New survey reveals stresses of life on low pay in Scotland

One in three Scots on low income struggle to put food on the table, according to a survey commissioned by The Poverty Alliance.

The poll shows people are not only skipping meals but also falling behind on bills, rent and mortgage payments, topping up their incomes with credit cards and loans, and borrowing to get by. And for four out of ten of them, financial stress is affecting their work life.

The startling new figures released today reveal that hardship is real among low earning Scots, with many eager to build up savings or just have a day or night out.

The survey showed that 46% of those earning less than £14,000 are so stressed about their finances that it is negatively affecting their work life. More than a third (37%) had fallen behind with household bills in the last year, 34% were regularly skipping meals, 28% had topped up their income with a credit card or loan, and more than one in five (22%) had fallen behind with their rent or mortgage payments.

The survey of 1,024 adults by Survation included people of all income brackets ranging from 18 to 64 years old. Three quarters of respondents said more employers paying a real Living Wage of £8.45 an hour would raise Scots’ living standards. In addition, eight out of 10 said being paid a real Living Wage would make them feel more valued at work, 74% said they would be more committed to a job, and 66% said they would be more productive at work.

Peter Kelly, director of The Poverty Alliance – which promotes the real Living Wage in Scotland – said: “Our research paints a worrying picture of low earners scraping by, struggling to pay basic bills, skipping meals and feeling a lot of stress. In 2017, in a country like Scotland, that should not be the case.

“We know from other surveys that increasing pay levels from the national minimum wage to a real Living Wage- a pay rise of up to £2000 a year for full-time workers – brings huge benefits to employees and employers, in terms of increased retention and better staff morale.

“The real Living Wage of £8.45 an hour has the backing of three in four Scots in the survey, and it has cross-party support in Scotland. Our survey also found that more than a third of people felt a real Living Wage could tackle child poverty, and the vast majority felt it made for happier, more productive employees.”

Asked how they would spend the extra money if their employer started to pay them the real Living Wage, 44% of low earners, under £14,000, said they would save it and four out of ten would use it to pay off debts and 24% said they’d take part in more social activities.

Although awareness of the real Living Wage was high among consumers, there is still work to be done, said Kelly.

He added: “Since we started the Living Wage accreditation programme in Scotland three years ago, we have signed up more than 780 employers. In Scotland, we’ve had the fastest take-up of any region in the U.K. It’s a voluntary programme and a simple process which we would urge employers of all size to consider.

“There is a long way to go to address in-work poverty for the estimated 467,000 low-paid people in our country . As this research shows, putting just a little bit more in people’s pockets could have positive impacts both socially and economically.”

For more information visit www.scottishlivingwage.org

Miller Hendry’s £4645 boost for Will Aid scheme is praised by top charity SCIAF

Tayside solicitors and estate agents Miller Hendry have raised £4645 for charity after taking part in the latest Will Aid campaign.

Anthony McVeigh, from the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) ,visited the firm on Monday (April 24) to present partners and staff with a certificate to thank them for their support.

The big-hearted firm – which has offices in Dundee, Perth and Crieff – has taken part in Will Aid every year since 1996 and, in that time, has raised a whopping £79,503.

Will Aid is a special partnership between the legal profession and nine of the UK’s best-loved charities – SCIAF (Scotland), ActionAid, Age UK, British Red Cross, Christian Aid, NSPCC, Save the Children, Sightsavers and Trocaire (N. Ireland).

Every November, participating solicitors waive their fee for writing a basic Will. Instead, they invite their clients to make a donation to Will Aid. The recommended donation for a basic Will Aid will is £95 for a single will and £150 for a pair of mirror wills.

Ernie Boath, Partner and Head of Private Client Department, commented: “Everyone at Miller Hendry is very passionate about raising money for all these fantastic charities through Will Aid and we are very proud of the amount we have raised over the years. We were delighted that Anthony was able to join us for our celebrations and our certificate will take pride of place in our reception areas for all our clients to see.”

Will Aid takes place in November each year and is the ideal opportunity to make a Will.

Mr Boath continued: “People are often unaware of the difficulties they can be leaving behind for loved ones if something were to happen to them. Wills give people peace of mind that their families are taken care of and it is the only way to put you in control of your estate after death. Will Aid also allowed people to donate money to charity which is all the more reason to consider making that all-important Will. The team here at Miller Hendry will certainly be fundraising again in 2017.”

Anthony McVeigh (SCIAF) said: “The team at Miller Hendry have really embraced the Will Aid campaign this year and their efforts are greatly appreciated.

“The money raised will go towards helping families in some of the poorest communities around the world. With a gift of £120 we can give goats to four families. A goat will give them up to 12 pints of fresh milk a week and they can sell any extra milk to buy other food.

“A gift of £1,500 will give seeds, tools and training for 10 people so that they can learn news ways of farming their own food and be able to provide for themselves and their families. The gift makes such a difference to people’s lives both now and in the future.”

Peter de Vena Franks, campaign director for Will Aid concluded: “Will Aid has made an amazing contribution to the work of the nine participating charities and last year was no exception. Thanks to the commitment of local solicitors that took part in this year’s Will Aid, many people both in the UK and abroad will receive life-changing support and local people who used the scheme have the peace of mind thanks to having a professionally drawn up will.

“I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to Miller Hendry and let them know that thanks to them, lives will change for the better and people who need it will continue to receive the help and support that the charities work so hard to provide.”

For further advice or information on making a will or other legal issues, visit www.millerhendry.co.uk

What does Europe’s workplace headscarf ban mean for employers in Tayside?

A local employment law expert from solicitors Miller Hendry has claimed employers in Tayside CAN ban women from wearing Islamic head scarfs.

Europe’s top court has ruled that it is not direct discrimination for companies and organisations to stop employees from wearing the hijab or any other religious and political symbols.

But any ban must be based on internal company rules that require all employees to “dress neutrally”, said the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg.

It cannot be based on the wishes of a customer, it added.

The court gave a judgement in the cases of two women, in France and Belgium, who were dismissed for refusing to remove hijabs, or the headscarf worn by many Muslim women who feel it is part of their religion.

The first case was referred to the ECJ by the Belgian courts. Samira Achbita was fired in June 2006 for wearing a headscarf to work at security firm G4S in Belgium.

The court found that G4S’s internal rule treated all employees in the same way, requiring them all to dress neutrally without any visible signs of political, philosophical or religious beliefs.

However, the court did not rule out the possibility the dress code might amount to indirect discrimination.

But Alan Matthew, employment law expert at Tayside-based solicitors Miller Hendry, explained: “Although apparently neutral, the results of such a ‘neutral’ dress code may in fact disadvantage people of a particular religion.

“An employer’s desire to project an image of political, philosophical and religious neutrality towards its customers can be a legitimate aim. However, the court queried whether it was possible to offer the employee a post not involving any visual contact with those customers, rather than dismissing her. If this was a possibility, then the dismissal probably amounts to indirect discrimination.”

So, what can employers in Tayside take from this decision?

Alan Matthew continued: “First, when applying a dress code rule, work out exactly what it is you are trying to achieve.

“Secondly, consider whether you are applying the rule in a genuine and consistent way. For example, if your main motivation for the rule is customer perception, do you need to apply the rule to non-customer facing employees?”

In the second case, Asma Bougnaoui, a design engineer, was fired from French IT consultancy firm, Micropole, after a customer complained that his staff had been “embarrassed” by her headscarf while she was on their premises to give advice. She had been told before taking the job that wearing a hijab might pose problems for the company’s customers.

Micropole asked her not to wear the headscarf next time she met those clients. Bougnaoui refused and was dismissed.

The ECJ said the case turned on whether there was an internal company rule in place applicable to all, as in the G4S case, or whether the client’s demand meant Bougnaoui was treated differently.

The court concluded that Bougnaoui had indeed been treated differently and so the client’s demand that she not wear a hijab “cannot be considered a genuine and determining occupational requirement”.

Closer to home, Police Scotland threw the spotlight on workplace dress codes when Chief Constable Phil Gormley announced that women from Muslin communities could wear the hijab as part of their uniform.

Mr Gormley said it was part of an attempt to encourage Muslim women to consider pursuing a career in the force.

Officers and police staff have always had the option to wear religious headwear, but the August 2016   announcement ratified the use of the hijab.

For further advice or information on employment law or other legal issues, visit www.millerhendry.co.uk

Perth’s AK Bell Library unveils refurbished Café Culture

Following a month-long makeover, the AK Bell Library’s popular café re-opened with an exciting fresh and contemporary look on Wednesday (April 19).

Inspired by Perth’s 2021 City of Culture bid, the completely refurbished eaterie has been renamed ‘Café Culture’ and its revamped menu focuses on well-priced, freshly-baked and locally-sourced ingredients. Bread is supplied from Casella & Polegato in Whitefriars Street, and fruit and veg from Martin’s Fruit Bazaar in South Methven Street.

Café Culture also features a small gift shop which showcases a beautiful range of gifts, many sourced from artisan designers and makers through Perthshire Creates, and others from social enterprises based in South America and India and supporting Fair Trade produce.

Said Roy Jenney, Sales and Customer Experience Manager at Culture Perth and Kinross: “I hope library users will be impressed by the new Café Culture and Gift Shop. The makeover has created a warm and welcoming rendezvous spot in the heart of the city, and staff have worked hard to source local produce and use local suppliers. We are especially proud of our home-baked scones!”

Café Culture is available for hire and can be set out for a cabaret and bistro. Recent bookings have been for musical recitals, talks, book launches and stand-up comedy. Library staff can arrange for an occasional alcohol licence and set up a staffed bar.

Inveralmond reveals new brew and a crafty little facelift

Perth-based beer brand Inveralmond has launched a new beer and unveiled a stunning new look for the brand as it celebrates its 20th anniversary of brewing award-winning beer.

Famed for producing craft beer in the heart of Scotland, Inveralmond has added EPA, an Edinburgh Pale Ale, to its portfolio. It has also relaunched bestsellers Ossian and Lia Fail, revealed a cohesive new look for all of its beers, and committed to a tripling of its brewing capacity in Perth.

The EPA, packed with Munich malt and Goldings hops, is a fitting addition to Inveralmond’s line-up now that the Perth brewer is part of the same family as Innis & Gunn, which is based in Edinburgh. The beer style Edinburgh Pale Ale was the first truly global beer. A forerunner to IPA, it paved the way for British beer around the world.

EPA will be joined in May by Daracha, a ruby ale brewed with Amber malts and roast barley, to create Inveralmond’s new core range. A host of seasonal brews will be added throughout the year.

The brewery is undergoing a £750,000 refit and expansion to accommodate brewing of both Inveralmond and Innis & Gunn beers. Inveralmond became part of the Innis & Gunn family a year ago. The upgrade to the facility will mean 150% more capacity at the Perth site from next month (May) and a tripling of capacity by next year. It includes a barrel ageing hall, additional fermentation and processing vessels and new filtration technology.

Glasgow agency Freytag Anderson came up with the redesign of Inveralmond’s new beers. The look of the core range beers are inspired by vintage railway posters. Artwork for the beer labels and pump clips was specially commissioned for Inveralmond by Isle of Skye based artist Peter McDermott. Freytag Anderson also evolved the Inveralmond’s Celtic knot logo, while the bottle has been elongated and also lightweighted to improve its environmental credentials.

At a launch last night at Innis & Gunn’s new Beer Kitchen in Glasgow, Inveralmond founder and chief executive Fergus Clark said he was excited about taking the brewery forward after 20 successful years in the beer business.

Clark said:

“We’re excited about our brand revamp and the new beers we’re working on. It’s fitting that the first launch to roll out of our new-look brewery, and the first new Inveralmond branded beer in a while, is an EPA. Edinburgh Pale Ale paved the way for British beer around the world, and we see the Inveralmond brand as having paved the way in the craft beer movement in Scotland and beyond.”

Dougal Gunn Sharp, Master Brewer and founder of Innis & Gunn, one of the UK’s most successful international craft beer businesses, said:

“A year on from our acquisition, we’re delighted at where we’re headed, both with the upgrades to the Perth plant and Inveralmond’s new look and products. The Innis & Gunn and Inveralmond brands are all about pushing boundaries in terms of taste. We love to experiment with flavour and it’s great to see the fruits of our labour start to hit the shelves. We’re passionate about innovation in craft beer, and we look forward to that continuing.”

URBAN DETECTIVES SHOULD CHECK OUT TWO FREE WORKSHOPS AT THE AK BELL

Urban detectives with a passion for local history should check out two free workshops in the Local and Family History section at the AK Bell Library in Perth.

The first event, on Thursday, May 11 from 6-8pm, is entitled an ‘Introduction to Maps and Archives for Local History’. This workshop will introduce researchers to local history resources in the Perth and Kinross collections – particularly old maps and selected documents from the archive.

Dr Nicola Cowmeadow, Local History Officer, Culture Perth & Kinross, said: “Participants will also learn how to use a variety of related resources including the archive catalogue, SCRAN’s historical images, sounds and movies, National Library of Scotland Map images and more.”

‘How to Read an Old Document’ is the title of the next workshop on Thursday, June 8 from 6-8pm. This event will introduce beginners and experienced researchers to using primary source material.

Added Dr Cowmeadow: “In the workshop we will demonstrate how to use historic documents and explore some of the less obvious things they can tell us. Dr Lucy Dean from the University of the Highlands and Islands will take us through reading old handwriting and suggest ways old documents can enhance research projects.”

Both events are free and suitable for adults. However, booking is essential, either by phoning Local and Family History at the AK Bell on 01738 477062 or by emailing localstudies@culturepk.org.uk

For more information visit www.culturepk.org.uk

Auchterarder Primary pupil Andrew Cargill (5) wins Brick City’s Facebook competition to build A & J Stephen’s Clathymore Tower

Perth’s smash-hit Brick City exhibition is inspiring the next generation of Big County architects, after five-year-old Andrew Cargill took top honours in the LEGO® build competition.

The delighted Auchterarder Primary pupil received his prize of a special LEGO® Architecture presentation book and Brick City tickets, from Tom Buchanan, Sales Director at A & J Stephen (Builder) Ltd., who are sponsoring the smash-hit Perth Museum and Art Gallery event.

Youngsters were challenged to recreate the Clathymore Control Tower near Gleneagles in LEGO® bricks, then upload a photograph of their masterpiece to a Facebook album where the public voted for their favourite model.

Andrew’s winning model of the Perthshire landmark received 328 ‘Likes’ on social media.

Roy Jenney, Sales and Customer Experience Manager at Culture Perth & Kinross, said: “We were overwhelmed with the standard of models that were entered into the competition.

“It is great to see so much passion for LEGO® building from across the county and hopefully we have inspired some future engineers or architects.”

Entrants were submitted from schools across Perth and Kinross including: Perth Academy, Methven Primary, Guildtown Primary, Auchterarder Primary, Guildtown Primary, Aberfeldy Primary and Guildtown Primary.

Andrew’s winning model can be seen on display as part of the wider Brick City Exhibition which continues at Perth Museum & Art Gallery, daily Tuesday until Saturday, 10am-5pm, until May 7, 2017.

Tickets costing £4 (or £10 for a family ticket) are available to purchase in person at Perth Museum & Arts Gallery’s reception desk. Booking is not required.

Rave guest reviews lead to latest family-friendly award for Crieff Hydro

Crieff Hydro continues to add to its accolades with a win for top family friendly hotel – voted on the basis of guest reviews.

The popular Perthshire resort beat hotels across the U.K. to bag the win as part of LateRooms.com’s annual Simply The Guest Awards. The awards, the only ones in the industry to be based entirely on genuine guest reviews, recognise hotels with outstanding customer service. It is one of only three Scottish properties to appear in LateRooms.com’s awards listing of 25 hotels.

Crieff Hydro, which has invested around £40 million in its facilities in recent years, boasts a swimming pool, riding stables, an Action Glen activity centre, water sports, a ‘tween’ zone, supervised kids’ clubs and an in-house cinema. The 900-acre resort in Crieff, located in the heart of Highland Perthshire, has more than 200 bedrooms, 50 self-catering units and six eating outlets.

Stephen Leckie, CEO of Crieff Hydro, said:

“The Simply the Guest award recognises how hard the Crieff Hydro team works to be an unforgettable family experience. More than that, because the award is based on feedback from genuine guests who have stayed here, it really is something to celebrate.

“We’re constantly striving to improve things for our guests at Crieff Hydro. Most recently we’ve revamped our website to make it much more user-friendly.”

LateRooms.com spokesperson Sandra Perkins said:

“One of the first things many people look at when booking a hotel is the reviews of others, which is why the Simply The Guest Awards are such a valuable industry accolade. The guest experience is one of the most important, not to mention independent, measures of how well a hotel is performing.

“To be recognised as the best in one of the Simply The Guest Award categories reflects the dedication and emphasis the hotel places on guest experience across a range of areas – from customer service to the breakfast served.”

Other family-friendly accolades for Crieff Hydro have included: Scottish Hotel Awards’ Family Hotel of the Year; Winner, Family Hotel in The Sunday Times’ Ultimate 100 British hotels listing; and Outstanding Contribution, Herald Scottish Family Business Awards.

More information is at www.crieffhydro.com

Virtual reality app deepens visitor experience at historic RRS Discovery

Visitors to RSS Discovery can enjoy a new virtual reality experience this Easter – one that provides a fully interactive experience of the ship and its masts.

The app, downloadable to phones and tablets and with headsets available free of charge, allows 360 degree views and historical snaps of the ship during different expeditions.

Smart History, a company based at St Andrews University, originally developed an augmented reality installation that led visitors interactively through the ship’s masts and rigging while the rigging was being repaired. Using x-box controllers, a video screen and interactive visuals of RRS Discovery, visitors could take their own tour of the ship in a gaming-style exhibit.

The development of the app for download means that visitors can now walk the famous Antarctic exploration ship whilst viewing the app on their own phones or tablets. It includes drone footage of the ship and the surrounding area, 360 degree photospheres of the principal areas of the deck of the ship including Bowsprit, Quayside view, mizzenmast and mainmast, and historical photographs of that part of the ship during its different expeditions.

Dundee Heritage Trust, which runs the historic RRS Discovery at Dundee’s waterfront, stressed that time is running out for visitors to witness the ship in its present once-in-a-lifetime state: free of masts and rigging, which have been removed for cleaning and repairs. The ship’s missing parts are due to be replaced again at the end of May.

Mark Munsie, Operations Director for Dundee Heritage Trust said: “Our interactive exhibit has proved to be really popular and a great interactive way for families to explore the ship’s history. Now, visitors can get an even more enhanced visitor experience thanks to this free app. We’re looking forward to sharing the app and sharing Discovery – who will be mastless now for just a few more weeks – over Easter and beyond. This is the last time that visitors will be able to experience Discovery without her masts, which will probably never happen again – so a brilliant time to visit and see her as she’s never been seen before!”

Catherine Cassidy, head of digital curation at Smart History, said: “It was an honour to bring such a well-loved and historic ship as Discovery into the digital realm. Discovery has stood as an icon for science and exploration, which we hope to continue with the new app. The app integrates 360 degree spherical images, historical text and photos to give a mobile immersive experience.”

The app is available to download by searching for ‘RRS Discovery Virtual experience’ on the iPhone app store or Google Play and can be downloaded for free in advance of a visit, or using the Wi-Fi available in the Café at the Point.

RSS Discovery tour staff are also making full use of the app on tablets, to illustrate the contrast between the masts now and how they look fully rigged. The app allows visitors to enjoy the virtual reality experience on their phones in normal or stereoscopic view, this can be enhanced with the use of headsets, available to borrow free of charge

Dundee Heritage Trust, formed in 1985 to preserve and interpret Dundee’s industrial past, operates RRS Discovery and social history museum Verdant Works, both five-star rated attractions and winners of numerous awards.

For more information visit www.rrsdiscovery.com

INVESTIGATE PERTH’S PAST AT THE AK BELL’S FIRST ‘URBAN DETECTIVES’ WORKSHOP

People with a passion for local history should check out a short series of free workshops at the AK Bell Library in Perth starting later this week.

Kicking off on Thursday (April 6), the first event is an introduction to the free training, resources and opportunities available through Historic Environment Scotland’s five-year project, Scotland’s Urban Past.

Experts from Scotland’s Urban Past will demonstrate ways to investigate the architectural history of Perth. Participants will also learn how to access their local history records, and discover how other community-led projects are sharing the story of their towns and cities as Urban Detectives.

Dr Nicola Cowmeadow, Local History Officer, Culture Perth & Kinross, explained: “Historic Environment Scotland collects, creates and cares for millions of photographs, maps, drawings and documents about buildings and landscapes.

“Their project, Scotland’s Urban Past, intends to make the stories of these places even more accessible via the web and that’s how you can help!

“Urban Detectives are members of the public who contribute information, photographs and locations of places in Scotland’s towns and cities to the HES website.

“I know many locals are involved in all kinds of cultural and heritage projects –  please consider becoming an Urban Detective and adding your knowledge to Scotland’s Urban Past. Come along on Thursday and learn more!”

Thursday’s workshop is being held in the AK Bell Library’s Soutar Theatre. It is free but booking is essential either by following the website link www.culturepk.org.uk or by calling 01738 477062 to book through the Local and Family History team. Tea and coffee from 6pm.

Dr Cowmeadow added: “Please take a look at our forthcoming workshops ‘Introduction to Maps and Archives for Local History’ on May 11 and ‘How to read an Old Document’ on June 8 – these workshops are also free but places are limited so please book by calling 01738 477062.”

For more information visit www.culturepk.org.uk