Recycling Tools Project Scuppered Due to local politics!

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Bosco Santimano founder and executive director of social enterprise You Can Cook, shares his thoughts on how a successful reuse project set up under the You Can Grow umbrella was scuppered by nepotism, favouritism and local politics!

During the final year of delivering our pioneering growing project “Food for Life” at St. Ronan’s primary school, Innerleithen; we embarked on a reuse project working with Dominic Hodgkiss from Scottish Borders Council’s Waste Services. Initially we setup a 3 month pilot to collect data on number of gardening items going to landfill. Alex Wilson, Project Manager was working with the council to setup this much needed service as part of the recycling facilities at Eshiels, near Peebles. 

Our pilot was an instant success and we were given a contract, unpaid of course, to collect unwanted gardening tools to be refurbished and given back to the community. We developed a partnership with Scottish Prison Service(Saughton) and  Garvald Edinburgh where tools collected from Eshiels would be taken to Edinburgh, repaired and  refurbished as new and then delivered back to us to pass on to communities. All this was done by our organisation using our own financial resources in the hope that after proving its success and providing evidence of need, reduction of items going to landfill and huge carbon savings to the council we would be given a service level agreement (contract) that would at least cover all our running costs. During this time with the help and support of Dominic Hodgkiss we expanded the gardening tools reuse hub to all other recycling centres in the Borders. The whole project was now set to move to the next phase with the approval of our financial proposal to the council.

We were informed that there was no money to support this project even though the costs on a yearly basis to the council would be less than £20,000!  SBC elected councillors turned up for a photo opportunity in the beginning of the contract, but this project has never been a priority for the current ruling administration as I have known to be very vocal about my views and my organisation has paid a heavy price over the years. Elected representatives and community leaders back only those local groups, organisations and individuals that keep their mouths shut or make funds available to organisations that they themselves are on the boards as Chair or Directors. £15 million for iPads can be made available in an instant to boost the egos of this current administration but not £20,000 a year for a reuse project that has proved beyond doubt its impact and community benefit. I have never pandered to politicians and their ideologies and have constantly paid the price in our so called democracy! 

The decision to not fund this initiative financially was taken before Covid-19!

Finally! With a heavy heart we had to take the decision to terminate this project as no financial package was forthcoming. We have suffered a financial loss during this time but that’s all part of the political game and not having a “Godfather” and not being one of the boys! has definitely not helped. It’s time to expose these individuals and organisations that claims that they have the communities interest at heart.

On a positive note, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all our staff, volunteers, supporters and well-wishers including our partners Saughton Prison, Garvald Edinburgh, Dominic Hodgkiss (SBC), Change Works (Peebles) and Why Not? (Galashiels) for their whole hearted support of this pioneering project in the Borders.

Wishing all a Happy New Year 2021!

Teach them young

This week Bosco Santimano founder and executive director of social enterprise You Can Cook, shares his thoughts on growing food as a subject alongside home economics in schools.

One thing the Covid-19 pandemic has definitely taught us is that humanity has to get its act together in order to survive on this planet. No more climate change deniers being elected into power, no more control, funding and lobbying by oil companies of our politicians and governments both local and national. The future may look bleak at the moment but this pandemic will pass like many before it, but we need to radically change our economic policies. More emphasis should be placed on a work-life balance while food and health should be at the top of any governments priority list for its citizens, no matter what the political ideology. 

Having setup You Can Cook and You Can Grow in 2007, we have seen massive changes in the communities we delivered our projects. Not many are aware that we were the first social enterprise/community organisation to setup an Organic Training Garden on school grounds in Scotland in 2015. This project is still going strong with community support and has not folded since the original funding ceased. We worked tirelessly with the school and with support from school staff and volunteers helped develop an educational programme that was linking with the school curriculum, an achievement that has far exceeded our expectations. Pupils from Nursery up to Primary 7 were given hands-on training on how to grow and also cook from scratch with raw ingredients. We acquired four allotments plots on a 5-year lease from Traquair House Charitable Trust for local residents to grow their own food. We provided all the growing materials, seeds, training and support throughout the process, while making sure allottees could cope with growing food for the first time. The project has managed to light the imagination of local residents who felt motivated and inspired to grow their own food locally. This was the first of many steps the organisation took in fulfilling its long term sustainability plan for the Scottish Borders. 

We were the first social enterprise in Scotland to launch a book for growers, no matter what your knowledge or expertise is about wanting to grow your own food. The time is ripe for joined up thinking in our schools with help from local councils to make pupils aware of the consequences of climate change and impart skills and training in cooking and growing so that future generations will be able to be self-sufficient and not have to completely rely on food imports which currently make up over 50%. 

Let’s face it, we all need good, nutritious food and it does not matter whether we are rich or poor, SNP, Tory, Labour, Greens, or Lib-Dems. This is one policy we can hopefully all agree on. Make Food Poverty History.

Wishing all readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New year 2021! Stay safe and let’s grow, shop and eat local!

Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 11th December 2020.

Priti Patel – The Tories Poster Girl for How to be a Bully!

Having moved to Peebles in 2002, ‘Stooriefit’ Bosco Santimano gives us his own take on what he feels is the hot topic of the day. This week it’s bullying and Boris Johnson’s support for his Home Secretary Priti Patel despite the conclusion of an inquiry into these allegations.

It beggars belief that anyone at the top always gets away scot-free no matter the severity of the crime, allegation or simply put, utter incompetence. Former top civil servant Sir Philip Rutnam who was permanent secretary at the Home office, had resigned amid bullying allegations by his former Boss and took his case to the employment tribunal claiming constructive dismissal. Sir Philip Rutnam also claimed that the Home Secretary orchestrated a vicious campaign against him. He went on to also add that he had heard many claims of Ms. Patel shouting and swearing, making unreasonable demands and belittling people while doing her job.

Ms. Patel is no stranger to controversy. During her position as a cabinet minister in Theresa May’s government, she was forced to quit after conducting a series of unofficial meetings  with the Israel government while holidaying in that country. As Home Secretary she even considered transferring asylum seekers to the British overseas territory of Ascension Island, an idea considered appalling, inhumane and a logistical nightmare! Due to public and internal pressure PM Boris Johnson setup an inquiry led by Sir Alex Allan to look into these allegations of bullying. Even though the inquiry conveniently found that Ms Patel had “not consistently met the high standards required by the ministerial code”, and “no evidence that she was aware of the impact of her behaviour”. Surprise! Surprise! Sir Allan in his report also mentioned that Ms. Patel did not always treat civil servants with “consideration and respect” and concluded that her approach on occasions “amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying in terms of the impact felt by individuals”. Am I the only one confused by this statement in his report? But Boris the dictator who is arbiter of the code, judged that Ms. Patel did not breach the rules. He continues to have “full confidence” in the Home Secretary and “considers this matter now closed”, according to a Government statement. But the killer move was not allowing the inquiry to interview Sir Philip Rutnam! The real reason why this investigation process was initiated in the first place. Sir Allan has resigned since Boris asked all his MP’s to support Priti Patel and refused to sack her.

Priti Patel was born in this country in 1972 and her parents were refugees who fled Uganda due to Idi Amin’s policy of ordering the expulsion of all Asians from the country within 90 days. Amin accused the minority Asian population of being disloyal to Ugandans, non-integration and undermining the local population. Sounds familiar? Yes! Its ironic that Ms. Patel chose to become a Tory MP, a party that despises asylum seekers and refugees. Under her very own party policies she and her family would be denied entry into the UK today.

So Boris has effectively rejected the findings of his own inquiry and in doing so set a precedent whereby a minister was going to stay in their post for the first time despite this damming report. What does this tell us about Boris the man? In simple terms; “One rule for us, and another for everyone else”.

Power corrupts, while absolute power, corrupts absolutely!

Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 27th November 2020.

 

Disposable Face Masks the new Plastics!

This week Bosco Santimano founder and executive director of social enterprise You Can Cook, shares his thoughts on disposable face masks and the huge environmental impact on our planet!

Since the Covid-19 pandemic officially began in March this year in the UK, capitalists have taken advantage of the crisis to boost their profits along with Westminster Tory MP’s, who have given contracts to their mates and relatives in billions of pounds at the expense of the tax payer. During this pandemic the need for protective equipment has increased among the general public while also increasing plastic pollution. A research that was conducted by shopping comparison website, finder.com found that over half of the people surveyed were using single-use blue surgical face mask. If you take into account that each individual may use at least two masks a day, the UK could be sending as many as 55 million single use face masks to landfill every single day! If you want to understand what that actually means, it’s that we are using enough face masks that weigh the same weight as 100 cars per day. In March, the World Health Organisation estimated that 89 million additional disposable masks were needed globally per month in medical settings to combat COVID-19.

Disposable masks are the new plastic bags and the coronavirus pandemic is increasing the consumption of single-use masks, most of which are made from polypropylene, a form of plastic. Many environmentalist have warned that there is already a surge in disposable face masks and gloves floating like jellyfish across the Mediterranean along with the usual plastic litter of bags, cups and cans.  As much as 13 million tonnes of plastic goes into oceans each year and this estimate is based on a report called “The state of plastic: World Environment Day Outlook 2018” published in 2018 by the UN Environment programme. The report highlights why plastic is used so much (cheap, lightweight and easy to make), only a tiny fraction is recycled while 13 million tonnes of plastic leak into our oceans every year, harming biodiversity, economies and potentially our health. This paper sets out the latest thinking on how we can achieve this. It looks at what governments, businesses and individuals can do to check the runaway production and consumption of plastic.

Fast forward to November 2020 and this report findings has only got worse. If the global population adheres to a standard of one disposable face mask per day after lockdown ends, the pandemic could result in a monthly global consumption and waste of 129 billion face masks and 65 billion gloves. As masks are likely to be part of our daily lives for the foreseeable future, we could do our bit to keep ourselves and other safe by reducing the use of plastic by following these simple steps; choosing reusable masks without disposable filters is a sensible way to help the environment and even keep costs down. Machine wash them regularly and carry a spare when out and about in case of damage to the one you are wearing. If you do need to use a disposable mask, take it home and put it into a bin with a lid. If this isn’t possible, place it in a proper public bin. Don’t put disposable masks in the recycling. They can get caught in specialist recycling equipment and can be a potential biohazard to waste workers and finally do not flush masks down the toilet.

Stay safe and let’s keep our environment clean and safe too!

Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 13th November 2020.

Conservatives Vote to Starve English Children

Having moved to Peebles in 2002, ‘Stooriefit’ Bosco Santimano gives us his own take on what he feels is the hot topic of the day. This week it’s the UK governments voting down of providing free school meals for pupils across England.

The Tories have gone and done it again! These bunch of self-serving crooks voted against a Labour motion to extend the provision of free school meals for children in England until Easter 2021. The most nauseating and disgusting thing about this vote last week was that five out of six Scottish Conservative and Unionist party MP’s voted against allowing fresh hot meals for pupils in England, while the Leader of the Scottish Tories, Douglas Ross conveniently abstained from voting due to his so called commitments in Scotland! Just imagine for a moment the Scottish Conservatives and Unionist party winning a majority in the Scottish parliament in next year’s Scottish election! Yes! It did send shivers down my spine, as these bunch of hypocrites including our very own MP David Mundell, who the public voted for as their MP again last year will have to fully shoulder the blame of poverty and inequality in the UK as a whole. It really beggars belief and I am lost for words and angry at how the Conservatives are getting away with murder, time and time again. David Mundell missed voting for the Internal Market Bill a couple of weeks ago too as he was visiting his constituents, a very calculated decision as he is now beginning to feel the heat generated by his party’s decision to lower food import standards in his beloved Union after Brexit.

Earlier this year, Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford led a successful campaign that allowed hungry children to have access to free meals during the summer holidays, drawing upon the own troubles that his mother went through when he was a child. A motion had been brought back to the Commons to have the same initiative extended for the upcoming October half-term break and the Christmas holidays in order to help families that have been hit hardest by the pandemic and were already struggling in the battle against poverty. However, the motion was defeated by the government’s majority with prime minister Boris Johnson, chancellor Rishi Sunak, health secretary Matt Hancock and former PM Theresa May amongst the 320 Tories who voted it down. Even Nigel Farage, who I have no respect for due to his role in breaking up the Union! Twitted that “If the government can subsidise Eat Out to Help Out, not being seen to give poor kids lunch in the school holidays looks mean and is wrong”. For once I agree with him no matter what his politics or ideology is, we cannot as a G7 nation, starve our children to death. It’s morally irreprehensible and cruel in this day and age.

Only five Conservatives rebelled against the Government to vote for feeding more than 1.4 million children during school breaks until Easter next year in England. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been barred for life from a pub in his constituency over his decision to vote against providing free meals to eligible school children during the half-term holidays.

Can I appeal to compassionate Peebleans to ban MP David Mundell for life from all café’s, restaurants and pubs in the area? Or are we still okay to be part of this shameful act to starve English children because it does not affect our children up here in Scotland? Fingers crossed and really hoping that the Tories have a change of heart!

Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 30th October 2020.

Post Brexit Food Standards!

Bosco Santimano – Founder/Executive Director 

This week Bosco Santimano founder and executive director of social enterprise You Can Cook, shares his thoughts on Post Brexit Food Standards!

In June this year I wrote about the ruling Conservative party voting to compromise high UK standards by pushing through the controversial Agriculture Bill in parliament by 51 votes! This bill moved to the Lords for a second reading and we all held our breaths hoping the unelected Peers will have some sense of Democracy and accountability and reject the Agriculture Bill in its current format. Well! The House of Lords did respond to the public outcry and backed Farmers Unions and other environmental bodies in the UK and voted to add amendments to the agriculture bill that were rejected in the first voting round in parliament. It was the second defeat for Boris Johnson’s government last week as the Lord’s also backed a move banning the use of pesticides near homes and public buildings or spaces including hospitals and schools. Trade secretary Liz Truss is not happy with the amendments proposed by the Peers and has suggested that they would ban developing countries from exporting their goods to the UK for not meeting exact farming regulations and would undermine trade deals currently being negotiated.  NFU President Minette Batters appealed to the general public to write to their MP’s to add the amendments and safeguard our high standards post Brexit with any trade deals around the world especially the United States of America who are pushing for a comprehensive trade deal which will also include the NHS!

For readers who may not be aware of what actually is chlorinated chicken – it’s when the chicken is washed in chlorine to get rid of the bacteria and other microbes that are normally found in dirty farms and slaughter houses. This practice is currently illegal in the UK and that’s what may be coming into this country once the government’s Agriculture Bill is passed in its current format and will open the UK to very low and substandard poor quality food imports. On top of this farmers are also concerned about meats produced using banned hormones and additives that are currently prohibited in the UK and also pork raised using sow stalls, which confine the animals in a tight space.

On top of this Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland will be forced to accept trade deals made by England that will undermine their respective policies and environmental standards that all devolved nations have worked so hard for in the last few decades. The Conservative government is working very hard to undermine decades of legislations to protect both farmers and citizens from inferior food and food production processes. Farmers will not be able to compete with cheap food imports if the producers and suppliers are not adhering to strict UK/European standards.

Please write to your MP David Mundell and all the Tory MP’s in Scotland who actually are voting to undermine Scottish food production and its already high standards. Can they make a public declaration that has legal implications for themselves that the Agriculture Bill will not lower high environmental standards post Brexit of any food imports? Because if broken they can be held accountable and face criminal prosecution for lying as an elected member of parliament? This is the only way to make sure that crooked and selfish politicians are being held accountable!

Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 16th October 2020.

Breaking the Law is now acceptable under the Tories

Having moved to Peebles in 2002, ‘Stooriefit’ Bosco Santimano gives us his own take on what he feels is the hot topic of the day. This week it’s the UK Governments Internal Market Bill…

Boris has done it again! This guy has all the making of a Dictator and is actually putting Trump to shame by his shenanigans and constant battle to override the law in this country and now is on the cusp of breaking International law too!. Boris introduced the Internal Market Bill in the House of Commons to be passed democratically, as his party and Brexiteers confirm; is the only way to stop the EU from breaking up the United Kingdom!  MPs backed the Internal Market Bill by 340 votes to 263. This was going to happen anyway as the Tories have a 80 seat majority. You really can’t make this up as Boris is undermining his very own “oven baked” deal as promised in his manifesto at last years UK elections. What does not add up is that he actually signed the bill and is now ready to break a legal contract according to law. The arrogance of this man and his party is beyond belief. Our very own six Scottish Tories actually voted for the bill. What does this mean? Can I or anyone else break the law when it suit us? The Scottish Tories including David Mundell have repeatedly said that this bill will protect Scottish jobs hence the reason they voted for it. Yes! It will protect only their jobs and all the perks that come with it including being elected to the House of Lords once the electorate in his constituency wake up and smell the awful stink his reign has created in the Borders.

Two former prime ministers and many ex-Tory MP’s warned against breaching international law, saying it would be “a serious foreign policy error” and lack of credibility when the government tries to sign new trade deals with countries for the first time as a “sovereign” nation. The government is calculating that the British public won’t pay any attention to more Brexit related news as the whole country struggles with unemployment and death due to coronavirus. The UK is set to enter its worst recession in over 300 years due to coronavirus and a No Deal Brexit. The UK looks set to losing its control over the three nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with the latter to re-join its rightful place within the Irish Republic and all thanks to Brexit and an incompetent prime minister.

Once again the Tories have shown that they cannot be trusted with the devolution settlement, Withdrawal Agreement, International Law and the Political Declaration published in October 2019, setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom. The next three months will decide the fate of the people of these islands once and for all.

Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 25th September 2020.

Bedroom Tax – Tory Policy to cull the Working Class

Having moved to Peebles in 2002, ‘Stooriefit’ Bosco Santimano gives us his own take on what he feels is the hot topic of the day. This week it’s the “The Bedroom Tax”.

Since the Tories came to power at Westminster in 2010 led by David Cameron winning the largest number of votes and seats but still 20 seats short for an outright majority, they formed a coalition with the greedy power hungry Liberal Democrats and systematically went about dismantling the benefit system in this country by introducing Universal Credit. This policy was the brainchild of Ian Duncan Smith. The Tories and their Lib-Dem partners used the benefit system to balance the books which took a hit due to the recession, which in fact was caused by the financial institutions. Since many of the Tory supporters and donors are from rich backgrounds they did not dare go after these individuals but turned their guns on the weak, vulnerable and poor in our society who for no fault of theirs were made to pay a heavy price. The general public were made to believe that people on benefits were the cause of the financial crash and the Tories went about destroying the foundation of what was a carefully planned financial support system to help those in need when they most needed it. The gullible public once again fell for the lies of these two parties in government.

One of the main problems with Universal Credit was the introduction of what came to be known as the Bedroom Tax! Under the Welfare Reform Act 2012 the Tories/Lib-Dems voted to bring in policy changes under this reform to remove any subsidies received by social housing tenants for any spare bedrooms. Plus any two children under the age of 16 and of the same gender were expected to live in one bedroom as are two children under 10 regardless of gender. This meant families were hit with a triple whammy of having to pay more rent while the benefits were simultaneously cut to reduce the burden on the state and no affordable housing to move into or relocate. To make matters worse Lord Duncan Smith used his position within The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to set a target of 30% social housing tenants affected by these draconian changes to move home by 2017! Displacing thousands of families across the country. Many organisations, think tanks, human rights groups and even the United Nations have objected to this policy and called for its instant removal.

Coronavirus has disproportionately impacted the most vulnerable and ethnic groups in this country as they were more likely to work in industries that saw the biggest fallout of the pandemic like the NHS and lived in overcrowded accommodations due to the bedroom tax. Having no recourse to an extra room meant that these groups of people were left exposed and vulnerable to the virus. The Scottish Government has been mitigating the bedroom tax since 2013 through funding Discretionary Housing Payments for those affected and has announced it intends to use its powers under the Scotland Act 2016 to abolish the bedroom tax for those on Universal Credit. But politics and Brexit have put people in this precarious situation were lives are being lost due to an avoidable policy put in place by the Tories.

Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 21st August 2020.

Food vs iPads

 

This week Bosco Santimano founder and executive director of social enterprise You Can Cook, shares his thoughts on Covid-19’s devastating fallout on the world’s  economy, food and people.

What has Covid-19 taught us so far? I have been researching and reading lots of articles and opinions by experts in the field of science, environment, food, health and well-being, poverty and social justice since this pandemic began and the devastating impact on the most vulnerable and poor amongst us. Many governments around the world have been supportive of their citizens in terms of offering financial support to keep people from going hungry and making sure they have a roof over their heads. Overall Western economies have given a lifeline to businesses and employees through financial stimulus packages never before seen on such a massive scale. In the UK austerity had propelled mass economic hardships on millions of families through a Tory ideology that made the poor, disabled and disadvantaged suffer for the chaos caused by the rich bankers and financial institutions since the 2008 recession. People that are paying with their lives are low waged, zero hour contract workers in this gig economy, where people are forced to take up work that benefits big corporations through tax breaks and other subsidies offered by politicians to their donors in exchange for either a peerage or directorships after losing elections or resigning; whichever comes first.

As a community interest company we have always looked at innovative solutions to tackle food poverty and highlight the underlying issues that are often overlooked by governments and local authorities in this country.  Since March this year child poverty has increased exponentially across the board with more families falling into economic hardship due to job losses or claiming benefits that are not fit for purpose in this day and age. We as an organisation have never shied away from pointing the finger at the real culprits in this avoidable saga i.e. our elected representatives, whether it’s our local councillors, MSP’s or MP. What can we do now to reverse this trend and abolish food poverty across the country? Councils across Scotland should be making more land available to local communities for converting to allotments and having a healthy supply of local food made available for all seasons. Weekly Farmers markets should be organised and subsidised by local authorities and government to encourage and inspire locals especially young people to look at growing food as a career option. Big landowners should lose their subsides for not growing food which we the tax payers pay for every year.

Growing food organically should be the norm and edible gardens should be made compulsory for all schools where growing methods are taught and pupils trained in this subject as part of the school curriculum. We were instrumental in building the first organic training garden in Scotland on school premises, right here in the Borders at St. Ronan’s Primary school, Innerleithen. This edible garden is still up and running and has a bright future for the school pupils, teachers and community. The legacy will live on for future generations of pupils to enjoy and learn new skills in farming and growing food with no reliance on corporations to supply their expensive fertilisers and pesticides which poison the environment and indirectly has a negative long term impact on the health of communities across Scotland and the world.

This pandemic has already increased food prices by over 40% and also taking into account previous increases of up to 35% since the Brexit vote, you get to see the bigger picture of millions in this country not able to buy good, affordable nutritious food.

Is it too much to ask our council to spend on educating young people in skills that will actually help save themselves and this country from starvation in any future global event? £15 million was made available for iPads and costs will keep mounting as the corporation that needs to feed its shareholders will only get hungry every year for more money and contracts. What is our priority as a society? Food or iPads?

You the people will decide.

Stay safe! Eat well!

Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 7th August 2020.

Furlough vs Key workers

Having moved to Peebles in 2002, ‘Stooriefit’ Bosco Santimano gives us his own take on what he feels is the hot topic of the day. This week its “Furlough vs Key Workers”.

Thanks to the Conservatives at Westminster the biggest beneficiary of the pandemic are Furlough workers. 80 percent of salaries paid for up to a limit of £2500 per month to more than 9 million employees across the United Kingdom. Though Furlough is not a recognised term in UK employment law, it is commonly used in the US to lay-off or suspend staff  without pay! Employers can also furlough those who are temporarily unable to work because; they’re ‘shielding’ (told to stay at home by the NHS because of an underlying health condition), someone in their household is shielding, they have childcare responsibilities and/or they’re caring for a vulnerable person in their household. The Furlough scheme; AKA Job Retention Scheme is open only to those workers/employees who are on payroll. Due to the complexities of this scheme, it has been reported that many employers and employees have been abusing the system to maximise their income as the current unemployment benefits like Universal Credits have huge caveats that are discouraging people from applying. Eg. savings threshold and the maximum amount available which is far less than the generous furlough payments. All in all Furlough workers have benefitted immensely from the Chancellors epic scheme.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said about Key workers. Before the pandemic these groups of people were considered unskilled workers and were subjected to zero hour contracts, low wages, no sick and holiday pay along with the special privilege of not being given work if they spoke up against their employers. These key workers were instrumental in keeping the country moving when the majority of furloughed staff were holidaying and enjoying their unexpected break which was paid for by the tax payers. Supermarket staff in Peebles, along with carers and other essential workers were forced to work in hazardous conditions eg. no PPE equipment and having no way to play the system by being furloughed so that they could protect themselves and their family and friends from the coronavirus. The salary of these so called key workers are very low and many find it had to make ends meet. Politicians don’t really care about these key workers because if they did, they would be passing legislation to increase the salaries of what we now know as being crucial to keep the economy and country moving. The Fraser of Allander Institute (FAI) is a leading economy research institute based in the Department of Economics at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. The Covid-19 pandemic has awoken many to the role that key workers play in our society. But who exactly are they, and what do we know about them? This (FAI) research helps give us a basic understanding of this group of workers. For example, over a third of workers in Scotland are a key worker, this equates to approximately 920,000 people in Scotland and nearly half are in the public sector! Plus to make matters worse most key workers are women, work part-time and have the lowest wages. It’s interesting to note that Scottish Borders Council’s Chief Executive is a women, drawing a salary over £100,000, plus extra top-ups for any additional duties along with the Leader of the Council being the highest paid elected representative. These two women if they choose to do so, can make a huge difference by raising the salaries of the frontline staff but will choose not to, just in case it upsets the powers that be and may jeopardise their own salaries and positions.

So! The next time these elected representatives tell you to clap for the NHS and Key Workers, please think again and don’t fall for this con and deflection by the Conservatives. They really don’t care about anyone else other than themselves. What the Key Workers now need is a much needed  paid holiday and a raise. No more clapping! Will you as the public make this happen and hold your Politicians accountable?

To all Key Workers in Scotland, some of us have not forgotten you and thank you for all the sacrifices you have made.

Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 17th July 2020.