lived experience of homelessness

Highlands & Islands MSP Emma Roddick has sponsored a Shelter Scotland event in this Scottish Parliament this week.

Attendees of the event, titled Social Housing as the Foundation of Social Justice, heard from speakers Alison Watson, Director of Shelter Scotland, SallyAnn Kelly OBE, CEO of Aberlour, and Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government.

Ms Roddick opened the reception, her speech highlighting housing issues in the Highlands and Islands as well as her own lived experience with homelessness.

She said:

“There are undoubtedly challenges that we have to overcome in housing across Scotland. While it isn’t the only answer, building more homes for social rent is a key part of that and something that this current Scottish Government has a strong commitment to.

“Every day, I hear of another young person struggling to find a place to live in their community in the Highlands and Islands, where they want to stay.

“The issue of hidden homelessness is huge in my region, particularly in places like Skye, where so much stock has been lost to short-term lets and holiday homes.  I’m, therefore, glad to see that Shelter’s action plan includes not only building but buying back homes.”

Ms Roddick went on to share her personal testimony, highlighting the struggles of homelessness:

“You lose so much when you’re homeless. You lose possessions, you lose security, you lose your sense of self. I remember applying for jobs with a care-of address – employers do not like that. Credit companies turn you away in a second, and I struggled to find a GP. You often simply cannot access social justice without a home.

She concluded:

“Scotland is the country which ended Right to Buy, the country which declared anyone unintentionally homeless was entitled to a home, and it will be the country that says nobody should be homeless in 21st-century Scotland.”

The Cabinet Secretary spoke at the event and outlined the actions the Scottish Government is taking to reduce homelessness, referencing the rent freeze and forthcoming Housing Bill.  She also thanked Ms Roddick, saying  “I’ve always been struck – and Emma’s done it again tonight – by her powerful personal testimony.”

Emma Roddick MSP leads debate on mental health stigma in the workplace

Emma Roddick MSP has led a Members’ Business Debate in the Scottish Parliament on the stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace.

The Highlands and Islands MSP highlighted that a report by Centred, a mental health organisation based in the Highlands, had drawn her attention to figures from See Me’s Scottish Mental Illness Stigma study, in which half of the respondents believed someone would keep a mental illness to themselves at work for fear of negative reactions like being bullied or even losing their job.

Reflecting on her own experience as the first MSP elected with a known personality disorder diagnosis, Ms Roddick expressed that her workplace felt like the ‘wrong’ place to have a perceived weakness.

She said:

“As a young woman, there is already an assumption that I’m not smart enough or strong enough to do this job, and that gets worse when it’s public knowledge that you have a mental illness. During my election campaign, there were numerous public discussions on my capability to be an MSP.

“The understanding of depression and anxiety is improving but when it comes to those of us with severe and enduring illnesses, like personality disorders and schizophrenia, there is still very much a belief that we are dangerous, cannot work, and should be avoided.

“It cannot be understated how important the use of language is in tackling stigma in the workplace. I regularly sit in the parliament and listen to colleagues using language irresponsibly, in a way that perpetuates stigma.”

She concluded:

“People need to be able to talk openly about their mental health if we are to overcome stigma. Let’s all of us do better and lead the way in Scotland being a more accepting country which doesn’t stigmatise those with mental illnesses.”

The Chamber heard cross-party contributions with Kevin Stewart, Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care, concluding the debate, stating that tackling stigma and discrimination around mental health remained a key priority for the Scottish Government.

Notes

Centred’s Mental Health: Exploring the Current Landscape can be found here