Irvine Times, 7 August 2018

As part of World Breastfeeding Week, the Scottish Government announced last week that it will be providing an additional £2 million for local health boards to help support mothers in Scotland to breastfeed for longer periods of time. This is a welcome investment that will almost double the current provision.

Having previously spoken in a Scottish Parliament debate about how breastfeeding is the healthiest way for a woman to feed her baby, I am delighted to see the growth of interest in NHS Ayrshire and Arran’s ‘Breastfeed Happily Here’ campaign. Promoted in conjunction with the Breastfeeding Network, over 220 businesses and organisations have already agreed to support the rights of women to breastfeed, and to provide a welcome environment in which to do so. Ayrshire’s public transport network is amongst those on board, and I was pleased to learn this week that Ayr United Football Club will now be featuring the Breastfeeding Network on its away strip. 

The Breastfeeding Network also runs school workshops for pupils, staff and parents, with Woodlands Primary School in Irvine, Glencairn Nursery and Primary School in Stevenston, and St. Matthew’s Academy in Saltcoats amongst recent participants. If you would like to know more about the benefits of breastfeeding, and information about where you can ‘Breastfeed Happily Here’, visit www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk/ayrshire.

The Scottish Parliament summer recess allows me extra time to engage with local businesses and organisations in the constituency, and to learn about issues affecting them. Last week I spent a morning with the local Royal Mail operation in Irvine, both in the sorting office and in making deliveries around the town.

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An ongoing concern for postal workers is the number of dog attacks endured in domestic properties, particularly in summer months. Not all dogs are inherently dangerous, but some forty-four posties are attacked each week across the UK, often leading to serious injuries. To try to raise awareness of the issue, and to seek the help of dog owners, the Royal Mail is offering helpful advice at www.royalmailgroup.com/customers/customer-commitment/preventing-dog-attacks.

August 1st saw the annual ‘Playday’, with many activities organised nationally through Playday Scotland. Amongst those celebrating the day locally was North Ayrshire Ranger Service at Eglinton Country Park, which hosted various activities including kite-making and circus skills workshops run by The Big Top toy shop.

The theme of this year’s Playday was children’s right to play, as noted in Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. As a ‘Play Champion’ in Cunninghame South, I welcomed Scotland’s first ever inclusive Play Charter in a debate at Holyrood in March 2017, and as such, I wholeheartedly support Playday 2018’s aims – to support communities to come together to celebrate the right of a child to play, to raise awareness of the right, and to promote the importance of playing for children’s happiness, health and wellbeing.

Next Tuesday I will be participating as an ‘Apprentice for the Day’ at the Owl and Pussycat Nursery in Irvine, where I hope to learn more about the opportunities available for those seeking a career in childcare and early years training. On the same day, the SQA publishes exam results for Nationals, Highers and Advanced Highers. I want to take this opportunity to wish all our students the very best of luck, and to hope that you get the results that you have worked so very hard for.