Today is International Day of the Girl Child and this year’s theme is: EmPOWER Girls: Before, during and after crises.
“Every 10 minutes, somewhere in the world, an adolescent girl dies as a result of violence. In humanitarian emergencies, gender-based violence often increases, subjecting girls to sexual and physical violence, child marriage, exploitation and trafficking. Adolescent girls in conflict zones are 90 per cent more likely to be out of school when compared to girls in conflict-free countries, compromising their future prospects for work and financial independence as adults.” 1
These horrifying statistics paint a bleak picture for women and girls around the world. There are international efforts to fight for the rights of women and girls and improve their situation. Here at Haemophilia Scotland, we have a women’s group that meets regularly. It is an empowering forum for women to get together and discuss the issues affecting them and offers a space for women to support each other.
The Women’s Group recently launched a Quilt Project, which is a collaborative, worldwide effort where women with a bleeding disorder, or people who know women with a bleeding disorder, are invited to sew a panel which represents how bleeding disorders have affected their lives. Collectively, these panels will make up a special and uniquely-designed quilt that will be something tangible that represents how the Women with Bleeding Disorders community feels. You can register to take part in the quilt project here.
We will continue to make every effort to support and empower the women in our community.
Today is World Mental Health Day and this year’s theme is workplace wellbeing.
Mental health problems can affect anyone, at any time of the year. Rich, poor; young, old; black, white; short, tall, it does not discriminate, even within our bleeding disorders community. We recognise our community has been affected enormously from the contaminated blood product infections and there have been ongoing consequences on our physical and mental health.
Having a bleeding disorder yourself, or in your family, can have an impact on your mental health. We are working to strengthen the bleeding disorders community in Scotland so people have the opportunity to meet more people who understand what they are going through. Regularly touching base with friends or family to let them know how you are feeling can make a big difference.
We organise a busy events schedule for our community to bring everyone together. These events provide an opportunity to support your peers and they act as a forum to celebrate and discuss the things that are going well for us and to process and work through the not-so-great things. These events are important because we are a close-knit community that supports each other.
In the workplace, there can be fears around discrimination, anxiety about not being able to fulfil the duties of the role, or even concerns of how your colleagues may perceive you. These anxieties can be stressful and that’s why it is important to take time out of your day for a mental health break. We are working on a resource for you to assist you with knowing your rights in the workplace.
In our office today, we are taking a mental health break and are enjoying some delicious cake and tea. Why not take time out of your day for a mental health break, too? Go on, grab yourself a bit of cake!
A psychological support service pilot in Edinburgh is being rolled out to see how a national service could be provided. This means that everyone can access the service. We’ve had excellent feedback from people of all ages who have worked with Grainne and Nadine. Talk to your Haemophilia Centre if you’d like to know more or be referred for a session.
Thank you to everyone who made the trip to come to our Deep Sea World Shark Party on Sunday. We know several families travelled for hours for the chance to talk to other families with bleeding disorders… and come face to face with the sharks!
In fact we had well over 100 people on the day and the party room was always busy with people refuelling between reptile handling and the shark tunnel. Next time it looks like we are going to need a bigger boat! A great problem to have for a rare conditions charity!
We are extremely grateful to all the staff at Deep Sea World who kept us well organised (we even had our own announcements) and gave some extremely informative talks. I know a lot of people really enjoyed their encounter with a corn snake or a bearded dragon. The staff were very impressed with how brave everyone was too.
If you’d like your photos from the day included in the slideshow above then please send them into email@example.com
On 8 April 2017 we held our first every joint meeting with the Scottish Infected Blood Forum (SIBF). The SIBF campaigns on the contaminated blood and blood products disaster, regardless of the route of transmission, in Scotland. We wanted to come together to update members of both organisations on the current situation and give everyone a chance to have their say.
Tommy Leggate from the SIBF provided information about the new Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme (SIBSS) and some of the work that the SIBF and Haemophilia Scotland have done together in response.
Leone Bissett spoke about the proposal for a memorial to those who had passed on as a consequence of the disaster. She urged everyone to support the Contaminated Blood Memorial Fund. The memorial will be a lasting tribute to those who died as a consequence of the disaster. The location needs to be accessible preferably in Edinburgh and durable enough to be withstand any possible weathering or other damage. It needs to be physically accessible to all ages and physical capabilities and will include words to explain what happened. Individual names need not appear but there may be ways of including individual messages. The style needs to be clear that it denotes a disaster but is also +ve and forward looking. A budget of £45,000 might be needed and so far £8,500 had been raised. It was agreed that the project had full support of those attending and agreed that the small steering group who had driven the project to date should continue to lead it.
There was then a discussion about what still needs to be done and how the new scheme could be improved. This discussion identified a number of potential issues including,
- The availability of income top-up support. Grants will be reviewed in Oct.
- The availability of lower value one-off grants from the support and assistance grant fund.
- Widow(er)s could choose a nominated doctor to help their case for gaining Stage 2.
- The term ‘Sustained Viral Response’, rather than cure, is to be applied where new the viral treatments for HCV have been ‘successful’.
- More case studies were needed to feed into the clinical review. For this, survivors access to their own or loved ones medical records might be necessary.
- Some concerns / anxieties were expressed about the application process. The first port of call should be NSS. However there was concern expressed about the telephone manner of one NSS response to a query.
- The phrase on one of the forms ‘if you really need it’ was regarded as insensitive.
- It was agreed to invite NSS to the next meeting in the autumn.
- It was noted that ‘Stage 1’ widows in particular were missing out.
- Concern was also noted about the composition of the Appeals Panel.
- All agreed that a future guarantee on the level of payments as a minimum is needed. It was agreed to write to all the political parties seeking their agreement to maintain the levels of payments set so far as a minimum.
- It was noted that Stage 0s may have particular problems in securing access to the scheme due to missing medical records.
- The issue of the widows pension payments not being made to those who have remarried.
- The cross border issues caused by the requirement that people were infected in Scotland and lived in Scotland when they first applied for support.
Although not know at the time of the meeting, the BBC were working on a Panorama programme to highlight the impact of the disaster and some of the evidence of wrong doing. The programme, Contaminated Blood: The Search for the Truth, was aired on 10 May 2017 and can be viewed below. It will be available to view for 12 months if you missed it when it went out.
There are still places left for our free cruise and AGM on Saturday 20 May.
Once everyone has arrived and registered we will have some lunch together (12 noon) before holding our AGM. At the AGM you’ll hear reports of our activities and find out how we are managing our finances. It will also be your chance to elect trustees to our board.
Once the AGM is concluded we will all be going on a cruise on the SS Walter Scott out on Loch Katrine (2:30pm).
All members of all ages are very welcome. If you need help with the costs of travel then please get in touch with Dan Farthing-Sykes.
Today, the Scottish Government has issued a press release “Support for those affected by infected blood.”
The press release says,
New scheme launches.
The new Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme is now operational and will make its first payments to beneficiaries this month.
The scheme, managed by NHS National Services Scotland (NSS), has taken over this role from the existing UK support schemes as a result of the recommendations made by the independent Scottish Financial Review Group in December 2015.
Health Secretary Shona Robison said:
“The needs of patients and their families are very much at the heart of the new Scottish payment system, which will deliver improved support for those affected by infected blood in Scotland.
“The new scheme recognises that their needs are complex and will continue to change over time. It will be more responsive to them, simplifying the approach to support which was previously delivered by several different UK organisations.
“The Scottish Government is committed to doing all we can to help the people affected by this terrible chapter in the history of our health service. We remain the only country in the UK to have held a full public inquiry and I’m proud that we can now offer the most generous package of support in the UK to those infected and their families.”
CEO of Haemophilia Scotland, Dan Farthing-Sykes said:
“The increased payments that have already been received have made a big difference to the lives of many of those affected. Many of our members have chosen to free themselves from some of the debt that had built up as a result of years of inadequate support.
“Haemophilia Scotland is committed to working closely with the Scottish Government to make the new Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme as simple and user friendly as possible.
“There is still work to do to fully implement the recommendations of the Financial Support Review Group but the launch of the new scheme today is a very significant and welcome step on that journey.”
The Financial Review Support Group Final Report, which has been fully accepted by the Scottish Government, says that the scheme should keep means testing to a minimum. How that can be achieved without endangering payments to those on the lowest incomes is going to be one of the largest challenges for the new scheme.
We are expecting to hear more details about the Clinical Review Group under Professor David Goldberg once the Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme is launched. The Clinical Review Group recommendation will be vital. They will cover what non-liver health impacts will be taken into account for those applying for the on-going advanced payments (Stage 2). They will also guide the scheme in determining which of the widow(er)s of those who died at Stage 1 will be entitled to the widow(er)s on-going payment. Once this work is complete attention will turn to the terms for those who want to exchange their entitlement for on-going support for a one of payment in final settlement.
Thank you to everyone who returned their data transfer forms about giving permission for your information to be transferred to the new Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme (SIBSS). The main transfer has now happened and the SIBSS is working towards making it’s first payments. If you missed the deadline please get in touch with Alliance House as soon as possible, as well as completing the form below.
The SIBSS have already sent some letters out to people where they needed more information to be able to make payments. Most of these are people who have been receiving income top-up payments but are not currently receiving the advanced regular payments from the scheme.
A short form has also been sent to the widow(er)s,that the SIBSS are aware of, whose partners died when receiving the Skipton 2 payment or MacFarlane Trust payments. This form invites them to apply for the new widow(er)s regular payments.
The next letter will start going out in the next few days. It will be sent to anyone else who is due to receive regular payments from April. These letters will confirm that payments will be made from April and will be made on or around the 15th of the month. This letter will go out in batches so don’t worry straight away if you hear that others receive theirs before you do.
Every letter that goes out will include a contact preferences form. This is to allow the SIBSS to understand how you would like to be contacted by them in the future. It is an optional form but it would really help the SIBSS if you return it.
If you would like to make sure that the new Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme has your details, particularly if you are a widow(er) or someone who has not received support from the UK-wide schemes, please complete the simple form below to provide the SIBSS with your contact details.
By the completing this form you give permission for the Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme to retain this information and contact you with relevant information about the scheme. Please note, the information you supply on this form will be sent directly to the SIBSS. Haemophilia Scotland will not see or keep any record of these details.