Christian News from Scotland

News stories from Scotland and beyond

Friday, November 14, 2008

Present Aid - ethical presents for Christmas

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Present Aid has over 30 fun and unusual gift ideas that will be loved by everybody and also help poor communities around the world through projects around the world.

Whether it is something sporty for a super fit granddad, a new bike for the green member of the family or an unusual pet for the kids, Present Aid is sure to have the perfect gift. And, not only will it be their loved one who benefits, a Present Aid gift will also help to make a lasting difference to someone else’s life.

How does it work? For each present that is ordered a gift card that is sent to be given to a friend or family member. Each card describes how Christian Aid helps people in the developing world improve their own lives, and has a space to include a personalised message.

Where does the money go? The gifts on sale are virtual. This means that whatever present bought, the money will go directly to a project fund relevant to the gift. For instance, if you buy a goat, ducks or even composting worms, that money goes directly to our agricultural and livestock fund. There are six of these project funds; Agriculture and livestock, Emergency and disaster preparedness, Healthcare (including HIV/Aids), Power & energy, Training and education, Water and environment.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Celebrating 60 years of GRF

60 Years of Christian Radio Programmes for the World – from Scotland!

Award-winning Glasgow-based GRF Christian Radio celebrates 60 years of continuous radio production this month. And to mark this special Anniversary, GRF is hosting two very special events.

On Saturday 15th November, GRF will host an Open Day at its Argyle Street studios where guests and visitors can meet the GRF team, listen to current programmes and view the technical equipment on display. On Sunday 16th November at 6.30pm, a Service of Thanksgiving will be held at Findlay Memorial Church at St. George’s Cross, Glasgow. The guest preacher at the service will be Rev. Dr. Joel Edwards, Chair of the Churches Media Council and a Commissioner for the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

So what’s GRF? Based in Glasgow since its inception in 1948, GRF has always focused on being a programme producer, making programmes which are broadcast by other people. Beginning life as Gospel Radio Fellowship, GRF’s first programme was broadcast on a missionary radio station (HCJB) in Ecuador and was aimed at Scots living in South America. The advent of commercial radio in Britain in 1973 led to a close relationship between GRF and Radio Clyde in Glasgow, a relationship which remains to this day.

GRF produces programmes which complement the existing programme schedules of a wide range of radio stations, both mainstream and Christian. It currently supplies programmes to commercial stations across Britain and Ireland, English-speaking overseas stations such as Coastline Radio in Spain, BBC local radio stations, hospital radio, community radio stations and programmes for internet distribution. In 60 years, GRF has supplied programmes to more than 150 radio stations throughout the world.

GRF has always been at the forefront of technical innovation, being one of the first organisations in Scotland to use a tape recorder! In 2000, GRF helped pilot Audiopot, a web-based internet distributor of Christian radio programmes.

GRF is staffed by a 20-strong voluntary team who come from a wide variety of backgrounds in terms of working life, religious tradition and experience of faith. The programmes produced reflect this diversity.

About the 60th Anniversary, GRF Chairman, Andrew Barr, said, “Spread the Word. It’s a phenomenon. Very Glasgow and very Edinburgh and very global. The team can mix Radio 5 journalism with the Goon Show and still be faithful. In my comparatively short 40 years of making programmes in the BBC and ITV, I’ve seen careers destroyed as producers tried to marry humour and religion. And that’s this team’s secret – if there is laughter in heaven, it will be down to GRF.”

For further information, please contact:
Brian Muir, Programme Controller on 0141-221-0316 or
Kennedy Fraser, Technical Director on 0141-578-7557

5th November 2008

Notes to Editors:
1. Studio Open Day – Saturday 15th November 2008, 10am-4pm – 342 Argyle Street, Glasgow, G2 8LY. Please note the studios are located on the first floor of a building with no elevator and therefore sadly are not accessible for those with limited mobility or wheelchair users.
2. Service of Thanksgiving – Sunday 16th November 2008, 6.30pm – Findlay Memorial Church, 56 Clarendon Place, St. George’s Cross, Glasgow, G20 7QB.
3. Full details of the Open Day and Service of Thanksgiving can be found at
4. The GRF studios on Argyle Street, Glasgow, are the oldest independent radio production studios in Europe, religious or secular.
5. GRF has won a raft of prestigious broadcasting awards including:
· Sony Gold Award
· Andrew Cross Awards
· Jerusalem Radio Awards
· Sandford St. Martin Awards
· Christian Communication Commission Award
· Christian Broadcasting Council Award
6. GRF Christian Radio is a registered Scottish Charity No: SC000199

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Gay blood ban to stay

The ban on blood donations from men who have engaged in sexual activity with other men will not be lifted in Scotland because it is a vital safety measure, say health officials.

Robert McDowall, a homosexual activist, had called on MSPs to change the rules. He was supported by homosexual lobby group Stonewall.

Stonewall Scotland’s Calum Irving said: “The Blood Transfusion Service is applying one rule for gay people and another for straight people.”

But Scotland’s blood transfusion service has told MSPs that the rules cannot be changed for safety reasons.

Keith Thompson, the service’s national director, said that sexually active gay men are at an increased risk of acquiring blood-bourne sexually transmitted infections such as HIV and syphilis.

Under current guidelines, a man cannot donate blood if he has ever had oral or anal sex with another man (even if he used a condom).

The National Blood Service says that lifting the ban could “result in a fivefold increase in the risk of HIV-infected blood entering the blood supply”.

Reasons for the ban
A position paper from the National Blood Service says: “The criteria for blood donors across all of the UK Blood Services are agreed by the Department of Health’s Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissue and Organs.

“In order to assure the continued safety of the blood supply, we currently ask those in groups shown to have a particularly high risk of carrying blood-borne viruses not to give blood.
“These include men who have ever had sex with men. The reason for this exclusion rests on specific sexual behaviour (such as anal and oral sex between men), rather than the sexuality of the person wishing to donate.

“There is, therefore, no exclusion of gay men who have never had sex with a man nor of women who have sex with women.”

The position paper outlines the medical reasons for this policy, including: “While safer sex, through the use of condoms, does reduce the transmission of infections, it cannot eliminate the risk altogether.

“Men who have sex with men continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV and account for 63% of HIV diagnoses where the infection was likely to have been acquired in the UK.

“Epidemiological evidence in the UK also shows that there has been a significant increase in sexually-transmitted infections which can also be blood-borne, such as hepatitis B and syphilis, among men who have sex with men.

“Between 2002 and 2006, for example, there has been a 117% increase in syphilis infections in men who have sex with men.

“Research shows that completely removing the current exclusion on blood donation from men who have sex with men would result in a fivefold increase in the risk of HIV-infected blood entering the blood supply.

“While changing deferral to one year from the last sexual contact would have a lesser effect, it would still increase this risk by 60%.”

The Terrance Higgins Trust, the UK’s largest HIV and sexual health charity, says: “We support calls for the National Blood Service to regularly review their policy on who in the UK is allowed to give blood in the light of new technology and scientific evidence.

“However, we will wait for the results of any such reviews before deciding what changes, if any, should be implemented.

“We believe that the current policy of the National Blood Service is justifiable and was based on the best available evidence when it was drawn up. Unless a subsequent review finds that risks to the blood service have changed the current policy is sensible and pragmatic.”