education

Local learning

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Good news for those communities with a hankering to visit another community where something of particular interest to them is happening, the Community Learning Exchange is once again open for business. These small awards that pay for travel and subsistence and a host fee, have proved very popular and effective – low on cost, high on impact. What is certainly true is that there is very little that is truly new under the sun and there’s no point in reinventing the wheel. There’s also much to be gained from learning from your peers.

By SCA

The Community Learning Exchange is a fantastic opportunity for communities to learn through the exchange of ideas and the sharing of common solutions.  When community groups make visits to other communities, the most valuable part is often meeting new people with similar interests and gaining new insights and perspectives on shared challenges.  Visiting groups come away armed with new ideas and approaches, and host organisations have the opportunity to explain their project to a new and interested audience, often seeing their own projects afresh through new eyes.

What will the exchange fund?

The Exchange will fund up to 100% of the costs of a visit by members of one community to another community project up to a limit of £750, including a host fee.  In exceptional circumstances (where travel distances are greater or certain aspects of the visit are particularly expensive) this limit can be increased.  Similarly, visits out with Scotland, but within the UK, will be considered where a similar project does not exist in Scotland.

The Exchange will also fund follow up support between organisations.  This might be as a result of a learning visit when it is recognised that more specific and on-going help, support, or advice is required. This can be through face-to-face meetings, by phone, e-mail, or skype. Funding for this kind of additional support will need to be negotiated separately.

How to apply

The Exchange operates primarily through the networks that comprise the Scottish Community Alliance.  The exception to this rule are Scotland’s community councils. Since the demise of the Association of Scottish Community Councils, there has been no umbrella body for community councils.

Applications to the Exchange are processed through one or other of the networks’ designated members of staff. The exception to this rule are community councils who should apply directly to the Exchange Coordinators.  Applications can be made at any time for visits throughout 2019 and up until March 2020. Funding is limited, and once it has been committed no further applications will be accepted.

For guidance about the Community Learning Exchange click here and an application form click here.

Please remember, applications must be endorsed by a network that is a member of SCA unless your organisation is a community council.

Bottled gold – the unexpected side effects of recycling in Germany

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A German recycling scheme is proving to be a source of relief for those on low-incomes, but is it also having an impact on recycling levels as a whole?

For pensioners and the unemployed in Berlin, summer marks a particularly welcome time of the year for making a spot of extra cash. As Berliners head to the park to enjoy sunshine, barbecues and a casual drink with friends and family, the hunt for empty leftover bottles begins.

Introduced in 2003 by the then Social Democrat/Green coalition government, the ‘bottle recycling deposit return scheme’, known as the Deutsche Pfandsystem (or ‘Pfand’ for short) in Germany, requires large drink retailers to charge an additional €0.08 to €0.25 for every drink purchased at a store depending on the material of the bottle. The consumer can then redeem that money by bringing their emptied bottles back to the shop and recycling them instead of simply throwing them away.

The rationale behind the scheme is both to reduce waste and encourage recycling of single-use products, as well as to develop an environmental consciousness among the German population. In a world where more than 100 million plastic bottles are used everyday worldwide, and with only one out of five being recycled (the rest becoming litter buried underground or ending up in our ocean’s waters), mindfulness about current global consumption patterns is a vital step towards a sustainable future.

Thanks to Pfand, over 97 per cent of plastic and glass bottles are now recycled in Germany. At first sight, the scheme appears to be a resonating success. However, the motivation behind the bottle collection scheme has increasingly become driven by economic and social factors rather than genuine environmental concerns. As such, Pfand is bringing to light the challenges faced by the least privileged part of the German population every day.

When Pfand started operating in 2003, it was mainly homeless people, alcoholics and drug addicts that would rummage the bins in the search of this ‘bottled gold’. However, by 2005, unemployment rates had soared to 13 per cent and an estimated one out of every seven Berliners was said to be living on the verge of poverty. Since then, an increasing number of jobless people and pensioners have been spotted engaging in bottle-collecting activities in the hope of making ends meet. Sabine Werth, head of Berliner Tafel, a non-profit organisation that distributes food donations to local charities comments: ‘The number of unemployed collectors has probably doubled in the past few years. This is a symptom of an inadequate social system struggling to cope with a rising number of elderly people and unemployed.’ Recycling plastic bottles is being seen as a way to provide a cash boost to those with under-performing pensions.

Bottle recycling is being seen by Berlin’s unemployed as a cash resource (Image: Barbara Wheeler)Bottle recycling is being seen by Berlin’s unemployed as a cash resource (Image: Barbara Wheeler/Shutterstock)

However, fighting poverty does not seem to be the only reason bottle-collecting has become increasingly popular. ‘For the older generation it provides a sense of purpose,’ says Werth. ‘They see it as a reason to get out of the house and come into contact with people.’ Günther, a former mechanic who had to retire early due to illness, adds that this new-found activity helps him fight loneliness as people on the street often strike up conversation with each other. ‘I get to meet all sorts of people, which can be fun,’ he says. ‘I had a job in a museum for a while, but I nearly died of loneliness in that place.’

Many Berliners are supporting the practice. Residents and party-goers often leave empty bottles in lines along the pavements or in a pile next to bins, allowing collectors to seize the coveted goods without having to rummage through waste. Communication design student Jonas Kakoschke took things one step further. In July 2011 he set up the website Pfandgeben.de. Two types of people can sign up to this online platform: collectors and disposers. The site allows residents who have bottles they wish to dispose of to find details of local collectors in their area and to contact them to arrange for a pick-up. The initiative became so popular it ended up expanding to Cologne, Augsburg and Essen. However, Werth admits that this new system only targets those who already have certain means (such as a mobile phone), leaving the most marginalised and destitute once more on the sideline.

Bottles piled by rubbish binBottles piled by rubbish bin for collectors to easily gather (Image: Jacky D/Shutterstock)

This increase in collection numbers is turning bottle recycling into a competitive business. Nowadays, collectors are not only having to fight for resources among each other, but are also needing to stand up to government and industrial backlash. In Stuttgart, the city council introduced bins that keep waste underground, allegedly to increase storage capacity, but social workers have been accusing the authorities of implementing defensive architecture in order to to push certain parts of the population out of the city centre.

Another downside of the German bottle scheme according to environmental pressure groups is that it reduces the incentive to introduce genuinely green reusable drink containers to the market by framing the recycling of single-use bottles as a sustainable alternative. Finally, because discount giants such as Aldi or Lidl need to keep prices low to stay competitive, they have been reintroducing non recyclable bottles to their shelves in order to avoid charging their customers the extra green deposit. Consequently, it is estimated that the number of recyclable bottles on the German market has dropped from 80 per cent to 50 per cent since 2003.

 

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£700,000+ to increase community resilience in flood protection

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Communities across Scotland will benefit from £713,000 in additional funding to improve flood protection. (Source: ScotGov)

This includes:

  • £300,000 to support the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
  • £180,000 to gather Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data which surveys terrain
  • £33,000 in 2019/20 for the ‘Scottish Flood Forum’ to raise awareness of the importance of making flood resilient repairs and installing flood protection measures for property

A Modern Day History Lesson?

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The word ‘idiot’ derives from the ancient Greek for a private citizen who professes no interest in being involved in politics. In the birthplace of democracy, it was simply an article of faith that every citizen would become actively engaged in the political decisions of their towns, cities and nation state. Democracy, as the ancient Greeks conceived it, was a civic duty and any citizen could be called upon to serve.  No hustings, no elections, and no political parties. Just the random selection of individual citizens who would willingly step forward when their names were drawn by lot.  Known as sortition, this form of democracy would be anathema to our modern-day career politicians.  Yet it is a particular form of sortition – the citizens’ assembly – to which many countries around the world are now turning to help resolve some of their most intractable problems. And as we settle down to watch the next instalment of modern-day British democracy of Brexit, many now argue that a randomly selected assembly of citizens, expertly guided and supported, might just offer a sensible way forward. We’d surely be idiots not to try.

Look back next week, to find out a bit more about the participative democracy happening in Aberdeenshire now.

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. 

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.

 

Thank you for your support to end child poverty

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If you haven’t already seen them, have a look at these animations. Talented students from the London College of Communication interpreted children’s experiences of poverty and made some very powerful short films. They show clearly why we’re needed, and why your support is so important.

Child Poverty Action Group