Highlands & Islands MSP attends official opening of the Hydro Ness

Emma's selfie in front of hydro scheme, smiling, wearing blue flower dress and long, black coat  - the building is a silver, metal structure, with lots of panels like an armadillo.
Emma standing outside the hydro scheme

Emma Roddick MSP attended the official opening of the Hydro Ness, aimed to generate and supply renewable energy to the Highland Council.

Using hydro-electric power, the scheme will help the council reduce their carbon footprint, supplying roughly 50% of the Inverness leisure centre’s electricity demands.

The opening was led by Cabinet Secretary Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy & Transport.

Commenting, Roddick said:

“It’s so exciting to be at the official opening of Hydro Ness today led by Michael Matheson MSP.

“It is incredible how many local people have brought this brilliant project into being, starting years ago with the design by Claire Maclean. It’s a very necessary project to support the local council in continuing to offer important services to the public while alleviating the exponential pressure of rising electric prices.

“I loved seeing the trophy that is to be awarded to Grace Mackenzie, the Milton of Leys pupil who came up with the winning poster and name of the scheme.  I hope she’s the first of very many young girls in the Highlands to be inspired into STEM by the project.”

Highlands and Islands Cost-of-Living Survey: Emma Roddick MSP shares results

As the Tory Cost of Living Crisis is having devastating consequences across the Highlands and Islands, Emma Roddick MSP put out a cost-of-living survey to better understand how this is affecting constituents. Results from the survey highlighted significant worry and anxiety about rising costs amongst those in the region, with 93% of respondents saying they felt ‘extremely worried’ and 82% expressing they have already reached out for help or are considering doing so.

When asked about the rising cost of energy bills specifically, a staggering 98% indicated that they felt ‘extremely worried’ about the increased cost of their bills, with 74% of respondents indicating that the cost-of-living crisis had affected their mental health significantly.

Roddick expressed concern at these statistics, commenting that “In the survey, constituents have shared about the unrelenting stress of trying to make ends meet. Many have said they literally don’t know how they’re going to manage and that they are going to desperate measures of skipping meals just to be able to feed their children.

“Mental health is already a prevalent concern for Scotland, but especially for my constituents. The three areas with the highest suicide rates in the country are in the Highlands and Islands and the thought of mental health declining even further due to the cost of living crisis is very worrying.

“Constituents recognised that this comes at a pivotal time where we desperately need powers of independence to curb the cost-of-living crisis, with one sharing “my problems are caused by UK Government policies and their complete disconnect from [us]’”. Roddick shared the results in further detail on social media, which you can find here

Highlands & Islands MSP attends public meeting on Land Reform Bill

Emma Roddick MSP attended a public meeting in Invermoriston to discuss the Scottish Government’s proposals for a Land Reform Bill, led by Minister for Environment and Land Reform, Mairi McAllan.

Roddick commended Ms McAllan on social media for creating space for conversations around the Land Reform Bill so early in the process, explaining that this unusual move demonstrated a commitment to listening to local communities.

Roddick said:

“It’s very important for communities to be involved with the consultation of such an ambitious Bill. The Bill aims to address long-standing concerns about the highly concentrated pattern of land ownership in rural areas of Scotland which affects many across the Highlands & Islands.

“I would highly encourage my constituents to get involved with the consultation and attend any upcoming public meetings.”

More information on the consultation can be found here.

SNP MSP recognises organisation supporting disabled children and adults

Emma holding a colourful umbrella, looking at the camera smiling.

On her ambitious summer recess tour, Emma Roddick MSP has made the time to visit and support the Highland Riding Association for the Disabled (RDA), a charity aimed at offering fun activities to disabled children and adults.

Commenting, Roddick said:

“It was great to meet with the Highland RDA to find out more about how they’re supporting disabled folks with leading happier and more fulfilled lives.

“It’s not uncommon for disabled people, like myself, to find ourselves excluded or unwelcomed at events and activities because someone hasn’t made the accommodations required for us to be able to comfortably attend.  A hoist for getting on a horse is not something I even knew existed, but it was a real joy to hear about this and everything else they’re doing to cater for a wide variety of needs, from a rising platform that helps you get up to the height of the horse to multicoloured reins that aid with giving instructions.

“It’s really uplifting and exciting to see spaces like this exist for anyone with physical and learning disabilities and autism with no age restrictions, and it was amazing to hear all about their future plans.

“The Highland Group is building its first independent centre for the Highlands based just outside Inverness and they have ambitious plans to get back to pre-pandemic levels of activity and more. I would highly encourage checking them out and supporting their work, and I can’t wait to come back soon to see their vision for a new centre realised.”

Emma Roddick MSP shows support for mental health across the Highlands & Islands

Emma walking down the street wearing a high-vis jacket that reads "street pastor observer" alongside a Street Pastor who is wearing a jacket which reads "street pastor".
Emma walking alongside a Street Pastor observing one of their shifts

Emma Roddick has dedicated her first weeks of summer recess to meet with community groups and charities supporting mental health across the Highlands & Islands.

These groups included Highland Befrienders, Centred (formerly Birchwood Highland), and Inverness Street Pastors.

Following these visits, Roddick said:

“I speak about this often, but the Highlands and Islands are facing a mental health crisis which is only being exacerbated by the cost of living crisis, fuel poverty, and the long-term effects of the pandemic.

“My recent cost of living survey found that 74% of my constituents’ mental health is being impacted by the rising cost of living.  I know first-hand that the long-term effects of the pandemic add another layer of complexity on existing mental health concerns. I lost my mum a little over a year ago to covid and it’s been really difficult for me, as I know it has been for many others. I’m grateful for the support networks I have that are getting me through it, but I know not everyone has that.

“Social support is a really big part of mental health, and each of these important groups I visited has their own unique framework in place to support people. Whether it’s a friendly chat on the street with a passer-by that the Street Pastors do, the Meaningful Mondays that Highland Befrienders organise for folk to come together and do various activities, or community support that Centred provide.

“I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to meet each and every one of these organisations to hear more about their work, the services they provide, and future projects they’re planning, and I am glad to offer them my support.

“What I would say to anyone struggling with their mental health is please reach out to your GP and check out these incredible organisations. There is help out there for you and I will continue to advocate for the widening of emergency and community mental health support services in the Highlands & Islands and I will continue spreading awareness about mental health at any opportunity I can get.”

SNP MSP shows support for active travel

Emma, Rhys from hi-bike, and Rachel from Highland News & Media posing with their hi-bikes in Inverness City centre, in front of the River Ness. They are looking at the camera and smiling.

Highlands & Islands MSP Emma Roddick visited two active travel initiatives in Inverness to show her support for their work and find out more about future projects – Hi-Bike and Velocity Café & Bicycle Workshop.

Commenting, Roddick said:

“I’m a big advocate for active travel but in order for it to work for people, it’s so important to make it affordable and accessible, and Hi-Bike and Velocity do just that.

“Both of these initiatives break down barriers for people that are considering using cycling as a mode of transport but find it daunting to think about it long term and all the maintenance that goes with it. I experienced this first-hand when I attended a Velocity workshop focused on building confidence and bike maintenance skills, supporting repairing and re-use, and it was great to hear about all the amazing work they do beyond workshops, connecting people, building a sense of community, and campaigning for health and active travel.

“The same goes for Hi-Bike. It was great to hear from Rhys from Hi-Bike discuss all the ways Hi-Bike is opening up cycling to a whole other demographic, evidenced by their usage statistics which are much higher amongst groups that are otherwise underrepresented in cycling, such as women and people from minority ethnic backgrounds.

“I loved getting out and about on the Hi-Bikes myself, it reminded me how much easier it is than taking a bus and I look forward to seeing both of these projects grow over the next few months and years.”

SNP MSP welcomes progress on mesh removal treatment options

Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick has welcomed the news that anyone in Scotland who requires the surgical removal of mesh implants is to be offered surgery in the US as a potential treatment course.

This option is in addition to the treatment options currently being offered with Spire Healthcare in Bristol and the Complex Pelvic Mesh Removal Service in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GGC). Each of these options will be available free of charge.

Commenting Roddick said:

“I am glad that people in the Highlands and Islands seeking mesh removal surgery now have further options to access the surgery they need. Hearing the accounts of those who have been suffering as a result of transvaginal mesh implants is harrowing. I have endometriosis myself and can wholly empathise with anyone experiencing reproductive health issues and anyone who has felt overlooked or disregarded as they suffer through this.

“Whilst this is an important step, our progress in this area shouldn’t stop here. With an estimated 20,000 mesh implants being administered in Scotland over the past two decades, we need more trained surgeons locally so patients don’t need to travel to seek the support they need. However, I am happy to hear the Health Secretary’s firm commitment to ensuring those with implants get the treatment they need and deserve.

“Many women have suffered an unimaginable amount of pain due to complications as a result of transvaginal mesh implants and it is absolutely right the Scottish Government is doing all it can to ensure they now get the treatment that they want and need.

“I encourage anyone in the Highlands and Islands who would like a referral to any of these services to make their wishes known to their clinical team so they can access the best possible treatment for them as quickly as possible.”

Highlands and Islands MSP: Supreme Court decision must not endanger Scottish healthcare

SNP MSP Emma Roddick has asked the Scottish Government to reassure women and the LGBTQI+ community in Scotland following a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn key abortion rights case Roe v Wade.

Noting that there is rising promotion of anti-abortion campaigning in Scotland, too, she said:

“Following the appalling decision of the Supreme Court to restrict access to abortion in the States, I and many others with an interest in abortion rights have seen comments over the last few weeks – some from very close to home – by people who now seek to limit our right to access it here in Scotland, too.

“I’m particularly concerned about the rise in intimidation and harassment of those accessing sexual health clinics in the Central Belt, and I have asked the Scottish Government to monitor and act upon any instances of this elsewhere in the country.

“It is unacceptable that people are in the position of being afraid of losing their right to bodily autonomy, and it is shameful that misinformation and calls to row back existing rights are being touted by colleagues in the Scottish Parliament. 

“We have to do better and I am glad that my and others’ calls on the Scottish Government to ensure that factual information on abortion is available to the public and to expedite the implementation of ‘buffer zones’ in problem areas are being heard and acted upon.”

Emma Roddick has also publicly declared support for Gillian Mackay, Green MSP for Central Scotland’s, campaign to implement “buffer zones” at clinics which offer abortions, to prevent protests from interrupting patients accessing these services.

Highlands MSP says Minimum Income Guarantee will be key in eradicating poverty

SNP MSP Roddick has stated the importance of introducing a minimum income guarantee in Scotland, which would ensure nobody would fall under a set income level.

Asking the Scottish Government to provide an update on the work of the Minimum Income Guarantee Steering Group, Roddick stated:

“My region has some of the highest poverty levels in Scotland, which I fear will only get worse due to the rising cost of living. Introducing a minimum income guarantee is bold and ambitious, but I feel it is absolutely a proportionate response to this issue.

“I am glad to hear that a steering group has been formed and that steps are being taken to deliver this policy.

“Whilst the Scottish Government has been working to mitigate the fuel crisis through welfare payments and support grants, I believe a national approach to poverty is needed, including working with employers to support staff and allow them to live a poverty-free life, a minimum income guarantee would allow this.”

Emma Roddick MSP uses first summer recess meeting to visit Highland Housing Alliance

To mark the start of her summer recess tour, Emma Roddick visited the Highland Housing Alliance to find out more about the work they’re doing to create more affordable homes in the Highlands and future projects.

Following the visit, Roddick commented:

“It was great to hear more about the work that the Highland Housing Alliance are doing to provide affordable housing for rent and for sale for those that are seeking a home, as well as their recent handover of three new properties to the Highland Council.

“There is a distinct lack of affordable housing across the Highlands & Islands and this is devastating for my constituents and their communities. It’s one of the most common issues that constituents get in touch with my office about.

“I am acutely aware of the fact that, last year, almost 2,000 young people across the Highlands & Islands signed an open letter expressing their concerns over rising house prices and an increase in holiday-let properties which they called an ‘existential’ crisis. Sadly, not much has changed since then.

“The number of properties being removed from the housing market to provide short-term accommodation is continuing to climb steadily, raising prices, and reducing availability of homes.  I received a commitment from the Cabinet Secretary for Housing last year that she would revisit the issue of tackling the increasing numbers of short-term lets and is something I will continue pressing on, but I hope that councillors across the region will act fast on implementing control zones to tackle the issue as quickly as possible.

“Housing has always been and remains my top priority as MSP. I am committed to using my time as MSP to bring change in the devastating housing crisis my constituents are facing across the Highlands & Islands.”