With Parliament returning, following a fantastic and very busy summer recess, I am delighted to share a wee summary of my first year as MSP for the Highlands & Islands.
Emma Roddick MSP was spotted in Lerwick attending UHI Shetland’s first in-person graduation ceremony. The graduation celebrated students who graduated over the pandemic and those graduating in 2022, giving the opportunity for those that didn’t have a traditional graduation ceremony to celebrate with their fellow students and loved ones.
Commenting Roddick said:
“I was humbled to be invited to the graduation ceremony today, celebrating the efforts of so many students that worked so hard over the past few years to achieve their degrees. I have so much respect for them.
“It was great to see students graduate across such a breadth of subjects – there is so much happening in Shetland, being done by Shetlanders. I was so excited and proud to hear about degrees exploring Shetland’s Norse heritage, like the Masters in Literature in Viking Studies.
“Professor Todd Walker, the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the UHI, told us in his keynote speech how UHI is now l ranked 8th in the UK for research impact, which is incredible and a reflection of the hard work and dedication of all the staff and students at UHI. The fact that the UHI has only been established recently makes it even more impressive.
“It’s been such a great day and I’ve loved seeing all the happy faces around me celebrating – I have no doubt all these students will get up to a lot of great things.”
Emma Roddick MSP and Mollie McGoran, Vice-Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament and MSYP for Inverness and Nairn, visited Nairn Academy to meet with the Head-Teacher, Deputy-Head Teacher, and pupils.
Roddick and McGoran got the opportunity to meet with the English National 5 class and the Pupil Council to discuss how their experiences at school, how they are feeling about the coming year, and hear more about their feelings on the re-development of the Academy’s long-awaited rebuild which is projected to be delivered by the end of 2025.
Commenting on the visit, Roddick said:
“Youth engagement is really important to me so I jump at any opportunity I can to meet young people and try and get them speaking up about their experiences and what they think of politics, which is why it was great to have Mollie along with me today too.
“We spoke a lot with the pupils about how young people can get more involved in politics and as the youngest MSP in Parliament, visiting with the Vice-Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament and their local MSYP, I hope that we were able to show them that youth representation in politics is important and that their concerns and experiences are listened to.
“I was keen to visit in August because being a student over the past couple of years has undoubtedly been rough with the pandemic and studying from home, so I can see how many of them might not have felt seen or listened to for a while. “It was great to hear though that the re-development of the school is giving them a lot of energy and enthusiasm for their education. One of the pupils even said that they think it will improve behaviour across the student body because it will no longer feel like they’ve been forgotten, but that they’re being invested in instead.”
MSP for the Highlands & Islands Emma Roddick has spoken out about the proposed merger of UHI North Highland, UHI Hebrides, and UHI West Highland, and urged constituents to engage with the ten-week public consultation which launched on the 8th of August.
The proposal, which sees these three strands of the University of the Highlands and Islands merged in a new single college of scale, aims to build on the expertise of the current colleges, ensuring a more sustainable and resilient future. The University has emphasised that the merger will provide better opportunities for staff, enhance the local curriculum offered and the capacity for engagement and partnership, and provide a stronger financial future.
Speaking about the proposal, Roddick said:
“The UHI merger presents a really exciting opportunity for the Highlands. In bringing together the resources and expertise of the three branches, the new set up will strengthen and enhance the opportunities for those studying, researching, and working in the Highlands and Islands.
“It is great to see UHI engaging with those in the Highlands and Islands and providing both online and in-person information events where they can find out more details about the merger. I would really encourage folk to make use of these resources and feed in their opinion on this big opportunity.”
Information events can be found here: https://rural-islands-merger.uhi.ac.uk/consultation-events/?fbclid=IwAR2TTW-ma-XnOk1rh0x2U1vO48xrsOnzNKHHYsw0I61DNFLVlbi_fE9TS8M
As part of her busy summer recess schedule, Emma Roddick MSP recently visited the Skye and Lochalsh Mental Health Association. Established in 1992, the charity supports members with their health, social, practical, and emotional needs.
The charity offers drop-in sessions as well as outreach support and door-to-door visits, covering the needs of all individuals. The Mental Health Association also currently runs a furniture project, picking up and receiving donations of good quality furniture that is then passed on to those in need.
Speaking on her visit, Roddick said:
“The work that Skye and Lochalsh Mental Health Association have been doing for thirty years now is so incredibly important, especially in those areas where folk can feel isolated and cut off from many services.
“It is so great to see the charity not only offering outreach support but also more casual drop-in sessions too. This hopefully means that all those in need feel they can come forward for support in one way or another.
“I would definitely encourage anyone who needs some support or is feeling lonely to reach out to them, and anyone who has some spare time to support their work to check them out and volunteer.”
Continuing her summer recess schedule, Emma Roddick MSP recently visited Skye-based charity and social enterprise RagTag and Textile. Established in 2003, the charity promotes mental and social well-being in North-West Scotland through guided, creative workshops and drop-in “cake and conversation” days.
RagTag have a unique framework that supports both mental health and the environment. By creating up-cycled crafts from donated materials during their workshops, they encourage re-use and recycling. The charity also offers supports the local community by offering work experience in their charity shop.
Speaking on her visit, Roddick said:
“It was so wonderful to see the work that goes on at RagTag. It is so important that those suffering from poor mental health in our region get the support that they need and to see charities like RagTag providing this service is so reassuring.
“For so many, the ability to be creative, gain skills, and build experience is vital to recovery. The crafts made by service users and staff really are incredible and the fact that they were all made using second-hand, donated materials is so impressive. To be able to reduce the volume of waste going to landfill on the island on top of the work they do supporting mental health in the local community is admirable.
“I’ve had the opportunity to visit so many mental health organisations this recess and it’s amazing seeing all the creative approaches each organisation takes towards supporting wellbeing and building community in their local areas.
“I look forward to visiting RagTag again in the future for one of their Crumz sessions.”
The Scottish Parliament’s Festival of Politics Returned on the 11th – 13th August for the 18th year, presenting a wide range of events to inspire and engage people across a range of topics, from end-of-life choices to the cost-of-living crisis. Amongst those, an important event touching on LGBTI+ Elder Care was chaired by the Highlands and Islands SNP MSP, Emma Roddick.
The event welcomed Karen Hedge, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Scottish Care, and Carrie Bates, member of the National Theatre of Scotland LGBTI+ Elders Social Dance Club, in discussion with Ms Roddick about the experiences of the LGBTI+ community when they need to receive or go in to care.
The panellists touched on key issues experienced by the LGBTI+ community in the care system, such as how their LGBTI+ identities are often ignored or dismissed, leading to a loss of cultural identity and feelings of loneliness and isolation, ultimately disempowering LGBTI+ people. However, they also discussed in depth the issues faced by carers, such as the lack of safe spaces for LGBTI+ carers to disclose that they are LGBTI+, lack of paid diversity and inclusion training during working hours, and low levels of pay for such demanding and important work.
Commenting on the event, Emma said:
“The event was amazing, we had such an insightful discussion about the care system in Scotland and how it could better cater for the LGBTI+ community, both in terms of LGBTI+ carers and LGBTI+ individuals receiving care. Karen and Carrie really stole the show with their expertise on the matter.
“The audience was so engaged with the discussion as well and we got to hear so many experiences from people who are in the care system. It was heart-breaking to hear stories of individuals that were forced to move far from their homes to Edinburgh because they were refused care in their hometowns on the grounds that they were LGBTI+, and it was deeply upsetting to hear about the prolonged amounts of time they had to wait to receive care.
“Having said that, we had a few carers in the audience who expressed such commitment to supporting LGBTI+ people to be their authentic selves. I feel hope for our future care system to be more inclusive to cater for LGBTI+ people and I’ll continue advocating for the rights of the community through my work.”
MSP for the Highlands and Islands Emma Roddick recently enjoyed her visit to Islay for the annual Islay, Jura and Colonsay Agricultural show. The show, which held its very first meet in 1838, returned for the first time in three years last week.
Alongside many other groups and organisations, the local Islay, Jura and Colonsay Yes group as well as SNP politicians and councillors from the region were in attendance.
Commenting on the day, Roddick said:
“It was fantastic to be able to get over to Islay for the show this year. The weather was glorious, and it was brilliant to see so many enjoying the day. I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with various organisations from across the area, including South Islay Development and Islay Link Club, as well as many proud farmers who introduced me to their prize-winning animals.
“I also enjoyed joining the SNP and Yes group, getting out chatting to residents and visitors and raising some all-important funds to kick start our independence campaign.”
As part of her summer recess tour, Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick recently visited the Glenmorangie Distillery. Located in Tain, the distillery has been crafting single malt whisky since 1843.
Recently installing a new solar array at their botting plan in Livingston, the company aims to cut costs and carbon output as it seeks to achieve net zero by 2040. The company has also been a partner in the Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project (DEEP) since 2014. An initiative to restore Native European oysters to the Dornoch Firth, the project’s vision sees biodiversity enhanced and the by-products created through the distilling process at Glenmorangie purified.
Commenting on her visit, Roddick said:
“I learned a great deal on my visit to the distillery, and it was great in particular to hear about its journey to Net Zero, something that is so important.
“Scotland’s whisky is a massive part of our cultural identity known throughout the world; however, we must be known throughout the world for good reasons. We are in a climate emergency and must take steps to ensure that the whisky sector is truly a net good for the planet.
“The team’s work on the DEEP project is particularly fascinating. Hearing how they are bringing oysters back to the Dornoch Firth was inspiring, and I look forward to seeing how that and their move towards powering operations with more green energy progresses over the coming years.”
Notes- More information on DEEP https://nativeoysternetwork.org/portfolio/deep/
Emma Roddick MSP visited the Black Isle Show which took place on the 3rd and 4th of August. The event, organised by the Black Isle Farmers’ Society, returned for the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus and saw visitors come together to enjoy a wide variety of entertainment.
Roddick visited a number of organisations at their stands including the National Farmers Union of Scotland, Centred, Highlands and Islands Blood Bikes, and paid special thanks to the SNP Dingwall Black Isle branch for promoting the party with their fantastically bright stand.
Commenting Emma said:
“It was so great to see the Black Isle show back up and running and as busy as ever. I was so pleased to be able to meet and speak with so many fantastic people and organisations throughout my visit.
“The Black Isle Show was such a huge miss over the last two years throughout the height of the pandemic. A massive thank you must go out to the event organisers for bringing the show back and putting on such a fantastic couple of days.”