Local News for Friday 20th January 2017

Connor’s international debut
Island athlete Connor Maclean will be pulling on a Scotland team vest for the first time tomorrow, as he competes for his country at the Celtic Cross Country Championships in Cardiff. 19-year-old Connor has been selected as one of four runners in the under-20s mens race. He’s a member of Stornoway Running and Athletics Club and Scottish Athletics said his selection reflected on the hard work he, his coaches and his team mates had put in. Connor is currently being trained by Robert Hawkins – father of Callum Hawkins, who finished ninth in the marathon at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.  Cllr Charlie Nicolson, the Comhairle's Representative on COSLA Sports, Arts and Culture Committee, said: "This is truly wonderful news for athletics in the islands and an excellent achievement for Connor himself. I would like to congratulate Connor and his coaches who have put a lot of work in, and indeed all those who are involved in athletics throughout the islands. We have wonderful sporting facilities in the Western Isles which provide a foundation for our young athletes to flourish and meet their potential. I wish Connor the very best of luck this weekend as he represents our country and indeed, our islands, down in Cardiff."

Jobless total down in the Isles
The number of people out of work and claiming benefit has fallen once again in the Western Isles, with last year’s total down by 5%, and a total drop in those unemployed over five years of 41%. The number of claimants in the Western Isles now stands at 315, of whom 55 are between the ages of 18 and 25. Stornoway JobCentre said that there are currently vacancies in hospitality and in the care sector available locally, together with work experience opportunities with employers across the Western Isles, in order for people to gain experience and improve skills.
Flu – don’t get complacent
Scotland’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer is warning islanders not to be complacent about flu, as new figures show that just over two fifths (41 per cent) of people who are at risk from flu due to an underlying health condition have taken up the offer of the free vaccine in the Western Isles. The national flu immunisation programme started in October and runs through to the end of March. Dr Gregor Smith said the number of cases of flu can increase during January and February.  He urged those with health conditions such as heart problems, asthma or diabetes to make getting the flu vaccine a priority. The latest uptake figures also highlight that less than half (43 per cent) of pregnant women not in at  risk groups and three fifths (60 per cent) of those over the age of 65 in the Western Isles have received their flu vaccination. The flu vaccination is being administered by GP practices until the end of March 2017 as part of a programme which will see over two million people across Scotland offered the vaccination this winter.