Big Issue vendors are working hard with grit and determination

I RECENTLY had the chance to join a street vendor selling the Big Issue.

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We were outside Queen Street station during Friday rush hour. It got cold, fast.

The vendor I was with told me how every time someone refused to meet his eye, it was a small blow to his morale. In just a short time, I understood what he meant.

But there were plenty of Glaswegians who stopped to buy a copy and if even if they couldn't spare the time they were always friendly.

Some wouldn't buy a copy because they always bought one from the same vendor - they didn't want someone they had come to know to miss out on the custom.

The vendors are out in all weathers, always sparing time for a kind word to those who stop for them.

They are working hard with grit and determination, day in, day out.

And we too must work hard to support them, not just by removing the obstacles in their way, but by taking action to ensure that help is there for them.

Shortly after my experience with the Big Issue, I visited the Sauchiehall Street Project.

Getting a chance to speak to the young people who are being supported there was a privilege. They asked excellent questions and their positivity was inspiring.

We were in agreement that Tory welfare reforms will do little to help people get into suitable and stable long -term accommodation.

And it is SNP cuts to local authorities across Scotland that have put services that homeless people rely on under extreme pressure.

There are now 2000 more households in temporary accommodation than when the SNP took office in 2007.

As more people are opting to live alone, we need housing stock that can cater for that.

Crucially, we must tackle the slum landlords who take advantage of their tenants, offering the bare minimum and taking the absolute maximum they can get away with.

Building homes won't just be good for those struggling to find somewhere suitable to live, but will provide jobs as well.

Last week the spotlight was on apprentices for National Apprenticeship Week, and I wrote to young people in my constituency with information on currently available places.

Scottish Labour has campaigned consistently for more apprenticeships to be included in Holyrood budgets.

And I am proud of the record of Glasgow City Council in creating opportunities for aspiring apprentices.

But competition is high with hundreds of applicants chasing each place.

WE must remain focused on creating more opportunities.

There is variety of places available, across a wide spectrum of businesses and the Council is looking for applicants as part of preparations for the Commonwealth Games.

On a visit to Bellahouston Academy I was joined by three apprentices working for City Building, who spoke to pupils about their experiences and how they got a place in training.

They are the best advertisement for what an apprenticeship can offer.

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