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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
Euan’s Guide

Euan’s Guide

Many of you already know that I’ve supported Motor Neurone Disease charities and support organisations. My Dad died of this horrible disease and everything that brings greater awareness of it and more research into it has to be good.

Euan MacDonald was diagnosed 10 years ago at the age of just 29. He’s been busy fundraising for MND research since and has now combined with his sister, Kiki, to create a website called Euan’s Guide ( .

I was honoured to host a reception in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday evening to celebrate the launch of the site.

Its purpose is to pull together a list of bars, restaurants, sporting events, music venues and much more that are disability-friendly along with reviews by the people who have used them.

Euan MacDonald with his mum, Louise, and myself at the Scottish Parliament Reception (Picture by Chris Close)

It’s so obvious you’d think someone would already have done it and indeed, in small patches, some areas have, but this is Scotland-wide and that’s the difference. I am writing out to all of my MSP colleagues, to chambers of commerce, local councils and other stakeholders so as to encourage everyone to go and write reviews and to contribute to the site.

Euan addressed attendees at the reception using Tobii technology which creates speech from eyelid movements. The 39 year old Motor Neurone Disease victim told his audience how he still wants to get out to bars, restaurants, hotels, cinemas, music festivals, sports grounds and other venues but has found that information about access is a process of trial and error.

Following years of investigating, me and my family have built up something akin to a local directory on disabled access that we were keen to share with others with accessibility needs. And then we thought that there must be thousands if not millions of people who have the same issues that we do so we decided to take this a step further and create a site that will benefit the whole disabled community.”

Already endorsed by Stephen Hawking and JK Rowling, the guide is gathering new joiners every day and increasing its reach across the country.

European and External Affairs Committee Meeting

I am convener of the European and External Affairs Committee of the Scottish Parliament, as many of you will already be aware, so I am pretty closely involved with its activities, but we had something a bit different last week. It provided a certain, well, theatricality to affairs.

What happened? We had the Westminster Scottish Secretary, Alistair Carmichael MP, with us to discuss aspects of a post-independence Scotland’s membership of the EU – something that has been exercising a lot of the Better Together scaremongerers in the last few months.

Alistair Carmichael MP Scottish Secretary

I asked Mr Carmichael for the details of his meeting with a Russian diplomat about Scotland’s independence. It has been reported that the Prime Minister’s office said Britain was ‘extremely interested’ in anti-Yes referendum support from Russia.

Mr Carmichael refused to provide any information but his Parliamentary Assistant, Chris Flatt, was more revealing. He said: “I have briefed an official from the Russian embassy and officials from dozens of other embassies…I have had such conversations with officials from Russia, America, Canada, Belgium, the Philippines, Kurdistan and Italy.”

So the British Government’s position on the Referendum has clearly been well circulated, as of course it previously was to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso who certainly did as London instructed him.

It strikes me that a revelation that the Scotland Office – a UK Government department that is meant to represent Scotland’s interests – is briefing against Scotland as a serious matter of concern.

Prime Minister David Cameron continually refuses to debate with the First Minister in front of the people of Scotland but he is content for his government to go around the world talking down Scotland’s future behind closed doors. That speaks volumes about the Westminster approach to the referendum.

You can read the full report here:

Prostate cancer campaign

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in men in the UK. Over 40,000 men are diagnosed every year and one man dies every hour as a result. One in for Afro-Caribbean men will develop prostate cancer at some point in his life and one in eight from other ethnic origins.

I was therefore genuinely pleased to back the Prostate Cancer UK drive to build better awareness of the condition and thus to cut back on the number of deaths.

This drive, headed Men United v Prostate Cancer (see ) , recognises that men find it difficult to seek out medical attention early. In Scotland, we’re addressing it partly by callin on all the NHS Boards here to implement Prostate Cancer UK’s excellent Quality Checklist.

Joining me in backing the campaign is Scottish football legend Denis Law, chat-show king Sir Michael Parkinson and comic icon Bill Bailey. Prostate Cancer UK charity partner Scotmid Co-operative, which recently smashed its £150,000 annual fundraising target for the charity within just 6 months, is also backing the campaign via a series of events at its stores throughout Scotland.

Drew Lindon, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Prostate Cancer UK, said: "Prostate cancer survival rates are below the European average, research into the disease lags a decade behind that of other cancers, and quality of care and support varies depending on where you live.

“Men United is a powerful way for men, and the women in their lives, to mobilise against the common enemy of prostate cancer. By signing up, Christina McKelvie MSP has a place and a voice in a growing movement that’s taking action for men’s health.  We are extremely grateful for her ongoing support, and would encourage people throughout Scotland to join Men United to help boot prostate cancer into row Z.”

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