Our Continuing Support for Mary’s Meals

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I posted a blog way back on 9th July 2014 about our firm’s support of Mary’s Meals. Since the beginning of 2011 until July 2014 Mitchells Roberton has donated 450 filled backpacks to be gifted to children receiving Mary’s Meals. Mary’s Meals is a registered charity that sets up school feeding projects in some of the world’s poorest communities. It is a simple idea-by providing a daily meal in a place of education chronically poor children are attracted to the classroom where they can gain a basic education that provides an escape route from poverty. Since July 2014 Mitchells Roberton has donated a further 145 backpacks each filled with a notebook, pencils, coloured pencils, a rubber and a pencil case. We also put in every pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, a towel, a new outfit, sandals, a ball and a spoon. All of this is funded from staff  and client donations. Margaret Ritchie our receptionist who organises this project says “ It is a wonderful charity which Mitchells Roberton will continue to support.” To find our more about this wonderful cause, please follow this link: http://www.marysmeals.org.uk/what-you-can-do/backpack-project/

Book Club- Katharine Grant – Sedition Q & A

sedition_uk_cover1Our book club choice for January was Sedition by Katharine Grant. We had the pleasure of having Katharine come to speak to us about her book. Katharine has written a number of children’s books but Sedition is her first adult novel. I was delighted that she took the time to answer some of my questions.

1. The date of Sedition, 1794, is very precise. Why did you choose 1794?

In revolutionary Paris, the Terror reaches its climax in 1794. London holds its breath. Will revolutionary fervour hit its streets? Will a guillotine be erected in every London square? For subversive fever and revolutionary excess, 1794 is a perfect year. Having said that, Sedition is not a novel of the Revolution. Harriet’s French shoes are the girls’ only experience of France. Rather, Sedition is a novel about revolution with a small ‘r’, or about how five girls, whilst doing exactly as their parents direct, contrive to do precisely the opposite. But 1794 gives Sedition a particular edge. That’s why I chose it with such care.

2. Sedition is quite hard to categorise in that it’s both tragic and comic. How do you think of it?

I can see the value of labels for books: they’ve got to be described somehow! But just as life is darkly comic, so I see Sedition. It’s interesting that when people talk about it, some foreground the comedy, others the tragedy. If I was the reader, not the writer, I’m not sure which way I’d fall.

3. Did the plot of Sedition arrive first, or the characters?

I could see the concert scene at the end of the book. I think that came first, then I heard the music – Bach’s Goldberg Variations – then the girls. Perhaps the plot was in my subconscious. It’s actually quite hard to remember. A bit like spring in the garden, a novel creeps up on you.

4. Did you draw on real people for the characters?

That’s for me to know, and the models to discover …

5. Who’s your favourite Sedition character?

A bit like your children, it’s hard to have a favourite amongst your creations. If readers hate a character, that’s signals success for the writer in that the character has made a real connection. So, in a rather contradictory way, the most hateful and hated character can sometimes be a writer’s favourite. Amongst the Sedition girls, I’d be friends with Harriet, want to make music with Annie, and be frightened of Alathea.

6. Do you have a routine for writing?

I try and always fail. Writing is hard – can feel like breaking stones. Procrastination is much easier! Research, though necessary, can also be a form of procrastination. My 2015 New Year’s resolution is to write at least 200 words every day, on the basis that once I start writing, it’s like oiling a hinge. And actually, once a novel has found its voice, I write obsessively, almost blind and deaf to anything else. Sedition was written mainly in my study at home, but also in the supermarket queue, the dentist’s waiting room, in various carparks, and at Glasgow Central Station. (I’m a ridiculous traveller: I like to arrive at least 30 minutes before my train leaves.)

7. If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

In an ideal life, I’d be a ballet dancer or a concert pianist. I think it’s a bit late for ballet! As for a concert pianist, I think people would pay to stay away …

8. Have you any advice for wannabe authors or even solicitors?

Writers of both novels and legal documents use the same tools. Use them with care to say precisely what you mean. The best friend of all writers is the delete button.

To learn more about the book please visit http://katharinegrant.com/

Advanced Medical Directive

An Advance Medical Directive (AMD), also commonly known as a Living Will, is a written statement of your wishes to refuse certain treatments in a specific situation.

In Scotland, any adult with capacity can refuse medical treatment. There may, however, come a time when you are unable to communicate your wishes or you no longer have the ability to make a decision regarding your treatment. An AMD is a way of preserving your right to make treatment decisions even when capacity has been lost.

Any adult over the age of 16 who has mental capacity can make an AMD. Having mental capacity means that you are able to understand the information relating to the decision you are making, retain the information for long enough to make the decision, weigh up the information involved in making the decision and communicate your decision in any way to your doctor or others caring for you.

Many believe there are benefits to making an AMD. You may feel more in control of your circumstances, future care or indeed the end of your life. You can avoid taxing treatment which may not always be helpful to you. Your family and healthcare team will know what you want and can respect your wishes thus making treatment decisions easier for your family. It can also help avoid disagreements about your care and treatment within your family or healthcare team.

Friends, family and Welfare Attorneys can use AMDs as evidence of your wishes to ensure that you are not being kept alive in a situation that you have decided would be intolerable for you. You can use an AMD to refuse any treatment, including life-sustaining treatment such as resuscitation, artificial nutrition and hydration or breathing machines. An AMD cannot be used to ask for your life to be ended.

In Scotland an AMD is highly likely to be legally binding if it is validly signed and witnessed with a solicitor’s certification that you understand the document and you have not been influenced by another person when writing your AMD. The treatment you have chosen to refuse in your ADM also must apply to your specific medical circumstances at the time of writing the directive.

Remember to let your healthcare professionals, next of kin, family, friends and Welfare Attorney ( if you have one) know you have made an AMD.  Also it is important to review your AMD regularly so you can be sure it is up to date and reflects your current wishes.

If you do not have an Advance Medical Directive nor have appointed a Welfare Attorney doctors will make the final decisions regarding your care.

If you would like to discuss an AMD please get in touch with me on 0141 552 3422 or by email eb@mitchells-roberton.co.uk

New Regulations Turn Up the Heat

As if you didn’t already have enough to think about , if you are a landlord ( residential or commercial) of a multi- let building you should be aware that there has been a recent change to legislation that affects all district heating, communal heating and cooling networks in the UK which is causing a shockwave throughout the property industry.  Articles 9, 10,11 and 13 of the EU Efficiency Directive 2012 set out a number of requirements regarding metering and billing on all new and existing heating  and cooling systems  which have been implemented in the UK through the Heat Network ( Metering and Billing) Regulations 2014 which came into force on 18th December 2014.

All landlords of multi-let buildings who operate communal central heating systems are considered to be suppliers of heating, cooling or hot water and must comply with the new Regulations.

The introduction of the Regulations is staggered. The key deadlines being as follows :

  • By 30 April 2015 ( and then at least every 4 years) a supplier must notify the National Measurement Office (NMO) of the communal heating system and provide details of its location, the number and types of buildings it supplies, number of customers along with estimates for the yearly heating capacity, heat generated and heat supplied.
  • From 31 December 2014 where meters/heat cost allocators have been installed, suppliers must ensure that bills and billing information for the consumption of heating, cooling or hot water by a final customer are accurate and based on actual consumption. The customer should get a bill at least once a year and potentially quarterly. If the cost to provide this information exceeds £70.00 a year then the supplier will be relieved from this obligation.
  • From 31 December 2016 suppliers must :
  1. Install individual meters in buildings where there is more than one final customer and the building is supplied  by a communal heating system to measure consumption by each final customer. This includes existing and new systems.
  2. If meters cannot be installed because it would not be cost effective or technically possible the supplier must install heat cost allocators and thermostatic radiator valves on each radiator in order to calculate and enable each final customer to control its consumption. Hot water meters must also be installed.
  3. If the installation of individual meters or heat cost allocators cannot be achieved ,the supplier must use alternative methods of calculating charges for the supply of heating and hot water.
  4. A feasibility study must be completed by 31 December 2016. The Department of Energy and Climate Change has produced a toolkit to assist on the assessment of cost and technical feasibility.

A breach of the Regulations could result in a fine of up to £5000 per offence  plus daily penalties of £500 until the breach is remedied. No person will be prosecuted prior to 30 April 2015.

The government’s best estimate of the number of dwellings connected to such heating networks was 400,000 homes but the true figure is likely to be higher.

Do you have multi let buildings ?  If so you need to know about these Regulations. The heat is on. If you need further information please contact me by email rjl@mitchells-roberton.co.uk or by telephoning me on 0141 552 3422 and I will be happy to help.