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The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

Keep up to date with the latest news and stories from across Dumfries & Galloway.

 

An Authority Wide Approach For SCQF School Ambassador Programme

The SCQF Partnership (SCQFP) introduced its SCQF School Ambassador programme in 2016, with an initial six schools involved in the pilot. The programme has now been rolled out to around 78 schools across Scotland.

The newest SCQF School Ambassadors are all based in Dumfries and Galloway Council area and, in a departure from the usual training sessions which have been delivered to each school individually, all secondary schools teamed up to receive their Ambassador training at four different venues in Dumfries and Galloway over two days.

 

Stranraer High School teachers with SCQF approval

 

The schools involved have benefited by bringing together staff in similar roles across different schools to share good practice and discuss opportunities for joint projects. Lesley Watson, Education Officer with responsibility for the Senior Phase in Dumfries and Galloway, said: Our vision is for a Senior Phase which enables all young people across Dumfries and Galloway to progress in learning and equip them with the skills, knowledge and positive attitudes they need to participate and progress to their next stage of learning, whether that be further or higher education or to training and employment. A sound understanding of the  SCQF and how it can help schools and partners offer a wide range of pathways is at the heart of our work to develop a dynamic offer for all our young people.”

Julie Cavanagh, Head of Partnerships and Communication at the SCQFP, said: “We were really pleased that Dumfries and Galloway Council were so keen to adopt an authority-wide approach to the School Ambassador programme. It shows how important the team see the SCQF as a tool for developing individual learning pathways for young people in Senior Phase and helping learners and parents understand the equality of different qualifications.”

The SCQF School Ambassador programme offers schools the opportunity to learn more about the benefits of the SCQF and the wider ways in which it supports learners such as recognising wider achievement, developing Senior Phase learning pathways in line with the Developing the Young Workforce strategy and giving equality between vocational and academic qualifications.

The SCQFP wants to support schools so that the Framework becomes second nature to learners and school staff, and the benefits of using the SCQF are cascaded throughout the school and to parents and carers. Benefits include supporting flexible learning pathways for learners as they plan their learning journey and understanding the many different learning programmes that are on the Framework and how these can be compared against standard academic qualifications.

Due to the success of the School Ambassador programme, the SCQFP has recently launched a College Ambassador programme for colleges across Scotland.

For more information on the School Ambassador programme, visit https://scqf.org.uk/support/support-for-educators-and-advisers/school-ambassador-programme/ and for the College Ambassador programme see https://scqf.org.uk/support/support-for-educators-and-advisers/college-ambassador-programme/

Region’s Volunteers Honoured

The 2019 Dumfries and Galloway VOscars have been held to celebrate the impact of volunteers and volunteering on the region.

Eight winners were chosen at the ceremony in Castle Douglas in front of an audience of just over 100.

 

Voscar Winners 2019

 

Nominations came in from across the region before a final shortlist of nominees were selected by independent panels and invited to the event, organised by Third Sector Dumfries and Galloway to coincide with this year’s Volunteers’ Week.

Winner of Young Volunteer - sponsored by The Holywood Trust – was Damola (Dami) Samuel, who volunteers at several places within Dumfries, including local food bank First Base and the Salvation Army. She also volunteers with Youth Work Dumfries and Galloway and was a Year of Young People Champion, regularly helping at the Oasis Youth Centre. Dami also has a part with The Toon, an issue-based drama production, which uses peer education to inform other young people of issues that they may face and how to get support.

Adult Volunteer - sponsored by Burns Developments - was Sylvia Armour, of Dumfries and Galloway Citizens Advice Service (DAGCAS) where she has volunteered since the organisation was founded in 1997 and prior to that at the old Citizens Advice Bureaux in Stranraer. She has advised clients at three offices in the town since becoming a volunteer: Hanover Street, Lewis Street and now at DAGCAS’s present location in Burns House seeing hundreds of clients.

This year’s winning Board Member – a category sponsored by Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce - was Jane Simons. Involved with Annan charity Kate’s Kitchen since its creation 10 years ago, Jane started as a volunteer befriender and since then has helped the charity grow to its current 10 staff and 35 volunteers, supporting over 200 service users per year. She has hosted many fundraising activities, including fashion shows, ceilidhs and coffee mornings.

In the Children and Young People group category - sponsored by the Theatre Royal - Dumfries Arts Award Programme was selected as winner. The programme provides young people with additional support needs the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in the creative and performing arts in a safe and supportive environment. The project not only teaches young people about the different roles in the theatre and arts sector but also a variety of transferable skills such as communication, teamwork and organisation.

It gives members - often isolated in the community - an opportunity to grow in confidence and have a meaningful experience that allows them to see how valuable they truly are. They are also taking part in a new multi-sensory storytelling project in partnership with the organisation Promoting A More Inclusive Society.

Creetown Initiative was selected as Social Enterprise of the year - sponsored by Loreburn Housing - with the organisation now employing five full-time and seven part-time staff. They have carried out several major projects in Creetown including the redevelopment of the playpark and MUGA; restoration and re-opening of the village hall; and the redevelopment of an old pub into the Barholm Enterprise Centre to offer quality accommodation, an arts and craft co-operative, community shop and a home for a bike hire and car scheme. The initiative has brought in over £3.5million in funding for projects within the village and its work in Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, Castle Douglas and Stranraer has helped bring in over a further £10million of funding for a wide range of projects – the most recent being £2.6million for Johnston School in Kirkcudbright.

The Community Group category - sponsored by Dumfries and Galloway Council – was won by the Young at Heart Group from Summerhill Community Centre. Developed in 2012, this group’s main aim is to improve the quality of life and opportunities for older people at grass roots level in the heart of their community, all done by volunteers. There are 10 committee members and an additional 12 volunteers committed to the smooth running of all events, totalling over 25 hours per week. The work of the dedicated Committee goes beyond just a weekly gathering of 60 or more older people in the Summerhill area. They also create the activities and manage a bigger programme of regular day trips, holidays, a weekly lunch club and several weekly fitness groups.

The Inclusion award - sponsored by the Equalities Partnership – was won by The Usual Place. It helps young people with learning disabilities, autism, physical and sensory

impairments, mental health problems; those who are looked after and accommodated and all representing a range of ethnic groups. The Usual Place challenges the prevailing stereotypes for disabled people and the poverty of expectations and ambition, discrimination and exclusions that young people with additional support needs experience. It works in partnership with Dumfries and Galloway College, the Employability/Skills Team and another Social Enterprise Café in Motherwell, Windmills, to develop and deliver a range of accessible accredited qualifications enabling these young people to achieve greater parity in qualification and work experience.

The final award, Outstanding Contribution to Volunteering - sponsored by Anderson Kilts - went to Jane McCulloch, the driving force behind a team of highly committed volunteers at Moffat Town Hall Redevelopment Trust. Described as an outstanding leader, she demonstrated tremendous dedication to developing the Town Hall over many years, involving the volunteers in these developments. The trust has also seen the creation of a Friday Club to offer social contact, a hot meal and activities with 65 people attending; and a Monday Wellbeing Club catering for people with mental and/or physical disabilities. Also, with Jane’s help a Thursday Reading and Discussion Group has been created for people with visual impairment; along with a Changing Places facility and a Meals on Wheels service when the regional service was cut.

The awards were presented by broadcaster Bruce McKenzie and welcomed Margaret McGroggan, volunteer co-ordinator for NHS Dumfries and Galloway as guest speaker. The event was also supported by The People’s Project, Solway Print and Dumfries and Galloway Life.

MSP McAlpine MSP McAlpine Welcomes Transport Review Update

SNP MSP for South Scotland Joan McAlpine has welcomed news from the Scottish Government that a study into South West Scotland’s transport network will be published at the end of this month, after asking the Scottish Government for an update on the progress of the Strategic Transport Projects Review. Ms. McAlpine previously campaigned successfully  for a Transport Summit in Dumfries in August 2016 which was chaired by the Deputy First Minister John Swinney and attended by then Transport Minister Humza Yousaf.

Joan McAlpine asked Cabinet Secretary for Transport Michael Matheson to comment on how the SNPs manifesto commitments to better link Dumfries to the central belt via the motorway and improve the A75 might be implemented following the review.

Mr. Matheson announced that the South West Transport Study will be published in draft format by the end of June and says that the study will be used to feed into a ‘detailed assessment of options to link Dumfries to key markets including the central belt’. He also provides an assurance that these options for Dumfries form part of the selected areas for consideration in the Strategic Transport Projects Review. 

 

Joan McAlpine MSP

Joan McAlpine MSP said:

 

“I welcome the news that the results of the South West Transport Review will feed into a wider programme of work to improve the face of transport in Dumfries and Galloway, and this is something I have taken a strong interest in for some time.

 

“Dumfries is the regional capital of South West Scotland – the only part of the country not considered a “city region” for economic development purposes. People in surrounding areas need to access Dumfries for work, education, health and social services as well as cultural, social and sporting activities.

 

“Presently, the region is not well connected with slow, intermittent rail links and no dual road links. The A701 and A709 which link Dumfries to the M74 are in need of upgrading and have single lane traffic, at points controlled by traffic lights. This is unacceptable.

 

“Linking Dumfries and its satellite communities better to the central belt, by both road and rail, will in my view have the most significant economic benefit to the whole region. “

This is the second strategic review – the first was published in 2008.  The new review will consider future investment in all transport modes including the strategic road and rail networks as well as active travel, island connectivity, ferries and buses.

Speaking on the background of the STPR, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said:

 

“The Scottish Government is fully committed to building a sustainable transport system that supports our economy and helps deliver inclusive growth.

 

“Work is already underway on the review of the National Transport Strategy which will set out a shared vision for a future of our transport system and the second Strategic Transport Projects Review will build on that by identifying the infrastructure required to make this a reality.”

Superfast Broadband Delays Are Unacceptable

South Scotland Labour MSP and Scottish Labour’s Connectivity Spokesperson Colin Smyth has said that delays to the rollout of the R100 programme which aims to roll out super fast broadband across Dumfries and Galloway are unacceptable and were completely avoidable.

 

mans hands over CTRL - ALT - DEL key buttons on laptop

 

 

The announcement in the delay to the roll out of the R100 programme was slipped out on Friday in response to a Government Initiated Question. The response to that question confirmed that there were delays over the procurement process.

 

The R100 programme aims to fill the gaps in previous super fast broadband schemes to ensure that 100% of Scotland can benefit from super fast broadband. 

 

The latest figures from Think Broadband show that 16.3% of properties in Dumfries and Galloway have no access to super fast broadband.

Colin Smyth said,

“These delays to the SNP Scottish Government’s flagship R100 programme were completely avoidable. With the Government being unable to carry out a procurement process it will feel like to many people across Dumfries and Galloway that it will be years until rural areas have an equal footing to the Central Belt when it comes to digital connectivity.

Rural areas like Dumfries and Galloway are already on the back foot when it comes to digital connectivity with 16% of households still not able to access super fast broadband. The R100 programme matches the ambition of rural communities to not only be on an equal footing but a digital step up. The SNP must accept that these delays are completely unacceptable.”

 

Image of Lee Medd

DGChamber's Lee Medd said:

"These delays are simply unacceptable, in an area like Dumfries & Galloway many small businesses need fast, quality and reliable broadband like the service that R100 will eventually provide. There are businesses that use the internet as their shop front yet they are syill having to use poor quality, slow services while paying the top line price - some businesses have even switched to using a mobile broadband solution which is not always ideal due to cost and data capping.  We will be working with Mr Smyth's office to ensure pressure is applied and any delays are kept to an absolute minimum, we cannot afford to let the digital devide hold back the economic growth of businesses in our region."

Scams Soaring in Scotland

 

-          Nearly half of Scots have been targeted by a scam in the last year

-          Huge surge in people turning to CABs for help

-          New campaign urges: STOP, REPORT and TALK about it

 

 

Scams Warning


Citizens Advice Scotland is today (Monday) launching a Scams Awareness campaign with new figures showing the scale of scams in Scotland.

46 per cent of people in Scotland say they have been targeted by scams at least once in the last year.  Of these, one in three (30%) was targeted more than three times.

The figures, based on a survey by YouGov, are published by CAS today as it launches its Scams Awareness Campaign 2019.

The campaign runs for the next two weeks and aims to tackle stigma among Scots about reporting scams, urging them to STOP, REPORT, and TALK about them.

Analysis of Citizens Advice Scotland’s internal database also reveals a huge surge in people turning to local CABs for help and advice on scams.

·         In 2018/19 the Scottish CAB network gave out 1,038 pieces of advice about scams. This is an increase of 86 per cent from 2017/18.

·         In terms of reporting of scams, the network saw a 113 per cent increase from 2017/18 to 2018/19

The most common methods of scam identified in the Yougov survey were email (38%), telephone (42%) and online (10%). The most common types of scam were computer and internet repairs (39%), personal injury scams (38%), fake tax refunds and online transaction scams (32%).  

A second survey, also conducted by YouGov, produced interesting findings about the issue of stigma and blame. Most Scots (71%) believe those hit by scams should not be embarrassed about it, and 82% say the main reason for scams is that scammers are clever in the way they present themselves.

Stigma can stifle conversations around protection against scammers and whilst the public believe scams victims shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed; there is still a huge issue with under-reporting of scams to advice services.

Launching the campaign, Citizens Advice Scotland Chief Executive Derek Mitchell, said:

“Let’s get one thing clear. A scam is a crime. It is fraud. In other words, it is theft. Whether they managed to take money from you or not, the person who scammed you is guilty of a crime, and they need to be reported to the police so they can be stopped.

“I have a message for scammers; We are on to you. We are tracking your methods and finding more and more ways to beat you. In this campaign we are joined by Trading Standards, Police Scotland, Young Scot, Age Scotland and others.“But the biggest allies in the fight against scams are the people of Scotland. When we come across a scam, regardless of whether it impacts upon us, we need to stop, report it and talk about it to our friends and family. 

“Scammers depend on us staying silent. The more we talk about them, the more aware people become, and the harder they will find it to scam the next person. 

“The Citizens Advice network in Scotland helps and advocates for hundreds of thousands of people across Scotland every year.

“So that’s why the theme of our campaign this year is STOP, REPORT, TALK. And that’s my message to people across Scotland. If we work together we can beat the scammers. It’s time to do that. You can get information on how to spot scams from our website www.cas.org or from your local CAB.” 

Cllr Kelly Parry, Chair of the Trading Standards Scotland Governance Board, which is backing the campaign, said:“Scammers are extremely manipulative and are always on the lookout for new ways to con consumers out of money be it on the doorstep, by telephone, by mail or using the internet. 
“Stay vigilant, if you are contacted and offered unsolicited goods or services and remember doesn’t feel rushed into making a decision.  If you think you have been caught out by scammers, don’t suffer in silence and make sure you report your concerns.  You are not alone; there is help and advice available. 
“Trading Standards services and Citizens Advice Bureaux across the country are available to provide a wealth of advice and preventative measures to keep you and your loved ones safe.”

Sandra Harkness, Chair of SCOTSS, the Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland, said:

“Our members in Scottish local authority trading standards services play a major role in delivering on scams prevention work in local communities and taking action where scammers are operating.  We are delighted to support this annual awareness raising campaign.

“Older people are often targeted by a range of scammers a number of times, but every age group can be vulnerable to scams, which are often very appealing. If you are contacted and offered unsolicited goods or services don’t feel rushed into making a decision.  If you think you have been caught out by scammers, don’t suffer in silence and make sure you report your concerns to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000.”
 
Cllr Archie Dryburgh, Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee / Andy Ferguson, Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Communities Committee said: “ I am
highly supportive of this campaign as residents in Dumfries and Galloway are known to receive four times the national average number of nuisance phone calls. A fifth of these calls will be scam calls which means that our communities need to be aware of this and not be afraid to seek help if they think they have been scammed.’