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News round-up / Up Helly Aa fire pits, healthy life expectancy, UHI secures Covid funding and more

Dwayne has spent some of his spare time making Up Helly Aa fire pits.

THE DELTING Up Helly Aa jarl-in-waiting has used his extra time by creating fire festival themed fire pits – with the pieces proving a huge success.

Dwayne Davies created metal galley fire pits so that people could bring a bit of Up Helly Aa to their garden or patio after this year’s fire festival season was postponed.

He said the first batch of ten sold out within 24 hours, with more set to be made.

SHETLAND has the second highest healthy life expectancy at birth for males in the whole of Scotland, according to new figures.

The data from the National Records of Scotland points towards a healthy life expectancy at birth for men in Shetland of 69 – with Orkney only bettering it with an age of 69.3 years.

Shetland only has an average healthy life expectancy at birth for females at 61.9 years, but warnings have previously been made about the figure due to the small population size.

That figure for Orkney is 75.1 years.

Healthy life expectancy is an estimate of the number of years lived in ‘very good’ or ‘good’ general health, based on how individuals perceive their state of health at the time of completing an annual population survey.

The new figures are healthy life expectancy based on the years 2017-2019.

Across Scotland healthy life expectancy has decreased, with the average at birth for males 61.7 years and 61.9 years for females.

THE UNIVERSITY of the Highlands and Islands has been awarded £100,000 to help students who have been affected by the Covid pandemic.

The donation, which has been provided by the Barclays 100×100 UK Covid-19 community relief fund, will be used to support students experiencing financial hardship and to enhance the university’s mental health services.

The university applied for the funding in May, following reports from students who were experiencing financial hardship.

Highlands and Islands Students’ Association president Florence Jansen said: “This generous donation will enable us to work closely with the university to improve our services and better support our students throughout this uncertain time, as well as providing an opportunity for us to assist those that are not eligible for our current funding criteria.”

SHETLAND MSP Beatrice Wishart and Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael have written to the UK Government calling on ministers to take “direct action to resolve disruption to winter fuel payments and the system’s helpline”.

The helpline – intended to support elderly recipients of the winter fuel payment – was disrupted for several weeks, with caseworkers, the Citizens Advice Bureau and constituents unable to get through to support workers in case of problems with their payment.

The Lib Dem MSP and MP said no explanation was given from the government on the reasons for delays to payments.

Wishart said: “The winter fuel payment is a lifeline for many older islanders needing support to keep their homes heated and so it is astonishing that DWP let the helpline be disrupted for so long and with no explanation.”

THE PROSPECT union has backed calls from Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil for an urgent meeting between HIAL, the Scottish Government, unions, local councils and the Civil Aviation Authority to discuss the controversial remote air traffic control project.

MacNeil called for the meeting after criticising the Scottish Government’s apparent refusal to engage on the topic.

Prospect negotiator David Avery said: “The Scottish Government must end their stubborn refusal to engage with legitimate criticism and evidence about the impact of HIAL’s centralisation plans on island communities.”