Community Health

Participative Democracy in Practise

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Democracy is always in the making: a never-ending project that requires constant rethinking and development.

Reclaiming and recasting politics and democracy is a core challenge for participatory democrats. The key argument is that citizen participation can reinvigorate democratic life by infusing diversity, experience and knowledge into official decision making. The question is what kind of participation?

In representative democracy, citizens are usually given a thin role in public life, and participation often means casting a ballot every few years, and being occasionally invited to consultations. It seems unsurprising that most citizens don’t grab such opportunities with both hands. Lack of public interest can then be used as an excuse for not supporting citizens to become more involved in governing themselves.
But there are alternative understandings of democracy where participation means direct influence for citizens on the decisions that affect their lives and livelihoods. Why citizen participation? Because our current political systems too often struggle to cope with the pressing issues of our time. We need more problem-solving capacity, better policy and decision making, and new ways of governing. In other words, representative democracy needs a substantial upgrade.
Although there seems to be broad support for democratic principles amongst citizens, there can be mistrust in how current institutions work. Representative democracy can suffer from low turnouts, political disaffection, public cynicism and loss of legitimacy. The answer to the problems of democracy must surely be more democracy, a more meaningful and engaged kind – a participatory democracy, perhaps.
Well-known forms of participation, including volunteering, voting, organising, campaigning and so on, coexist now alongside those that eschew traditional models of organisational affiliation. For instance, many engage passionately on single issues that matter to them, others are political in how they spend their money and time, yet others work to develop new forms of economic life through cooperatives or social enterprises. All forms of participation can contribute to develop a vibrant democracy.

One form of participation being used in Aberdeenshire is participatory budgeting(PB). Following on from PB exercises throughout Aberdeenshire in 2017 and 2018, Peterhead Decides is currently asking the people of Peterhead if they have an idea that would help improve the local environment in Peterhead?

Join us at K and M Communities next week to read more about what Peterhead have been up to!

 

New Website to provide support to anyone affected by alcohol and drugs in Aberdeenshire www.aberdeenshirealcoholdrugs.support

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Aberdeenshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP) have a new website to help support anyone affected by alcohol and drugs in Aberdeenshire. The online resource www.aberdeenshirealcoholdrugs.support aims to provide information and signposting to a range of support services and organisations across Aberdeenshire and nationally.

The website was developed in response to feedback that there was a lack of information in an easily accessible format on what drug and alcohol support was available and how to access help when it was needed. The ADP have worked with service users, family members and people in recovery to make sure that the information on the website is useful, easy to understand and access.

The resource aims to help people using any drug including alcohol, whether worried about their own drug or alcohol use, a friend’s use or family member’s use. www.aberdeenshirealcoholdrugs.support provides a one-stop shop for information on support, treatment and recovery. Within each section, people can find out more about a particular area of support and advice and then clearly see which organisations provide this support and their contact details.

The Aberdeenshire Alcohol Drugs Support website will always have the most up to date information on the Substance Use Service Gateway in Aberdeenshire. . The Gateway is part of the NHS and Council Substance Use Service team and provides confidential, non-judgmental assistance towards the right treatment, support or information. The GET HELP button either the Alcohol or Drugs section of the website displays phone and email details as well as arrangements for drop in facilities around Aberdeenshire.

Professionals and agencies can help any of their clients to engage with the Alcohol or Drug Use Service by calling 01224 558844 or email to nhsg.kessockclinic@nhs.net (North Aberdeenshire) nhsg.grampianscspa@nhs.net (South and Central Aberdeenshire)

Sci-Gateway and Track Care can also still be used for referrals from NHS.

Print materials, posters and cards, promoting the website and access to the Aberdeenshire Alcohol and Drug Service will be delivered to agencies soon. The ADP would be grateful if these could be displayed widely and offered to people who might need help with their alcohol or drug use in Aberdeenshire. To get a supply or resupply contact aberdeenshire.adp@nhs.net

The ADP have identified a wide range of information that they think is useful to people and communities however they welcome approaches from services, groups, community members with information to add or changes to make. Please use the website to share your own news. Send news items and suggested changes to the adp email above. 

Get Ready For Winter

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Over the next few weeks, K & M Communities would like to share with you some advice issued by our partners. This week we’re going to start with advice from the Met Office;

Met Office Weather Ready

The Met Office run an annual public information campaign which is aimed at raising awareness of, and encouraging the public to think about, risks associated with winter weather and the steps they could take to be better prepared.

Since 2011 the ‘Get Ready for Winter’ campaign has been run and implemented by the Met office and Cabinet Office and supported by a range of partner organisations with the same aim – of protecting life and wellbeing, especially during the winter months.

A review held after the 17/18 winter (‘Get Ready for Winter’) campaign indicated the need for some changes to be made, starting with the 18/19 campaign. In brief, the following was agreed upon:

* With snow in March 2018, the name ‘Get Ready for Winter’ felt less appropriate than ever. With this in mind, the name and remit of the campaign will change and will be year-round with a ‘launch’ during the Autumn and increased activity leading up to periods of severe weather.

* Previous campaigns have been purely digital. To reach the vulnerable we need to expand the non-digital content, using partners as the conduit for this information.

 Key messages to be shared

* Prepare your property and vehicle ahead of winter, and take responsibility for your own safety.

* Be aware of the latest weather forecasts and warnings from the Met Office and be prepared to alter your plans in times of severe weather. Listen to local radio for updates during times of bad weather.

* Check on the elderly and more vulnerable in your community and check on the safety of your neighbours in the case of an emergency.

Read the rest of this entry »

Future of our High Streets

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Over the past two decades, Britain’s high streets have been in decline as consumer behaviour has changed and economic pressures are causing retailers to close their shops. 

The Centre for Future Studies Innovation Centre, at Kent University, sponsored by Anchor, argues that it is the older generations who will be an economic force to be reckoned with in shaping the reinvention of the high street.

It says that it is those retailers who are able to reinvent their businesses who will survive and prosper. The report estimates that over the next ten years almost two-thirds of all retail spending growth will come from those aged over 55. It says that they are going to drive retail with their considerable purchasing power, shopping behaviour and preferences as retailers respond positively to the demand for elderly friendly shopping environments. Read the rest of this entry »

yang laji, ‘foreign garbage’

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China announced in July that from January 2018, it would no longer be accepting imports of 24 grades of solid waste because high levels of contamination were polluting the country’s environment. Furthermore, from March 2018, other imported materials with contamination levels above 0.5 per cent will also be banned. This is a slight relaxation of the 0.3 per cent originally announced, but it remains an extremely challenging goal. The acceptable level was previously set at 1.5 per cent.

The short notice given by China about this change in policy has been criticised as unreasonable by countries that export large quantities of waste. The EU, the USA, Canada, Australia and Korea have all called for a transition period of up to five years to prevent the collapse of the recycling industry.

Exporting recyclable waste to China has historically been extremely cost effective: firstly, because lower quality materials have been accepted; secondly, because there is a ready supply of cheap labour; and thirdly, because materials are shipped on the return journey by vessels carrying goods from China to Europe, which would otherwise be empty on their journey back to Asia. In the case of paper, a lot of this is used to make cardboard boxes for the goods that are subsequently shipped to Europe. This combination of factors has made it more cost effective to export waste to China than to process it in the UK.

The trade in waste plastic has helped fuel China’s manufacturing boom, but also contributed to the increase in UK local authorities accepting plastic for recycling in the early 2000s. However, many UK-based processing companies were driven out of business because of the Chinese market. As a result, there is now very little domestic capacity for recycling.

So, what does this mean for us?

Scotland is taking a strong stance on this, looking at alternatives to exporting our home-grown waste. A return to glass bottle schemes is being considered, along with investment in reprocessing facilities. Beyond this and other measures being considered, there is a need to go to the root of the problem and reduce our use of plastic.

We are at a watershed moment for the UK’s approach to waste. Many have acknowledged that China is quite right to take a firm stance on ‘foreign garbage’. For too long, the UK and other rich nations have allowed the booming Chinese market to mask the real issues around resource use, as well as turning a blind eye to the dumping of low-grade waste. We must start to see our waste as our responsibility, whether that is at a consumer level, a commercial level or in government.

For more information on Aberdeenshire’s approach to recycling visit http://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/waste/

To find out more about the impact plastics are having on our marine environment go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDDFUZRyoIs

The Big Green Footprint Scheme

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Fife Council have come up with an innovative way to invest in their landscape, wildlife, culture and heritage, the Big Green Footprint scheme.

Interested, read on to find out more!

Visitors should be able to enjoy the landscape, wildlife, culture and heritage that Fife has to offer today, without compromising the ability for people to continue to enjoy all that Fife has to offer tomorrow and into the future. Each year Fife draws millions of visitors to the coast and countryside for adventure and quiet enjoyment. However with so many footsteps on paths and wheels on roads some impact on our natural environment is inevitable. It is all about finding a balance between encouraging recreation and tourism to support local livelihoods and protecting and conserving the environment.

The Big Green Footprint scheme is a way of offering visitors the opportunity to give a little something back to the places they love and providing a mechanism for collecting those small contributions which, collectively, add up to a significant amount of funding.

The Big Green Footprint scheme is not a one-size-fits-all type of scheme, but that is one of its great strengths. It is creative, flexible and multifaceted and works in many different ways across a wide range of businesses. Indeed any business which has guests or customers can operate ‘The Big Green Footprint Scheme’.

Businesses can gain Big Green Footprint accreditation in a number of ways, for example, Cafés and Restaurants can name an item on the menu the ‘Coastal Path Loaf or the East Lomond Slice’ and add a small fee to the item to contribute to the work of the Trust in your area, retailers – why not select an item of stock and advertise that part of the proceeds go towards the upkeep of the Coastal Path?

Want to know more, click on the link http://fifecoastandcountrysidetrust.co.uk/Support-Us/Big-Green-Footprint-Scheme_9.html

A Ticking Timebomb?

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China was the Global Nutrition Report’s star performer. It was one of only two countries (the other being South Korea) that posted levels of stunting, women’s anaemia and overweight adults that were all below indications of a very serious public health risk.

China’s numbers are staggering. In the past 10 years GDP per capita has tripled, mortality rates for the under-fives have declined from 37 per 1,000 to 14, and the percentage of the under-fives who are short for their age has declined from 22% to 9%.

But how long will China remain the star performer?

Of great concern in the future are the rapid increases in overweight and obesity in China. While the rates of overweight adults in China are less than half the rates of the UK (and the rates of obesity are about a fifth of the UK’s), the rates for children less than 20 years of age are much closer.

It is this body-mass time bomb that is the most worrying aspect of China’s nutrition status. High body-mass is a risk factor for a range of diseases such as diabetes and some forms of heart disease.

Will we see UK–level rates of obesity in these adults in China in 15 years’ time?

But it is not too late. China has the opportunity and the means to show the rest of the world how to slow and reverse the apparent tsunami of obesity. It has the opportunity because the problem is not yet unmanageable and its economy is strong. This generates policy possibilities. It has the means, because of the strong ability of the state to shape the environment to make healthy choices easier and more likely.

And make no mistake about it  the world needs China to succeed. Obese people tend to consume more of the types of foods that have a higher carbon footprint such as meat, sugar and dairy. There are diets  vegetarian, Mediterranean and pescetarian for example  that are healthier for the planet and for humans. China needs to draw on traditional eating habits and move towards its own 21st century version of a healthier diet  we all have a stake in that.