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


New apprenticeship targets to be unveiled.

Employability Minister Jamie Hepburn has set out details of the Scottish Government’s new apprenticeship delivery targets, as part of the Developing the Young Workforce parliamentary debate.
The debate will mark the halfway point of the Developing the Young Workforce strategy; a seven year programme to provide and promote vocational training options, equipping more young people for employment.
The Scottish Government achieved the headline target of reducing youth unemployment by 40% by 2021 in October last year, four years ahead of schedule.
Speaking ahead of the debate, Mr Hepburn said:
“Although we have recorded excellent progress against the aims of the Development the Young Workforce strategy, achieving the programme’s headline target four years ahead of schedule, we want to do more.
“It is important we respond to the challenges and opportunities which lie ahead, and maintain momentum and as we drive forward further progress.  This is a particularly timely opportunity given the prevailing economic turbulence.
“This is why I will be taking this opportunity to set out our apprenticeships targets for the coming year, and be giving further details about changes to the rural supplement.”
To find out more about Developing the Young Workforce in Dumfries & Galloway call Tricia Hunter - Project Manager on 01387 270187.

Free course offers guide to less stressful life

A CHANCE to learn how to take better care of yourself and get the most out of life is being offered in Dumfries from next Wednesday.

Nithsdale Health Improvement Team are preparing to launch a new free, run of the Mindfulness Course, which is an interactive approach helping to change the way we think about feel about experiences in our life – especially stressful ones.

Nithsdale Public Health Practitioner Tina Gibson is helping to deliver the eight sessions which begin on Wednesday January 17 at 10 am, and she said: “To deliver the course you have to practice mindfulness – meditating twice a day.

“For me, it’s made me calmer, happier and just lighter. It’s helped me to understand that I don’t know what everyone else is thinking, made me less judgemental and helped me to sleep better.”

The sessions help people to gain a better understanding of their thought patterns and feelings, so they become more aware of them but less occupied by them and better able to manage them.

The course aims to assist people in taking better care of themselves and getting the most out of living. And the majority of people who take part in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MSBR) course report lasting physical and psychological benefits.

These include:

  • An improvement in      concentration levels
  • The ability to      step back and see things more clearly
  • Coping better with      negative thoughts
  • The ability to      relax

To get the most out of the course, participants must be able to commit to attending all eight sessions. And they will be expected to make a commitment to doing daily home practice of approximately 20 minutes during the eight weeks of the course.

The course teaches mindfulness as a life skill, and people will not be expected to discuss personal issues. The course book which comes with a CD is Mindfulness – A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman. And at times the course will involve doing some gentle movement using floor mats, with participants asked to wear loose fitting, comfortable clothing.

Explaining why they took part, a participant on a past course said: “As a full-time carer I was very stressed, and I thought this could be beneficial to me coping with the day-to-day.”

Offering a verdict, one said: “I’m a lot less stressed and a nurse at my practice could see a big difference in me. She said I was more happy looking and relaxed.”

Another said: “I have been sleeping better. I’m more positive, looking at my surroundings and realising my situation is not all negative.”

The course runs at Georgetown Community Centre, Georgetown Road, Dumfries, on Wednesdays, on January 17, 24, 31, February 7, 21, 28, and March 7 and 14, from 10 am to 12 noon.

To find out more, and apply for a space, contact Tina Gibson on 07736955498 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A Nation of Holiday Commitment-Phobes?

British Airways are encouraging Brits not to become a nation of holiday commitment-phobes and ensure they are taking enough time away from the office. However, new research from the airline found that shockingly, more than half of the population (52%) have left over holiday allowance - the majority of which (64%) have ended up losing days completely. With the best part of a week (four days) being lost by Brits on average, the research proves how the nation is missing out on valuable holiday time.

It may come as no surprise that one of the main reasons for Brits not taking their full quota of annual leave was due to being busy at work (49%), followed by almost a fifth (16%) feeling guilty for using all their holiday allowance each year. This could explain why an eye-watering 69% of Brits did not take a two week holiday last year.
Refused the right to relax, 33% of Brits were unable to get the time off work to enjoy a longer holiday and more than one in three Brits (35%) have not been on a two week holiday for more than two years, as it seems finding a work-life balance does not come easy.
Over a third (38%) believe that two week holidays are frowned on, or discouraged at their workplace and even when we do manage to seek out some sunshine, 62% of the UK population noted that on their return they felt as if they had not managed to properly “switch-off”. Perhaps as more than half of holidaymakers (56%) spent a lot of their holiday thinking about work and wider commitments. On top of this, sadly a fifth (20%) admitted they came back home dreading their return to work.
It seems Brits are reluctant to jet off in general, as holidaymakers in the UK went on the least amount of holidays abroad in 2017, compared to our international counterparts*. With two thirds of Brits (41%) spending on average 5-9 days on holiday abroad, after only one week on holiday over half (52%) felt they had not had a long enough break, with 55% wishing they had spent more time at their destination during their time on holiday abroad.
Nick Hewer, ex-advisor on The Apprentice said: “As an employer, a happy work force is key to having a happy, and most importantly, a successful business. Employees need time off work to unwind and relax in order to perform to the best they can and it’s shocking that so many UK employees not only don’t take two weeks annual leave, but when they do, find it hard to switch off and enjoy their time out of the office.”
Although, it seems we may be creatures of habit. A whopping 81% of Brits have been back to the same holiday destination more than once, visiting their favourite destination eight times on average, with the over 55s the worst culprits - The majority (91%) are most likely to re-visit a favourite location than venture further afield to adventures new.
Duncan Roberts, Head of Commercial at British Airways said: “Going on a summer holiday is always exciting. We all enjoy watching the countdown to our holiday date creep closer, yet it seems we’re reluctant to venture somewhere new. Many of us return to the same destination, and maybe that is down to lack of time to plan our holidays, as work commitments take over.”
“Booking your flight and hotel through one website simplifies the process, so people should use the technology available to make researching and booking and seamless as possible. As more and more destinations become easier to access than ever before, we want to encourage as many Brits as possible to embrace their holidays and sense of adventure and try something new this summer - It’s time to commit to our holidays.”
For those ready to commit to a summer 2018 holiday, the most popular holidays Brits are longing for is a European beach break (45%), followed by a European city break (40%), a long-haul flight to the Caribbean (25%) and 15% would like to go on an American road trip.

Media company moves to Dumfries and Galloway

Inscribe Media Limited has marked its twenty-first year in business by relocating to Dumfries and Galloway.

Having been based in the North East of England for twenty years, it has moved to premises near Castle Douglas.
The business, which employs two people, experienced journalists and company directors John Dean and Frances Griss, carries out work including:
Feature writing for magazines and newspapers on subjects including rural issues, science, business, the arts, wildlife and the environment
Promotional copywriting, including brochures and newsletters
Public Relations
Editing for magazines and newspapers
Project Management
Creative writing projects with arts groups and schools
John Dean, an award-winning journalist with thirty-eight years’ experience, said: “We are delighted to have moved to this beautiful part of the country and are looking forward to working with businesses in the area.”
Frances Griss, a journalist and Public Relations and Communications specialist for more than thirty years, said: “This is a stunning part of the world and we hope to help local businesses celebrate its vibrant economy.”
You can contact the company at:
Mobile 07889 554931.
E-Mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

McAlpine welcomes funding to boost growth for the region

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the Finance Secretary’s commitment of £10 million for the new South Scotland Enterprise Agency.

The spending was announced in December's draft budget, along with a raft of measures that will also benefit Dumfries and Galloway.

Protecting the Small Business Bonus Scheme, lifting 100,000 properties out of business rates altogether and a £600 million investment to ensure every home in Scotland will have access to superfast broadband by 2021 will all help boost growth in the region, and across the country.

In addition the NHS will get an above inflation rise and public sector employees will see their pay lifted by 3%, something that has not happened elsewhere in the UK. Because Scotland’s budget has been cut by the UK government, the additional spending on health will be supported by modest tax rises on higher earners. Everyone earning less than £33k will see their tax bills fall slightly.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“This afternoon’s draft budget includes a number of measures that will boost economic growth and improve productivity to ensure that Dumfries and Galloway is very much ‘open for business.’

“The funding for the new South Scotland Enterprise Agency will help support its objectives of ‘sustaining and growing communities’ and ‘capitalising on people and resources’ – objectives which mirror those of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and which has been so successful in addressing issues faced in the north of Scotland.”

Today’s draft budget will help support a stronger economy and a fairer society, with increased funding for the NHS and protection for low and middle income earners.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said:

“We are investing in our public services and supporting business to develop and thrive. This budget mitigates against the UK Government’s cuts to our block grant.

“It delivers an additional £400 million to the health service, it invests in expanding childcare, delivering broadband, building 50,000 new homes and supporting our police and fire services.

“It provides the investment we need to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of tomorrow.”