• Took part in a Scottish Government debate recognising the valuable contribution that disabled people make to Scottish society and advocating further transformational change in order for disabled people to reach their full potential. During the debate, Ruth condemned the UK Tory Government’s ongoing violation of disabled people’s rights through punitive changes and cuts to disability benefits – and contrasted this with the approach of the Scottish Government, which is currently in the process of creating a new Scottish social security system founded upon the principles of dignity and respect for all citizens, developed in consultation with those who use and rely on social security.

 

  • Held MSP advice surgeries at Bourtreehill Library and at the constituency office in Irvine, Woodwynd Community Centre in Kilwinning, and at Castlepark

 

  • Met with the Irvine Hockey club to hear about the sports development in Ayrshire and the challenges around training facilities

 

  • In Social Security Committee, considered, in private, the Committee’s draft Stage 1 report on the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill

 

  • During a Portfolio Questions session on Communities, Social Security, and Equalities, questioned the Scottish Government about the impact of the UK Tory Government’s two child cap – which revealed that around 50,000 households in Scotland will be negatively affected by 2021 – pushing more and more families into poverty across the country. Ruth also used the Portfolio Questions session to ask the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, Angela Constance, whether the UK Government had made any response to the Scottish Parliament’s recent vote condeming the two child cap and associated rape clause – with Angela Constance confirming that there has been no response at all.

 

  • Supported calls for a snare free Scotland in a Holyrood debate on the issue. The Scottish Parliament last debated the use of snares during the passage of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011 – which decided not to ban the traps but to introduce a new regulatory regime, to be reviewed every five years. Animal welfare organisations and politicians from all parties except the Conservatives have expressed their disappointment at the limited scope of the first review, which excluded any consideration of an outright ban on snares, and did not focus on animal welfare issues. In contrast, a joint ‘Snare Free Scotland’ report by leading animal welfare organisations, the League Against Cruel Sports and OneKind, has made clear that regardless of any future tweaks to the legislation, snares will continue to be cruel and indiscriminate. The report sets out horrifying examples of the agonising pain and deaths experienced by animals trapped by snares – both target species, such as foxes, and non-target species, including Scottish wildcats, mountain hares, badgers, hedgehogs, deer, otters, and even family pets

 

  • In Education Committee, took evidence from a range of people and organisations on the issue of Workforce Planning for Scotland’s Schools, including Dr Rowena Arshad, Head of Moray House School of Education; Dr Lesley Reid, Director of Undergraduate Studies, University of Edinburgh; Laurence Findlay, Corporate Director, Education & Social Care, Moray Council; Dr Liz Lakin, Senior Lecturer in Education, Learned Societies’ Group on Scottish STEM Education, and Jane Peckham, National Official (Scotland), NASUWT.

 

  • Attended an Education Committee focus group with trainee teachers, teachers, and school support staff to hear firsthand the challenges and opportunities they are facing