Sunday, 12 July 2015

reflecting on #CuparCab Ministers @ScotParl meeting 6 July, asking a question, engaging with MSPs at tea-time

about 6pm in front of Bell Baxter
Nearly a week has gone by since I attended the Cabinet Ministers' meeting in Bell Baxter High School, Cupar, at 7pm on 6 July 2015, and networked with MSPs at the tea time afterwards. 

I got there first, being early on the scene, apart from a guy with a camera on a large tripod who was taking shots outside.  Others gathered behind me in the queue, most were SNP supporters wearing badges, some of whom were known to me from when I was in the party for a year, 2013.  We chatted and I spoke of my intentions to stand next year as an independent candidate at the Scottish parliamentary elections. Not sure if this news went down well.

Cllr David Ross doing the welcome speech

I sat in the second row, middle, next to a big group of SNP supporters who I engaged with during the meeting.  I had noticed the NHS Fife tweet with a photo of Nicola Sturgeon visiting Stratheden Hospital, looking at the new build IPCU plans with the CEO Paul Hawkins.  I was both encouraged to see the First Minister at our local psychiatric hospital but disappointed to see no evidence of her engagement with psychiatric patients.  It appeared to be a public relations exercise.

 [my question asked at 28.10mins in, responded to at 35.34mins]

asking question
I was given an opportunity to ask a question and it was answered by the First Minister who said that the new IPCU will be like "night and day compared to what's there just now ... average length of stay 6wks".  Maureen Watt MSP and Minister for Public Health mentioned my activism and campaigning, saying "I'd just like to recognise the tireless work you do" and "well done to you".  She spoke of my presence at the Mental Health (Scotland) Bill debate in parliament on 24 June, and the Emails that she had received from me, copied in to other MSPs. 

Maureen Watt MSP answering
Maureen Watt also mentioned Jamie Hepburn MSP who is the first Minister for Mental Health in Scotland, along with Sport and Health Improvement, and his work on the Carers Bill.  Ms Watt said that she met with a Carers group at Rufflets Hotel and topics of carers respite.  At the tea time afterwards Ms Watt said she was an MSP in Hunter Watson's constituency.  

At the tea-time I spoke to my own MSP Rod Campbell on a few occasions, one of which was when engaging with Maureen Watt MSP.  I mentioned my intention to stand for parliament, which I'd informed Mr Campbell about previously.  Saying I was compelled to do so because he hadn't spoken out for me in the parliament chamber or invited me in to speak on my own behalf.  Mr Campbell said he had written many letters about my case, indicating with his hand movements a file that was very large. 

Later on Michael Matheson MSP said that Rod Campbell would win in any battle with me in the parliamentary elections next May 2016.  It was said jokingly, in banter, and I laughed in response, saying something about the might of SNP meant I would be up against it.  For I don't expect to even get my deposit back.  It will cost me, financially and energy wise, being an unwaged carer, a pensioner who lives in a council house.  Yet I have lived in the Cupar area for over 25yrs,  a community worker for 35yrs.  I think this has to mean something in terms of representing people in communities and speaking out.  From the grassroots. 

I waited in the queue to speak to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, nearly the last to do so, having let a man go before me because his wife asked.  I spoke to the FM about a number of things, and I reminded Ms Sturgeon of speaking with her at the Cabinet Ministers' meeting in Kirkcaldy, 30 August 2011, when she was CabSec for Health, about the lack of Independent Advocacy in Fife.  And then how in February 2012 my son was subject to human rights abuses in Stratheden Hospital's IPCU, the locked seclusion room, no toilet or water to drink, light switch outside.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon opening address

All in all I found the Cupar Cabinet Ministers' meeting to be a positive experience and an opportunity to speak out and, hopefully, to be heard.  It was good practice as I prepare to mount my own political campaign in the lead up to the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2016, putting together a manifesto on mental health matters with an added focus on unwaged carers and the human rights of the mentally ill.


Storify: #CuparCab tweets: at SNP Cabinet Ministers meeting in Bell Baxter High School Cupar 6 July 2015
7 July blog post: 'Nicola Sturgeon helps mark Stratheden Hospital improvements milestone' @thecourieruk 7 July 2015

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