AS A FOUNDING member of the Wee County Veterans, I was delighted to attend the unveiling of a memorial bench as a show of appreciation for all that they do to support former armed forces personnel in Clackmannanshire.

Presented to the group by Provost Tina Murphy, and designed and made by GM Welding Services Artistic Ironworks in Alloa, I hope that the bench will be enjoyed by the group and local veterans for many years to come.

It was really inspiring to have the opportunity to recently meet with pupils from Lornshill Academy who are involved in the Scottish FA's School of Football.

This initiative has huge benefits for those involved, including building up self-confidence, promoting a healthy active lifestyle, and improving academic performance.

It was also great to have speak with the teaching staff and professional coaches involved in providing young people with this experience.

A couple of weeks ago, I was delighted to pay a visit to Hawkhill Community Centre where Sandra updated me on some of the work that has been going on to support the local community.

It was great to meet some of the wonderful volunteers from the Community Shop, which played an important role in supporting local people throughout the pandemic.

This is an example of a strong sense of community, working to provide support and services to people who need it.

This week, parents of children with disabilities can begin to apply to Child Disability Payments. These payments, administered by Social Security Scotland, will provide families with support for the extra costs that can accumulate when caring for a disabled child.

It is the first of three complex disability benefit being rolled out by the Scottish Government and replaces the UK's Disability Living Allowance for children.

Those who already receive DLA payments for a child need not apply for Disabled Child Payments, across the country around 52,000 recipients of DLA are being transferred automatically over to Social Security Scotland, which the aim to have this completed by Spring 2023.

Those affected by this will be told when this is happening, and their payments will be transferred safely and securely from the DWP to Social Security Scotland.

This means that families will begin to benefit from a much more simplified and less stressful system of support than they have otherwise been used to.

For too many, the stresses of ensuring they are doing right by their child can be overwhelming, the last thing anyone needs is further such stress in simply gaining access to the benefits they are entitled to.

To help ensure this is the case, for the first time anywhere in the UK, disability benefit applicants can apply online, as well as by post, on the phone, or face to face – ensuring that everyone is able to access this important support.

This is the beginning of a better way for doing things in Scotland when it comes to supporting families of disabled children.

Next year, Social Security Scotland will begin rolling out the Adult Disability Payment in much the same way.

These processes can take time to get right, but getting it right is important when we're talking about lifeline support mechanisms for vulnerable people.