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During recess, I was able to visit Heriot Watt University and British Sign Language expert Professor Graham Turner. Heriot-Watt has over a decade of involve-

ment in working with the signing community and has an established profile as one of the UK's leading centres in sign language studies. It was great to meet staff and students, some of whom will be the first Scottish graduates in BSL inter- preting at the end of their current programme of study.

The degree is the only one in the UK on

which students will graduate as fully qualified and accredited BSL/English interpreters upon completion. This means they can start working anywhere in the UK straight away, without the need for further training. With 60,000 Deaf peo- ple in the UK and a national shortage of qualified BSL interpreters the degree could make a consid- erable contribution to the deaf community, as well as offering good employment prospects to graduates.

Over the summer, I pledged my support for a campaign to boost single parent employment, run by the charity Gingerbread. 37 per cent of families in Edinburgh South

are headed by single parents, many of whom struggle to balance work with caring for their children. With childcare increasingly unaffordable, a lack of school-hours jobs on offer and reduced opportunities for single parents to get training, finding a decent job can become an almost impossible task, with many single parents in work still struggling to make ends meet. Gingerbread has launched a three-year

campaign to “Make it Work” for single parents. It’s calling on the government to support single parents to overcome the barriers they face in getting back

to work and make a commitment to increasing single parent employment. Every parent wants to be able to provide for

their family, and we should be doing all that we can to help single parents do just that. Three out of five single parents in the UK are

in work and the vast majority of those who aren’t in work want to be, argues Gingerbread. The charity says that investing in job growth for single parents would reap rewards for families, and public finances, finding that the treasury could make £436 million of savings a year by getting just five per cent more single parents into work. Times are tough for many families at the

moment and it’s essential that we do all we can to ensure that work always pays and always offers a route out of poverty for families.

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