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Hello again

My colleague Sylwia reminded me that I should have included a bit in our bulletin about the new Carers Befriending Group she and our volunteer befrienders are starting up on Monday 22nd February.  The group is for carers who would like to meet up with other carers and befrienders for social interaction and fun.  You can find out more about it by click this link here: CARERS GROUPS

Best wishes

Lesley Childs

Depute Manager

Fife Carers Centre

157 Commercial Street| Kirkcaldy | KY1 2NS

Office: 01592 205 472

Mobile: 07736 927991

The above information is from Fife Carers Centre Information Bulletin Mon 15/02/2021

There is still some of the money announced by the First Minister to help carers have a break from thier caring role available to apply for.  It is administered through the Creative Breaks Fund overseen by Fife Voluntary Action.  You can apply for up to £300 to buy something that will help give you a break from your caring role.  Obviously going away for a break is not possible now so you will have to think about other ways to have a break.

Some of the things other carers have bought with their grants have included Garden Sheds, Fitness equipment including bicycles, Items for hobbies, Kindles, Tablets or laptops with earphones so you can watch your own programmes,  or you could think about food delivery from companies such as Gusto or Hello Fresh to explore new ideas in your cooking or even deliveries of takeaway food to have a break from cooking.  Think out of the box about what gives you a break from your caring role.

This funding is available just now and must be spent before the end of March.  At the moment some of the normal rules have been suspended to enable as many carers as possible to access it quickly so if you are caring for a child under 21 you can apply (normally is for carers of adults over 21) and if you had a Creative Breaks Grant last year (it’s normally only available every two years) you can apply. An application form is attached to this email for you to complete and email to the email address on the back page of the form to make your application.

The above information is from Fife Carers Centre Information Bulletin Mon 15/02/2021

Community & Dementia: Creating Better Lives in Fife

Thursday 25 February 2021, from 10:00 – 12:45

The Life Changes Trust in partnership with stakeholders from across Fife, want to inform and inspire those attending by providing an opportunity to learn from initiatives and evidence from across Fife and support local areas to think more deeply about how communities can uphold the human rights of people with dementia and unpaid carers.  To book your place in the audience just click on the link below:

Community & Dementia:Creating Better Lives in Fife

The most recent information that we have about the unpaid carers vaccinations is as follows

  • We have now passed one million first dose vaccinations in Scotland.
  • Second appointments for those who received their first vaccination at the beginning of the campaign are also underway.
  • Around 75,000 more people have been vaccinated than originally anticipated in Scotland’s deployment plan which is due to higher take-up rates of vaccine than anticipated and that is very welcome. But this all has had an impact on our available vaccine supply and we must therefore ensure enough vaccine for second doses when they are due.
  • Scotland continues to follow the JCVI advice on prioritisation – to protect those most at risk.
  • Unpaid carers, who continue to be prioritised as part of group 6, will be called forward as soon as vaccine supplies allow, both through letters to those on relevant benefits, and through a national marketing campaign signposting them to the forthcoming self-referral portal.
  • More details on timescales for unpaid carers will follow shortly.

Fife Carers Centre is a company limited by guarantee with charitable status.

Company Number 282309.  Scottish Charity Number SC029466.

Fife Carers Centre is an independent voluntary organisation funded by Fife Council and NHS Fife.

The above information is from Fife Carers Centre Information Bulletin Mon 15/02/2021

18th February 2021
by Gareth Jones

An independent review of adult social care in Scotland was published earlier this month

The Scottish Government has said it is committed to implementing the far reaching recommendations of a recent review into adult social care in Scotland. Continue reading

 18th February 2021
by Robbie Ross

Robbie Ross says cyber criminals do not distinguish between charities and businesses when planning attacks

Cyber security has posed a threat for a number of years, with many of us falling victim to online crime, in both a personal and professional capacity.

As the UK went into a lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many organisations transitioned to remote working. Unfortunately, cyber criminals have seen this as an opportunity to attack businesses across the globe, using sophisticated and innovative tactics to target the most vulnerable, including charitable organisations.

When cyber criminals are scanning for opportunities, they are looking for weaknesses and open doors. At Converged Communication Solutions, we want to help charities close as many of these doors as possible and allow them to focus on the incredible work they do.

Online criminals do not distinguish between charities and businesses, and charities have what they want – namely data and access to money. Unlike many large businesses, charitable organisations do not have the same expensive software or IT knowledge, which is why it is so important that charities get the security and protection basics right.

Statistics from the UK Government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2020 shows that 26% of charities suffered a cyber attack in the last year, with more than half reporting they were “negatively impacted”.

Unfortunately for larger charities, those which have earnings of more than £500,000, 57% fell victim to a cyber-attack.

Charities have it within themselves to improve their cyber security, even with very limited resources and little to no budget. However, it is up to us as an industry to share our expertise and provide the practical tools they need, to have confidence in their own ability to protect themselves and the wider organisation.

Part of this involves us breaking down the barriers which exist, especially around lack of technical know-how. We need to correct the misconception that cyber security is a specialist only remit – it is not.

Research produced by GCHQ, BIS and CPNI in a report entitled ’10 Steps to Cyber Security’, highlights that once organisations learn the basics, they could be protected against up to 80% of known attacks.

Another barrier is the cost of implementing cyber security. However, many of the steps charities can take to better protect themselves are completely free or low cost.

In recent months, we have worked closely with Scottish science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) charity, TechFest, which highlighted knowledge gaps in online security for charitable organisations.

With a passion to improve safety and raise awareness of threats, we have created a free webinar in partnership with TechFest. Not only do we want to provide advice to charities around what they can do to better protect themselves, but we also want to point out that many of these things are straightforward, and inexpensive to achieve.

Charities which don’t know where to start with cyber security are encouraged to sign up for our webinar Cyber Security Basics for Charities – a chance to learn, question and build cyber confidence’.

In Scotland, charities have some great resources available to help them on their cyber journey, including the Scottish Business Resilience Centre and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations. Both organisations provide a range of cyber security services for businesses and organisations across Scotland.

With just a bit of education and support, we can make it much tougher for cyber criminals to get past security systems and safeguard both data and much-needed funds. The free webinar is taking place on Wednesday 24 February at 10. 30am. You can sign up here.

Robbie Ross is chief security officer at Converged Communication Solutions

The above information is from Third Force News Weekly Opinion Posts roundup Fri 19/02/2021

16th February 2021
by Gareth Jones

The Royal National Institute of Blind People has said lockdown could be exacerbating a condition for those with sight loss

A charity has said lockdown could be causing those with sight loss to experience hallucinations.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is warning that ongoing lockdown and coronavirus restrictions could be causing a spike in hallucinations due to sight loss.

Hallucinations due to sight loss are known as Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS), which is caused when the brain attempts to fill in gaps in visual information with invented images or patterns. The hallucinations vary from person to person and range from simple lights or patterns to complex images. They are often distressing.

The condition has now sparked interest from Britain’s longest running television soap, Coronation Street, with a storyline showing Weatherfield resident Johnny Connor, played by actor Richard Hawley, beginning to hallucinate cockroaches, cats and people. Although his symptoms are caused by sight loss, they are initially misidentified as a psychiatric issue.

Although there is little research into the condition, it is widely believed that at least third of all people with significant sight loss experience these symptoms, but it is often under-reported.

Over the last 12 months, the number of people calling RNIB’s Sight Loss Advice Service to report CBS has increased – with sharp peaks in calls corresponding with coronavirus restrictions. Last month, the number of calls about hallucinations increased by more than two-thirds (67%) compared to January 2020, and accounted for more calls than any other condition.

Thelma Good, aged 70, from Biggar in South Lanarkshire, has experienced Charles Bonnet Syndrome for years after losing a large proportion of her sight due to glaucoma and cataracts.

She said: “I studied psychology at university, and we learned about Charles Bonnet Syndrome in my course. Because of this, although it would be years until I was officially diagnosed with the syndrome, I was able to understand why I was having hallucinations, I knew that it was related to my sight.

“One of the scary aspects for me is that when I cross the road my brain fills in the gaps in my vision with a clear road, which means that I can’t see approaching cars or cyclists. That can be really challenging and frightening, so it takes me a long time to cross roads.”

Dr Louise Gow, specialist lead for eye health at RNIB, said: “The increase in calls and emails we have received about CBS since lockdown has been dramatic. And the visions that are being reported are much more vivid than usual, which has left many people feeling particularly distressed – describing their hallucinations as ‘out of control’.

“It’s as though the stress and anxiety of coronavirus, and the resulting restrictions, has had an impact on people’s symptoms. Although there is currently no research to confirm such a link, it would seem stress and lack of stimulation can increase symptoms.”

To help people with the condition, RNIB has launched a new Talk and Support service specifically for people experiencing CBS. The service has been created with CBS specialists Esme’s Umbrella.

Judith Potts, founder of Esme’s Umbrella, said: “We launched Esme’s Friends, a telephone chat service, which has now joined RNIB’s Talk and Support Groups. The calls provide peer-support and new contacts, all of whom understand what it is like to live in a world of vivid, silent, visual hallucinations. The calls can be joined by carers and family members who are too often forgotten, but who also need support. Through Esme’s Friends, people living with CBS find they are part of a community which is developing its own voice.”

Dr Gow added: “It is very worrying that awareness of CBS remains low, even among health and care professionals. We have heard of several instances where GPs have mistakenly referred patients to mental health services, rather than directing them to information about how to cope with CBS and ensuring that they see an eye health professional. If this happens, it is possible that the underlying vision issue causing the CBS is not treated and could worsen, resulting in further avoidable sight loss.

“While there is still a lot to learn about the condition, it’s more important than ever that health and care professionals are made aware of CBS. There is a range of support and advice available to help people living with the condition. But patients must first be diagnosed appropriately.”

Professor Mariya Moosajee, consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital, said: “We are working hard to better understand CBS and how it can be managed. This includes a study to learn how common CBS is in children across the UK. We are hoping to start a study into deciphering the overall time period affected by visual hallucinations, as this will help us to provide a more accurate prognosis for patients to guide them on how long to expect them to occur.

“We would welcome further research on CBS to increase our understanding and would also encourage clinicians to ask their patients about CBS symptoms regularly.”

Anyone with sight loss who is experiencing visions or hallucinations – or any sudden change in their sight – should seek immediate help from an eye health professional or contact RNIB’s Helpline on 0303 123 9999. For more information, visit the RNIB website.

The above information is from Third Force News (TFN) newsletter Tue 16/02/2021


A radical revision of primary care is essential to ensure the next generation of citizens receive the care they need, according to the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee.

In a report published today, the Committee say the traditional 9-5, 5 days a week service must become a thing of the past, replaced with a new model shaped around users’ needs. They urge the health service to fully embrace technology, enabling better data sharing and monitoring, to deliver a 21st century system fit for patients.

The Committee’s report is the culmination of a two-year inquiry into the future of primary care. The innovative inquiry was centred around members of the public with their views shaping the inquiry. The first phase of the inquiry, published in July 2019, revealed the public’s desire and support for a transformation in how services are accessed and delivered.

The inquiry has highlighted the growing costs and demands on the health service due to an ageing population and their more complex health needs, as well as an obesity epidemic and stark health inequalities in Scotland’s most deprived areas.

The Committee’s report questions the Government’s commitment to recruit at least 800 more GPs by 2030. They say the emphasis should instead be placed on committing to appropriate recruitment of professional staff across multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs), including both GPs and other professions, which can deliver the intended benefits to primary care as a whole.

Speaking as the report was published, Committee Convener Lewis Macdonald MSP said:

“It is clear that when it comes to primary care the status quo is no longer an option. Existing ways of delivering care are not only financially unsustainable but have failed to keep pace with modern life.

“We need to radically rethink primary care so that we can ensure our citizens receive the best possible care for generations to come.

“We must move away from the automatic provision of prescriptions and towards social prescribing. There must be widespread adoption of a preventative model of delivering care and the health service must fully embrace new technology.”

“A fundamental shift is also required in how the public and health professionals view General Practice. Instead of GPs being seen as the provider of all services, a new approach should be adopted where other health professionals, who are often better placed and equipped to help and support people can do so.”

He added:

“Our inquiry has been driven by hearing directly from the public about the primary care services they want, need and require and the Committee wants to thank all who took part in our public forums and shared their views.”

The Committee say a focus on prevention needs to be prioritised and mainstreamed, but for this to be a success it goes beyond just the health service. They identify the importance of local communities in delivering good health outcomes and say there is a clear desire amongst the public for connected communities, with spaces that give people opportunities to become active and socialise, and to connect to the local natural environment.

Widespread adoption of video consulting service ‘Near Me’ during the Covid-19 pandemic has been commended although the Committee has expressed reservations that default use could deepen health inequalities.



Recognising there have been multiple developments within Primary Care Services in recent times the Committee agreed it was appropriate they should look at the provision of services and approaches. The principal aims were to consider whether services were meeting current needs and how they should be provided in future.

The inquiry was split in two parts. Part 1 of the inquiry was focused on hearing from members of the public about how they felt services should be accessed and delivered.

Part 2 of the inquiry took those views to a wide range of health professionals involved in primary care, asking how they considered services could evolve in line with the needs and wishes of the users. The report can be found here.

The Part 1 report is available here:

You can learn more about the work of the Health and Sport Committee on the Scottish Parliament website.

Media information

Warren Hardie: 0131 348 5479
Text Relay calls welcome

Committee information

For further information on this inquiry please contact David Cullum, Clerk to the Health and Sport Committee –

Public information
• Telephone enquiry line: 0800 092 7500 or 0131 348 5395 (Gàidhlig)
• Text 07786 209 888
• Ask a question online through  live chat
• We also welcome calls using the Text Relay service or in British Sign Language through contactSCOTLAND-BSL


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The above information is from The Scottish Parliament News Update Tue 16/02/2021

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