Wheelhouse introduces online advice surgeries
Updated: Jun 22, 2020
13 May 2020
SNP MSP Paul Wheelhouse is introducing online video advice surgeries for constituents, enabling people to see their MSP face to face whilst following Scottish Government guidelines to stay at home.
With the Scottish Government advising the public to stay at home, going out only up to twice per day for exercise and to collect essentials like food and medicine, many people are struggling to get the advice and support they need when it comes to things like accessing services, discussing their employment rights, support for their businesses, and much more.
Mr Wheelhouse, whose own office has had to be closed temporarily to protect his staff, believes that while videoconferencing surgeries will never replace in-person meetings, they offer a decent substitute during this pandemic and may continue to suit some people better than face-to-face meetings well into the future, even after society returns to a more familiar pattern after the Coronavirus pandemic.
Announcing the plans, Mr Wheelhouse said:
“In order to suppress the coronavirus pandemic many people across the South of Scotland are playing their part in reducing the loss of lives by staying at home – either because they are ‘shielding’ to protect themselves and their families, or because they are simply doing the right thing to help defeat the virus and reduce the risk of spreading infection to others.
“As a regional Member of the Scottish Parliament for the beautiful South of Scotland, I want to be as accessible as possible, and like many others I have been heavily using technology to maintain my ability to work on behalf of those I represent, and I have seen the potential of video conferencing software to also improve the way we maintain access to constituents. I think it is right to try to utilise the technology we have to enable people to speak to their elected representatives in a way that suits them.
“Video advice surgeries will be secure and confidential. Constituents will be able to talk to me as though we were sitting down together in person.
“I fully appreciate that many people do not have videoconferencing technology, or do not even have the internet in their home. For those people, my office is still contactable by telephone at this time. The online advice surgeries are to complement, not replace, other forms of communication. I would strongly encourage anyone who needs my support to get in touch, either by email or phone, and myself and my team will assist in any way we can.”
Mr Wheelhouse’s first online surgery will take place from 1pm on Friday 22 May. Anyone wishing to make an appointment to speak to Mr Wheelhouse should email firstname.lastname@example.org.