News & Articles

Some published articles and blog posts from Tommy Sheppard MP

Down the Allotment

Down the Allotment

What better way to spend a Saturday morning than down the allotments?  Craigentinny and Telforton allotments is run by committee and enables local individual, families, groups and charities to work plots of land in the community.   I spent some time with them recently, discussing their work and the latest threat from a bid to build on the site.

There have been allotments at Telferton for over 90 years, throughout that time they have been worked and managed by generations of people from the surrounding area. The committee have turned Craigentinny and Telferton allotments into a limited company and registered charity. However, they do not own the land. 

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MP Supports Craigmillar Community Fundraising

MP Supports Craigmillar Community Fundraising

Tommy Sheppard MP has called on Edinburgh businesses to help a Craigmillar-based community project reach its fundraising target.

The Craigmillar Community Grows project supports a variety of community gardens and growing projects run by local groups for local people in Craigmillar. The project uses gardening and growing activities to offer local people opportunities to improve their health and wellbeing, and develop their confidence and skills, as well as helping develop beautiful greenspaces for the whole community to enjoy.

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Local School Visits

Local School Visits

In the last few weeks I have been continuing my visits to local schools taking in Castlebrae High, Leith Academy and St Francis R.C. Primary School.

Local people will be well aware with the challenges that have faced Castlebrae and the school remains below capacity with regard to pupil numbers. However, this is a school on the up. During my visit I was impressed by the incredible passion and commitment of the Senior Leadership Team and wider staff team.  Their care for, and belief in, the pupils is outstanding and pupils respond positively to this. I also took the opportunity to express my support for a swift move forward in the building of a new secondary at the heart of the community.  

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Summer in the City

Summer in the City

So summer has come and gone, and we're all trying to figure out how on earth it can possible be October already?!  As parliament returns to full duties, I thought some people might like to hear what life is like in a parliamentary office during recess.

Ah recess, it sounds so peaceful and relaxing. like one long primary school playtime. A time for holidays and eating ice-cream in the sun. Or not. In fact, definitely not. Especially when you are a new MP and want to get to know everyone and everything in your constituency.  Of course that isn't practical in six weeks, but Tommy did have a good go. 

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Big Beach Busk

Big Beach Busk

Superb afternoon at the Big Beach Busk at Portobello on Saturday. It was the sixth year of the sandcastle and yours truly was asked to be the judge. Forget the Tories welfare bill, arguments about power for Scotland, or even fox-hunting - decisions don't come any harder than this.

The sun shone and the beach was a hive of industry as more than 40 teams started to make sculpture from the sand. Most entered the family category with sometimes over enthusiastic dads taking the lead... but some kids did it all by themselves.

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The White House Tea Dance

The White House Tea Dance

A change of pace on the tour today as I attended the White House tea dance. As well as tea and the legendary White House fruit scones, I had a bit of a dance and lots of chat with the locals. I also met Manager, Bob Giulianotti (driving the decks on this occasion!), and Head Chef, Richard Paton who outlined his emerging plans to combat food poverty in the area and help people enjoy, cook and generally reconnect with food. As we left I nipped round the back to see the crops in pots that form the basis of so much of the White House’s dishes– hugely impressed.

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Crew 2000

Crew 2000

The wealth of services and wonderful people doing great work in my constituency keeps astounding me. Today my tour took me to Crew 2000, who are a drug advice centre based in the central part of the constituency. They offer fantastic services including a drop-in centre and a welfare service, as well as doing outreach work in clubs and pubs. They offer direct help for festivals and events, and provide some addiction recovery services.

They were founded in 1992 by drug users themselves, concerned that the market was being flooded with dangerously cut drugs. They are based in the constituency of Edinburgh East, but they do work across Europe in the form of consultancy and working alongside other organisations.

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Drake Music Scotland

Drake Music Scotland

Had a great visit to Drake Music Scotland – another hidden gem in the constituency. They offer musical opportunities to people with disabilities in the local community, the city and throughout Scotland. Everyone can make music and Drake’s vision to is to enable that to happen via the tiniest adjustments to musical instruments, through to developing and using the highest tech equipment. I even got to play harp using Thumbjam on the iPad with Equilibrium who were playing their own, lovely, composition using a combination of the latest software and a real viola. Then we nipped in to listen to Ceilidh Band who were rehearsing and they spontaneously struck up Scotland the Brave which I really enjoyed! They demonstrated how Figurenotes works - a music notation system based on coloured shapes that is much easier than normal music notation.

 

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Thistle Foundation

Thistle Foundation

I visited the Thistle Foundation yesterday and met Mark Hoolihan, Diana Noel-Paton and some incredibly dedicated volunteers including Mags Hendry and Liz Deeming. They are an organisation based just off Niddrie Mains Road which supports people with disabilities and health conditions through health and wellbeing initiatives and supported living. They also work with health and social care professionals, offering training aimed at encouraging a cultural shift towards focussing on individuals needs rather than conditions or disabilities.

They are feeling very positive about the Scottish Government gaining more powers over welfare and hope that they will be able to use this change to greatly improve the work that they do.

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Supermarkets and food waste

Supermarkets and food waste

I have been asked to add my name to Diane Abbott's Early Day Motion 66, Supermarket Disposal of Edible Food. I have been delighted to do so as I believe that we can take some simple but firm steps that will both eliminate food waste and benefit charities and food banks.

In addition, the SNP Scottish Government is doing what it can with the resources and powers it has to tackle poverty and food poverty. We are investing around £296 million from 2013-14 to 2015-16 in anti-poverty measures, including our £1 million Emergency Food Action Plan which helps 26 Emergency Food Projects provide food aid and funds FareShare to redistribute food from retailers to community organisations.

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In the office...

In the office...

We arrived on day one thinking we would be getting our desks and computers sorted, at a push we thought we'd be carefully positioning out pencil holders on our own desks by the Friday. Four weeks later our desks have just arrived - and we are very grateful - but we are still waiting on our computers. We are learning the pace of the Westminster administrative machine.

We have all had to undergo extensive security checks. I have never in my life been asked on a form about where my partner lived three years ago, or the date of birth of my mum and dad. At least we know they are thorough. Once this has all been cleared we will get access to the intranet and our own email addresses, which will be a joy. Currently we are all using Tommy's parliament one which I think may be confusing for the recipients. Tommy is getting upwards of 100 emails a day which is incredible. A huge part of our day is just managing them all and making sure the important ones like those from constituents, charities and local groups get responded to.

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Send My Friend to School

Send My Friend to School

Tommy Visits Preston Street Primary School

On Friday 29th May pupils at Preston Street Primary School became teachers for a day as they hosted a special assembly designed to teach parents – and Edinburgh East MP Tommy Sheppard – about the campaign to provide primary education for all the world’s children.

The P5 pupils delivered a series of speeches and presentations in support of the Send My Friend to School 2015 campaign, which helps to raise awareness of the estimated 58 million children around the world who miss out on a primary education.

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Tommy's Blog Articles

Tommy Sheppard
13 September 2019
Tommys Blog
Media
At two minutes past ten on Wednesday morning I was sitting in court number one just behind St Giles on the Royal Mile. A minute later Lord Carloway announced the unanimous decision by the appeal court judges that the British government had acted illegally in proroguing parliament.  There was an audible intake of breath as the decision hit.I was pleased to join my colleague Joanna Cherry QC, and ot...
Tommy Sheppard
09 September 2019
Tommys Blog
My work for you in Westminster
I've had a few emails recently from people who are asking about the SNP position regarding a general election.While I recorded some video updates last week, one of the limitations of social media is that it mitigates against context and nuance, so it is not always an adequate medium to communicate one's ideas. Also, while the instant nature of social media is useful it is limited in a situation li...
Tommy Sheppard
26 August 2019
Tommys Blog
Media
And so the parliamentary summer recess draws to a close. This week Westminster opposition parties meet to plan their autumn attack. The week after, battle commences in the palace by the Thames. The parliament and the premier, each with a death wish on each other. The question: who will get the killer blow in first?What is clear is that a General Election is coming. Either the government will colla...
Tommy Sheppard
19 August 2019
Tommys Blog
Media
Dearie me, what’s going on in the People’s Party? First, shadow chancellor John McDonnell states that a Westminster Labour government wouldn’t block a request from the Scottish Parliament to hold an independence referendum. He says it twice just in case anyone thinks the first time was a mistake. And this week Jeremy Corbyn says it again to be sure.Now, in one sense, it’s an unremarkable statement...
Tommy Sheppard
18 July 2019
Tommys Blog
Media

The wait is nearly over. By next week the Tory party will have a new leader. And then they will foist him on the country at large. With most of the votes cast it seems that the clown prince is unstoppable. Barring a miracle Boris Johnson will be our next Prime Minister.

And then what?