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Image: Scottish CND 60 Years On, 1958 - 2018

21/09/2018

Arthur West is chair of Scottish CND and secretary of Ayrshire CND. Here he reflects on the need to push for peace.


This year is the 60th anniversary of CND. The organisation was founded in London on 17th February 1958 and Scottish CND came into existence following a meeting in the Simpson Institute Edinburgh on March 22nd 1958.


During this very important anniversary year, Scottish CND is organising an international march and rally from Faslane peace camp to the main gate at Faslane naval base in September.


We also have a road show that will visit towns and cities across Scotland during the course of this year carrying a message that it is time to rid our country and our world of the scourge of nuclear weapons.


I am very proud to be the current chair of Scottish CND during this anniversary year. I have been a member of Scottish CND for over 20 years and I have been active in my local Ayrshire CND branch for since the early 1990s.


One of my main reasons for remaining  active in Scottish CND and the wider peace movement is  because of the destruction and devastation which would be caused if nuclear weapons were ever used by any of the countries which have them in their possession.


Modern day nuclear weapons are many times more powerful than the bombs dropped by the US Air Force on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the Second World War.


According to medical and scientific research provided to Scottish CND, the impact of any use of nuclear weapons in our world today would kill millions of people. The radioactive fallout would render parts of the planet uninhabitable and would cause cancer and birth deformities. If anyone needs convincing of the destructive power of modern nuclear weapons, they should visit https://outrider.org/nuclear-weapons/interactive/bomb-blast/ .


I am a former trade union convener in local government, which is why I am also opposed to nuclear weapons on economic and social grounds. The annual running costs for Britain's current Trident nuclear weapons system is around £2 billion, which could be better spent on decent things such as health, education and housing.


As I reflect after twenty years of membership, some positive and negative points come to mind.


On the negative side, US President Donald Trump seems intent on modernising his country's stockpile of nuclear weapons, and the UK Government is pressing ahead to renew Britain's Trident system at the cost of billions of pounds.


On the positive side, 122 countries voted for a global ban on nuclear weapons in July 2017, and the majority of Scotland's politicians are opposed to Trident replacement, taking a position against nuclear weapons.


Scottish CND is the largest peace movement organisation in Scotland and our membership had increased significantly since the 2014 referendum. Even so, I would ask all people who are sympathetic to our aims to consider joining Scottish CND.


Given the worrying situation in our world at the present time, it seems that CND is needed now more than ever.
 



Image: Missio - The Pope's Charity

14/09/2018

In our latest blog, Gerard Gough reflects on his work with Missio Scotland - feeding the mind, the body and the soul.


MISSIO Scotland is an organisation that I’m extremely proud to represent as communications officer. In that role, I’m privy to all the good work that the Pontifical Mission Societies around the world are engaged in – and that makes me very aware that all the good work the Catholic Church does worldwide often goes unnoticed. So let’s look at some amazing statistics.
 
Throughout the world, the Catholic Church runs 73,263 nursery schools with 6,963,669 pupils; 96,822 primary schools with 32,254,204 pupils; 45,699 secondary schools with 19,407,417 pupils. The Church also cares for 2,309,797 high school pupils, and 2,727,940 university students.
 
Catholic charity and healthcare centres run around the world by the Church include: 5034 hospitals; 16,627 dispensaries; 611 care homes for people with leprosy; 15,518 homes for the elderly, or the chronically ill or people with a disability; 9770 orphanages; 12,082 crèches; 14,391 marriage counselling centres; 3896 social rehabilitation centres and 38,256 other institutions.
 
The Pontifical Missionary Societies, through the work of its missionaries worldwide, often have a direct link to providing education and care - so by supporting Missio Scotland, you play your part in the Universal Church, living out your own personal call to be a missionary (an integral part of our faith) and directly helping the Church to give life and hope to people all over the world.
 
Missio Scotland is the Scottish branch of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS), the official mission charity of the Church. It is the Pope’s own charity, run by Scotland’s Bishops and it continues the mission of Jesus Christ in the world by reaching out, giving life and calling all people in the world to faith, justice and love. We operate in 180 countries to support initiatives in more than 1100 dioceses on five continents, with a special concern for Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the poorest parts of Latin America and Europe. As an organisation we are active, not re-active, and our services are called upon 365 days a year.
 
Our work is varied and includes: tending to the poor and disadvantaged peoples of the world; providing shelter and improving living conditions; building hospitals and clinics and providing access to treatment; and building schools and providing access to education.
 
However one of the things that makes us stand out as a charity is the fact that we not only provide for people’s physical requirements, we also cater to their spiritual needs too. We do this by supporting seminarians, religious and catechists in the missionary dioceses throughout the world, both spiritually and financially. That is particularly important as, in the past, Scotland has sent many priests to missionary dioceses worldwide to bolster the Church there, but now we find ourselves in a situation where we may need the assistance of missionary priests to strengthen the Church here in future. We also assist in building churches and providing Bibles, rosaries and other religious materials to enrich the spiritual lives of people worldwide.
 
Each of these many strands is as important as the other. Supporting Missio Scotland (www.missioscotland.com) means we can continue to be a source of love, hope and joy for our brothers and sisters in faith for many more years to come.
 
 


Image: A Warm Welcome and English Classes (ESOL) at St Aloysius in Glasgow

07/09/2018

Anne Macdonald, a retired teacher, learns that there is more than meets the eye to offering refugees and asylum seekers language skills. 


I first learned of the St Aloysius Church’s outreach to refugees and asylum seekers from a parish bulletin. There was an appeal for more volunteers to assist with the English classes for refugees and asylum seekers which had begun in March 2016. I felt I would like to do something and so it was that one morning, I found myself visiting the Ogilvie Centre, just to find out more.


I did not know what to expect but when I went into the hall I found several groups enthusiastically engaged in ‘learning English’. There was then, and continues to be now, great energy, lots of laughter and a cheerfulness that never ceases to amaze me.


I knew immediately that I wanted to be involved, and the following week began what has been for me a very rewarding and engaging experience of trying to accompany, in a practical way, people who find themselves in a new country facing all that comes with being a refugee or asylum seeker – and I have become much more aware of what these challenges are.


A number of our students have had no formal education prior to coming to our ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes. Others have very little or even absolutely no English and there are yet others who are highly educated, may already speak English but need to practise the spoken word. At first, the Ogilvie Centre may be the only place where our students have the chance to really hear and then begin to speak English. We hope that what happens in the classes helps to make their new lives a bit easier.


And for the teachers, it’s interesting to learn first hand something of the many countries, customs and cultures from which our students have come. I have learned a few words of Tigrinya and Arabic. My attempts to say such words are always appreciated and any laughter is always kind! 


One of the lovely things that happens is that some students who have moved on to college still like to visit us occasionally. This is also very encouraging for new students to see. I think my fellow volunteers would all say that the most important thing we can do is to try to ensure that we extend a warm welcome. We want everyone to feel that here is a place where they are truly welcomed, can enjoy a tea or coffee and a chat with others in their own language, and begin to get to grips with a new language and unravel the mysteries of life in Glasgow. 


Some students, particularly the young, are very keen to acquire, and to try out, a bit of Glaswegian.  Occasionally advice is sometimes required as to why “How’s it goin’, big man?” is perhaps not the best greeting in a formal situation!


Teaching English is the main but not the only way our team of volunteers try to help. The welcome is the foundation on which all we try to do is built.




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