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Scottish Wit launched in time for World Book Day

Billy Connolly, Ewan McGregor and Lorraine Kelly are just some of the iconic Scots featuring in a new book of Scottish humour.

people reading Scottish Wit book

‘Scottish Wit’, written by author Aubrey Malone, includes a collection of quotes, jokes and pearls of wisdom from some of Scotland’s most well-known figures. From insights into parenthood, to quips about Scottish football and advice on love and marriage, the book is not only funny and insightful, it is raising funds for a very important cause.

Launching just ahead of World Book Day (Thursday 1 March) all proceeds from the sale of Scottish Wit will be donated to specialist charity Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland (SBH Scotland). Funds will be used specifically to help the charity provide personalised support to families across Scotland affected by complex and lifelong conditions of spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus. Services provided by SBH Scotland include support groups, home visits by dedicated support workers, financial advice and a helpline.

Scottish Wit is the last instalment in a trilogy written by Aubrey Malone, which include the books Irish Wit and Welsh Wit. An author of 30 years, Malone compiled the entire collection using a traditional type-writer and without using the internet. He was inspired to raise funds for SBH Scotland after hearing of the daily struggles endured by a young pupil who has the conditions, from his wife, a teaching assistant in Ireland.

Aubrey Malone said; “Humour is a powerful tool and I wrote this book to give people a solace from everyday stresses. Scotland is renowned world-wide for its sense of humour and hopefully these one-liners will bring a smile to people’s faces.

“SBH Scotland does fantastic work, helping support those with spina bifida and hydrocephalus through every stage of their lives. Writing is my passion in life, and I am glad that I was able to give back to the organisation by simply doing what I love.”

Deborah Roe, fundraising director at SBH Scotland said; “We are hugely grateful to Aubrey for dedicating this book to our cause. Scotland has more live births per head of population with spina bifida than anywhere else in the UK and almost every week one pregnancy is affected by the complex conditions.

“We are always looking for new inventive ways to fundraise and we have a host of exciting activities planned for 2018, including our first trek through Peru, an abseil down the Northern Lights Tower in Aberdeen and a zip-line across the River Clyde. For those unable to take on the adrenaline fuelled challenges, Scottish Wit gives people another way to offer their support.”

Scottish Wit costs £9.99 and is available to purchase NOW online or by calling 03455 211 600.

Support for Mortgage Interest benefit changes April 2018 - What you need to know

SBH Scotland has received many calls regarding letters from the DWP about Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) benefit. The wording of the letter is causing much confusion and uncertainty so we’ve put together a brief overview.

What is Support for Mortgage Interest?

SMI is a tax relief based on the amount of interest that you pay in a tax year on a qualifying mortgage loan.

You can claim SMI on interest paid by you on a loan used to purchase, repair, develop or improve the home. This relief can be claimed up to 31 December 2020.

SBH Scotland Financial Support Worker offering advice

Who is Eligible?

You qualify for relief if you’re eligible for any income based benefits and, between the years 2004 and 2012 inclusive, you took out a loan to purchase, repair, develop or improve:

  • your home
  • the home of your former or separated spouse or civil partner
  • the home of a dependent relative for whom you are claiming a dependent relative tax credit.

A home includes a house, flat or mobile home which is fixed on a permanent site and which has water or other services supplied to it.

What’s happening with the benefit?

As of April 2018 SMI is changing and the mortgage relief will now be considered as a secured loan which will have to be paid back on the sale of the property, transitioning the property to someone else or the death of the person.

If you are already in receipt of this benefit you will be receiving a letter from the DWP explaining this, after which you’ll receive a phone call from SERCO asking if you’re still happy to continue with the benefit as a secured loan. If you are, further paperwork will then be sent out to you.

You should be aware that you are allowed to ask for a financial advisor to explain the documentation to you.

What should I do now?

If you’re a member of SBH Scotland and you’re worried or want to know how this change will affect you, please contact our Financial Support Service directly on 03455 211 300 or email support@sbhscotland.org.uk. Every individual will have a variety of questions based on their own personal circumstances and we’re happy to help you navigate your way through this change.

Non-members of SBH Scotland should contact DWP directly for further clarification on your own situation.

UK Government urged to add folic acid to flour after new study

A study published in Public Health Reviews has revealed previous data showing the set upper limit of folate was flawed. The experts involved are now urging the Department of Health to approve the fortification of flour with folic acid in order to help reduce neural tube defects (NTD), such as spina bifida, in unborn babies.

This follows the Scottish and Welsh Governments recently writing joint letters to the UK Health Secretary urging him to make the fortification of flour with folic acid mandatory on a UK wide basis.

Make time for folic acid image

Recent figures show folate levels in Scotland are particularly low compared to international standards. In Scotland, 81% of women of childbearing age are more at risk of an NTD affected pregnancy because they don’t have enough folic acid – which is 6% higher than the UK as a whole.

Chief Executive of Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland Andy Wynd MBE said; “We welcome this new evidence published in the Public Health Reviews which shows there is no medical reason to stop folic acid being added to flour. As a charity we have long advocated for mandatory flour fortification in order to reduce the number of children born with neural tube defects such as spina bifida. In light of this new evidence, we believe the UK Government should be actively taking steps to introduce legislation to ensure that mandatory fortification of flour becomes a reality in the UK.”

“In Scotland, the issue of flour fortification is particularly relevant as more children are born with spina bifida than anywhere else in the UK. Flour fortification in other countries has resulted in up to 70% reductions in pregnancies according to recent studies and we believe this would produce similar results in Scotland.”

Scotland specific issues

Scotland has more live births per head of population with spina bifida than anywhere else in the UK. Possibly due to religious and cultural differences, only 45% of pregnancies are terminated in Scotland as compared with 80% in the rest of the UK.

Taking daily folic acid supplements, at the correct recommended dose (0.4mg) three months prior to conception, could reduce up to 70% of these pregnancies from being affected and lower both the number of those born with the condition and the number of pregnancies terminated.

Children born with spina bifida often have paralysis in the lower limbs, urological, neurological and orthopedic problems which often become more significant throughout life. Fortification of flour would reduce the number of babies born with this lifelong disability. Find out more about folic acid and flour fortification on the Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland website www.sbhscotland.org.uk/folic-acid

Parents in Scotland are offered impartial and non-judgmental advice by SBH Scotland to enable them to make informed decisions about their pregnancy. Whatever their final decision, SBH Scotland will always be there for support and advice whenever needed. Those affected by any of the issues associated with spina bifida or hydrocephalus, can call the SBH Scotland Family Support Service helpline on 03455 211 300, email: support@sbhscotland.org.uk or visit www.sbhscotland.org.uk

Question of Burns raises record £57K

Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland (SBH Scotland) has raised £57,000, at its annual “A Question of Burns” supper.

Andy Nicol and Margo Whiteford CBE

More than 520 guests gathered to celebrate the life of the famous poet, making it one of the biggest Burns supper to have ever been delivered by the charity since the event launched 27 years ago.

Former Scottish international rugby player and TV sports presenter Andy Nicol hosted the evening at Glasgow’s Hilton Hotel, where guests enjoyed poetry, a four-course meal, silent auction and a quiz on all things Rabbie Burns.

Stand-up comedian Bruce Fummey brought humour as he recited the popular Burns’ poem Tam o’ Shanter, while the Rt Hon Lord Robertson of Port Ellen led a celebration of Burn’s enduring spirit by narrating the Immortal Memory. The evening concluded with an emotional performance of Burn’s Auld Lang by Glasgow-born soprano, Charlotte McKechnie.

Since its launch in 1990 SBH Scotland’s annual event, in honour of the Ayrshire bard, has raised over £1 million, which has been used to support thousands of families across Scotland affected by the lifelong disabilities of spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus.

Deborah Roe, fundraising director at SBH Scotland, said: “We always look forward to ‘A Question of Burns,’ which continues to go from strength to strength in numbers and gives us the opportunity to welcome so many new faces. To sell out the event is a testament to the passion of all our fundraisers who work tirelessly to make the evening as special as possible.

“I would like to thank our headline sponsors, Chisholm Hunter, for their continued support and to all those who attended and donated to our charity. The proceeds will be used to provide a wide range of dedicated services across Scotland to children, young people and their families.”

One lucky guest walked away with a set of exquisite 18ct white gold and diamond flower cluster drop earrings worth £1,500, which were donated by headline sponsor Chisholm Hunter for the Grand Prize Draw. A luxury holiday to Sri Lanka, courtesy of Nisala and a £10,000 advertising package from Exterion Media, were also up for grabs in the auction.

Harry Brown, managing director at Chisholm Hunter, commented: “Chisholm Hunter has been proud to watch our relationship with SBH Scotland progress and develop over our 20 year association. Our pride and faith in this charity stems from the profound positive impact that it has directly on the lives of 3500 families affected by Spina Bifida, Hydrocephalus, or related conditions. We hope to continue to show the same commitment to Spina Bifida that they continuously demonstrate to each of their members”

To support SBH Scotland or to find out more about other events happening throughout the year, call 03455 211 600, email fundraising@sbhscotland.org.uk or visit www.sbhscotland.org.uk for more details.

The ILF Scotland Transition Fund is now OPEN

ILF Scotland has now opened the Transition Fund! The new ILF scheme will be a broad discretionary fund, that will provide short term awards, to support disabled people to live independently.

In its first phase, the scheme will focus on supporting young disabled people, aged 16 to 21, who are at an important transitional stage in their lives.

The Fund will provide short term grants (with £5 million of funding available per year) to young disabled people, providing them with opportunities that facilitate their participation and inclusion within their communities, creating a lasting impact on their lives.

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said:

“We want everyone in society to have the same quality of life, and providing support to disabled people is one of the areas we have worked on. This Transition Fund will support young disabled people to take up opportunities to contribute to and participate in their communities, to help them live as independently as possible.

“We have worked directly with disabled people to develop this fund and to ensure that we give people choices and treat them with the fairness, dignity and respect they deserve. I would encourage all those who are eligible to apply for funding to do so now.”

Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman said:

“I’m delighted this fund is now open for application. Our Disability Action Plan lists a number of actions to transform the lives of disabled people in Scotland and that includes actions setting out to tackle the inequalities and barriers faced by disabled young people, including tackling social isolation, employment opportunities and improving lives at points of transition.”

Young disabled people will be able to apply to the Transition Fund for a grant to enable them to participate in activities in their communities they have never had the opportunity to before, such as joining a club or a class."

Ryan Cuzen, an individual looking to apply to the Transition Fund, said:

“I see this fund as a positive step forward and a gate opener for young disabled folk in transition to improve their lifestyle and to get out and about.

“I want to be able to try new adult orientated activities, like mixed martial arts, and applying to the Transition Fund would give me the chance to do this.

“The hope is that the fund will give young disabled people, including myself, more confidence and help to develop community social skills.”

Peter Scott, CEO of ILF Scotland, remarked:

“We are thrilled that our Transition Fund is now open, providing a real opportunity for young disabled people to break down social barriers, and to fully participate in their communities, enhancing their independence.

“Disabled people, their organisations and their carers have been at the heart of developing this fund and its implementation. We will continue to work closely with them to maximise positive outcomes and the impact of the Transition Fund for young disabled people.”

To find out more information about the Transition Fund, the full eligibility criteria and how to apply, please go to the Transition Fund section of their website. If you'd like support from SBH Scotland in applying please contact our Finance Support Workers on 03455 211 300 or email support@sbhscotland.org.uk

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