Managed a brief door knocking session last night and a visit to a constituent before heading for the Ratho Primary Parent Council meeting.
This morning was a fantastic (and slightly humbling) visit to Redhall Walled Garden, run by SAMH , which helps people who are dealing with mental health problems rebuild their confidence and self esteem through working in the garden and associated IT suite. It's a wonderful facility and they undertake a vast range of tasks which help people to look forward to the future and take responsibility for their own lives after periods of illness. After an extensive tour of the garden we adjourned to the meeting room for a cuppa and a scone and a chat with several volunteers and staff members. On a very simple level SAMH support people to hopefully build a better future for themselves but lying behind each individual is often a complex history of illness and issues, sometimes homelessness, alcohol or drug porblems, dismissal from employment and woven through each tale is a constant battle to try and find the most appropriate support and advice which is often necessary before even considering taking on the tangled web that we call the Benefits System.
It was very very clear that much more needs to be done. Services have been cut just at the time when more people are likely to need them and ultimately this will be false economy as increased numbers experience more severe problems with a greater impact on the lives of themselves and their families as well as wider society. The Welfare Reform Act won't be much help either. In fact, it may make the situation much worse.
I don't like to strike a negative note as there were so many positive personal stories but obviously there are still some major challenges ahead. If I'm still a Councillor this time next week I've offered to meet again to see if we can progress some of the more local issues.
I believe that all Councillors and candidates were invited to today's event but only myself, from the Labour Group and the Greens were represented. I'm sure the other parties do care about these services but must have been too busy today to get one person each to attend.
PS - Redhall Walled Garden's next Open Day (with plant sales and cream teas) is on Sunday 20th May (12-5pm), See you there !