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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
21st January 2010

Again another week zips past and I wonder where it has gone until I look at my diary and see what I have packed into it. Last Friday I had a day of education it started with a visit to Rathbone training centre in Motherwell, Rathbone is currently providing opportunities for 3,500 young people in Scotland every year to transform their life-circumstances by re-engaging with learning, discovering their ability to succeed and achieving progression to further education, training and employment. 

They have 12 centres across Scotland including one in Motherwell.  They are currently working with Scottish Government to implement 16+ Learning Choices. I met a group of enthusiastic and energetic young people in the centre who are working on skills to enable them to choose what they want to do with their lives. One young man wants to be a mechanic and is looking at courses or apprenticeships he can do to realise his goal. Another young woman is planning to go to Motherwell College to study to be a chef apparently she makes a mean curry and had worked with the other young people to make one the Monday before. Pity I wasnít there as I'm quite partial to Indian food myself. I really hope that they use the skills and support this great organisation gives to make the right choices for success.

So onto the official opening of Motherwell college any of you who read this diary will know about my long time involvement and support of the planning and realisation of the new college on the Ravenscraig site. It was a fantastic day and the staff, board, students and especially the principle Hugh Logan are to commended for creating a fabulous learning environment that will bring about some of our pioneers in engineering, beauty and performing arts- tell you what here's the link you can see for yourself what a brilliant facility it is.

The college was opened by the Princess Royal and the performance by the students was just amazing.

It was back to the office to meet a constituent and deal with the huge mail folder that my constituency assistant had organised for me- she's a right treasure.

The weekend had me doing some campaign planning as the Westminster election hurtles ever towards us.

Monday had me meeting parents of young people with autism to discuss their new campaign and to discuss some of the issues and actions the Scottish parliament could take on in order to ensure young people get the right support they need.

Then I was off to Glasgow airport to travel to Belfast to speak at a seminar on 'Learning from Scotland Ė Immigration & Migrant Worker Issues'. I was invited as a key note speaker to discuss how the SNP in Scotland has used the powers we have to create a much more human approach to supporting people seeking asylum and immigration to Scotland. I was joined by Derek Mitchell who manages the Strategic Migration partnership for COSLA and he gave us an insight into how our local authorities have used the support from the Scottish government and individuals council departments to ensure people are supported and encouraged to integrate into our communities.  Also speaking was Ian Kernohan who is head of Fresh Talent.  We gave a real 'team Scotland' approach with our different presentations and the funny thing is I have never met the other two speakers and we had not compared notes beforehand- it just goes to show that when a nation does something right and it has the support of COSLA, local authorities and other organisations it comes across to other countries that we have a comprehensive joined up approach to things that effect our economy, culture and place in the world.

It was another occasion for me to ensure that when UKBA describe something as 'early morning removal' people understand that itís a dawn raid they are talking about and not some gentle cushy experience but in some cases a brutal and unnecessary one. I do like this kinds of event as it allows me to set the record straight on some of the rubbish that UKBA come up with.

It was back home and preparation for Education Life Long Learning and Culture committee where we continued our inquiry into local newspapers her is the official report from last week to give you a flavour of what it was all about. So you can 'read all about it' yourself.

In the chamber this week was the beginning of the budget where my colleagues put on some sparkling performances - including a very thoughtful contribution from Linda Fabiani which you can read here - and this morning the Conservative debate was on a motion to stop Nicola Sturgeon from continuing to reduce the cost of prescription charges. Nicola triumphed, though, and the principled position of the Scottish Government - that health should be free at the point of delivery - continues apace.  There's a lot more coming, we're making this country better and, as George Foulkes once said, we're doing it on purpose!

Christina McKelvie MSP
Central Scotland

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