The Sunday Post (Newcastle)

Course gives barbers and hair stylists offer men mental wellbeing support


Brothers In Arms are heavily involved in the training sessions. men requiring support. The training is set to be expanded to stylists, beauty therapists, personal trainers and sports coaches.

The charity’s Gary Goldie said: “I was a personal trainer and for the past few years the skills that I needed were counsellin­g and listening skills rather than physical.

“It was much more about being able to sit with a person who wants to share a relationsh­ip issue with you, an issue from their past, things like that. It would have been fantastic for me to have these skills from the outset.

“It’s great for barbers and hair stylists to have it at the front end. Alan, from Rebel Rebel, said he felt like he’d been counsellin­g people for years, but never had any formal training. It’s about actually giving

Students get mental health training at Glasgow Clyde College so they can spot warning signs at work. them proactive tools and also permission to ask these difficult questions.”

Gary hopes that the initiative can be expanded outwith the education system into businesses and beyond, and has already been in touch with a number of institutio­ns to run training.

“We want to be like a gym for the mind,” he added. “It’s entirely acceptable to go to the gym and look after your body two or three times a week. Why are we not doing that for our mind?

“So many charities and organisati­ons, and certainly the NHS system, are created to kick in when a man is ready to reach out, the point of saying they’re really struggling and actually need some help. To us that’s really far too late.

“The most important part about this training is giving people the tools and skills to reach in and be brave. It’s quite scary for most people to, for example, ask a man if they have a plan for suicide. We’re giving people practise at having that type of conversati­on.”

One third of Scots have reported sleeping less due to stress and suicide rates were up in 2022 from the previous year in Scotland.

The SVRU has identified that male suicide rates are higher than women’s rates across the UK, and is looking to tackle this endemic in pioneering ways such as this project.

Kirsty Giles, a project manager at the SVRU, said: “We have been blown away by the support and positive response from the mental health and suicide prevention training day at Glasgow Clyde College.

“The passion, insight and personal experience­s shared by these students, college staff and partners had a profound impact on everyone who attended.

“Students also talked about feeling more confident if they had someone disclose lived experience of mental health or suicide to them and knowing what to say and what to do to help.”

The project is also part of Glasgow Clyde College’s wider nurturing campus initiative to provide greater focus on wellbeing across their curriculum.

“SQA qualificat­ions are why students come, and we’re really well set up for that, but what we’re finding more and more is that demand for support with mental health and general

wellbeing,” Claire said.

“Our counsellin­g service is in high demand as it is in colleges across Scotland. We just can’t ignore what we see in front of us.”

For informatio­n and support visit brothersin­armsscotla­ Call Samaritans for free on 116 123, email them at, or visit

Residents of a fishing town in south-western Iceland have left their homes after fears over a potential volcanic eruption caused civil defence authoritie­s to declare a state of emergency in the region.

Police evacuated Grindavik after seismic activity in the area moved south toward the town and monitoring indicated that a corridor of magma, or semi-molten rock, now extends under the community, Iceland’s Meteorolog­ical Office said.

The town of 3,400 is 30 miles south-west of the capital, Reykjavik.

“At this stage, it is not possible to determine exactly whether and where magma might reach the surface,” the Meteorolog­ical Office warned.

Authoritie­s also raised their aviation alert to orange, indicating an increased risk of a volcanic eruption.

A major eruption in Iceland in 2010 caused widespread disruption to air travel between Europe and North America, costing airlines £2.45 billion.

Ed LeyWilson with his kayak and, below, setting up camp for a wellearned rest on the shores of Loch Shiel, west of Fort William.

out of my depth. South of Poolewe, I ended up paddling exposed in the open sea for 10km. Luckily, I always got away with it and breathed my way through the fear.”

Solitude was a key theme of Ed’s adventure. He would paddle by day in his SeaBear kayak and camp on or near the shore by night, often taking time to write in his diary.

“I could go up to three days without seeing another person but solitude is not the same as loneliness,” he said. “You learn more about yourself and what you’re capable of, especially after successful­ly navigating difficult, churning seas on your own.”

Taking in the stunning coastal scenery of the Highlands and islands was a highlight, as were his wildlife encounters. “I came across otters, sea birds, dolphins and seals,” said Ed. “I had a sea eagle follow me along the coast of Barra and one caught a fish right in front of me as I was paddling. Having inquisitiv­e otters and dolphins swim right beside me was amazing.”

For Ed – a former crofter and salmon farmer, who worked in sustainabl­e aquacultur­e for seafood producer Aquascot before his challenge – another highlight was the Outer Hebrides.

“There’s something special about how people, the landscape and animals all interact there,” Ed added. “By chance, I arrived in Barra for the Fisherman’s Mass, where the fishing boats are all decorated and blessed by a priest to keep the crew safe and the fish coming for the future season.

“It was so special and a poignant reminder of the importance of natural resources to people living in and off their immediate environmen­t.”

Despite paddling through the worst summer weather across the Highlands and Islands in recent years, Ed was greeted with sunshine on his final leg to Kinlochber­vie where his wife Leah was waiting for him.

Ed admits the journey tested his mind, body and soul but also gave him a greater appreciati­on of Scotland’s Highlands and Islands.

“I’d encourage people to put down their mobile phones and commune with our wild spaces. When you start to let your brain relax into natural spaces, your mind settles and you develop a little reverence and appreciati­on that hopefully will lead to action,” he added.

“In terms of the environmen­tal crisis, there’s a lot of apathy around but also much we can do. We may be drops in the ocean, but I believe making small changes to help the bigger picture is worth doing.”

Kayaking The Sea Roads by Ed Ley-Wilson, Whittles Publishing, is out now.

The expert called in to review the government response to mesh-injured women warns it is forcing removal experts to break their Hippocrati­c oath.

Professor of Healthcare and Medical Law Alison Britton says the contract for expert surgeons to only remove mesh and ignore other medical issues and repairs needs an urgent review.

The professor, who has written two damning reviews highlighti­ng how meshinjure­d women have been let down in Scotland, said: “I’m concerned that the contracts given to removal surgeons outwith the country are so restrictiv­e that they only allow for the removal of mesh and nothing else.

“These surgeons will not know what they may find until the patient is on the operating table. With such a restrictiv­e contract they may feel they are being asked to compromise their profession­al ethics and potentiall­y harming their patients by having to ignore repairs needed because of the damage caused by mesh or a previous attempted removal.”

Britton is also concerned that women returning from surgery carried out outside Scotland are facing major problems accessing aftercare. She said: “If repairs are not carried out when the women undergo removal, they may have to wait years before they are seen by surgeons in Scotland.

“In addition, my concerns remain that once they do return to Scotland there is still no easily accessible pathway for their follow-up care and support.

“Women’s Health Minister Jenni Minto said patients in that situation should go to their local health board.

“I do not see why they cannot attend their GP who can refer them to the appropriat­e service much quicker, particular­ly as the government have said they have been working to ensure GPs are kept up to date on mesh and all the possible complicati­ons.”

In 2019, Claire Daisley, 54, from Greenock, was supported by the Sunday Post and benefactor­s to travel to the US to show how world-class removal surgeon Dionysious Veronikis could safely and fully remove mesh, paving the way for the Scottish government to fund him to help other NHS patients.

Claire, who lost her bladder and is still in danger of losing her bowel as a result of botched mesh removal in Scotland, said: “Dr Veronikis had no idea what he would find. He was shocked to discover I needed over a dozen other major repairs due to the mesh being inserted and the botched attempted removal.

“If he had been on the restricted contract the government is insisting on when he treated me, he would have had to ignore those problems, sew me up and I would have faced a wait of years of continued pain and distress before I was seen again by the NHS as well as having the risk of further major surgeries.

“I am living proof that the government need to urgently review these contracts.”

Elaine Holmes, of Scottish Mesh Survivors, said: “The current contracts to remove mesh mean those surgeons are being asked to ignore their Hippocrati­c oath, and that is simply unacceptab­le.”

The Scottish Government said: “All patients undergoing mesh removal surgery, whether with the specialist service in Glasgow or one of the two independen­t providers, will have any further treatment carried out by their local Health Board. This is entirely normal process after surgery.

“The independen­t providers, who have agreed to this process, are expected to provide appropriat­e discharge informatio­n to the patient’s local Health Board.”

It’s what we’ve all been waiting for. The day your favourite Sunday newspaper reveals the winners of its inaugural Short Story Competitio­n.

When The Sunday Post launched the contest for amateur writers on July 9, we knew we’d unearth some great talent within our readership. But we could not have anticipate­d the popularity and success of the initiative which drew scores of fabulous entries. As a result, we can today reveal that the overwhelmi­ngly popular Sunday Post Short Story Competitio­n will run again in 2024.

We were looking for original, never-before-published stories of between 1,500 and 2,000 words in the categories of Romance/RomCom, Thriller/ Crime/Mystery, Comedy, Historical, Family/Drama/ Tragedy, and Sci-Fi/Fantasy.

And you did not disappoint. Our glittering panel of judges – king of feel-good fiction and No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency author Alexander McCall Smith, thriller royalty and Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival founders Lin Anderson and Alex Gray, and queen of romantic comedy Jenny Colgan, along with The Sunday Post and P.S. magazine Books Editor Sally McDonald – were thrilled by the diversity and quality of work submitted.

The high standard meant judging was tough, but our literati were unanimous in their selection of the overall winner.

The prize for Sunday Post Short Story Writer 2023 goes to Peter Bray, 69, a retired psychiatri­c nurse from Glasgow for his poignant family tale, My Changing Face.

He receives a 12-month Gold Star membership with the Writers’ HQ that gives access to all its online courses and workshops, along with three one-day writing retreats.

In second place is retired

Winner of The Sunday Post Short Story Competitio­n 2023 Peter Bray at our offices in Spiers Wharf, Glasgow, left. And, above, with best-selling author and judge Alex Gray, left, and Post editor Dave Lord.

judges, Alex Gray enthused: “It was a pleasure to join with fellow writers in judging The Sunday Post’s inaugural short story competitio­n. Well written, thought-provoking and sometimes humorous, these stories came from writers across the UK. Congratula­tions to all the winners.”

A thrilled Peter, who worked for 30 years at Glasgow’s former Southern General Hospital, and latterly in the community of Castlemilk, was presented with his award by the editor and Alex Gray at The Sunday Post’s Glasgow HQ this week.

He said: “It wasn’t until I retired that I started writing in earnest. A few of my short stories have been shortliste­d in various competitio­ns but this is the first time I have won anything. I am delighted. I knew that the story I entered was my best yet, but I didn’t expect to win. It means the world to me. Hearing such positive comments about my work from profession­al authors and writers is something I have dreamt of.”

Juline Brodie said: “I am very proud to have achieved second place, especially as I have been a Sunday Post reader for many years. To see my short story in the pages of its magazine will be a tremendous boost to my confidence. It’s the inspiratio­n I need to finish my first novel.”

David Pendreigh, who was encouraged to enter the competitio­n by his wife, Sally, added: “Some of my earliest memories are of sitting as a wee laddie in my granny’s house in Whitburn reading The Sunday Post Merry Mac’s Joke Page, The Broons and Oor Wullie.

“Today I enjoy the paper for its campaignin­g stance on so many issues that affect Scotland and the people who live here. I was stunned, but delighted, when I was told I’d won third prize.”

Remaining finalists are: Norma Duncan, Culloden (Wish By Moonlight), Jane Fuller, Port Logan (The Farthest Star), Richard Lakin, Stafford (Left Luggage), Claire Moffett, London (Vicars And Tarts), Laura Mahady, Dundee (Tam Kelty), Eric White, Glasgow (Wendy’s Wool), Frances Valdes, Hove (Dance Of The Moon And The Yew Tree). All receive certificat­es of commendati­on and book tokens.

Alexander McCall Smith, Alex Gray, Lin Anderson and Jenny Colgan “Science fiction is one of those genres that enables broad social or political comment. This story makes such a comment in a surprising and effective way.”

Alexander McCall Smith

“This story really caught my attention. It is a

thought-provoking story.” Alex Gray

“A delicately layered tale of our future meeting

our past.” Lin Anderson

“An interestin­g introducti­on to world-building that made me excited to read on.”

Jenny Colgan

It is the uniquely tough, flexible and waterproof material used in more than 50,000 everyday products.

Natural rubber puts tyres on our vehicles and soles on our shoes. It also makes seals for engines and fridges, insulates wires and other electrical components and is used in everything from clothing to sports balls and elastic bands.

Natural rubber is regarded as a commodity of such global importance that it is included on the European Union’s list of critical raw materials.

But now a new report – led by scientists from Scotland – reveals that the clearing of forests for growing rubber has been massively underestim­ated by the experts who have developed the world’s climate change policies.

And a ground-breaking new study has revealed that more than four million hectares of tropical forests have been lost to rubber plantation­s in south-east Asia over the past three decades – at least two-tothree times more than previously thought.

The report also found that more than one million hectares of rogue plantation­s have been establishe­d in key biodiversi­ty areas that are supposed to be protected.

Dr Antje Ahrends, head of genetics and conservati­on at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh and one of the report’s lead authors, said the situation was far more serious than previously known.

She said: “With 70% of the world’s natural rubber yields destined for tyre manufactur­e, demand is not likely to diminish and the threat this poses to biodiversi­ty should not be underestim­ated.

“The situation is a lot more serious than previously thought and the impact on climate change affects us all.”

The study – one of two in-depth new reports into the rubber industry – used data to produce high-resolution maps of rubber-driven forest loss in southeast Asia since 1993 and the results show that establishe­d models for monitoring and controllin­g the trade are alarmingly inaccurate.

The findings have important implicatio­ns for both domestic and global policy on climate change, Ahrends said, adding: “We need an urgent internatio­nal effort to get this under control as the forest loss is far greater than previously thought.

“Our maps show that rubber plantation­s have even encroached into areas of global importance for the protection of biodiversi­ty, with over one million hectares planted in these areas.”

The greatest forest losses occurred in Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, the research says. In Cambodia, more than 40% of rubber plantation­s were associated with deforestat­ion, almost half of which was in key biodiversi­ty areas.

Dr Yunxia Wang, a co-author of the study, explained: “Rubber was already known to lead to forest loss, but quantifyin­g the damage has been challengin­g. Because it is difficult to distinguis­h from natural forest on satellite imagery, it has received reduced attention when looking at the losses caused by commercial plantation­s. However, thanks to expanding earth observatio­n and computing technology, there are increasing opportunit­ies to map ‘difficult’ commoditie­s. The results have been sobering.”

The demand for natural rubber is only set to grow, experts say. As the transition is made from petrol and diesel cars to electric vehicles (EVs), substantia­lly more natural rubber will be required as EVs are heavier than their fossil-fuelled equivalent­s, meaning tyres will wear out faster than they do currently and will need to be replaced more often.

Last year, then-environmen­t secretary George Eustice told the House of Commons that electric vehicles also emitted more nanopartic­le matter pollution from their tyres than petrol and diesel cars.

“The fact that these vehicles are heavier means that the gains may be less than some people hope,” he remarked.

The global supply of natural rubber – about 20 million tonnes per year – is produced almost entirely by fragmented smallholde­rs working tiny plots of land in tropical forests.

Millions of these workers tend to plantation­s in Thailand, Indonesia, China and west Africa, carefully stripping bark from the trees to extract a milky white sap which is shaped into sheets and dried in the sun. These farmers provide 85% of the world’s natural rubber supply.

It is estimated up to 30 million people are fully or partially dependent on rubber cultivatio­n for their basic source of livelihood. Because of this, experts caution that rubber should not be “demonised” but are

Dr Antje Ahrends in concerned about the scale the problem. calling for worldwide legislatio­n to tackle the growing problem.

In June, the European Union introduced a new regulation to curb the EU market’s impact on global deforestat­ion and forest degradatio­n, with the UK expected to follow. Under the directive, companies placing products or exporting from the EU must demonstrat­e products are deforestat­ion-free and legal, including rubber derivative­s such as tyres and gloves, and risk facing large fines if failing to do so.

Research shows that, until now, just 7% of companies have published evidence that they regularly monitor deforestat­ion within their supply chains.

However, that is beginning to change. Pirelli has supplied the Formula 1 motorracin­g circuit with tyres for almost two decades. From next year, all tyres used in FIA Formula 1 World Championsh­ip events will have to be certified by the Forest Stewardshi­p Council. This is aimed at ensuring full traceabili­ty of forest-based materials along the supply chain and confirming that the plantation­s of the forest-based components of the tyres are managed in a way that preserves biological diversity.

However, the supply of natural rubber is not keeping up with demand and, although synthetic alternativ­es can be produced from petrochemi­cals, these cannot match the advantages of the natural product.

For example, natural latex gloves are more resistant to tearing than man-made ones, while aircraft tyres use natural rubber for its high elasticity and resistance to heat, which can build up from friction during landing.

Now that the true scale of deforestat­ion associated with the rubber trade is evident, much more needs to be done to mitigate this, experts say.

Ahrends said: “While it is encouragin­g to see an increasing number of initiative­s and policy changes that aim to halt commodity-driven forest loss, there is a risk of inflexible regulation marginalis­ing the poor as only wealthy rubber producers and traders can afford to pay remote-sensing companies to verify that goods are deforestat­ion-free.

“We are, therefore, working with smallholde­r initiative­s and other key players in the sector to ensure that our rubber and deforestat­ion maps are widely and easily accessible to all stakeholde­rs, in particular to smaller economic players.”

Clearing forest for rubber, above, and, land is burned to make way for rubber plantation­s, inset.

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