Image: Young Activist Leading the Way on Homelessness


Jack Cairney is a pupil at St Peter the Apostle Secondary School and writes this week's blog.  Jack is another inspirational young person taking the lead in his community and determined to make tangible improvements in the lives of those less fortunate.

A year ago in school I was presented with the opportunity to volunteer in the east end of Glasgow with my peers and my teacher Mr Sangster, to help at the Bellgrove Hotel (a homeless shelter) and at a Salvation Army hostel, assisting the Sisters of the Mother Teresa missionaries to offer aid to the homeless who are taking shelter there.

I had no idea what it was going to be like. However, upon arrival, I soon realised that it was nothing like I had imagined.  I was given a bag of toiletries to hand around to the men who were staying there. This was real eyeopener for me personally, as it showed me the true extent of these people’s hardships and deprivation, and that something as simple to you and me, such as toothpaste was almost a luxury for these poor men. As much as they greatly appreciated the donations we gave them, almost all of them come down from their rooms just to have a conversation with another person. Getting the chance to speak and to know to these men is a truly humbling experience and made me appreciate everything that I have. Each man has a completely different story from the next, from people struggling with addiction to people who’ve just fallen on hard times, you name it.

My teacher organises a bi-weekly visit and ever since that first opportunity, I’ve made sure to go to the hostel each Saturday, as I believe it is the utmost important thing in life to give back to the community by helping those less fortunate.

When we visited the hostels, all the donations came from either teachers and pupils, parishioners of St Euanan’s and from the Sisters of the Mother Teresa Missionaries. Although we were taking a variety of donations with us, I couldn’t help but feel that we needed more. So I thought I’d show a little initiative and thus decided to run an appeal during the season of Advent in St Mary’s, Duntocher. 

With a little inspiration, I had the idea to have a Christmas “giving” tree at the back of the church with the decorations being Christmas labels attached with a desired item on it, where the parishioners could take one and hopefully bring said item to be collected at the church. This was just a form of symbolism for the parishioners.

In order to raise awareness for my appeal and generate some buzz, I attended each of the Masses on the first Sunday of Advent and gave a short speech explaining what the appeal was all about. The sheer level of support blew any preconceptions out of the water. On the first day the appeal was announced, we received a cash donation of £75. By the end of the two-week period, we had amassed an incomprehensible amount of donations ranging from hats, socks, gloves, scarves, jumpers, t-shirts, chocolate bars, biscuits, toiletries and a further £50 in cash.

I have to say that the parishioners of St Marys’, Duntocher, are a credit not just to the community, but to society. The generosity expressed by the parishioners will go a long way towards bettering the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves. I intend to continue running this appeal for many advent seasons to come. Thank you for taking the time to read this piece.

Image: The Give Me Five Campaign

by Emaan Basat - Caritas Sudent

Emaan Basat is a pupil at Notre Dame secondary school in Glasgow and for this week's Justice and Peace Scotland blog Emaan shares the report she wrote for her Caritas Award class evaluating her participation in the Give Me Five Campaign.

In school I have taken up a project promoting awareness of the Justice and Peace Scotland ‘Give Me Five’ Campaign which was created to alleviate child poverty.

This project was quite close to my heart as my family is not well off and we often used to struggle for simple things. My mum struggled to make ends meet which made me even more passionate about this issue. I began teaching classes with a PowerPoint I had produced and tried my hardest to keep the message sincere. The message being that through our many privileges we must try to help those who don’t have many.

We were lucky enough to have someone from Justice and Peace Scotland (Dorothy McLean) to come in and help with child poverty workshops that I organised for the whole of first year, with help from the Caritas class to implement them. The workshops not only raised awareness but made me realise that you do not need to move mountains to prove your love for a cause, you just need to work hard to awaken that love in others, which is precisely what Caritas made me do. I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to promote a social issue so close to my heart with Justice and Peace Scotland and this journey will forever be memorable to me throughout my life.

I have learnt that you don’t need to be well known or older to make an impact – a little can really go a long way. As long as there is passion to pursue something it can always be achieved. I would tell everyone to take the leap and campaign for what you believe in because it will change your life for the better.
Emaan Basat (Caritas 2018)

Image: Suffrage


6th February 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act 1918. It was this legislation that enabled all men and some women over the age of 30 to vote for the first time and paved the way for universal suffrage 10 years later.  Marian Pallister, vice chair of Justice and Peace Scotland writes this weeks blog and reflects on how the memory of this time has passed down the generations of her family.

My mother had several very vivid memories of her first five years. Born in 1913, she lived in a world at war, and while her parents were not directly involved, one of those childhood memories was telling someone that ‘if the Germans come, I’ll stick darning needles in their eyes’.


In 1918 the war was still being fought, but in the February (her birthday month) something very positive happened. She may not have known it then, but it was one of the best birthday gifts that any child could receive – the right to a future in which she (or he) would have the right to determine the course of the country by exercising their vote.


The vote was not given to all women in 1918, but there were 8.5 million of them who met the qualifications of the Representation of the People Act. My grandmother was one of them. She was over 30 and owned property. Another of the qualifications was to be a graduate voting in a university constituency, but those women were few and far between – even though my grandmother was a teacher, she couldn’t claim that criterion to get inside the ballot box.


And of course, there were also 5.6 million men who were also enabled to vote. For them, the voting age was dropped to 21 (there would have been a revolution had the young survivors of the war not been given the vote) and the property qualification for men was abolished.


My mother had very Victorian parents who had married late in life. My grandfather was born in 1853, his wife in 1876. He owned a haulage business and despite being married, she was allowed to continue teaching in the local school because so many male teachers were away fighting. It would have been very natural for a couple then already aged 65 and 42 to let such new fangled laws pass them by.


But according to my mother’s most vivid childhood memory, when they opened the doors of the polling station in December 1918 for the first general election in which she was entitled to cast her vote, my grandmother was in the vanguard. Perhaps more importantly, she took her little daughter with her. My mother, who died at the age of 84, never forgot the feeling of how important that occasion was.


Nor did she ever miss the opportunity to vote. And when I was a young woman in the 1970s welcoming the new equality laws, she was as emotionally overwhelmed as she had been as a child watching her mother making that giant leap for womankind.


And yet, as I drove home tonight the main news story on Radio 4 was inequality of pay. The ‘Me Too’ campaign has revealed a disdain for women that just shouldn’t exist a century after women were given the right to take part in the democratic process.


Voting rights for women were staggered throughout Europe. In the UK, women younger than my grandmother waited another decade for the vote: those over 21 did not get the vote until 1928. The Scandinavian countries were ahead of Britain (Finland as early as 1906, Denmark and Iceland in 1915). Dutch and American women were enfranchised at the end of the First World War but in France, universal suffrage came in 1944 and in Italy, Romania, Belgium and the then Yugoslavia women had to wait until 1946.


And of course, in many countries, universal suffrage is still to be fought for, and very fundamental women’s rights must still be won.


I don’t quite know what I’d say to my grandmother as we celebrate a century of suffrage this February. I’m a bit ashamed that I’ve not spoken more loudly to decrease the very long list of what must still be achieved in the name of gender equality here and around the world – because the justice of universal suffrage leads to peace.

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