GUILT-FREE BREEKS

On the fourth of May this year, I was lucky enough to be invited to an event held by R:evolve Recycle. If you haven’t heard about them before, R:evolve Recycle is an initiative which is run by LEAP (Lightburn Elderly Association Project). The project focuses on prolonging the life of clothes and accessories, so to reduce harmful emissions and general waste (yass!). R:evolve Recycle operate a number of swap shops in Hamilton, Rutherglen and Cambuslang – where people can bring in their old clothes and trade them for new items. An evidently intriguing initiative, I was really keen to attend their event and learn more.

IMG_6015.JPG

#NoTags was held in a bike shop in Rutherglen, which had been completely revamped to look like a cool, underground fashionista’s dream! The event kicked off with a sustainable fashion show, with all outfits being sourced from the projects swap shops. There were some really diverse looks, for all different fashion tastes and body sizes. I think people can be quite unsure about shopping in charity shops, or visiting swap shops like the ones managed by R:evolve, but this fashion show put any concerns about second-hand fashion firmly to bed. From casual day-to-day to more glam looks, they had the lot!

IMG_1404

IMG_1418

The event was hosted by Eunice Olumide, a Scottish supermodel and actress. Eunice is a massively positive presence, and has been active in charity work and vocal against oppression throughout her career. She was the absolutely perfect choice to host the event. It was with her guidance, that we were also shown videos about the impact manufacturing clothes has on the environment. The production and transportation of a t-shirt, for instance, combined with how often you wash, wear iron and dry it produces a whole lot of Co2 emissions. Studies have found that across the whole life cycle of a t-shirt, from production to disposal, the Co2 emissions add up to an average of over 10 kilograms (www.tshared.eu/blog-of-tshared) – for one t-shirt. It’s madness!

IMG_1397

So! What can we do? It’s all about making our purchases last as long as possible, so that the turnover of our wardrobe isn’t as constant and our demand on the manufacturing and distribution of clothes isn’t as constant. It is absolutely invaluable that we look at our own actions and how they impact our carbon footprint. We’ve been told this for years, and it sounds almost laborious, but R:evolve Recycle have provided us with an easy and exciting way to make our fashion sustainable, and protect the environment in the process. I will leave their social media and website below if you would like to find out how you can get involved. Pop into one of their shops if there is one near you. Go in for a chat, see how it works and for joining the initiative you get 5 free points which can go towards whatever takes your fancy! During a time where the world is doomed, we can feel helpless doing our bit to help the environment – but here’s a starting point. Change starts from the bottom up, so get involved in your local community. Trends change all the time, but loving the environment is a trend that’s here to stay – and we should all be following it. Get on it troops!

SOCIAL MEDIA:
WEBSITE: http://www.revolve-recycle.co.uk/home/4592435509
INSTAGRAM: @revolverecycle
TWITTER: @revolverecycle

IMG_1470

 

 

ONTO VICTORY

At the end of March, we (Mikaela McKinley, Orlaith Duffy and I) began a campaign for free sanitary product provision at Celtic Park. We have publicised it massively and have answered all the questions thrown our way. Now, we can say the campaign has been a success – Celtic will provide sanitary products free of charge by the start of the 18/19 season. It has been a relatively short-lived campaign, but I’d like to give you an insight into the journey from start to finish.

I’ve been aware of all the debate and discussion surrounding period poverty over the last year or so. There is work going through the Scottish Parliament at present, headed up by Monica Lennon MSP, to implement free sanitary product provision – primarily in schools, universities and college. With this in mind, the idea came to me whilst using the toilets at the football earlier this year. Why couldn’t we look to implement this in Celtic Park? Local councils, some schools and universities have introduced free sanitary product provision so that no women or girls miss out on education – but social inclusion is just as important. Celtic have an inclusive and charitable reputation which can be traced right back to our founding principles. If any club was to set the precedent of identifying and meeting female needs in their stadium, it had to be Celtic.

The idea stuck in my mind for a wee while, but I didn’t know how to even begin putting it into action, so I kinda put it aside. Mid-March this year we seen the repeal of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act (yass!) and what a result it was. For me, it was one of the first instances where I had seen how working-class people organising can be victorious. This left me feeling really politically energised. Having gone through to watch the final debate of the Repeal Bill, I discussed my idea about Celtic providing sanitary products for free with Mikaela and Orlaith. We were all in, we were going to go for it.

A week or so later, we started a petition on Change.org. We did this to get the feelers out, and see how much support an initiative like this would have. We would need some support behind us in any future meetings with Celtic, to show that we had backing and it was not just us three that wanted this. On the same day, we emailed Celtic to share our ideas about free sanitary product provision, to advise that we had started the petition and to request a meeting. Our point of contact was on annual leave for a week at this time, so it was a wee while before we got the wheels turning.

The petition took off quite quickly. I have to say, I think the majority of the signatures were Orlaith’s doing – she is a popular and persuasive lady! The week or so following its commencement was madness. We had journalists contacting us, politicians, fan magazines, podcasts – we were thrilled. Even if this campaign wasn’t a success, we were delighted to have been beginning discussion and debate about sanitary products – it was the only way that menstruation could even begin to be normalised.

Our point of contact at Celtic Park got back to us and our communications with the club were open throughout this campaign. A lot of people seem to think we were pressuring the club, and that we were raging at them for whatever reason – but we weren’t! This became a possibility because of the club’s co-operation with us, they have been great.

We got a date in the diary to meet with Celtic to discuss our ideas going forward. We looked into options for the club if they were to go ahead and implement this. I have to give a lot of the credit to Mikaela here, she phoned around a number of different suppliers and organisations to explore options and pricing for free product provision – she is relentless! We did lots of research throughout, speaking to people fighting similar causes across the UK. With all the investigating we’d done, we felt really well-equipped to continue urging the club to implement this.

The initial meeting with Celtic went well, we think so anyway! The individuals we met with seemed really keen to learn more and were more than happy to explore any options they had to implement this going forward. We were to be updated with any developments, and left feeling quietly confident.

From the beginning of the campaign, we had been in touch with Monica Lennon MSP who has been incredibly supportive. Her work towards tackling period poverty is absolutely magic and I highly recommend checking out her ‘End Period Poverty campaign website – loads to read into and think about. Not long after the meeting with Celtic, she invited us to the Scottish Parliament to meet with her and to watch First Ministers Questions. With Mikaela unable to attend, Orlaith and I headed through to Edinburgh a couple of Thursdays ago – absolutely buzzing. We couldn’t believe our campaign had gained not just interest, but support at parliamentary level. Monica continues to support us and has undoubtedly laid the foundations for work like ours to be done. We are so so grateful.

It all sounds dead rosey, but we got a lot a lot of backlash. If you followed us online throughout, you’ll know this. We weren’t interested in getting into arguments. Personal attacks were ignored and concerns (no matter how harshly put) were met with explanations and facts. Through progressive discussion, minds were being changed – arguments would get us nowhere. People were agitated that the petition seemed to be everywhere and it was all that they were hearing about, but we were just saying our bit, it was out of our hands how many people shared it, made their own posts and started their own debates about it. A lot of the arguments against us were quite similar. “If you can afford tickets, you can afford tampons” was definitely the most popular, and we’re still hearing a lot of that now. We can’t assume that everyone buys their own ticket, there’s people there using spares that they haven’t paid for, people there with charities, foundations – e.g. The Kano. Also, there are young girls there with friends or family who haven’t paid for their ticket – its socially uncomfortable for them to have to go and ask a parent for a couple of pounds (got to be the exact change mind!) for a tampon. Women and girls get caught short all the time, periods can come unexpectedly and they’re unprepared, most women don’t even take a bag to the football! All that aside, it’s the principle. It feels wrong that we have to pay for sanitary products when toilet roll and soap are free – tampons and sanitary towels are just as necessary. No, this isn’t just a Celtic-only issue – but it’s a good place to start in terms of setting the precedent for Scottish football.

So, last week we were contacted by Celtic to advise they were going ahead – they will be making the machines free to vend by the start of next season. This will run for a trial until December, and is expected to be implemented permanently thereafter. We are absolutely thrilled to be able to share this news with everybody, and striving towards this has been worth every minute! Thanks so much to everybody who signed the petition, and everyone who offered us a helping hand. I also can’t go without thanking Jeanette Findlay, who offered us guidance and support on a number of occasions. Also massive thank you to Monica Lennon MSP and Kirsty-Louise who have been great friends to us throughout this. Thank you again one and all, and please see this as a call to action. If you’re not a Celtic fan, maybe not even a football fan – take this to your own clubs. Any football team, rugby team, any league, any part of the country – push your own teams. You can do it. We did. This is just the beginning.

THE OBFA: A WOMAN’S PERSPECTIVE

This article first appeared in the Scottish Socialist Voice.

Since the introduction of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act in 2012, there has been much debate about the legitimacy of the legislation. The Act went through Parliament in a manner many say was ‘rushed’, and the legislation’s content is scarily vague. It is also problematic in that its definition of offensive behaviour is unclear and, because of this, it is ultimately down to the personal opinion of individual police officers to determine whether ‘offensive behaviour’ has been practiced.

The above are just some of the many issues with this much disputed legislation. With these in mind, it is understandable that a potential repeal of the Act spearheaded by James Kelly MSP has been welcomed with open arms by many. However, whilst this bid for repeal has brought some hope, the response from some sectors has disheartened myself and many other female football fans.

Reading the written submissions of evidence for the repeal bid from different individuals and organisations once they were published was a generally positive experience. I know that myself, and many other women, were naturally eager to read the submission from the Scottish Women’s Convention (SWC). Yet, I couldn’t have felt more unrepresented.

The SWC state in their submission that they have a number of events and roadshows where they gather the opinions of women, and it is from these events they gathered the ‘insight’ that was shared in their written submission. However, the contents seem vague and there is no clarity on where or when these events took place, whether the women asked actually attended football matches nor the demographic of women involved. Some other female football fans and myself directly contacted SWC to ask about this, but the responses were unclear and the majority didn’t get responses at all.

The SWC were due in Parliament on 7 November to give oral evidence in regards to their submission. With this in mind, over 40 emails were sent to the organisation over the preceding weekend from female football fans who felt passionately that they should reconsider their approach. 7 November came around and, with hope, we waited to see if our requests had been considered. Unfortunately, they hadn’t.

Debbie Figures, the SWC representative in Holyrood that day, acknowledged that she had received some emails over the weekend – but didn’t disclose what they said. She explicitly said that whatever was in those emails couldn’t be considered because they only consider the opinions of women at her organisation’s events and roadshows.

This is a thoroughly disappointing stance from an organisation who are truly capable of making change. Representatives of the organisation proudly claimed on the day that the SWC hears frequently from women online. However, it seems as if the ‘inclusive’ organisation just weren’t willing to consider the 40 emails they received from female football fans prior to their appearance at Parliament that week.

What was most alarming about the SWC’s both written and oral submission was the mention of women contending with sexual harassment and rape threats at football matches. The SWC said that this in itself was enough reason for the Act to remain, as women weren’t included in hate crime legislation. This is hugely problematic in a number of ways.

Firstly – I agree, the sooner women are included in hate crime legislation the better (and this is being worked on currently). However, it’s not relevant. As is the overriding argument against this Act, legislation is already in place to deal with the incidents detailed. The Sexual Offences Act 2009 deals with all manners of sexual violence and inappropriate communications. To suggest sexual violence exists in a vacuum in and around football grounds is immensely insulting to survivors. The patriarchal divisions and gender inequality which lead to sexual violence are deep-rooted in the very foundations of society and are wide-spread. To trivialise this and suggest such harassment and abuse be dealt with under football-related legislation, especially with the Sexual Offences Act in place, is massively disrespectful.

At the beginning of the oral evidence session in Parliament on 7 November, all panel representatives were asked what their experiences were like at the football. All of them responded that they didn’t attend regularly enough to say. SWC’s Debbie Figures said she had “no strong interest in football”, and this was made clear as the session progressed.

The Offensive Behaviour Act is arguably one of the most problematic in recent years and is essentially classist in its criminalisation of a traditionally working-class sport. SWC, being a feminist organisation that I would assume seeks to support all women of all classes, are failing by championing this law which criminalises working class football fans and impacts their lives and families. The SWC’s dismissal of emails from female football fans shows no willingness to listen to or engage with our thoughts and opinions.

Organisations can submit additional evidence to the Justice Committee on top of previous submissions and I would hope that an organisation which preaches inclusivity would perhaps consider an additional submission including some of the concerns shared with them via email that have been left out of their earlier evidence.

Women are already an under-represented gender in football, both on the pitch and in the stands. But we do exist, and our voices shouldn’t be ignored.

FAITH VS FEMINISM

(Throughout this blog, I’m gonny be referring to Catholicism quite a lot. This is only because I am a Catholic, and it’s the one I have most experience with. I am wholly accepting that other faiths might pose different challenges for young men and women, but since I’m not experienced in any other religion it would be wrong of me to refer to such and try and represent their main beliefs and values)

Expressing religious beliefs in this day and age can be scary man. Especially in Scotland, sectarianism is a very real problem. When I tell people that I am a practicing Catholic, they’re usually a wee bit baffled. “Thats quite unusual innit, for somebody so young?” “What, so you go to mass n that?”. I welcome these sorts of comments, and any opportunity to share the values of my faith and learn about others – it’s exciting! My faith is important to me, but another thing I hold dear is my devotion to feminism. I’m aware that for some people this is a bit of a conflict of interest, as I’ve been challenged more than a few times about how I can be a practicing Catholic as well as a feminist. I get it. I get why it can be difficult for people to understand. This generation seems to be more open minded and clued up on ‘taboo’ issues than generations before. People aren’t scared to talk about hings like sexuality and abortion, which is amazing since people were and some are still oppressed when it comes to these hings. However, when you compare this newly liberated generations views and ideas to the historic writings of the Church and some of it’s arguably rigid beliefs, it’s quite a stark contrast.

It’s this stark contrast that I think can estrange young people from their faith. People are arguably more accepting of other sexualities beyond heterosexuality, and talking about contraception and abortion isn’t as condemned as it once was. So I get it. I get why people are asking themselves whether they want to practice a faith or even not at all when their social views and religious beliefs conflict. I’m not here to tell anybody to go to mass and I’m definitely no here to preach! What I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Religion aside, I think that applies to everything. We’re often taught that hings are black and white, “you can believe in this but that means you need to steer clear fae that”, “aye but if you’re intae x you canny be intae y” – You can, make your own rules!

I went to a Catholic primary and secondary school. I made all the relevant sacraments for my age group throughout education, and now at 20 I still go to mass. Going to Catholic schools means the teaching is based off a Catholic curriculum – I’m grateful for the curriculum, it taught me a lot about my faith. However, it could be seen as dated. I know that for me, sitting in a Catholic classroom hearing the Church’s traditional view on homosexuality and abortion made me quite uncomfortable. I loved my faith, and almost didny want to hear about the parts of it that conflicted with my views on sexuality and women’s rights. I’d hate to think that there’s young people whose sexuality is anything other than heterosexual, going through school feeling they can’t be themselves because of the prevalence of religion throughout their school. Or even young people that have had an abortion, feeling like they are abnormal because they are being taught abortion is wrong.

It doesny have to be as black and white as this. I can understand the Church’s views on sexuality, abortion and contraception, but I don’t agree with them. I think we’re all a bit guilty of forgetting that you can understand things without agreeing with them. It’s okay to acknowledge that people think differently from you and no give them hassle! I can understand why folk think the Church’s stance on a number of issues are dated and even problematic. It’s okay for religion and personal thoughts and opinions on other things to conflict, it doesn’t mean it has to be one or the other. This is why different faiths are prevalent around the world, to offer solace and to help us deal with the things we don’t understand. Anything that’s troubling me, anything I don’t understand about the world or the Church or myself, is part of my own relationship between God and I and my own faith journey. Even if you’re not intae religion at all, even if you’re no on any sort a ‘faith journey’ thats cool as well! The main hing I’m trying to say here is that don’t let folk lead you to believe different parts of your life and your different beliefs and ideas all have to stay in their own box – let them overlap! For me, faith and feminism were the two important presences in my life that I thought had to oppose each other for a long time – but I was wrong. Feminism should be intersectional and inclusive of all classes, sexualities, races and religions and in order to achieve such a goal, we need people from all backgrounds to be involved. God isn’t gonny turn round at the gates of heaven and be like “no the night, mate” just ’cause you support gay marriage, and are pro-choice, or you’re homosexual or you have the copper coil or you’ve had an abortion. Just be the best person you can, whether you’re religious or not, do your hing! Religion and sexuality don’t have to be polarized!

“The Lord your God is merciful; God will not abandon or destroy you.”

INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY 2017

IWD 2017 –  Be Bold for Change

I’ve written about feminism a good bit on this blog, but it was only fitting that I wrote something for International Womens Day. This years theme is ‘be bold for change’, a concept which can be difficult. It’s challenging for many to be bold about their struggles as a woman when feminism is still a dirty word for some people. But similarly, being bold might be the only way we can make any progress.

There are lots of sub-categories and approaches to feminism, that can make it appear like a difficult ideology to understand. Simply put, a feminist wants equality for both genders. Some people think that because the term is “Feminism” that it’s just for women and womens struggle, but that’s not the case. If you want gender equality and aren’t comfortable with the term ‘feminist’, that’s cool, you can label yourself whatever you like. “Feminism” is the chosen term as it gives a nod to the systematic oppression of women which sees them impacted significantly more by the arguably patriarchal society which we all live in, but of course men suffer their own struggles too which feminism doesn’t ignore.

I see a lot of nonsense on Twitter and Facebook etc that sort a criminalises feminists. While feminism is less of a taboo subject than it has been in the past, it is still a bit of a dirty word for some people. Feminism isn’t the same concept of militancy and extreme demonstration as it was in the early 20th century. There are different forms of ‘feminist’ but the idea is all the same – equal treatment and opportunities for both genders. Of course it going to be a challenge, particularly when feminism has to apply to all women and men across all races, religions, sexualities and social classes. But that shouldn’t be a scapegoat. We can’t be like “fuck that, there’s no chance” when there’s women at the other side of the world dying for an education or the right to wear a bra. Or when there’s men suffering with mental health because they don’t correlate with the media’s hyper-masculine ideals about how they should act and look.

I’m not going to sit here and say it’s dead rosy being a feminist and advocating equal rights, we all know its not. It’s hard declaring your opinion when feminists are portrayed as a reckless, militant rabble of women – which is why we need more guys. We need more guys to stick their neck out and ignore this institutionalised idea that feminism is only for women, and lead by example. Show other men that this isn’t the case and there’s benefits to be felt by all genders. We shouldn’t be measuring our support of a cause by “what’s in it for us” or “feminism? Aye I’ve got a daughter, a wife, a sister.. better get involved.” We should be showing support regardless of personal gain or relevance, just putting all that aside and recognising that there’s people struggling and we should all be helping each other out a wee bit!

Whilst it shouldn’t be a big deal to be a feminist, the reality is that currently there are still a lot of people who think its cool and quirky to oppose the idea, even further encouraging the struggle of humans under the patriarchy. I think it’d be class that during this week of International Women’s Day, girls, and guys who are under represented in the cause, who haven’t really shown much interest in feminism before, think about being bold for change – the more the merrier!

FEMINISM IS FOOTERY

Feminism can be dead tricky. When you look at places like Iceland whose recognition of womens rights is more than respectable and compare it to elsewhere in the world it can be right disheartening.  Whilst there is still a long way to go in putting feminism into practise intersectionally, the concept is becoming more of a day-to-day topic of discussion than ever before. Years ago feminism was largely associated with idea of militancy and violence – scary connotations which deterred lots of folk from getting involved with the concept. The negative stigma hasn’t entirely dissolved and remains something which makes people hesitant to associate with the concept of feminism even though they still desire the same aim of equality of the sexes – which is cool, there’s no pressure to identify as anything you don’t want to! However, whilst a previously taboo subject, Feminism is becoming an increasingly more comfortable topic to approach in casual discussion – why?

I reckon the big player in this is the media. The oppression of females is institutionalised in society and it is evident in the majority of media outlets. Women are portrayed using harmful and restrictive stereotypes – they always have been, but the difference is now that people are starting to notice.

Raising awareness for any cause is the first, last and most important step. The accessibility of social media is a massive thing to consider. It’s easier now than ever before to access feminist material (if you want to, I know its not for everyone!) and the simple act of seeing and sharing raises awareness like nothing else. All it takes is one person to see something on the telly or online that is discriminative towards women and within an hour, thousands of people have seen it. People recognising harmful language and stereotypes in the media and sharing it on their social media takes the best part of 10 seconds and, whilst increasing awareness, also normalises the topic of feminism in a way which we probably don’t even realise.

Whilst feminism is becoming less of a taboo subject compared to previous years, it isn’t any less complex. There is still lots of work to be done for the cause, and it’s always going to be difficult when there’s so many people involved. For feminism to be a successful movement, all races, genders, sexualities, religions social classes and age groups must be considered and represented equally, and that can sound overwhelming but we can’t be disheartened. Iceland wasn’t built in a day x

THE MORAL OF THE SLEEP OUT

The Moral of the Sleep Out

Before I even start, thank you so much to everybody who sponsored me on the online donations page and on my sponsor sheet. I don’t know how to word this without sounding like a massive cliché, but I am genuinely overwhelmed with how generous everybody has been. The event was part of the Celtic FC Foundations Christmas Appeal, so all the money raised goes towards families leading troubled or chaotic lives in the hopes of making this festive season that bit more special. Between all the participants we’ve raised over £60,000 and it absolutely will not go to waste– thank you soooo much!

As usual, every blog post comes with a wee disclaimer. I’m not writing this to be like “oh look, I did a charity thing! #philanthropy”. I just thought I’d write a wee thing about a few thoughts I have after doing the Celtic Sleep Out last month. If you don’t want to read it that’s okay you can just click off and resume to doing whatever internet-y thing you were doing before, I won’t know I promise!

It’ll be just coming up to a month on the button since I slept out on the trackside at Celtic Park with my pal Anne-Marie. We signed up in August and I can remember thinking at the time “that’s ages away, it’ll be nearly Christmas by the time that’s here!” and right enough here we are, it’s been and gone and we’re right into Advent already! The event itself came round really quickly so it was absolutely typical of us to be totally unprepared until a few days before and also get to Celtic Park nearly an hour late, but we got there. We went outside and were pitched on the trackside by 11pm and that was us for the night. It was right cold but it was almost bearable until about 3am and then it was almost impossible to move! It was a challenge but I’m almost hesitant to say that because we had it well easy. We had sleeping bags, food, hot drinks and working toilets so if that was difficult, I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be for these people who sleep rough every night.

The whole experience has really got me thinking about these people on the streets particularly at this time of year. It’s unbelievably easy to see a homeless person in the city centre and just move on with your day – but it shouldn’t be that easy. Everybody can recognise there’s an outrageous number of people sleeping rough, especially during these cold months, but what are we doing about it? We need to stop seeing these people as statistics and as ‘the norm’ and start recognising that they are people with identities, likes, dislikes, families and roots. These people deserve contentment and safety, not just at Christmas but always. It sounds almost typical but even as much as a smile is better than just walking by and pretending they’re invisible. Yes, its upsetting seeing other humans struggling and unsafe, but ignorance absolutely isn’t bliss in these cases. We also need to get shot of this worrying rhetoric that they’re all “addicts” and “junkies”. Truthfully, some of them will be addicts. Does that make them second-class citizens? Absolutely not. Dependency on things like alcohol and drugs is an unfortunately normal consequence of circumstances like this. People search for ways of coping and I think it’s absolutely sickening to hear some people who live quite comfortably speak of the homeless in a way that suggests they’re undeserving of help because they’ve found themselves in a situation where their only means of coping is through dependency.

I knew I was likely to end up rambling while I was writing this so I’ll get to the point. Now I’m not saying that everybody should go and sleep outside in the ground of their chosen football team, and I’m definitely not saying I’m some kind of martyr for doing just that – I just think we could all be doing so much more man! Even just starting to recognise these people as real humans and keeping them in mind over this Christmas period is a step in the right direction. We are all too comfortable a society in our wee bubble that doesn’t like to see the truth and keeps the marginalised, marginalised. I’m going to leave a few links of some cool organisations etc just underneath this if anybody is interested in learning about some of the work that’s being done and how to help. Thank you ever so much for reading if you have stuck around to the end!

 

“The new generation is being called upon to rectify and change without hesitation all that should be rectified and changed”                                                                                                     Fidel Castro, 2011

 

 

Here’s some cool organisations who are hard at work in tackling homelessness in Glasgow: http://seetheinvisibles.co.uk/
http://www.glasgowcitymission.com/

If you are worried about a homeless person on the street, you can report their location and at what time you seen them to ‘Street Link’ on their app, website or on 0300 5000914 to get them the necessary attention.

If you are interested in donating to a food bank this Christmas, you can use this link to find your nearest one: https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/
Of course not all food banks are listed on the above website so keep your eyes peeled for one local to you because food banks are unfortunately a lot more common than the few listed here. Food bank resources are used not just for homeless people, but primarily people who have permanent accommodation and are employed but remain in challenging financial situations. The help they provide is invaluable as are the donations made at this time of year.

BEING A CATHOLIC IN 2016

I’ve wanted to write about this kind a thing for a while but I feel like talking about things like religion openly is a bit stigmatised and can open some heated debate. But that is exactly why it should be spoken about, so the air can be cleared a wee bit and we can be comfortable talking about our religion (should you have one or not) in a progressive way, u know.

Disclaimer here that I’m definitely not any kind a Saint and I don’t think that I am. If there was such a thing as Catholic a the year I would’ve been right out a the running a good time ago. However, I get a lot from my religion and would consider myself a “practising Catholic’ and I just thought it would be cool to write something about why it can be difficult to practice a faith as a young person in 2016 without being all preachy.

Just before, I mentioned the idea of being a “practising Catholic”. I feel like we need to be a bit cautious a that term. Religion is different things to different people and they should be left to practise it however they like. However, like if you asked somebody to define what made a practising Catholic they would probably say somebody that actively goes to mass on a Sunday, maybe reads the bible and carries about rosary beads but it’s soooo much more than that! Sure the things I’ve just mentioned could be seen as important in Catholicism but it’s not the be all and end all. For me, the concept of being a “practising Catholic” is about putting faith into action. So cool, we hear about selfless acts in the gospel on a Sunday but what are we doing about it? I think its about taking what we learn in mass and in our spare time about our faith and putting it into practice every day – but without it being a task. It sounds difficult but I think if you are really invested in a religion (which not everybody is and I totally understand that and wholly welcome it everybody should be doing their own thing) then it doesn’t seem like a task, but it’s enjoyable.

I’m not going to sit here and claim that I have welcomed my faith all my life, cos that would be nonsense. I’ve went to chapel since I was a wee girl but when I was about 15 my Dad told me that the decision was mine now and I didn’t have to go with him if I didn’t want to – so I stopped. I stopped for a year or two and genuinely felt a difference. I don’t want to say I felt unhappy cause I didn’t, but I did feel like something was missing. So I started going back when I was 17 and found there was something more to gain from going to mass out of my own prerogative rather than having to go with my family out of obligation. That wee hour or so in mass on a Sunday brings me so much peace I can’t even put into words like I don’t want to sound preachy but its class! Its nice to be reminded what its all about and sit in a place of worship with other like-minded people like you. When I started going back to chapel I realised there was so much more to it than showing face on a Sunday, and the whole concept a putting faith into action as often as possible really appealed to me. I’m not going to sit here and make out that I do brilliant things every day and I am this entirely selfless and giving person because I’m not, none of us are – but its good to try and give the best of yourself as often as you can.

I think there’s this idea that people who go to mass are old and it’s a dated concept, and its this idea that makes people want to stop going when they become teenagers. I’m quite fortunate that in my parish theres a lot of young people, but I know that’s not the same everywhere. It’s a big deal to stick your neck out when you’re in secondary school or uni and say that you’re religious. In light of the endless acts of violence and persecution towards Muslims and Christians and every other faith understandably makes some people look at the concept of religion and think “patch that.” This combined with the conflicting ideas of the Church on things like abortion and gay rights means that there are so few young people practising their religion – its painted to be complex and exclusive in the media but for me it’s not at all.

I dont have the answers for everything. I wish I knew why the Church won’t wholly progress on  the views that they have on abortion and gay rights – I wish I did, because I don’t agree with them. But that’s where I find comfort in my faith, in the hope that one day I’ll be able to understand why what I think and what the Church thinks doesn’t always correlate and why there’s badness and violence in the world. On paper, any religion is complex but it doesn’t have to be. I’m fully aware that with writing this there’s going to be people reading it and squinting their face firing it intae their group chat thinking what an absolute ridneck for this lassie but this why I’m saying what I’m saying – to try and shake this stigma that if you’re under 50 and go to mass and actually enjoy it that it’s questionable cos it isn’t! I work in a pub and I remember somebody coming up to me a few months ago and saying “Here, fuck the Pope. You hate aw that don’t you?” Well, aye I dae a wee bit but when you live in Scotland you’re almost used to it. To an extent, we almost can’t be entirely angry at the degree to which religious ignorance and hatred is rife in the West of Scotland – cos it’s kind of all that we know as a society. People are born into this community where there’s discrimination and violence and intolerance and because they’re born into it, they are conditioned to think that its normal. We don’t have to keep breeding it, we can stop it! Not everybody has to be into faith but its all about welcoming and accepting the folk that are x

REFUGEES WELCOME

Hi again. I’m very conscious of everybody getting absolutely scunnered with me not knowing when to shut up but in light of all this carry on with Theresa May during the week I felt like I had to write something.

Last year in uni I done a module in Economics, and I had to write an essay on Foreign Direct Investment (I’m gonnae just refer to it as FDI from this point on cos really who’s got the time to keep typing that out and making sure they’ve spelled it right). It made me want to tear my hair out and quite honestly I never wanted to hear about it again. However, the recent claims from the likes of Theresa May about foreign workers alongside the narrow minded approach to the accommodation of refugees in the UK has made me apply the concept of FDI in a different sense – the human investment of foreign workers into the UK economy. People move to the UK and find employment – investing their human resource into the economy, just as they are entitled to. Some migrants even start their own businesses from the ground up. This is good for the economy, and for employment levels – so why are people complaning? In fact, why are we even basing whether somebody is welcome into the country based on their economic value?

We could blame this on a few things – Brexit, ignorance,  greed. Some UK nationals seem to think that because your entire family through all generations were born and raised in the UK that they’re more entitled to a job than somebody else whose family may have moved here 20+ generations previous from somewhere like India. This whole concept of migrants “taking our jobs” is dated and embarrassing – nobody merits a job more than another person because of their race or their background. An Indian doctor isn’t given the job because they’re Indian – they’re given the job because they are the best suited candidate for it; because they are skilled and qualified. If you were in a serious condition in hospital and your doctor was foreign, you wouldn’t question their right to have the job that they were in – you would welcome the help of an expert because that’s what they are: experts. Theresa May announced this week that she was going to commence a crackdown on foreign workers, urging big businesses to produce lists of all the foreign workers they employ. So, they’ve lived here for 15, 16 even 20+ generations but because they’re not White UK nationals they’re a different type of citizen? It’s just not right.

So what next, what happens with these lists? Are the Tories then going to phase out foreign workers to replace them with “homegrown” doctors just because they are “white British”, even though they might not be the most efficient for the jobs? A great deal of the UK’s doctors, teachers and skilled workers are foreign and they work to teach and help and manufacture just like the rest of the nation. If we gather these lists and the Tories then commence their crackdown on migrant workers then literally who is going to be left?

Just 11% of UK workers are non-UK nationals. The whole disregard for refugees coming here because they’re “taking our jobs” is disproportionate. They’re definitely not taking anybody’s jobs, they’re just as entitled to employment as anybody else. It’s not easy for refugees to find work for a few reasons. Especially in the UK with this sort a engrained prejudice about migrants, a lot of these people are facing discrimination and hatred from existing UK nationals who aren’t welcoming them into the country. That combined with the fact that they’re isolated from the minute they come to the country. A lot of them are homed in areas with other refugees instead of amongst existing British citizens – making it more difficult for them to get involved in their community. Additionally, a lot of them are coming from places were they didn’t have access to education and training like we do. And if they did have access to education and work in their home country, it’s fair to say their last few months there in amongst war, conflict and terror might have prevented them for strengthening their skills to a degree that is deemed “acceptable” enough for them to then merit a job once they have came to the UK – this is why we have to be cautious of ideas about only letting “skilled workers” into the country. Yes it’s an absolute bonus ball if refugees that are brought into Britain have skills and knowledge that they can share with us and our economy – but it should not be an essential. A lot of them are coming here to learn skills and trades and start afresh and we’re not letting them do that if we are shunning them from the moment they come to the UK because they are not “skilled” enough. Also, the UK have welcomed embarrassingly few more refugees compared to other countries so all this carry on about there being “too many” and that they’re “taking over” is nonsense.

I was absolutely buckled during the week listening to Theresa May announcing all of these plans behind a podium which says “A country that works for everyone”. ?????? Yes. You’re right. If by everyone you mean wealthy, entitled, white, British, middle class people who will be somewhat unaffected by your crackdown on foreign doctors and teachers and workers then you are right. But I highly doubt that if it gets to the stage where you are phasing out these workers, “sending them back” to a country they didn’t even grow up in because their families moved here generations before now will agree this is a “country that works for everyone” when they have to restart in a country they haven’t lived in before, just because they’re great great great great grandparents did. I totally get that it might not get this far, but Mays only been in power a matter of weeks and this is the direction it’s started to go. Even UKIP party members are deeming her latest statements about foreign workers a disgrace – if this was UKIP making these statements it would be another mark on their fascist cards. If this keeps up, this country isn’t going to be “better for everyone” – its going to be an intolerant, divided and even embarrassing place to live if we are a nation which shuns foreign workers, refugees, asylum seekers just because of their race.

If this intolerance keeps growing, who is going to be left? In a few years time, will we be living in a country full of “White, British, UK National” clones? All living each day in our little bubble of blind British patriotism off of our “White, British” ideals with our children growing up totally unaware of cultures beyond our own. This unawareness then developing into the same intolerance showed by figures like Theresa May in 2016 were this all started.. all because the UK are voting in a party that is being granted with the power to whitewash the nation in a way that correlates with the Tory’s narrow minded, exclusive ideals. Patch that.

Refugees Welcome x

THE POLIS

It’s been a good while since I’ve written anything on here. I had this massive brainwave when I was on holiday and wrote hunners a blog posts but ended up only firing up a couple. The reason I’ve decided to write about this is that I think this whole dynamic with the Police and football in Scotland is more relevant now than it ever has been before. If you’ve got me on Twitter a wee bit of this might sound repetitive cos I fired up about 16 consecutive tweets about this last week but bare with me!

Right, first and foremost I’m going to mention the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act a good hunner times here just assuming everybody who’s reading this is familiar with it but I’m no going to go into too much about it cos there’s a whole other blog post in there somewhere. Also I’m no here to tar all police with the same brush and say they’re this that and the next thing but I do think the direction the police are going in in regards to football should be questioned.

The thing with new legislation is, when it gets passed, its expensive. It’s expensive to implement it and enforce it to a good standard. Per regional police force in Scotland, only a number of the involved police are specially trained in sensitive cases like sexual violence and rape. I could go on for days about how specific the care is that victims of stuff like that need, from when they report the case to their recovery. But still, only a few officers per force are trained in handling these reports because it’s a financial stretch to train them all. Is it not a bit ridiculous, then, that whilst it’s a financial stretch to train more officers about dealing with these victims of serious crime, there is plenty financial flexibility to ensure that police are well informed and equipped to criminalise young, working class folk in football grounds? I’m not saying that it’s as black and white as that – that all people criminalised under the OBFA are young, working-class folk but the certain vast majority are. Football has generally since its beginnings been a sport of the working class to a degree. Even at that, I’m sure the struggle (if any) that a middle class 40 year old would have with the police varies considerably than that faced by the young working-class 25 year old football fan.

Its unbelievable the resource and money being spent to implement this Act which ruins the lives of people exercising their liberty of opinion in a football ground. Like the volume of police at midweek home fixtures at Celtic park against teams like Alloa! Surely there is much worse happening outwith the stadium that merits police attention more than watching supporters celebrate Celtic firing through to the next stage of the cup?

We are so fortunate to live in a country were we can attend football matches and follow certain leagues without being forced to worry about stuff like war and conflict and fatal injustice. We should be using the voice we have to stand up for the people that don’t have the same opportunities that we do – look at the Match the Fine for Palestine campaign! We should be allowed to express opposition to certain ideas/people/politics in the same way we should be able to show our support for the same things – its diluted oppression otherwise. The reason the government don’t want politics and football to mix is because they know the massive audience that follows football and the potential outreach it has. They know this audience will see the opinions expressed in football grounds and God forbid those wretched working class fans express their progressive, lefty opinions that don’t correlate with the exclusive, rigid rhetoric of the Establishment on such a big platform.