Help Local Singers Raise Funds For Aberdeen City Mutual Aid & NHS Grampian

During this pandemic we’ve seen lots of innovative ideas by many people to raise money for good causes and now we have Aberdeen’s alternative to Elton John’s rendition of “I’m Still Standing” on his grand piano in his back garden.

Gary Duncan of 5th Avenue and Steve Curtis of Floortom Studios have brought together eighteen local singers to produce an excellent cover version of the 1985 classic”We Are The World”, written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie.

All contributions were recorded in their own homes by the 18 contributors using the iPhone’s voice memos app and put together by Gary & Steve. It has taken several weeks to produce this great cover version.

All monies raised will be split equally between Aberdeen City Mutual Aid Group and NHS Grampian. The ACMA group was set up to create a network of volunteers within the community to support those affected by the Coronavirus.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “This is one of my all time favourites and it’s quite appropriate for the current circumstances. It’s also a great way to raise money for good causes. It’s also amazing what you can do on an iPhone! Pulling everything together remotely and coming up with such a professionally sounding rendition of this popular song just shows what people can do when they put their minds to it. Well done guys”.

The song is not available for download but you can listen to it on YouTube by clicking the graphic above. One you’ve listened to it, please consider donating to show your support for NHS Grampian and for local volunteers. Even a small amount is appreciate as it all adds up. You can donate here.

Pebbles Out & About In Kingswells

Almost everywhere you go in Kingswells you’ll find a trail of pebbles painted with beautiful designs or uplifting messages This is a great way to brighten up your day and make you smile as you take your daily exercise.

The photo above represents a tiny number of these artistic works, there are many more to discover. If you find one, by all means take a photo but please leave it in place so others can enjoy them too.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “In these difficult times it’s great to see everyone pulling together to keep our spirits up. This is a great idea which has caught on and I can only assume by the numbers of these that we now have quite a few individuals contributing to the collection”.

“A number of local people have been out and about spotting them on their daily walks. This is a great fun way to occupy the kids during the lock down, but please remember to keep your distance from other people for everyone’s safety”.

Fairy Doors In Sheddocksley Woods

The coronavirus lockdown has brought out the best in many people, especially young children.

Sisters Pola (10) and Stefania (8) from Sheddocksley were getting a little bit bored of the daily walks in our neighbourhood and they thought it would be good idea to make it a little bit more exciting for them and other kids. They first painted a lot of rocks and hidden them in various places in our woodland.

Every day they were excited to find out if they have been moved or not.
They then came up with the idea of painting and hiding fairy doors. The sisters have now painted 25 wooden fairy doors for a bit of fun and hidden them in Sheddocksley woods along the pathway to the ‘swing’.

The girls’ mother Alicia said, “We have lots of friends with younger kids and thought that with the limited options available to entertain during lockdown, it’d be good to give them something to look forward to when going on a daily walk”.

“I ordered the doors online, my girls painted them and put names on each door (male names too😊) and we hidd them in the forest.
“The feedback on Nextdoor.co.uk website has been very positive which
we are very happy about”.

A number of local people have been out and about spotting them on their daily walks. This is a great fun way to occupy the kids during the lock down, but please remember to keep your distance from other people for everyone’s safety.

Unfortunately, some of these doors have been either moved or taken away. Hopefully they will turn up again soon so everyone can enjoy them.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “I would like to thank Pola and Stefania for all their hard work creating these lovely doors and putting a smile on everyone’s faces. If anyone has moved some of these doors, please return them so we can all enjoy a mini expedition out and about looking for them”

Further Support For Business

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Around £220 million of further grants are being made available to support businesses in Scotland during the pandemic.

The Scottish Government measures include £120 million to extend the Small Business Grant scheme to ensure that, in addition to a 100% grant on the first property, small business rate payers will be eligible to a 75% grant on all subsequent properties.

A £100 million fund is also being made available to protect self-employed people and viable micro and SME businesses. This fund will be channelled through local authorities and enterprise agencies to target newly self-employed people and businesses who are ineligible for other Scottish Government or UK Government schemes.

Applications will be open by the end of the month, and the new arrangements for the Small Business Grant will be in place to receive applications on 5th May.

Taking Exercise During The Lockdown

Image by Mabel Amber from Pixabay

Even with the lockdown, it is important that we all try to keep fit. Taking appropriate exercise is good for our physical and mental health. 

People across the UK have been taking part in free online workouts, including those provides by Joe Wicks. The BBC has provided links to free workouts you can do at home. You can find lots of other resources available online.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “For many others, including myself and my wife, our daily exercise is a walk, often through the countryside paths which run from Sheddocksley to Kingswells or towards Tesco or Lidl if we’re run out of something! Please do say hello if you (I was going to say bump into us…) come within six feet of us!”

“Enjoy your walks, remember social distancing and please ring your bell if you’re cycling and just hope someone doesn’t think it’s an alert on their phone, as I did the other day!”

Business Support Portal Launched

Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils have set up a page with useful links and the latest information for businesses affected by the measures put in place to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic. 

This page, which also links to various national agencies and the Business Gateway, is being updated regularly  The link is HERE.

The page includes information on the Council’s administration of the business grants scheme – there is a dedicated number that may be used in relation to specific applications – 01224 346146

A dedicated email address (businessgrowthteam@aberdeencity.gov.uk) has been set up to handle enquiries from local businesses. All issues are being logged and a response system is in place.

REGISTERING YOUR ELECTRICAL APPLIANCES MIGHT JUST SAVE YOUR LIFE

Did you know that around three quarters of fires in Scottish homes are caused by electricity – with most linked to electrical appliances?

Electrical Safety First has launched “Do it Now” – a campaign to get people to register their electrical appliances. If your electrical items are registered, it means you can be contacted much more easily if an electrical appliance you have bought has been recalled by its manufacturer for safety reasons. 

Registering your appliances will only take a few minutes but it really could save your life and others’ lives. You can register your appliances here.

It’s Not Too Early To Get Ready for Winter

With winter approaching, it is worth taking a few minutes to make sure you, your home and your car are ready for winter.

There is lots of information available online to help you get ready for winter.

Age UK publish a guide to keeping warm and well during winter and you can download that here.

You can find out more about dealing with cold weather on the Met Office’s advice webpages.

You can also find advice on how to deal with frozen pipes on Scottish Water’s website, the AA’s guide for winter motoring here and advice from Cycling UK and the AA about cycling in the winter here.

You can find out about the council’s one-tonne community salt bag scheme here. If you or an organisation you know would like to apply for a one-tonne salt bag the deadline for doing so is 1st November.

Information about the council’s road and pavement gritting service is available here.

Remember, the grit bins around our area are there for residents to use. If you know of one in our area that needs refilling then please do let me have the details.

Alarming Increase In Food Bank Use

Photo of food on shelvesFood bank use in the UK has soared to record levels this year. That so many people are having to use food banks to get help for their families and themselves should be unnecessary in the UK – one of the richest countries in the world.

Worryingly, much of this increase in food bank use has been linked to the continuing introduction of Universal Credit by the UK Government. Universal Credit has only recently been introduced for new benefit claimants here in the North East. It has still to be introduced for people already claiming benefits.

Reasons for using food banks include:

  • Low income
  • Benefit delays
  • Benefit changes
  • Debt
  • Homelessness
  • Ill health

There are a number of food banks in Aberdeen. These include food banks operated by Aberdeen CyreniansCFINE, Instant Neighbour, TLC and the Trussell Trust. All these food banks accept donations. You can make donations of food to food banks directly or by using collection points in places such as some community centres, churches and supermarkets.

The types of non-perishable items you can donate to a food bank include:

  • Tinned meals
  • Tinned soup
  • Tinned fish
  • Tinned meat
  • Tinned vegetables
  • Baked beans
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Cooking sauces
  • Cereals
  • Tinned fruit
  • UHT or long life milk
  • Biscuits and snack bars
  • Teabags and instant coffee
  • Sugar
  • Diluting juice
  • Dog and cat food
  • Basic toiletries
  • Nappies

If you, or someone you know, is in difficulty you can find more information about were and when in Aberdeen you can either collect free food or have a meal on the premises here. You may also find it helpful to contact Aberdeen Citizens Advice Bureau.

Have You Lost TV Channels Recently?

If you use Freeview you may have noticed you are no longer able to receive a number of your TV channels following the automated re-tuning which took place on or around 15th August. This is due to a number of the channels having been moved to different frequencies to free up space for 5G mobile networks. In many cases your aerial just requires to be moved slightly or your require a signal booster. In some cases you may need a new aerial.

Steve Delaney said, “After the re-tune I found I had lost about 20 channels but I remembered having received a postcard from Freeview advising this might happen so I called them. They sent someone round to take a look at it, fitted a new rooftop aerial and I’m now receiving even more channels than I had before the upgrade”.

“Due to the act that this is a Government initiative, the costs of any labour and parts required will be covered by Freeview provided the fault can be attributed to the recent upgrade. So it you have lost Freeview channels give them a call to discuss the problem before you consider trying to fix it yourself”.

Freeview’s Advice Line is on 0808 100 0288 or you can read more about it here.

Please note. This only affects Freeview televisions and Freeview (or Youview) boxes. If you have Sky or Freesat your channels will not have been affected by this change.

NHS Shuttle Bus

It was mentioned at the public meeting on 30th March that NHS Grampian would be running a shuttle bus directly between ARI and Kingswells at certain times of day to ensure NHS staff can get to and from work following the withdrawal of the X40.

There was a glimmer of hope that they may also allow local Kingswells residents to make use of the service. Local councillor Steve Delaney explored this possibility with NHS Grampian earlier in the week.

He said, “This is a temporary service put in place by NHS Grampian during the construction of their car park at ARI in order to fill the gap left by the withdrawal of the X40. It is in place until July and there’s currently no commitment beyond that date. Unfortunately they are unable to transport Kingswells residents on that service as it is only available to NHS badge holders, who will be required to show their ID badges”.

“In order to transport non-employees, they would need to register the route with the Traffic Commissioner and drivers would require specific licences. Sadly this is not an option for them on a short term service”.

“I would hope that Aberdeen City Council and NHS Grampian can work more closely towards finding a solution that works for both NHS employees living in Kingswells and indeed the wider population of Kingswells”.

Councillors’ Wheelchair Challenge

Future Choices, a local charity which supports adults with disabilities threw down the gauntlet to councillors in Aberdeen to navigate the city centre in a wheelchair. One person was invited from each political group, with Steve Delaney representing the Liberal Democrats. The challenge took place on 23rd March and there were, thankfully, a raft of willing volunteers to assist.

Steve said, “This was a real eye openers for me. Uneven surfaces, cobbled areas and cracked pavements were challenging enough but getting across the road before the traffic lights changed was a really frightening experience. Drivers were very courteous but the short journey merely reinforced some of the real challenges faced by disabled people in Aberdeen”.

“What I had not realised was how much physical strength wheelchair users need to enable them to get about. I was absolutely exhausted and that was with a helpful volunteer to assist when I got stuck or ran out of steam. The volunteers also found it quite challenging”.

“All five of us found it was a worthwhile experience from which we learnt much about disability and the challenges people face getting around the city centre every day of the year”.

Future Choices plan to repeat the challenge at a future date. If you’d like to see how Marie Boulton, Stephen Flynn, Len Ironside, Douglas Lumsden and Steve got on, you can watch the video!

Steve’s Seasonal Message

Steve SantaI’d like to thank everyone who contributed towards making things happen in our area in 2014. A list of names would be too long to publish and I’d be bound to miss someone out! So whether that’s Council staff or community volunteers, you all know who you are.

Volunteers are what makes society what it is today. Whether it’s helping out at your local school, assisting an elderly neighbour, putting in a few hours to help out a charity, or being a community activist, you make things happen which would not ordinarily happen. You are the people I admire the most.

2014 was a good year for myself and my immediate family but not one without its challenges. Hopefully it was kind to you too. Not knowing what the future holds, I can only offer my very best wishes to you and yours over the festive break.

Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I look forward to seeing everyone again in 2015

Regards
Steve Delaney

Happy Holidays!

StevesantaCouncillor Steve Delaney would like to wish all constituents a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Lets hope 2014 is a good year for everyone.

Contact details over the festive break are as follows:-

Non-Emergency Issues

Tel: 01224 241500 at any time or Report It here.

Emergencies

Tel: 0845 608 0919

Winter Maintenance Programme

Click here for details of the Council’s Gritting Routes, Ongoing Work and the Winter Maintenance Programme

Other Useful Information

Click here for Festive Customer Service Opening Hours

Click here for Christmas bin collections

More Details Needed On Sheltered Housing Changes

regensburg

Aberdeen City is moving away from offering only the Sheltered Housing option to senior citizens requiring a level of support. In future there will be Amenity, Amenity Plus, Sheltered and Very Sheltered on offer. There is broad support cross party for a range of options to be offered, though local councillor Steve Delaney has had some concerns about the lack of consultation with existing tenants in affected blocks prior to these decisions having been taken.

Within our area Regensburg Court will change to Amenity with Lewis Court, Taransay Court and Gray Court either remaining as Sheltered or changing to Very Sheltered. Elsewhere in the city some Sheltered Multis are to lose their sheltered status and return to mainstream housing.

Steve, who is Lib Dem Housing Spokesman, said, “Now that the decision has been taken, the Lib Dems will scrutinise and question the detailed implementation to ensure tenants’ interests are protected during this period of change. We are not opposed to giving people choices, it just needs to be done in a sensitive manner and the Council needs to listen to their tenants and address any concerns they may have”.

Assurances have already been given that nobody will have to move house and nobody will lose out on the level of service they require. If someone initially requires an Amenity service but then needs a Sheltered service at a later date, the intention would be to upgrade their support, not expect them to move home. The changes will not happen overnight, but it’s important people are aware. The detail of how a flexible needs package such as this could be delivered, is still being developed.

Steve asked Committee to bring forward a new allocation policy for blocks which are changing to Amenity or Mainstream. He raised concerns that vacancies should be allocated sensitively to avoid lifestyle clashes. There was also a question over whether existing tenants who wanted to move (accepting that nobody would be asked to move) would have priority over new applicants. It was agreed that a new policy would be drafted for approval at a future meeting.

Please note that these proposals do not affect the delivery of homecare services as these are delivered on the basis of need and will continue to be offered to eligible residents, regardless of where they live.

“Serious Concerns” Over Bon Accord Care

rosa

Aberdeen City Council has decided to set up a Local Authority Trading Company (LATC) to deliver care services to elderley and disabled citizens. It will be known as Bon Accord Care and will manage residential care homes, day care provision, care at home, housing support in sheltered accommodation, rehabilitation and other services for adults on behalf of the Council. It will be a separate company but will be wholly owned by the Council. The aim is to offer additional services to people which local authorities are not ordinarily permitted to offer. It is hoped that any surpluses generated from such additional trading activities will help to support existing social care services at a time when budgets and under pressure and the elderly population is increasing.

In December 2012 the Liberal Democrats asked the Labour led Administration for a delay in the establishment of the company to allow for more information on how it would operate and a possible revision to the make up of its Board. The proposals came back to the Council on 6th March with none of the company’s legal documents available for scrutiny, a senior member of staff already having been appointed and a recommendation to exclude councillors from the Board. The Liberal Democrats voted against implementing the LATC, citing serious concerns over public accountability and financial viability.

Deputy Group Leader Steve Delaney raised a number of concerns about the financial viability of the company at the meeting, from which public and press were excluded. He also expressed concern that with no councillors on the Board, serving instead on an advisory “Stakeholder Group”, the Council would have little or no direct control over services it provides to elderly and vulnerable people. He remained to be convinced as to the value of progressing the LATC following the publishing of the Scottish Government’s proposals to integrate adult health and social care services, where some of the services proposed for transfer to the LATC would be part of a joint body with NHS Grampian. He said it was right to have considered the LATC as an initiative but the “world had changed” since the idea was first mooted and it no longer offered the same opportunities but now came with a higher risk of failure.

Steve, who has held (and continues to hold) senior positions on a number of highly successful Boards, said that in his experience public bodies which fail inevitably do so as a result of poor governance structures and/or weak unchallenging boards. He referred to the advisory “Stakeholder Group” set up to monitor the LATC’s activities as being no more than a “toothless tiger”.

Commenting on the Lib Dem position he said, “For us this is about providing the best possible service to elderly and vulnerable citizens and if the LATC fails that test, then we shouldn’t be doing it. My serious worry is that the business case just doesn’t stack up and if this venture fails, as I fear it it may well, it will impact upon the level of service the Council can provide to people who need them”.

Bon Accord Care will be the first organisation of its type in Scotland. Several LATCs already exist in England and there have been some high profile failures amongst their number, which was of concern to a number of elected members, given that the only way out if this happens is to either reduce costs (and services) to clients or to bring the service back in-house with a financial bailout that impacts upon all Council services.

Steve added, “Neither myself nor my colleagues will play any part in an organisation which exposes the Council to considerable financial risk and more importantly puts at risk the services we currently deliver to our most vulnerable citizens. Our participation would lend legitimacy to this folly and we just can’t do that”.

Help With Money Management

Sheddocksley Baptist Church  are holding a three session basic money management course at Mastrick Community Centre, starting Tue 18th Sept 7.30pm. This free confidential service has been welcomed by the community and is much needed as people struggle to make ends meet during tough times.

The Church have been encouraged by the response they’ve had to this course already,  having run it twice in the church previously. The course is run in conjunction with a  national charity called Christians Against Poverty. More information is available at www.capmoney.org .

Local Councillor Steve Delaney said, “It’s great to hear that this course is being run in our area once again. Many people are experiencing a tough time at the moment and would welcome the opportunity to gain some additional skills in how to better manage what they have coming in. This is free expert advice which may well make a difference for you if you’re struggling a bit”.

Places are strictly limited to 20. Please call 01224 317430 to book a place.