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4th Year Portfolio

Bhs: Goodbye, British High Street

With the announcement of the financial troubles facing one of the oldest high street retailers, no one was able to say with any honesty that it came as a surprise.

When British Home stores was purchased for £1 last year from Sir Philip Green by a consortium of businessmen, it marked the beginning of a new decline for the store.

However, the latest in the Bhs saga is that in order to avoid administration, the company would aim to undertake a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) which would aim to write off and consolidate some of the brand’s debts.

As this was made public, it became apparent that many stores were operating at a loss, and for many of them this was due to astronomical rent prices.

One of these stores, Clydebank was revealed to be just 36 years into a 250-year lease. This highlights the changing face of retail, as just 36 years ago the store was on a par with Marks and Spencers as a high-end chain.

Operations Manager Joyce Keatley has worked for Bhs for more than ten years, and while she can appreciate the standing of the brand on the high street, she sees the company having an end-date.

When the CVA went through, Joyce was relieved as it meant she’d have a job for up to 60 days initially and perhaps longer once everything came out. While she agrees that Bhs hasn’t kept up the level of high street domination they were used to in the past, she does think that certain factors go in its favour:

“Although Bhs is not a 'big' name now in the retail world, it is a 'big' name locally to the public. With retail changing so dramatically nowadays it's also good for the centre, as stores who would want the kind of space Bhs has been harder to find.”

In Clydebank shopping centre alone there are numerous empty units, and when they are filled they tend to consist of betting shops or cheap pop-up shops with six month leases. In a failing high street, these are not conducive to a surge in high street shopping.

Sadly; at a store level, members of management in the same position as Joyce haven’t been able to truly cultivate their team’s growth:

“There isn't much room to manage things at a local level to 'grow' the store. In terms of the team, we have had a higher turnover of both staff and managers in the last 5 years than the five years before. This makes it harder to 'grow' the team.”

With the owners of the company trying to reach an agreement with the threat of administration looming, Joyce thinks that maybe the business has reached the end of its viability:

“It can only be preserved if it's profitable. The new owners said they wanted to preserve the 'iconic' brand however we are now selling food, stationery and pick up lines such as air fresheners and shoe polish. That isn't preserving an iconic brand, it's changing it to bring in much needed cash. The business desperately needs to change to compete and have investment in systems, buildings and stock to be relevant.”

Another employee, Kingsley Aboagye is currently employed by the company at weekends. Having worked here to support himself at university, he has learned the inn’s and outs of working in the business:

“I think BHS has stayed relevant because of the history behind it and how big a part it's played in what retail stores represent nowadays, as it one of the very few shops that reflects that of the British culture. The only reason I think it's not able to stay relevant at this period of time is because it's not adapting to what the top end stores are doing, which is continuously coming up with innovative ideas that are targeted around gaining popularity amongst shoppers and that includes offering a wider range of affordable products.”

“The main benefits of BHS staying open in the shopping centre are really that it provides another convenient place for products of good quality, it’s pretty historically set due to it being here in the town since the centre was opened and obviously it provides job opportunities.”

However, he does understand how the removal of the store could negatively impact people within the local area, especially those who are unable to drive:

“The long term impact on my own family would be that the option of another retail shop offering quality products in this shopping centre will not be accessible, leaving us with no choice but to consider going elsewhere - the closest being roughly about 6 miles away. When we’re used to walking this is an inconvenience and would become more of an issue during the festive period.”

Ex-sales associate Sophie believes that by Bhs continuing to supply similar styles throughout the years, they have in fact solidified their space on the high street:

“Over time BHS has catered for the needs of millions of people shopping for electric goods, furnishings and clothing. Styles have remained traditional over the years at BHS and clothing collections never completely differ as the store know what the public want. BHS has stayed relevant over the years due to their reliability and this is proven by the mass of customers seen every day - old and new.

Sophie worked in the store for two years before leaving to pursue a career in nursing, but feels that its loss to the centre would have a negative impact on the footfall through the shopping centre:

“I think there is a real importance to the store staying open in Clydebank as it attracts and satisfies a lot of local customers. Regular customers to the store always remind the staff members of how much they value the store and that they would "miss it if it was gone".

“BHS has been one of the longest leaseholders in Clydebank shopping centre and therefore a lot of customers have been able to rely on the store over the years to meet their shopping needs. The store is one of the biggest department stores on the high street and this is what Clydebank needs to attract new and current customers.”

While Bhs gets an overwhelming amount of abuse both online and in person for its dated and out of style ranges, it cannot be said that the store hasn’t impacted the very nature of the high street. Whether that’s the employee fearing for their job, or an occasional shopper voicing their opinion on the giant’s demise, everybody has an opinion on British Home Stores.

Personal Training Right At Home

AT a quick glance, your Facebook timeline pretty much stays the same, showing the same updates day in, day out – new babies, a dinner someone you barely know made last night, a timehop update of a night out six years ago and the occasional engagement. Which makes it all the more surprising when you start noticing your friends posting transformation pictures with their personal trainer. 

One thing that nobody could have overlooked is the advertising by personal trainers around the world offering online training packages – these are everywhere. 

Take Kayla Itsines for example, she’s a 24-year-old personal trainer from Adelaide, Australia. She began training in 2008, working in a ‘women’s only’ gym, however she soon realised that her clients had a specific goal in mind – the perfect bikini body. With the workouts she was using, the goals weren’t being met quick enough, so she devised her own programme: 

“Before I knew it, I had developed workouts and cardio techniques, mixed with nutritional planning that achieved a certain result: a bikini body confidence.” 

Today, Kayla has built up something of a cult following across the social media platforms. A quick search online for the hashtag #bbg (bikini body goals) show hundreds of women who subscribe to Kayla’s training regime posting their before and after pictures. And while there are always body-shamers lurking around every internet corner, she sticks up for her girls and reinforces the idea that a healthy body is a better body, whether or not others think you ‘looked better before’. 

“Stop looking at yourself as something that needs to be ‘fixed’, focus on improvements. Focus on health and focus on happiness. Create goals and smash them.” 

Perhaps the secret to her success is that she doesn’t pretend to be anything she’s not, as she promotes her app ‘Sweat With Kayla’ for women to use on to the go, she practices what she preaches with uploaded videos on a daily basis showing how to do each workout and photos of the food in her food plan. 

The winner of Cosmopolitan’s ‘Fun, Fearless Woman Award’ gives daily insights to her life, whether it’s a photo of her dog, an anecdote from her Greek grandmother or just a story about her boyfriend, Kayla makes herself appear available and accessible – this is definitely something that makes her success so easy to swallow. 

Similar to Kayla’s methods, are Emily Skye’s. Also Australian, the former model quit the industry to focus on a healthier life in 2009. 

“Since I became healthier and fitter, I almost feel like I've found life again.” 

Emily posts daily clips of herself in the gym, training alongside the F.I.T plan she has created. And while Emily has an edge with her model good looks and 3 million more followers on her Facebook page, Kayla is the perfect girl-next-door with her lengthy posts bolstering the self-esteem of women and can still boast of a following exceeding 5.2 million. 

One #BBG participant, Presley McGuire can’t vouch for Kayla’s programme enough. The 22-year-old has been following the fitness guide for 30 weeks and has lost a stone, dropping two dress sizes. Presley thinks the guides can help build confidence: 

“I think the online guides are better than having someone in front of you in the gym, you can work out whenever you want. I would feel self-conscious in front of someone, but at home I feel relaxed.  

Following these guides definitely brings to into a close-knit community where support and encouragement are heavily enforced: 

“The other girls posting to the hashtag are very inspirational, every time I feel like giving up I go search the #bbggirls tag on Instagram and the stories and pictures of other woman give me the motivation to carry on. 

She believes that Kayla’s guides can only become more popular due to the busy nature of our everyday lives: 

“What's good about Kayla’s programme is that you can do it either at home if you have the equipment, or at the gym.” 

Perhaps this is another indicator of Kayla’s success, as many of the workouts don’t require any equipment, just your body – therefore helping the dream of the perfect beach body reach everyone, no matter what their circumstances. 

However, many people still choose to work out the old fashioned way – with one to one sessions. 

Twenty two-year-old Johnny Mulhern was in high school when he decided to pursue a career in personal training. 

“I was very into football and athletics and I played well at various sports. It felt like a no brainer for me to do something similar as an occupation as it felt effortless to deliver teaching points to others. 

As a keen sportsman from a young age, his interest grew from this participation and Johnny considers his enthusiasm as his biggest asset in keeping him clued up on all forms of fitness and wellbeing, not just his sporting experience. 

He believes that the media and an individual’s public image are main players in the uptake of personal training services. 

“It’s fashionable to be into your fitness; especially expressing the trend on social media sites. The fitness industry is growing rapidly from the- also growing- public desire to look your best. 

“By extension people are buying into personal trainers more to ensure they know the quickest and most effective ways to change their image.” 

While he looks at his training in a sporting mentality, he can understand why so many women are being influenced by celebrities such as Millie Mackintosh who actively promotes the idea of being ‘strong not skinny’: 

“This sort on mentality is exactly what women need. The majority of eating disorder cases, such as anorexia and bulimia are from the female gender. These are also influenced from the growing fixation of body image, but more celebrities are becoming good fitness role models by promoting a much healthier means of looking fit. Naturally the celebrities doing so, very often use PT services so that further encourages masses to do the same. The more celebrities doing this the merrier!” 

Another trainer relatively new to the game is Alex Dillon. At 22-years-old, he has secured his own gym premises for personal training purposes, and isn’t looking back. 

After spending time at college doing sports coaching with children, he realised it wasn’t his dream and so switched direction and began on a PT course: 

“At that time I wasn't actually interested in the gym so I started going with my brother-in-law and within 2 weeks, had caught the bug. I could see the difference in my body shape changing and felt great. 

“After this, I knew I wanted to help others feel the same way I did - satisfied, with a sense of pride, and more confident. From here I then spoke to the college and began getting fitness qualifications under my belt to give me experience.” 

Now Alex is qualified in metafit, advanced boxing, kettlebells, exercise to music and is a qualified Level 2 gym instructor. 

“As soon as I had my Level 2, I went for the Level 3 PT. I had started taking my friends to the gym to train and they were feeling fantastic. It was then that I realised I wanted to build my future and my business helping other people get fitter, improve their lifestyle, and live a longer life” 

Unlike Johnny, Alex hasn’t always been so dedicated to his fitness, with his weight fluctuating greatly throughout his teenage years: 

“It wasn't until I was about 14 that I started taking fitness seriously, mainly because I was getting more heavily involved in football teams. I was quite overweight as a young teenager but didn't think anything of it. Once I got into football, the weight started dropping off me. 

“Over a few years, this was all I was doing for training. I started losing too much weight so I knew I had to put a bit of weight on - by doing weight and strength training. This is when I hit the gym and seen differences very quickly. It was only then I started taking it really seriously – so when I was around 17 or 18 years old.” 

He definitely thinks that celebrity culture has an effect on the amount of people taking up personal training and knows that there are varied reasons for this. Sometimes it’s to help following a health scare, and sometimes it’s a desire to ‘keep up with the joneses’ and better your friends: 

“I think there's been an increase recently because of all the celebrities having a specific body shape. For females, particularly younger females, they see people like Charlotte Crosby who is on a reality TV show - losing all this weight and toning up with a PT - that they feel they need to 'fit in with society' and do the same thing. 

“For guys, I personally think there are two reasons. Overweight or middle aged guys want to tone up, sometimes due to a health scare once they reach a certain age, but often they just want to improve themselves a bit to take specific strains off the body. 

“As well as this, young male adults - usually between the ages of around 18-26, see it as a way to become an 'Alpha Male' and be the leader of their friends. They want to have bigger muscles than each other, and want to look like the male celebrities who train to look a certain way for camera purposes. 

“For middle aged female between 30-55/60, I believe they just want to get fitter, to exercise more to keep the body going, and generally consider it a hobby and something to relieve stress of work or kids. 

As a PT, Alex is glad of the current trend for trainers and celebrities who can promote a healthy way of life: 

“I think the fact celebrities all have these PTs nowadays, people, particularly younger women see it as a trend. And for me, it's a great trend they’re setting. With so many ridiculous crash diets out there at the moment - which do nothing but harm the body - it is encouraging to see these people learn the correct way to get their ideal body shape. 

"I myself try and promote a lot of weight and strength training, as well as high intensity training for fat loss, so to see so many people finally listening to what I believe is the most effective and healthiest way to do it, is fantastic! I believe that people such as Millie Mackintosh are excellent role models. They encourage people to train properly and eat correctly/healthily, instead of doing ridiculous training which does nothing for you, putting stuff in your body which isn't natural and nobody knows exactly what is in it. 

A common name cropping up between Johnny and Alex is Millie Mackintosh, she’s been widely hailed across the internet for turning herself from a reality TV star who was ‘skinnyfat’, due to having a body fat percentage higher than desired, into a super healthy role model. Millie who released her lifestyle book ‘Made’ in 2015, aimed to show women that it’s not the most difficult thing in the world to turn your life around and improve yourself, but also to prove that women don’t need to fear the gym weights. 

So while the option to train at home with an online trainer may be a new and appealing one, the demand for personal trainers isn’t one likely to go away any time soon.

 

John McGinn, Determined To Win

FOR too many kids playing sports at a local level, getting to play for their national team is something thought of as impossible.However, for one Clydebank player, his dreams are becoming a reality.

Growing up in a large family, John has been encouraged to play football since he was a child. With his family having a strong focus on sports he has two brothers playing for big teams and a twin sister who has played netball for Glasgow.

With a huge Bankie following, including current members of his old school, St Peter The Apostle High School, John explains how playing for the school team has helped him move forward:

“There's massive pressure, but it's a different kind of pressure. When you play for the school, it's mainly about enjoying yourself and having the chance to play with your friends. At club level it is all about winning so it's tough to enjoy it all of the time. However, playing for the school was a great release and it let me continue to enjoy football.”

Not only has John been selected for the national team, he was awarded man of the match in his first game playing against Denmark:

“It was an amazing feeling to get picked for the squad let alone start the match. When the man of the match was announced I was really shocked, but proud of myself at the same time.

“Winning man of the match was a total surprise as I was playing alongside so many top players, but I knew myself that I had played well. I didn't think that it was that well though!

“I remember when the game was coming to an end and the winners name was announced over the tannoy and all this applause followed. I struggled to concentrate for the last few minutes but I managed to dig in.”

John does think that playing sports in schools is important to building the players of the future:

“I visited my old primary school, St Stephens. It was nice to get back and see a few of my old teachers and to see that they continue to play sport when possible. Hopefully the pupils took something from my visit and maybe it will inspire them to go and represent their country in the sport of their choice.”

John’s victory over the other players comes almost a year after he was forced out of the game following an accident in training where he was speared in the leg by teammate Steven Thompson. While he made a swift recovery, it's no secret that he may not have been so lucky. Luckily, sticking in at school means that John isn’t totally unprepared in case his football career doesn't go the way he dreams.

Having your qualifications and a good education behind you is what John recommends to any young player aiming to follow their dreams the way he has.

“Keep working hard and keep enjoying playing sport. If the enjoyment drifts then there is no point. Also, I would encourage pupils to stick in at school as I've played with a lot of people who just don't quite make the grade and they hit the big bad world with nothing to fall back on."

Someone who can vouch for John’s dedication is 21-year-old Ryan Messenger. Ryan has been at school with John since primary school and admitted that it was strange to see him sporting the Scotland top on the pitch:

“It was weird seeing him play in a Scotland strip, but once it had been announced that he was getting a call up for the first team, everyone knew he was in with a shout of winning it. Watching the game he was noticeably one of the better players on the pitch but it's still kind of a novelty seeing one of your pals from school playing for your country as well as seeing him in interviews receiving the man of the match.”

Ryan has played in school teams for St Stephens primary school and St Peter the Apostle as well as for the Antonine alongside John but reckons that he’s been the clear star from a young age:

“Even at school he was the obvious choice. Outside of school I played in the same team as him while we were really young, and even then he was one of the best. When we got older everyone was still playing with the same teams but he got scouted for pro youth with various teams then went amateur and he just got better and better, so I'm not surprised that he's where he is.”

Mark Ferrier, a high school Geography teacher, coached John in the school team from his first year in St Columbas until he left in his sixth year of high school, which was by that time St Peters.

“The first time I saw John play was in his 2nd year of high school at St Columbas. He was playing left back at that time for St Mirren but he had centre midfield written all over him. Johns passing even from the age of 13 was sublime, he never gives the ball away. He could see things on the park that we on the touchline couldn't.

“John plays like an old pro, he has a mature head on those young shoulders. Playing for St Peter the Apostle High for the last time it came as no surprise that John scored one of the best goals I have seen in schools football.

“John is now a role model for all those young kids that aspire to be a professional footballer. He is the kind of role model that you want. John always kept his feet on the ground and he never let success or fame get to his head. He is a really nice down to earth guy and regularly comes back to his old school, and other local schools to talk to the kids.

“Our pupils at St Peter the Apostle High see all the trophies John won playing for the school and I think this helps spur them on.

Ryan considers his school-mate’s success to be encouraging to younger kids, not necessarily to show that they can be footballers, but also to prove that they can be as successful in anything they want to be:

“It will already be encouraging for them because they go to the same school as a professional footballer did, but especially locally it will show people that getting out of the area and chasing their dreams isn't impossible. It might even encourage parents to get their kids involved more. Because of the following he has and the support in the area it will definitely make an impact.”

Mark’s advice to students who want to go on to plays for the big teams is to play as much as you can, and to always have a plan B:

“The advice I would give is definitely work hard at improving your football skills but also have a backup plan and do well in school. Play as much football as you can - John missed 2 school games in 5 years and he did well in all his exams. John always listened to instructions and was the first to admit if he played below his 'usual standards'. Football is not just about skill and ability in order to become a professional you need to have the right attitude which John certainly has.”

Meanwhile John’s happy to stay at Hibs for the rest of his contract and said he's “determined to get Hibs back on top”.

 

Here Comes The Sun(shine Social)

Sunshine Social are gearing up for what’s set to be their biggest summer yet.

The six-piece based in Glasgow are slowly but steadily making their way from obscurity into the current music scene. 

With their debut album set for release in June, the band are getting set for their launch party in Oran Mor. 

Lead singer Calum MacDonald announced their involvement with the Summer Night’s Festival at the newly revamped Kelvingrove Bandstand:

 

“We’ve spent many nights down there after nights out when it was ruined and shit, someone just needed a little imagination!”

 

They’re supporting Silences at King Tuts tonight and say they’re excited to be playing some new material:

“Some of our songs we’ve been playing for a long time. Like, a long, long time. And since we have this album launch we need to play it right through anyway, so that’s the most nerve wracking part about tonight, I mean we practiced these so many times today.”

Sunshine Social are headlining the bandstand alongside Hector Bizerk, Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5, Mickey 9s, Be Charlotte, Pronto Mama & Claramassa on August 12.

Family Fundraising Success

A HARDGATE woman has raised an amazing £3065 by organising a charity dance for Pancreatic Cancer Scotland. 

Karen Morrison organised the event in St Stephen’s Church Hall in Dalmuir on October 10, with entertainment from the popular Mick Tausney band. 

Karen, whose mum Patricia was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last June, was determined to raise funds for the lesser known charity; The 47-year-old said: “I noticed that there’s less information available on pancreatic cancer, it doesn’t get as much publicity and there are a lot of people who’ve never heard of it. 

“I was totally overwhelmed by the response to the event and the number of local businesses who supported this great cause. 

“We’re looking forward to doing it all again next year.” The success of Karen’s event comes after her dad, Andy Mooney, held an art sale in the Radnor Park Congregational church hall in September, also raising more than £3000 along with other local artists. 

Andy, 72, from Old Kilpatrick, said: “It was great to see so many people in our community coming out to support us in our attempt to raise money and public awareness for the charity.” Norman Wilson, of Pancreatic Cancer Scotland, attended the fundraising dance and thanked Karen for arranging the event. 

The charity also placed a thank you notice on its Facebook page thanking all individuals and businesses who supported the fundraiser.

Fundraising Mum Zips By

A HARDGATE mum has zip lined across the Clyde in aid of Pancreatic cancer.

Karen Morrison, along with another three volunteers from Pancreatic Cancer Scotland took on the challenge which saw them zipping from a 150ft crane in Finneston, in the event coordinated my Cancer Support Scotland.

Karen who has raised more than £800 so far between her justgiving page and sponsors from friends and family said she was so pleased that so many people had helped to raise as much as they had:

"I'm absolutely delighted with the number of people who took the time to pass on messages of encouragement and knowing it was for a cause that affects so many people made it so worthwhile.

"The event was organised by cancer support Scotland who are working closely with Pancreatic Cancer Scotland which is close to my heart, so it made sense to share the monies raised between the two charities."

Norman Wilson, a charity coordinator for Pancreatic Cancer Scotland described the day as brilliant and said he'd had a 'massive laugh'.

Joint Funding Venture for Pancreatic Cancer

IN a new venture part funded by the Scottish Government, two charities have joined forces to raise awareness of Pancreatic Cancer.

At a reception held in the Scottish Parliament on November 17, the focus was very much on how research is the key to beating cancer, while both Pancreatic Cancer UK and Pancreatic Cancer Scotland spoke of their attempts to raise the profile of the cancer and inform of how they were tackling the disease through their awareness month.

Awareness months allows charities to engage with patients and carers, MPs and policy-makers, as well as researchers, journalists and healthcare professionals, and helps them to achieve their aim of increasing awareness of pancreatic cancer.

One of the ways the community is encouraged to get involved with the pancreatic cancer awareness month is through the campaign, Purple Lights for Hope. As part of the campaign, many towns, villages, community groups and schools light up their local buildings in purple on 1st November to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer. Both Edinburgh Castle and the Clydebank Titan Crane were highly visible participants this year.

In a speech by MSP Clare Adamson, she spoke of the cancer’s importance as the 10th most prevalent of the 21 most common forms, but with the lowest survival rate. Across the entire UK, just 1.4% of cancer research funding is dedicated towards Pancreatic Cancer – the cause of death for both Patrick Swayze and Steve Jobs.

In a never-before seen fusion of the charities at the event, it has seen them agreeing two rounds of a match funding agreement with the Scottish government, the only part of the UK where this research is being part-funded. However, on their own Pancreatic Cancer Scotland has raised £75,000 for research this year.

Mr Nigel Jamieson, a researcher from the University of Glasgow describes it as being ‘hard’ having a room full of researchers and their ‘pet’ theories:

“My group are looking at personalising chemotherapy. Instead of everyone receiving the same treatment, we’re trying to target treatments for the specific type of cancer. And we’re trying to treat with chemo before we look at operating.”

He thinks that doctors desperately need the tools that will allow them to identify which patients are going to benefit more from each type of treatment.

Also speaking at the event was Professor Clem Imrie, who attended alongside a patient who has suffered from the cancer for ten years – an anomaly among the average four-year life expectancy.

Clem opened his speech on a high:

“It’s an encouraging day, to see this link between three projects working together.”

For the first time the two charities are working together in a dual effort to make progress in beating Pancreatic Cancer.

“Awareness is too low, among the public and the medical professionals.

“It’s a huge challenge to battle this, as progress is not greatly different from what it was 30 years ago.”

In a change of pace, Kim Rowan, a supporter of Pancreatic Cancer Scotland gave an emotional speech drawing on her experiences following her grandmother’s death from the disease:

“I want to express how grateful we are to be here today, but we need more work, more action, more research, more support. I grow in hope that we will see change.”

Kim’s grandmother suffered at the hand of ill-advised medical staff and witnessed the low standard of care available to pancreatic cancer patients.

The fourth speaker at the awareness event was Alex Ford, CEO of Pancreatic Cancer UK. Following her diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer at 33, she changed her focus from fundraising and marketing in higher education and has been working in the cancer field for fifteen years:

“I’m absolutely delighted to be working in partnership to tackle this cancer.

“Raising awareness of the disease is vitally important because we know that across the UK, people simply don’t know enough about pancreatic cancer, despite the fact that one person dies from the disease every hour.”

The charity partnership is aiming to identify possible cases of the cancer earlier than they are now, with 45% of all cases found in 2013 being found in emergency situations such as Accident and Emergency wards.

Actions are being taken to issue further training to GP’s to allow for earlier referrals and tests, and to increase general awareness as a recent survey conducted by Pancreatic Cancer UK found that 71% of people could not identify a single symptom.

Alex also discussed her unhappiness at the removal of Abraxane – the only pancreatic cancer drug – in England:

“Abraxane, combined with standard chemotherapy, is a treatment used for advanced pancreatic cancer which can allow eligible patients to live an extra two months on average, and sometimes far longer.

“We are outraged at the decision not to approve Abraxane for routine use on the NHS in England, and the removal of the treatment from the Cancer Drugs Fund, because this will deny hundreds of eligible patients with advanced pancreatic cancer in England the chance to live for twice as long as they would have without the treatment.

“This decision has been made despite the fact the drug is available for routine use on the NHS in Scotland and Wales.

“We are obviously glad that a change in the drug appraisal system in Scotland has meant Abraxane will remain available to patients on the NHS in Scotland.”

To conclude the speeches, Alex acknowledged that:

“we need a radical improvement in survival rates and patient care, we need more research.”

“After 40 years the survival rates have increased by 1% - it’s a slight raise. We look forward to ever increasing these 1 and 2%’s. I hope that when we come back, there will be progress to report.”

Monopoly Champion of Glasgow!

WHEN children talk about coming first place at a competition for their their hobby, it's typically horse riding or dancing shows, for Elliot Donaghy, it's the Junior British Monopoly League.

For a 13-year-old, it's an odd hobby to have, but Elliot has always adored the game.

“My mum heard on the radio that there was a Monopoly championship at Braehead, so we went over and I played against other people on the Monopoly Bus, and I came first.”

From this, Elliot was put forward to play in the Junior British League which took place inside London’s shard.

“That was really exciting, it was up so high – but it was exciting just getting to play there. I was playing whenever I could to keep practising.”

Competing against another 17 people for the top prize of a trip to Macau, China - Elliot came a not-too-shabby fourth.

The top prize following the final was $20,580 USD – the same value as the money included in the game.

An avid hip-hop dancer, he finds it harder to cultivate playing the game the way he learned to dance, as it's harder to find people to play with.

When asked whether his little sister Grace plays with him I’m met with a shriek of laughter from her, Grace actively avoids playing, although Elliot claims this is just because she’s rubbish at it!

His mum Maureen feels much the same way as Grace, however Elliot's dad Brian doesn’t mind it so much:

“We’ll sometimes sit down and have a game, it can be quite fun.”

Brian thinks that encouraging Elliot to play monopoly is important as it takes more than luck to get really good at it, his mum agrees:

“You need to really learn your property values and the best locations for them, Elliot’s actually really good at this.”

Statistically engineers, lawyers and banking hold the best skills for winning in Monopoly, so maybe this will give Elliot something to look forward to.

#WhenIWas

TW: This article contains experiences of sexual assault and explicit language

WHEN the hashtag #WhenIWas began trending on twitter this week, women from all walks of life got involved with publicising their own experiences of sexual harassment.

What began as an attempt to make more people aware of what is often coined as ‘everyday sexism’ exploded as females worldwide admitted the treatment they have been subjected to from as young as four in some cases.

‘#WhenIWas 13 my male math teacher told me I didn’t need to learn geometry because I already had such good curves.’ @ohmytasha

‘#WhenIWas 11 this boy groped and wouldn’t stop touching me, I told my teachers and their response was ‘boys will be boys’.’ @PettyAmazigh

While hundreds of women were exposing upsetting instances in their lives, they were responded to by online trolls who were determined to shut down the show of female positivity and strength.

A Twitter user who goes by the name @NanditaB_ tweeted to highlight the negative opinions that others were having and found herself cut down by a troll – crudely named ‘@DarkShitpost’ - who has prominently jumped onto the hashtag:

‘If you think #WhenIWas tag is unneccesary and too uncomfortable, you are part of the problem that has led to this situation today’ @NanditaB_

“@NanditaB_ yeah either that or were (sic) sick of all the lies, it’s not like it’s going to change anything anyways” @DarkShitpost

Not content with emotionally abusing one user, he also took to the site to promote the idea that abuse from men was ‘complimentary’:

‘#WhenIWas 15 a classmate said I should be flattered that he wanted to rape me @EverydaySexism’ @MonseMeetsWorld

“@MonseMeetsWorld @EverydaySexism you should, it’s just a misguided compliment learn to understand’ @Darkshitpost

Similarly when the user @ChristyxCaverly stood up and told the world of her friends assault, her story was branded ‘bullshit’ by a user who claims to ‘stand for individual empowerment’:

‘#WhenIWas 15 my friend was assaulted by her boyfriends friend. When she reported it, the first thing asked was ‘what were you wearing?’ ‘ @christyxcaverly

“@christyxcaverly bullshit. Police officers would not ask that as a question. Unless she didn't report to the police.” @Jc2theW

One teenager, Alana, who has received a particularly abusive string of messages from trolls – including @Jc2theW mentioned above - was only 17-years-old when she claims she wasn’t considered attractive enough to have been sexually assaulted:

‘#WhenIWas 17 I was told in court that theres no way I was raped as I wasn’t deemed attractive enough by my rapist. Tell me we don’t need feminism.’ @_xalana

“We don't need Feminism. Because of bullshit lies like this.” @Jc2theW

One user doubted the validity of her claim and requested proof in the form of court references so could check it himself. One particularly upsetting message was sent by an obvious troll account where the user admitted he ‘gets shut down daily’, however the content of the messages Alana has received have been on the high end of abusive:

“F**k off you absolute mad attention whore, you’re the f**king reason why people don’t take feminism or rape seriously” @IsmellbigFARTS

Alana is heavily involved with the Scottish Youth Parliament and feels very strongly about Feminism, she doesn’t believe that other women can honestly believe that equality isn’t the way forward in the 21st century:

“I believe there is still a stigma attached to feminism that we are all men hating lesbians. This is a completely backward view and really, truly makes the movement of feminism suffer. I feel that a small group of people within the movement aren't real representations of what we are all about and do fit the stereotype, but for the most part all we simply want is equality, for men as well as women, a point that I think is sometimes forgotten."

An interesting – yet disturbing in the modern day – aspect, is that among the online trolls are females who are tweeting from genuine accounts yet shoot down the basic idea of feminism.

“@_x alana get cancer.” @CucumberFrost

“This fake ass plea for attention is offensive to actual rape victims and people with IQ’s over 70” @Elisabethlehem

The user @Elisabethlehem claims on her profile that ‘she doesn’t have daddy issues, so couldn’t ever be a feminist’.

Alana muses that many of these women may have come from a different background and so draw on different upbringings:

“Everyone has different life experiences and you have to respect that, however it does make me extremely ashamed. Some women may be under the false impression that they've reached equality in their life. That's fine. But attacking a movement that isn't going to rest until we get equality for men and women is a waste of time.

"Also, I believe some women feel like if they state that they're a feminist it makes them seem weak and moany. “I don't believe any woman wants to be earning less than that of a man, supports rape culture and believes in the idea that parts of a child's genitals should be cut off. I simply don't believe it's possible for any woman to go against her own cause for her own benefit.

"I believe it's all a show to get a reaction and to seem like they aren't complaining.”

At a basic level, the level of distain many women still have for the term ‘feminist’ is causing problems for women when they’re trying to raise awareness for the epidemic of sexual harassment which is never ending. Alana thinks that the use of online resources such as a Twitter campaign powered by hashtags are a helpful and encouraging way to encourage people to come forward about their experiences:

“Sexual assault and sexual violence is never easy to talk about and victim blaming, which is still very real in our society, makes it all that much harder for everyone affected. However, hashtags like #wheniwas allow women who may not be strong minded to realise that they are not alone, that other people suffer injustices at the hands of sexism.

"I think these are so beneficial and necessary if we want to make sexual violence less of a taboo subject. It happens to 1 in 4 women, I believe it's time we spoke about it and if a hashtag is the way to do it, I'm cool with that."

When she was just 17, she stood in court and watched the man who raped walk free, she wishes there had been a better support network for her to rely on and support her through her experiences:

“It's always disappointing and extremely upsetting how many people a victim can be let down by, especially the authorities. I was still a child by the definition of the law, so I expected a little bit more sensitivity around my case.

"There was no support offered by the police or court. I ended up taking it upon myself to see a doctor, after which they took no action and I was told to speak to Rape Crisis Scotland.

“There aren't many support networks for people affected by sexual violence, mainly because it's a taboo subject and people are often unaware of how common it is. I'm lucky to have a strong support network at home, however not everyone is that lucky. I don't know what the solution is, but sensitivity would be a good place to start, as well as actually offering help and advice to victims through means of a therapist.”

While she’s still devastated by the treatment of the people who are there to protect her, she is determined for her story to help other girls in her position and attributes her high emotions to her coming forward:

“I was angry. It hasn't been long since he was found Not Proven in court and the scars are still healing. It hurts to see people being imprisoned for small crimes when my rapist gets to walk free. Nothing can prepare any victim for that, absolutely nothing.

"As a young person involved in politics I feel it's important to be open, honest and raise awareness about issues people don't even think about. People don't wake up in the morning and think about rape statistics or victims unless they've been affected, it's my job to raise awareness about these kind of things."

With the recommendation that corroboration in sexual assault cases should not be necessary, a spokesperson for Rape Crisis Scotland explained that a change in attitudes is still needed to progress in society:

“While the need for corroboration has presented one barrier to many cases getting to court, public attitudes present a further obstacle to women seeking justice for rape. For as long as some jurors continue to hold attitudes that blame the behaviour, dress, demeanour or reputation of women for rape, they will continue to be denied justice.”

Alana’s one regret over the situation is that she was made to feel ashamed of what had happened to her, this, she claims is her inspiration for coming forward – to avoid anyone else having to feel the way she did:

“I wish, if anything, I wasn't ashamed. I didn't tell anyone until over a month after it happened due to fear and the embarrassment. I wish I knew that most people are understanding to your struggle, it might have made it easier for me and I may have reported my suffering quicker. But most of all, I wish I knew at the time that it wasn't my fault.

“I reported my rape because I didn't want it to happen to anyone else, ever. I couldn't wish it upon anyone. I urge young girls to think seriously about that point - because it is our responsibility to save other victims if we have the chance. It may not be easy, and it won't get easier if it makes it to court but it will be worth it.

"To finally open up about what happened to you is petrifying and embarrassing, but it's to strangers who want to be on your side.

“I also advise young people to try and get support wherever they can - Rape Crisis Scotland have a free and confidential hotline or alternatively an email address. They aren't alone in their battle and at the worst of times it will feel like they are alone and that no one understands, far too many women - and men- feel like that and that's the reason report rates are so shockingly low.

“There is always a chance that your rapist will walk free, but there's a 100% chance they will walk free if you don't report it. I urge everyone to report quickly and get help. Also, it's okay to cry a lot.”

From catcalling to rape, it’s clear that the authority figures in these girl’s lives have failed them by refusing to acknowledge that the age-old idea of ‘if a boy hits you, it’s because he likes you’ is long gone, because raising our boys to this this is appropriate signifies greater problems.

As Alana suggests, Rape Crisis Scotland can be contacted between 6pm and midnight seven days a week on 08088 01 03 02 or by email at support@rapecrisiscotland.org.uk

 

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