Posts tagged ‘Scotland’

20 May, 2014

Aching bones can’t thwart charity Highland trek

For the past few months, Liz Lumsden has been sharing preparations for her West Highland Way walk in aid of a RoSPA child safety project. Here, she blogs about the tough 50-mile two-day trek itself.

Liz (far right), Donald (centre) and friends at the start of the walk.

Liz (far right), Donald (centre) and friends at the start of the walk.

Not many people will walk 25 miles in one day – and then get up the next morning and walk another 25! For me, that was the biggest challenge. I have done walks before of a similar length, but always had a day to recover before going back to work. To repeat the experience on a second day was not easy.

My son Donald and I had agreed to walk 50 miles of the West Highland Way to raise funds for the printing and distribution of The Birthday Party, a children’s book about safety. RoSPA wants every child starting school in Scotland this year to get a copy.

We began at 7am on day one with a climb out of Crainlarich before the terrain flattened out for a while during the seven miles over to Tyndrum. After a coffee we headed off over to Bridge of Orchy in time for lunch. We needed it – the next stage was a real climb and ended up on Rannoch Moor – 10 miles of desolation – before the long walk down the mountains to the only hotel for miles – the Kingshouse. We could see it from it about three miles away and kept thinking about the bath and the hot meal that were waiting for us.

I ached from head to toe by the time I crawled (almost literally) into bed that night. I didn’t feel much better the next morning, but there was no going back. It wasn’t a very appealing thought to get started as the rain had been pouring down most of the night and had only eased off a bit by 8am.

The group reach the all important half way point and stop for a spot of lunch!

The group reach the all important half way point and stop for a spot of lunch! Well deserved we say!

Waterproofs on, we were ready to complete the challenge. After a fairly flat start we had to climb the Devil’s Staircase. It’s tough, but thankfully doesn’t last for long and the following section is mostly flat or downhill into Kinlochleven. The sun even came out for a while.

We were able to enjoy lunch in the sun before popping into a cafe in Kinlochleven for coffee and white chocolate “rocky road” (my favourite!). The sugar rush kept us going on the long climb out of Kinlochleven and down through the most amazing valley before the final slog to Fort William.

Like the previous day, we could see where we wanted to be long before we reached it. The last section of the West Highland Way is on surfaces that are very unforgiving and our bones started to really ache with about five miles still to go.

We walked with friends who were fundraising for other charities and had a real sense of achievement when we crossed the finishing line. We all had friends and family to meet us and were receiving text messages during the last few hours encouraging us to “keep going”.

Donald and I love to walk, but this was certainly his biggest challenge to date and he completed it suffering from only one blister (I managed to avoid having any – thanks to the amazing properties of Vaseline!).

I managed to exceed my fundraising target, but we still need money for the project. Every £1 raised will mean three parents can share home safety messages while reading The Birthday Party to their children. You can still donate at or by texting WWHW50 £2, WWHW50 £5 or WWHW50 £10 to 70070.

1 April, 2014

Shaping up for a challenge to raise funds for RoSPA

Liz Lumsden is midway through training to walk the West Highland Way for RoSPA. In her latest blog, she tells how an injury threatened to derail the venture.

Liz takes in the fresh air during her walk.

Liz takes in the fresh air during her walk.

I’m just £1,000 away from being able to print and distribute 60,000 children’s books with a safety theme. I need the money by the end of May so they will be ready to give to children starting school in Scotland this summer. I’ve already sourced £15,000 for the project.

My son, Kenneth, and I have been training every week to complete a 50-mile trek to raise funds for this child safety project. Just when I thought it was going so well, injury strikes.

We’ve walked the first 27 miles of the Way together (as well as some local canal walks) and had some great mother and son bonding time. He’s not long moved back from London and it’s been great to spend so much time with him.

However, Kenneth started to feel a twinge in his knee after having done a few miles of walking down steep inclines. It was brave of him to insist he was going to be fit for our big walk on 25th and 26th April, but unrealistic.

During last week’s training along the canal out of Edinburgh, his knee became really sore. He had to get a lift home while I continued with the remaining 14 miles. So, the decision was made. He is really disappointed but there are only a few weeks left to get fit for the walk and we both knew it wasn’t going to happen for him.

Donald Lumsden

Donald Lumsden

What to do next? The walk still has to go ahead – we need the money to publish the book.

I didn’t relish the thought of completing this walk on my own. It will be over some very difficult – and remote – terrain.

I was telling my younger son, Donald, about his big brother not being able to join me and he “stepped up” and offered to complete the walk. This will be great. Donald’s done the West Highland Way before, albeit not covering so many miles in such a short period, but I am confident he can do it.

He is 16 and still growing so his comfortable walking boots are now too small. A new pair will have to be bought and broken in.

By the time you read this, we will have done the middle stretch of the West Highland Way over the weekend, covering around 12 miles.

During the following weeks we will take every opportunity to don our boots and get out so we are fit for this major challenge.

Thanks to all who have donated to this great cause. If you haven’t yet, please consider putting even a few pounds into the fund. Donald and I really need your support. Please visit my fundraising page at

When we begin our walk for real, we plan to feed updates into RoSPA’s Facebook page so you can all follow our progress at

17 September, 2013

The Birthday Party

What’s a birthday party got to do with the remit at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), I hear you ask? Well, let me tell you a story….

Don't Judge ME 2

Last year, I attended the launch of the Don’t Give Fire a Home initiative, and it was while catching up with fire safety colleagues that I discovered they had been working with the award-winning author Linda Strachan on a novel, Don’t Judge Me.

It involves teenagers and keeps you guessing whether one of them could be an arsonist.

I had gone to this event not long after last year’s RoSPA Scotland Occupational Health and Safety Awards dinner, when guests had donated to help the charity further its projects.

My role includes honouring last year’s pledge to use this money to help prevent further accidents happening to children, particularly for two types of tragedy – children dying after becoming entangled in a blind cord, and youngsters being knocked over and killed on the driveway.

Blind cord safety is one of the RoSPA campaigns that aims to save young lives.

Blind cord safety is one of the RoSPA campaigns that aims to save young lives.

During the awards night, it was the grieving fathers of children affected by these types of accidents who spoke so emotionally that prompted dinner guests to dig deep to help us with our mission.

Since then, I have been involved in the Go Safe Scotland project to launch an educational resource that will initially reach Glasgow children, and eventually all primary schoolchildren across Scotland.

It involves a partnership of organisations coming together to reach children in a unique way with consistent safety messages.

After all, safety and risk education is key to enabling children and young people to interact with their environment, to develop the vital skills they need, and to understand the growing responsibility they share with adults for keeping themselves (and others) safe.GoSafeScotland_logo

As far as home safety was concerned, I was looking for something to put into Go Safe Scotland that would contain age appropriate safety messages that could be delivered in a manner that wouldn’t restrict children enjoying a wide range of everyday activities, wouldn’t frighten them, and, most importantly, wouldn’t bore them either. After all, safety and risk education is key to enabling children and young people to interact with their environment.

Go Safe Scotland was launched this year.

Go Safe Scotland was launched this year.

I decided to find out more about Linda Strachan and realised she didn’t just write for teenagers, but also wrote the very popular Hamish McHaggis children’s books. Who better to write a series of short stories that could be shared as ebooks in the Go Safe Scotland resource?

A few coffees and cakes later with Linda and I was confident she was the lady for the job!

A few months on and three short stories have been completed for three different levels of primary schoolchildren – The Birthday Party,  The Surprise, and The Granny Game. Work also continues with colleagues at Glasgow City Council to have the final electronic versions produced into the educational resource.

However, I could see in my mind’s eye, parents sitting down with their children and them reading the stories together as sometimes only a “real” book will do the job. So, I wanted to see if I could find the funding to have them printed. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have a copy of these books in the home of every child starting school? But I can’t do this without having money to print enough copies required to reach all those starting school in a year.

A total of £32,000 is needed to enable this to happen for the first book and at this year’s RoSPA Scotland Occupational Safety Awards on September 19, RoSPA’s chief executive Tom Mullarkey will put this appeal to the guests. I’m crossing my fingers that a good proportion of the funding required will be raised to start us on our way.

The Birthday Party is the first story for the early years, when readers will be introduced to children that will grow up with them in the next stories throughout their primary school years: Jamie, Sophie, the twins – Isla and Lewis – and baby Max. They all help to make a birthday cake, tidy up and get ready for the best party ever – while making sure no accidents are going to happen.

Would you like to be part of my story – and this fantastic initiative – by donating to this project? If so, please contact me on or call on 0131 449 9379.

Elizabeth Lumsden, RoSPA Scotland community safety manager.

29 July, 2013

Families start to benefit from Scotland’s Home Safety Equipment Scheme

Hi folks,

We thought a blog would be a good way to keep everyone abreast of the news and happenings relating to Scotland’s Home Safety Equipment Scheme (SHSES). We’ll be writing updates regularly, so please add your comments as we would love to hear about what’s happening in your area.

Jen Foley, project support officer, and Carlene McAvoy, community safety development officer, at RoSPA Scotland

Jen Foley, project support officer, and Carlene McAvoy, community safety development officer, at RoSPA Scotland

Funding from The Early Years Collaborative has enabled the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) in Scotland to work with a number of partners to pilot a scheme across nine areas – Edinburgh, East Dunbartonshire, Inverclyde, West Dunbartonshire, Aberdeen, the Western Isles, Midlothian, plus West and East Lothian.

Safety equipment will be installed in 800 families’ homes for free and will include: safety gates, fireguards, CO detectors, corner cushions, cupboard locks, window restrictors, bathmats, door jammers and blind cord cleats.

Education sessions with each of the families will also lead to greater awareness of the potential child safety hazards in the home.home under the magnifying glass. RoSPA copyright.

This scheme, which runs until June next year, is particularly important because home accidents are a major cause of injury in young children.

More accidents happen at home than anywhere else and every year, more than one million children under the age of 15 are taken to A&E following an accident at home across the UK. We can all make a difference to children’s lives by taking part in initiatives to make our homes’ safer as RoSPA’s Too Young to Die video below highlights.

So where are we with the SHSES project so far? The majority of areas benefitting from the scheme have now undertaken practitioner and installer training.

Practitioners are now going into homes to identify potential hazards and install safety measures. At the moment, we have around 30 referrals, and West Dunbartonshire has taken the lead in terms of completing installations.

Keep your children safe in and around the home.

RoSPA’s referral scheme for home fire safety visits seems to be working well too, and for the first couple of months of the project, we will be emailing the relevant community firefighters in each area whenever these referrals are made.

We have been in touch with relevant partners about quarterly meetings to discuss the project and we have a few of these in the diary already.

We look forward to coming out and seeing you all to find out how things are going in each area.

Thanks again for everyone’s involvement in SHSES, especially as this scheme aims to make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up in and give all children the best start in life.

Bye for now,

Jen Foley, project support officer, and Carlene McAvoy, community safety development officer, at RoSPA Scotland.

4 October, 2011

One for the road?

Despite 30 years of drink drive education and enforcement, around 100,000 people are still caught drink driving annually, and five people die in drink drive accidents every week.

Northern Ireland’s environment minister, Alex Attwood, last week outlined his proposals to change the drink-driving laws. The most significant changes would include:

  • Cutting the blood alcohol limit from the current level of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg/100ml
  • Introducing another, lower, limit of 20mg/100ml for young drivers and people who earn their living from driving
  • Giving the police powers to randomly stop drivers without the need for reasonable suspicion
  • In certain circumstances, removing drivers’ right to opt for a blood or urine sample instead of a breath test.

The Scotland bill may give the Scottish Government the power to set the drink-drive limit in Scotland if it is not lowered in England and Wales, with the majority (79 per cent) of people in Scotland supporting a lower limit.

Although on the face of it the ideal limit is zero alcohol in the blood, we do not believe that this is literally possible, as a small amount of alcohol is found in some cough syrups and mouthwashes and can be produced naturally by bacteria in the gut after certain foods have been eaten. Therefore, talk of a zero limit usually means 20mg/100ml, not 0mg/100ml. However, this is not achievable in a single leap from the current limit of 80mg.

RoSPA believes the best option is a reduction to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

We would like your views on the UK’s drink-driving laws: please take a moment to answer the questions below. If you’d like to comment further on the proposals, please make use of the comments facility – join the debate!

Kevin Clinton, RoSPA’s head of road safety

11 April, 2011

Scottish Borders and South Lanarkshire launch the Make it Safe campaign

I started off at the Scottish Borders launch at Newtown St Boswells on March 11, which was attended by some of the partners who will be distributing the cleats.

Officers from Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service were present, as was Paul Richardson who works for Scottish Borders Council Safer Communities Team. Thanks must go to Paul for organising this launch and being a key figure in the Borders campaign.

Councillor Alec Nicol (Chair of the Scottish Borders Safer Communities Partnership) was also in attendance and gave his full support to the campaign. Councillor Frances Renton, who is Chair of the Scottish Borders Childcare Partnership also supported the launch and will play a key role in spreading the safety message whenever possible.

Make it Safe leaflets and cleats will be distributed throughout nurseries in the Borders, and children from the playgroup next door to the launch came to visit, and happily stood for a few photos with us:

L-R: Councillors Alec Nicol and Frances Renton and Jennifer Henderson of RoSPA

South Lanarkshire launch

The Make it Safe launch from First Step Community Nursery in Hamilton on March 17 was attended by the partners who are making up the steering group:

  • Margaret Brunton, South Lanarkshire Council’s home safety officer
  • Sandy Gillespie, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue’s group commander community safety
  • John Gold, Care and Repair
  • Maggie Barrie – head of establishment at First Step Community Nursery.

It was really good to meet all the partners at the launch, as well as parents and grandparents of local children who came to visit. Everybody who attended was so enthusiastic about the campaign and was thankful for being invited to the launch – and one of the parents and one grandparent got more than they bargained for when they ended up on film for South Lanarkshire Council’s YouTube page!

There were lots of lovely cakes on offer which kept us all going in during the launch itself, the photographs that were taken and our stints behind the camera for YouTube. The link to their YouTube site is

It’s really gratifying to see that the campaign is being embraced so enthusiastically – and it appears to be very successful in raising awareness. An evaluation of the pilot project that took place in North Lanarkshire should that 63 per cent of cleats had already been fitted in homes at the time of the survey.

Since receiving the Make it Safe information, 60 per cent of respondents said they were now unlikely to buy any blinds with looped cords, while 43 per cent of respondents were not aware of information on blind cord safety before they received the Make it Safe information.

Perhaps most crucially, 69 per cent of respondents have gone on to discuss the risks of looped blind cords with other parents or carers.

It’s vital that we keep the topic front and centre in the field of home safety, because blind cords are such an innocuous everyday item that it wouldn’t occur to most people that they could be a danger. Thanks to everyone for all their hard work!

Jennifer Henderson

RoSPA Scotland’s Home Safety Officer

4 April, 2011

RoSPA’s blind cord campaign is extended in Scotland

Following the success of the Make it Safe pilot campaign in North Lanarkshire, I was delighted that we secured further funding to allow us to build on the original project and roll it out to new areas in Scotland.

We launched the Make it Safe campaign at the Saltire Centre in Glenrothes on March 21 and secured a decent amount of publicity. I did a couple of radio interviews and the detail of the project was covered in the local press.

On the day I was, of course, impressed by Fife Council’s commitment at a strategic level but what was really evident on the day was the support being given by those who are actually going to be in a position to speak directly with householders.

Many different types of practitioners can offer home safety advice to support the messages that organisations like RoSPA can highlight, but the messages are much more effective when someone is standing in your house saying: “Look, this is what I’m talking about.”

The people who are supporting the campaign in Fife are well-respected by those that they visit. As well as the council’s team of home safety advisers, it’s great to have health visitors, social workers, family support workers and public health nurses standing alongside local representatives of organisations such as Gingerbread and the Scottish Childminding Association. These dedicated people are all keen to ensure that families are aware of the danger posed by corded blinds – products that are probably installed in the majority of homes.

L-R: Sam Pairman (Fife Cares), Bob Arnott (Safer Homes Task Group), Elizabeth Lumsden (RoSPA), Margaret Caldwell (Public Health Nurse), Mark McCall (Fife Community Safety Partnership)

A key part of this campaign is that we can work with local partners to ensure that advice and education is given directly to the parent or carer, and where appropriate we can actually ensure that the cleats (to tie the cords around) are fitted properly. For example the Fife Cares Child Safety Scheme will provide home safety advisers to discuss the dangers posed by blind cords with parents and carers of young children. This award-winning initiative is part of Fife’s Community Safety Partnership and also provides other child safety equipment as part of a free service.

Fife’s launch last month was also attended by Margaret Caldwell, a public health nurse whose work with the Scottish Government has resulted in an estates and facilities alert issued across the UK to highlight that corded blinds are not only an issue in the homes of the general public but could also be a danger in health care premises such as health centres and doctors’ waiting rooms. It emphasised that risk assessments should be carried out in all premises where children have access and not just kept to those that are health service-related.

We’re really pleased that the expansion of the campaign is going so well, and that people seem to be taking the advice on board.

Elizabeth Lumsden

RoSPA’s Community Safety Manager for Scotland

29 March, 2011

A crushing punishment for recidivist drink-drivers

The Government’s response to the North Report on Drink and Drug Driving was published this week, and sets out a raft of new measures to tackle the problem.

In 2009, 380 people were killed and a further 11,610 were injured in drink-drive accidents on our roads.

There were 53 fatalities and 1,007 other casualties in reported road accidents in which impairment due to illicit or medicinal drugs was recorded among the contributory factors – although the true casualty figures are likely to be higher.

More worrying, though, was the number of motorists who received at least their second ban for driving under the influence of alcohol in 2009: a shocking 19,605 motorists. The problem of recidivism seems to be worsening – 13,299 motorists were banned in 2000 for a second (or third or fourth) time.

Nearly one in four motorists banned for drink or drug driving will have at least one previous conviction for the same offence. It appears that the message is not getting through to a hardcore section of society who shows flagrant disregard for the safety and wellbeing of other road users.

As part of the new measures, the Department for Transport hinted that it may follow the example of Scotland when it comes to tackling the problem of drink and drug driving. Serial offenders could have their cars seized and crushed.

The reasoning behind this is twofold: firstly, it removes the temptation and opportunity for banned drivers to blithely carry on; secondly, it impacts on other family members, putting more pressure on offenders to change their behaviour.

Other new measures to be introduced to tackle drink driving include: streamlining procedures and closing loopholes to make it easier to conduct breath tests at the roadside and in police stations; improving testing equipment; and more robust drink-drive rehabilitation schemes.

This means that people who are a little over the limit will no longer be able to ask for a blood test, thus giving them time to sober up enough to pass it. It is hoped that improved testing equipment will remove any doubt with borderline cases.

As the figures on reoffending show, the current punishments do not seem to be working, so we at RoSPA welcome more robust rehabilitation schemes. In this, as everything, education seems to be key.

On the subject of drug driving, the Government will examine the case for a new specific drug-driving offence – alongside the existing one – which would remove the need for the police to prove impairment on a case-by-case basis where a specified drug has been detected. In addition, preliminary drug-testing equipment will be approved, and procedures will be streamlined.

Drug driving is very much a “hidden” problem. With legitimate medicines, side-effects are often ill-understood and not explained clearly enough; whereas with driving under the influence of illegal drugs, the fact of their illegality means that access to facts and figures is limited. We hope that these new measures will begin to shed some light on the problem, and enable road safety professionals and lawmakers to begin to solve it.

RoSPA welcomes all the new measures set out in the Government’s response to the North Report – but they don’t go far enough.

For many years now, we have called for the drink-drive limit to be reduced from the current 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. This move was also recommended by Sir Peter North when he wrote his report following an independent review of the law.

Any alcohol impairs drivers to a greater or lesser extent, and lowering the limit would reinforce that message. The vast majority of people are well aware that driving under the influence of alcohol is anti-social and dangerous; we need to get that message through to the minority who continue to flout the law. We also need to reinforce the message that any alcohol is risky to each new generation of drivers who may think that “just the one” is perfectly safe.

RoSPA urges the Government to reconsider lowering the drink-drive limit – and not to forget that the messages need to continue for future generations.

Kevin Clinton

RoSPA’s head of road safety

17 March, 2011

Make it safe!

RoSPA’s blind cord campaign is being expanded in Scotland this month with an awareness-raising initiative rolling out to Borders, Fife and South Lanarkshire.

The expansion of the blind cord campaign, which distributes leaflets and cleats (around which blind cords can be tied), builds on a pilot project undertaken in North Lanarkshire last year. Further funding from the Scottish Government has made the roll out possible, and all three of the new projects will run for six months from April to September.

In North Lanarkshire, it was really encouraging to see that people were talking about the information they received through the project, and were helping to spread the word about the dangers of looped blind cords. We are hopeful that the three new projects, which are delivered by local partners, will have the same impact.

Work to raise awareness of the dangers of blind cords is not just ongoing in Scotland. My RoSPA colleagues in England are also distributing Make it Safe packs to organisations working with children in England, and individual members of the public from across the UK can also request them via the RoSPA website.

My colleagues report that there have been more than 46,000 requests for packs through this part of the campaign sign up now to receive yours.

Typically, we hear about one or two children dying after becoming tangled in blind cords in the UK each year. Tragically, 2010 saw an increase in the number of accidents.

We suspect that there are many near misses that are never reported, but this information would help us to better raise awareness of the issue, as well as telling us more about the circumstances in which such accidents can happen.

One such near-miss accident happened to Beth Clifford – but thankfully her mum got there in time. The experience shook the family up, and encouraged them to spread the word about the dangers of blind cords. You can read the family’s story on RoSPA’s website.

So what can you do to make your home safe?

RoSPA is currently working with the UK government, the blind industry and retailers to ensure that an amended European Standard to make new blinds safer (expected to come into force in the second half of this year) can be implemented with as much success as possible. Alongside this, the blind cord industry is also working with the British Blind and Shutter Association to try to develop blinds that work without looped cords – and some families are calling for a ban on the production of blinds with looped cords.

This is an understandable and admirable goal – but it doesn’t address the existing problem. This is where our awareness-raising campaign in Scotland, and the one on which my England-based colleagues are working, come in. There are 100million blinds in homes throughout the UK, and any ban will not affect them. So we need to make people aware of the dangers, and encourage families to tie the cords up out of harm’s way.

To reduce the risk posed by looped cords, including blind cords, cords should be kept out of the reach of children:

  • Install blinds that do not have a cord, particularly in a child’s bedroom
  • Do not place a child’s cot, bed, playpen or highchair near a window
  • Pull cords on curtains and blinds should be kept short and kept out of reach
  • Tie up the cords or use one of the many cleats, cord tidies, clips or ties that are available
  • Do not hang toys or objects that could be a hazard on the cot or bed
  • Don’t hang drawstring bags where a small child could get their head through the loop of the drawstring.

RoSPA does not recommend that cords are cut, even as a short-term solution. It is advisable that any action taken on the blind cord is a permanent one which will take the cord out of reach of children. It is not an expensive task and a limited number of cleats are available to those who need them via the RoSPA website.

Cutting the cord in the wrong place can make the blind inoperable; and it may also lead to one cord becoming a lot longer which increases the risk of entanglement. Cut cords can also become tangled up resulting in the reformation of a loop.

The problem

Research indicates that most accidental deaths involving blind cords happen in the bedroom and occur in children between 16 months and 36 months old, with the majority (more than half) happening at around 23 months. These toddlers are mobile, but their heads still weigh proportionately more than their bodies compared to adults and their muscular control is not yet fully developed, which makes them more prone to be unable to free themselves if they become entangled. In addition, their windpipes have not yet fully developed and are smaller and less rigid than adults and older children, making them suffocate more quickly if their necks are constricted.

Visit RoSPA’s campaign pages for more information.

Liz Lumsden

Community Safety Manager for RoSPA Scotland

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