Grey skies over East Kilbride yet again as I look out my office window, across Cornwall Street and up Brouster Hill.
Also in view though the newly opened East Kilbride Credit Union office which has recently moved there from the Village. EK Credit Union has been providing a service in the town for over 30 years now, run by members for members.
I’m a big fan of Credit Unions, and have been a member of various ones for 30-plus years myself. I remember when I worked in Clydebank many, many years ago, being in a promotional video for Dalmuir Credit Union. That was during a previous recession, the Conservatives in power, and we were trying to encourage residents to manage through Credit Unions rather than loan sharks. All these years on, following the bank crash, hard times for many, and the proliferation of payday loan shops and pawnbrokers, Credit Unions are still a sensible option.
Times are really hard for lots of people. The recent Tory budget was a disgrace, slashing the living standards of so many. The Institute of Fiscal Studies concluded that the Chancellor is taking much more from poorer households than richer ones. That’s why my SNP colleagues in Westminster voted against it – I cannot for the life of me understand why the Labour Party did not!
In East Kilbride the tax credit cuts will affect 2,600 families – 4,700 children. Shameful. The national figure shows 346,000 children hit by these changes. Other vulnerable people in the town are really worried about the future too as the Tories relentlessly move forward with their welfare reforms.
I get a lot of worried people coming into my office in Strathmore House – people who have worked hard all their lives and then hit hard times; people who are particularly vulnerable for reasons of disability or illness. Obviously we help where we can, but there is a feeling of helplessness that we don’t, in Scotland, have the power to really help. That’s why it’s so important that we fight as hard as we can for transfer of powers from Westminster – real power, as promised just prior to last year’s referendum!
It’s good to have the recess period and spend the working week in East Kilbride, talking to those who call into the office, and visiting people in their homes. The weekends are as normal though, catching up with local events. As always I marvel at the amount of voluntary work going on in the town.
A thoroughly good time was had on Saturday at the Claremont Church annual barbecue. This launches their August holiday club and it’s a great excuse to eat hot-dogs and play floor games with the children. The churches in East Kilbride do loads of voluntary work which isn’t often recognised – from community foodbanks and drop-in advice services, to children’s clubs and elderly social events. There is too of course the myriad of projects which they help fund overseas.
This coming weekend I’m really looking forward to football – yes, I did say that, I’m looking forward to football! Saturday sees the Claremont Colts Open Day at Ballerup Recreation Area. I always have great fun with the Colts! On Sunday I am delighted to have been asked to present the trophies at a 5-a-side tournament at Playsport. The proceeds are going to a charity called Street League which helps young unemployed people back into work through football.
Great stuff, great volunteers. Let’s hope it’s great weather and sunny skies.