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CORONAVIRUS

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8 August 2020

North-East Gets £1.1 Million Boost to Food Processing Sector

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the announcement today (Saturday) of grant funding awards under the Food Processing, Marketing and Co-operation (FPMC) scheme from the Scottish Government.

Food processing and production businesses across the North-east have been awarded over £1.1 million to invest in infrastructure, purchase new equipment and upgrade or replace facilities.

In total, across Scotland, 30 businesses will receive grants to support the food supply chain, safeguarding 1,386 jobs and creating 97 new ones.

Locally, the projects include improving storage facilities for oats and investing in a dairy business.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The North-east is at the heart of Scotland’s food and drink industry so I’m delighted that so many firms, including several in my constituency, are to benefit from these funding awards.

“This is particularly important at this time as we seek to ensure not only the survival of so many businesses affected by the global pandemic, but actively seek to support those looking to expand, creating jobs and helping to ensure the country’s food security.”

Announcing the funding, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing MSP said:

“The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has underlined the importance of a strong and effective food supply chain and an increased consumer desire for locally produced food. This support will enable established producers and businesses across Scotland look to the future and capitalise on emerging marketing opportunities, as well as offer support to start-up businesses.

“This scheme uses joint Scottish Government and European Union funding to give local businesses a helping hand, helping to ensure the long-term viability of our primary producers. Investing in local producers is an important step to help sustain and create employment opportunities within our rural communities.”

Stuart Allan of Melrose Farms near Banff, said:

“We are very grateful to have received this FPMC grant. It will provide great opportunities and potential within our field of work and will be used to build a new facility on our farm for dressing, drying and storing oats. It will also help support our future plans for the business to grow.”

31 July 2020

MSP Urges Volunteers to Join Cullen Fire Crew

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has highlighted a plea from the Fire and Rescue Service for members of the public to consider volunteering to be a Retained Firefighter at Cullen Fire Station.
Some of the retained crew at Cullen Fire Station
The station, which has been in the town since 1971, is crewed by firefighters who are on-call and respond at a moment’s notice via a pager system.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Retained firefighters have their own day jobs to carry out but make themselves available for mercy calls whenever these come in. Their commitment and dedication are second to none.

“Cullen’s team of retained firefighters are a vital part of the community’s resilience. It’s therefore very important that crew numbers are maintained.

“Cullen’s Watch Commander and Crew Commander have both spoken very expressively not only of the importance of the job, but how much they enjoy it and the skills and experience they derive from it. I would urge anyone who wants to find out more about helping their community by becoming a retained firefighter to get in touch via the Cullen Fire Station Facebook page or the SFRS website.”

Watch Commander Simon Tucker has been protecting the community and surrounding areas for 19 years after signing up at the age of 25. He said:

“This is the greatest job in the world – that’s the best way I can describe it because it develops and challenges you but with full support. “One of my favourite parts of the job is being able to go into the community, meet new people and help by giving some safety advice.

“Every year we go into the local primary schools and demonstrate CPR with the kids so that they are equipped with the skills to assist a cardiac arrest where seconds are precious until the arrival of paramedics.

“It is always a date I look forward to – and it is amazing to see how much the kids remember.”

WC Tucker continued:

“We’re here and want to help the community – but we need more firefighters to ensure we are always there when local residents need us most.”

John Jappy is the Crew Commander at the station and has been a retained firefighter for 16 years; in his primary employment he works as rough caster and plasterer. He said:

“The job can give so much, with some people it’s just something different outside a normal office job or with others it really enhances their practical skills that they wouldn’t possess otherwise."

“It’s a family - when your pager goes you’re leaving one family to go to another and it’s fostered a lot of great friendships between our children and partners.”

Retained firefighters are paid on a call out basis and crews use a text-based system to inform the SFRS control rooms of their availability.

To find out more information, visit the ‘work with us’ section on www.firescotland.gov.uk or contact Cullen Fire Station or the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service on Facebook.

Residents Urged to Visit Community Pharmacy with Minor Illnesses

NHS Pharmacy First Scotland Service Launched

People across the North-east have been encouraged to visit their community pharmacy for advice and support to treat minor illnesses or common conditions after a new NHS Pharmacy First Scotland service was launched earlier this week.

Local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has said the new service will allow community pharmacies to give people expert help for treating conditions such as sore throats, earache and cold sores, along with common clinical conditions such as Urinary Tract Infections. Pharmacy teams will offer advice, treatment or referral to other healthcare teams if required.

The move will allow North-east residents to access the right care without having to visit their GP pharmacy or an A&E department for non-urgent treatment.

A&E departments remain open for emergency care – with the necessary public health measures in place to protect staff and patients.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The launch of NHS Pharmacy First Scotland means that people in the North-east, and across Scotland, will get the right care and medical support closer to home - often with no waiting time or appointments needed.

“In recent months, perhaps more than ever, the NHS has been there to protect us – but many of us don’t need to visit A&E to get the care we need.

“This new service will provide a local approach to ensure the community has access to healthcare for more minor ailments.

“Let’s remember though – in an emergency you should always contact 999.”

Chair of Community Pharmacy Scotland Martin Green said:

“NHS Pharmacy First Scotland is an exciting service development for everyone. It recognises the role that the community pharmacy network can play in helping patients and the wider NHS team by ensuring people get the right care in the right place.

“Pharmacists, supported by their pharmacy teams, will be able to offer consultations for anyone with minor illnesses and provide the appropriate advice and support.”

Stewart Stevenson
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