May 25

A chance to get your writing noticed

WriteNow_preview_penguinLeading book publisher Penguin is on the lookout for new writers and illustrators from under-represented communities, including Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) writers, LGBTQ writers, writers with disabilities and writers from socio-economically marginalised backgrounds.

Its WriteNow programme is offering 150 writers and illustrators from across the country the chance to take part on one of three workshops in London (Saturday September 8), Liverpool (Saturday September 15) and Nottingham (Saturday September 29).

The workshops will hear from authors, illustrators, literary agents and Penguin Random House experts on how to navigate the publishing process and get work noticed. This includes learning techniques for editing your writing, developing your artwork, or getting tips on how to approach a literary agent.

To apply, you will need to include information about your book. What’s it called? What’s it about? What makes it special? You will also need to send up to 1,000 words of your creative writing and a supporting statement on how you meet the criteria.

Editors and designers from across Penguin Random House will assess applications, considering your talent and ability, as well as the originality of your story, idea or artwork.

Successful applicants will also receive one-to-one personal feedback from an editor or designer on your manuscript or illustrations. Penguin will then offer 10 new voices a year-long mentoring programme.

To find out more and apply, click here. The deadline for applications is Monday July 9.

May 21

Are you the best filmmaker of the future?

Film the House is again working with members of Parliament to talent spot the future of film-making in the UK.Film the house 2

Each year, Film the House showcases the work of the next generation of writers and directors from across the country and raises awareness of intellectual property rights among creators, legislators and the public.

UK film contributes over £5.2 billion to the national economy and is increasingly important here in Liverpool. The former Littlewoods HQ on Edge Lane will soon be home to the new ‘Liverpool Film Studios’ and the city has just put in a bid to host C4 when it moves outside London.

Film-makers can have a bright future in Liverpool, and I want to do all I can to encourage young talent. Film the House entries are submitted to local MPs who do the first round of judging and forward the best on to the national judges.

The categories for the 2018 competition are:

  • Best Short Film (under 16)
  • Best Short Film (16 and over)
  • Best Script (under 16)
  • Best Script (16 and over)

The key dates are:

  • September 30: Closing date for entries
  • January 28 2019: Shortlist announced
  • April 2 2019: Awards Ceremony, House of Commons, London

Film the house freyaThe competition is tough every year, but the rewards include valuable exposure to key industry creatives and the chance to have your work showcased.

Last year’s winners can be viewed by clicking here.

The winners from last year include 13-year-old Freya Hannan-Mills, who won Best Film Under-16.

Freya’s film, Turning Tides, was described as ‘a poignant portrayal of grief and friendship between two girls, aided by an evocative, piercing score, and some suitably grim weather’ on the River Mersey.

If you’re a student or independent filmmaker or scriptwriter, then please click here for more details about this parliamentary-based competition and full details on how to enter the competition.

May 18

Mersey Care wins top mental health award

zero-alliance-logo-with-wordingCongratulations to Mersey Care which was today named northern champion for Excellence in Mental Health Care and is now in line for a national award as part of the 70th birthday celebrations for the NHS.

The NHS70 Parliamentary Awards recognise the enormous contribution made by the individuals and teams who work in and alongside the NHS.

The award comes at the end of Mental Health Awareness Week which has seen a renewed focus on the issue.

MPs across the country were asked to nominate individuals and teams that have made the biggest improvements to health across ten categories.

I nominated the mental health trust for its pioneering work to reduce levels of suicide.

Mersey Care developed the Zero Suicide Alliance with partners across the country to raise awareness of the issue and promote free suicide prevention training easily accessible to all.

Mersey Care deserve this regional recognition and I believe should be recognised nationally for raising the bar of ambition in mental health services. Mental health is still too often the Cinderella service, but Mersey Care has refused to accept that suicide is inevitable.

It is quite rightly demanding that a goal of Zero Suicide becomes the norm and has put in place the free training, networks and partnerships to make change happen.

The Zero Suicide Alliance offers free online training which can be accessed here: www.zerosuicidealliance.com . It takes just 20 minutes to complete.

The regional champions will now go forward to a final round of judging by a panel including the leaders of Royal Colleges, the Unison trade union, and the Patients Association – collectively representing millions of health and care workers and patients.

May 12

Celebrating a reading success

I was pleased to join over 100 The Reader volunteers and group members alongside Liverpool author Frank Cottrell-Boyce to celebrate a year of Shared Reading.Luciana Reader

The national charity based in our Liverpool Wavertree constituency, aims to build stronger, healthier communities through volunteer-led Shared Reading groups held in a wide range of community, health, education and criminal justice settings.

It offers people the chance to read together and discuss short stories, novels, poems and fiction of all kinds. The shared reading groups bring pleasure and entertainment, and by talking about the text in some details offer readers the chance to reflect on their own lives and experiences, gain personal insights and understand others better.

I am a patron of The Reader’s North West project and was delighted to hear that in its first year, 319 volunteers have helped to double the number of weekly Shared Reading groups across the region.

It is a blue print that will help to bring Shared Reading groups to libraries, care homes, community centres and public spaces across the region in order to improve mental health and well-being and reduce social isolation.

The early success of this North West initiative is testament to the efforts of all volunteers who lead groups, the people who attend, the staff, and the funders who generously back the initiative.

The continued growth of Shared Reading across the North West will play an important role in breaking down social isolation and bringing communities together.

You can find out more about becoming a volunteer or joining a shared reading group by clicking here.

May 11

Build ships to secure jobs

The Ministry of Defence has the chance to secure thousands of jobs along the Mersey and around other ports in the UK – and it should use it.

The forthcoming order for support ships that supply and back up the Royal Navy is worth around £1 billion and everything should be done to see these ships built by British builders.

The government has the freedom under EU law to create or secure up to 6,500 jobs, including 1,805 shipyard jobs, through its decision. These jobs are highly skilled and many are better paid than the average for all jobs.

If these ships are built here, then £285 million of the estimated cost of the order could be returned to taxpayers – money that would be lost should the order go overseas.

Under existing EU rules Member States have almost unlimited freedom of action over defence procurement.

However, unlike other member states, in practice the UK government only applies these protections to vessels it defines as ‘warships.’

The Ministry of Defence says that Fleet Solid Support Ship order will be put to international tender. My colleague and Shadow Secretary of State for Defence Nia Griffith has said that Naval and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships used to help defend the country and offer humanitarian aid around the world should be built in UK shipyards, providing well-paid, high-skilled work and offering quality apprenticeships.

If you agree, please sign the petition by clicking here.

May 11

Action on mental health debt

I am really pleased that cross-party action by committed backbenchers has persuaded the government to make life a little easier for people with serious mental health problems who find themselves in debt.Recovery space logo

Thanks to pressure from campaigners and MPs from across Parliament the government will now extend its planned Breathing Space scheme.

The government has pledged to bring in a debt respite scheme, which would provide people with the chance to apply for up to six weeks free from further interest, charges and enforcement action. People would also be offered a statutory repayment plan to help pay back debts in a manageable way.

However, there were real concerns that people in a mental health crisis would not be able to apply.

I regularly hear from constituents about how their mental health experiences have made dealing with problem debts harder. Many tell me about receiving calls, texts and letters from their banks, local authorities and other creditors at a time of acute distress. Without support they are at risk of falling into further financial difficulty as a result of increased fees and charges.

Research from the Money and Mental Health charity points out that people with mental health problems are three times as likely to be in problem debt. Up to 23,000 of the most vulnerable people are affected every year.

Over 70 MPs backed amendments to the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill, led by myself, Conservative MP Johnny Mercer and Liberal Democrat MP Rt Hon Norman Lamb to make it easier for people with serious mental health problems.

The government recognised the strength of feeling across the Commons and amongst the public and the amended scheme will now include how to protect recipients of mental health crisis services.

May 11

Our chance to keep people well and save lives

We can make a real difference to our nation’s physical and mental health if we put health at the centre of everything government does.

Today, governments can implement laws and policies without even considering the impact they will have on people’s health and well-being.

I’m proposing a new piece of legislation – the Health in All Policies Bill – that has already gained early cross-party support. It would make every government stop and think ‘health’ before taking major decisions.

You can see me introducing the Ten Minute Rule Bill by clicking here.

Health can’t be the concern of just one government department. We have a system which disproportionately focuses on treating people when they are in a crisis, already sick, rather than keeping our population well.

Yet, the quality of our air, housing, parks, transport, food, education and so much more has a vital impact on the health of the nation and preventing ill health.

That is why my Bill would insist that governments properly assess the impact of all new laws and policies on our health and well-being.

Of course, longer healthier lives for all should be central aim of government, but today, poorer people live shorter lives and are more prone to long-term illnesses, simply because they are poor. These ‘health inequalities’ are seen across coronary heart disease, cancer, mental health and other diseases.

According to the Department of Health and Social Care’s latest annual report, the health gap between rich and poor is widening. In 2010, life expectancy for men in England’s most deprived areas was 9.1 years less than it was for those in the richest areas. By 2015 that figure had risen to 9.2 years. The equivalent gap for women also grew, from 6.8 to 7.1 years. Poorer people are more likely to spend 20 more years in ill health than richer people. They are more likely to experience strokes, cancer and heart attacks.

The British Medical Journal reported that 10,000 more people died in the first seven weeks of 2018 than in 2017 with no obvious cause such as a flu outbreak. The Office of National Statistics has revised down its projections on life expectancy by a whole year, – that means a million extra early deaths over the next 40 years unless we act now.

My Ten-Minute Rule Bill would tackle these issues by ensuring governments take a ‘health in all policies’ approach.

It would place the physical and mental health of the population at the centre of all government activity so that no policy is developed or enacted without due consideration of its impact on health and, where possible, policies are designed actively to improve our wellbeing.

It would mean that when building new housing estates, or devising new school curriculums, or constructing transport systems, the impact on health would have to be assessed and considered, and crucially no opportunity to enhance health and well-being would be missed.

Health in all policies means placing duties on food and drink manufacturers, shops and takeaways concerning the ingredients in their goods, pricing and the locations where they sell it, to discourage alcohol abuse and poor diets.

The creation of Sure Start centres was an example of this highly innovative approach. We know ​the importance of the first 1,001 days of a child’s life, and how what happens from conception to the age of two still determines an infant’s life chances and their mental and physical health. So, there is no better example of why we need a health in all policies approach in services for mums, dads and infants.

My Bill would ensure that these innovations stretch way beyond childcare provision and health checks to looking at patterns of work, income, benefits, parenting, education, food, housing, transport, air quality, playgrounds and many other areas of policy.

The next Labour government will face a crisis in the NHS and social care, which will need to be addressed as an urgent priority.

If we want the NHS and social care system to be sustainable for decades to come, we need a step change in the way we address health policy.

Keeping people well is not a job for the Department of Health alone – we need to marshal the entire resources of the state in support of the nation’s health.

May 04

Thank you for voting

Thank you to everyone who took part in Liverpool City Council’s elections yesterday, and particularly to everyone who voted across the Liverpool Wavertree constituency.Picton clock

Congratulations to Joanne Calvert who was re-elected to represent the people of Old Swan and to Sue Walker re-elected in Kensington and Fairfield.

Congratulations to our new Ward councillors Angela Coleman in Wavertree and Paul Kenyon in Picton.

And a huge thank you to all the hard work of outgoing councillors Tim Beaumont and Richard Wenstone who have done so much to represent local people over the last few years.

Commiserations to Frank Hont, who lost out in Childwall. Liverpool has lost a fantastic councillor, but I know that Frank will continue to play an important role in our city.

Thanks to Nigel Parsons, who worked so hard in Church ward but didn’t win this time around.

I’m looking forward to working with all our councillors on behalf of the communities we are privileged to represent.

May 03

Use your vote in the local elections today

Please join me in voting Labour for the local elections. A vote for Labour today is a vote to protect our city.

You can support Labour candidates across the constituency:

  • Frank Hont in Childwall
  • Nigel Parsons in Church
  • Sue Walker in Kensington
  • Joanne Calvert in Old Swan
  • Paul Kenyon in Picton.
  • Angela Coleman in Wavertree

On average, Labour councils have been hit four times harder by Tory cuts than Conservative councils – losing £524 per household. However, Liverpool has been hit even harder by Tory cuts. In Liverpool, our council will have £932 less to spend on your household by 2020 than it had in 2010.

Labour cares about our city. Tory government cuts amount to £444 million by 2020, but Liverpool’s Labour council has worked hard to do its very best to protect the most vulnerable and grow the local economy so that we all benefit.

Labour in Liverpool is pledging to:

  1. Fight Tory austerity
  2. Protect our parks and green spaces
  3. Build/refurbish 10,000 new homes
  4. Protect our most vulnerable people from cuts
  5. Tackle fly-tipping and grot spots

And bring a new ice rink to Edge Lane.

Please vote Labour today. You can find your nearest polling station by clicking here.

Please vote for Frank Hont in Childwall, Nigel Parsons in Church, Sue Walker in Kensington, Joanne Calvert in Old Swan, Paul Kenyon in Picton, Angela Coleman in Wavertree.

Apr 23

Elections on May 3

council cuts graphicI’ve written here before about the savage cuts imposed on Liverpool since 2010 and the impact they are having on people’s lives.

New calculations from Labour show the shocking impact on each and every household in Liverpool. Even I was taken aback by the levels of cuts per household.

It’s not just what’s in the pie, but how it has been cut up. Under the Tories some of the most deprived areas in the country have been hit the hardest, while Tory councils are given a better deal.

On average, Tory councils will have £128 less to spend per household, while Labour councils are hit four times harder – losing £524.

But what about Labour-controlled Liverpool? How hard has every household in our city been hit?

The figure is shocking and you can find it by clicking here and entering your postcode.

Surprised?

That is the price households in Liverpool have had to pay for having a Tory government in Westminster.

Despite the cuts, which will amount to £444 million by 2020, the Labour- council here in Liverpool has protected the most vulnerable, invested in our communities and helped boost our local economy so more money can flow into the city in future years.

For instance, an extra £6 million is going to children’s services and the Labour-led council will spend £12 million on services for people who are homeless and £3.5 million to protect 42,000 people from the full impact of government reductions in council tax support.

That is the sign of a caring council that puts the values we all hold dear at the centre of what it does, despite the pressures loaded on to it by this Tory government.

That is why I am voting Labour in the local elections on Thursday May 3 and why I am inviting you to join me.

Please support our Labour candidates across the constituency – Angela Coleman in Wavertree, Frank Hont in Childwall, Nigel Parsons in Church, Joanne Calvert in Old Swan, Sue Walker in Kensington and Paul Kenyon in Picton.

A vote for Labour on May 3, is a vote to protect our city.

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