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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
4th October 2013

Wear it Pink

I was clad in my most electric pink last week when MSPs  joined the fight against breast cancer by taking part in Breast Cancer Campaign’s biggest (and pinkest) fundraiser, wear it pink day.

Over the last 10 years wear it pink has raised a staggering £23 million and on Friday 25 October 2013 people will come together in schools, colleges and businesses across Scotland to raise vital funds for Breast Cancer Campaign’s lifesaving research.

 Every year in Scotland around 4,400 people are diagnosed with breast cancer, including around 25 men. Sadly, around 1,000 people die from the disease each year. This is why we need to support Breast Cancer Campaign’s fundraising efforts so they can continue to fund research which will one day lead to a cure.

Breast Cancer Campaign vitally needs the money raised from wear it pink for its researchers to have the best possible chance to find the cure.

So, taking it to heart, myself and the First Minister got together…

Visit of the Lithuanian ambassador

In Scotland, we’re always interested to find out more about how the smaller European Union countries such as Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania are getting on in Europe.

So it was interesting and exciting to find out more about Lithuania. The ambassador, her Excellency Asta Skaisgiryte Liauskiene, came on a visit to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday past. She was giving evidence about the EU presidency which her country currently holds.

She filled us in on some of the background since they joined in 2004. Lithuania is the most digitally advanced nation in the world, with full 4G coverage. They have an amazing growth rate and are net contributors to the EU

It’s tremendously exciting to see how this small nation of just three million people can do! That is great encouragement and reinforcement to Scotland with its 5.5 million people.

We, too, have the resources and the power and skills to be at the forefront of these smaller European nations after a Yes vote next year.

Christina with Her Excellency Asta Skaisgiryte Liauskiene, Ambassador of Lithuania, at the Scottish Parliament
(Picture courtesy of the Scottish Parliament)

The Scottish chill factor

One of the costs we pay for living in such a fabulous and spectacular country is, well, the weather isn’t always glorious! To be fair, we’ve had a fantastic summer and perhaps it’s precisely because of those balmy days that we’re now all feeling just a little bit chilly!

Viruses love spring and autumn and now is the time for flu vaccinations. The Scottish Government has just introduced a free vaccine for every two or three year old in the country.

That’s important to Mums and Dads as well as their children because toddlers have little or no immunity to what can be a deadly virus. The little ones get their immunisations via a nasal spray which only takes a few moments and means they don’t even need an injection.

Chatelherault, Hamilton, in Autumn

“We have more than 16,000 children in South Lanarkshire under the age of five and I know that their parents and carers want to protect them from avoidable illness. A quick trip to a local GP flu clinic during October will mean those little children are safe from this potentially dangerous virus.

Already, around a fifth of the Scottish population receive the vaccination each year. Anyone over 65 or with particular health problems such as asthma, diabetes, heart, liver or lung problems, reduced immunity or kidney and liver issues is automatically entitled to the vaccine, as are their families, all carers and health workers.

“In Scotland, we are seeing the positive results of our comprehensive flu vaccination programme. As it stands, we have seen 2,000 fewer hospitalisations and 25,000 fewer GP consultations.

Josh’s progress

As you will know, if you were reading a week or two back, my Parliamentary and Constituency Assistant, Josh Wilson, is standing as the SNP candidate in the forthcoming Hamilton South by-election.

I’ve been out with him around the town, talking to people, asking about their priorities and finding out how they’re likely to vote.

We hear lots about the great heritage of our old friend, the late Bobby Lawson, whose footsteps Josh hopes to follow in.

Josh’s youth and enthusiasm is going down a storm around South Hamilton, with people of every age saying they’ll definitely vote for him and for the SNP agenda.

I’ll keep you up to date. The by-election is on 24 October, just after the SNP Annual Conference in Perth. More about that later!

Josh Wilson, SNP candidate in the Hamilton South council by-election

More about young people

While Josh is a little bit over 16 – or so he claims – we in the Scottish Government recognise just how important the forthcoming Referendum is for the younger folk in Scotland.

It is they who will be growing into the positions of power that can shape our country’s future and who will be the both the ears and the voices in future parliaments.

It is this up and coming generation, their children, grandchildren and all those following who, with a Yes vote, will hold the levers of power to build a fairer, more prosperous and compassionate society.

With that recognition in mind, we put through legislation to bring the right to vote to those who will be 16 (rather than the current 18) by 18 September 2014.

This isn’t a new idea. Some of the other parties also support the concept but it took this Scottish Government to push it to reality.

Young people can now register to make their vote in the Referendum which can change their lives, increase their opportunities for achievement and fulfilment, see them shaking off the restraints brought by a London government neither they nor most of their parents ever voted for, and give each person a real stake in their own future.

Young people of 16 and 17 can get married, join the armed forces and pay taxes. It makes sense that they also have the right to vote.

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