Jan 13

Keeping our children safe

The government needs to introduce compulsory age appropriate sex and relationships education through the Children and Social Work Bill when it is further debated in Parliament.Barnado's

It is disappointing that the Tories voted against it at committee stage this week, but the issue will be brought up again.

It is a demand supported by parents, teachers and now children themselves.

Seven in 10 children in England say they would feel safer if they had age-appropriate classes on the subject.

The new poll of 11-15 year olds for the children’s charity Barnardo’s reinforces long-standing calls from Labour to better support our schools to deliver age-appropriate Sex and Relationships Education as part of a revamped Personal Social Health and Education curriculum to help children and young people content with life.

For instance, around three children in every classroom has a diagnosable mental health problem, yet we still have a long way to go to break down the stigma that exists in mental health.

The rising level of mental distress amongst young people is part of a ‘ticking time bomb’ of issues facing young people that the Tories are failing to tackle.

For instance, there is a shocking 1,200 per cent increase in reports of under 16s ‘sexting’ over the last two years. Since 2010, the number of police incidents involving children sharing explicit images or messages has soared by almost 7,000 per-cent. More than nine in 10 children surveyed online by Barnado’s said it was important for them to understand the dangers of being online so they can stay safe.

Yet, the guidance for schools on Sex and Relationships Education has not been updated since 2000, before the ‘smartphone generation’ were even born. It is currently not compulsory for schools to deliver PSHE or SRE lessons.

This week the government admitted that it needed to do more and promised action when the Bill comes back to Parliament shortly. It must take this opportunity to change the law so that all children have information and knowledge they need to stay healthy and safe.

Jan 12

Linking art and psychological wellbeing

sola-artsI recently met with the team at Sola Arts to see how they are promoting psychological wellbeing in the community. I heard from volunteer Urbain, Manager and Lead Art Psychotherapist Adele and Jacqui, the daughter of a lady supported in Art Therapy, about the difference the Liverpool initiative makes to people’s lives.

I’m delighted that the group is playing its part in the growing debate about the future of mental health in our city and the wider country and look forward to meeting with the team again in the future.

SOLA is a community arts project, which specialises in supporting people from the refugee and black and minority ethnic communities who are experience mental health problems and bring communities together.

SOLA’s Art Therapy in the Community uses psychotherapy and image making to work through mental distress or enduring mental health problems and is delivered by qualified and registered therapists.

SOLA also co-ordinates Festival 31, a fantastic annual refugee arts and culture festival that has taken place since 2014 that celebrates and explores refugee arts, culture and discourse.

You can find out more about the work of Sola Arts by clicking here.

Jan 11

#timetotalk on Thursday February 2

time-to-talk-conversations-logoToo many people with mental health problems experience stigma and are made to feel isolated.

But talking about mental health can be as simple as making time to have a cup of tea or go for a walk, and listen to someone talk about how they feel.

The more we talk about mental health in general, in our homes, workplaces and communities, the easier it becomes to talk about mental health problems and seek help when it is needed.

That is why I am supporting #timetotalk day on Thursday February 2 again this year.

#timetotalk is part of the Time to Change campaign that is bringing people together from across the country to raise awareness about mental health combat the stigma and discrimination that still surrounds it.

The campaign is producing a wealth of materials to help people take part, spread the word and get the conversation going.

You can find out more by clicking here.

Jan 06

Celebrating 100 years of co-operation

co-op-100-logoI am proud to be one of 26 Labour and Co-operative Party MPs in the House of Commons. We believe that things work best when people have a real voice that is heard and when services are accountable to the people who use them.

The Co-operative Party works in partnership with the Labour Party – our sister party – to achieve these aims. Together, we’re ensuring that co-operative and mutual values are at the heart of our politics.

This year, the Co-operative Party celebrates its 100th birthday. The Co-operative Party was founded in 1917 to represent the co-op movement that traces its modern roots to 1844 and the Rochdale Pioneers. It has an electoral agreement with the Labour Party dating back to 1927, which enables it to stand joint candidates in elections.

In a year of uncertainty, its message of hope and coming together in partnership is needed more than ever.

The Co-operative Party believes that we need an economy and society based on:

  • Us all having a share in the things we produce and consume, and a say in the decisions that affect our lives;
  • The belief that when people work together, they can achieve more than they would alone;
  • The idea that co-operative values and principles – now over 150 years old – provide a template for transforming our economy and society.

There are hundreds of thousands of co-operatives and mutuals, with billions of members, across the world already showing that there is a positive alternative.

In Britain alone, around 6,000 cooperatives with nearly 13 million members make up a significant part of the UK’s economy, worth over £33 billion.

You can find about more about how, as a Labour Party member, you can join the Co-operative Party by clicking here.

Jan 03

Exposing the government’s #RailFail

Today, millions of people will return to work after the festive break and many of those doing so by train will experience another round of fare increases.rail-fares-2017

Regulated rail fares in England and Wales will rise by 1.9 per cent. That means that in the last six years rail fares have risen by over 25 per cent. Over the same period, 80 per cent of households have seen either flat or falling incomes.

In fact, commuters already pay the highest fares in Europe for often overcrowded carriages and unreliable services.

The government claims that the higher fares are needed to fund investment – yet across the rail network vital projects have been delayed by years and essential maintenance works have been put on hold.

The best way to secure a fair deal for rail passengers and taxpayers and secure the long term investment we need to create a modern railway would be to bring rail franchises back under public ownership as and when they expire.

That would mean fairer fares, investment in the railway and passengers having a stronger voice.

Too many rail companies have failed to deliver the service passengers demand. Our trains should run for the benefit of passengers and the taxpayer.

Reliable, affordable transport is essential for improving productivity to help our economy and get people to work each day.

Today, Labour is holding the government to account for its #RailFail.

Dec 31

Wishing you all a Happy New Year

luciana-berger-colour-2016-0294Few will be saddened to bid farewell to 2016, a year that witnessed the horrors of Aleppo and Yemen, the murder of my colleague Jo Cox, the UK-wide vote to leave the European Union set alongside Liverpool’s firm wish to remain, and the election of Donald Trump to the most powerful post in the world.

Every New Year brings renewed hope. This New Year we need that hope more than ever.

We must hope that the new US President realises that when he takes office on January 20 that he follows in a long line of presidents who have recognised that the United States is best when it is outward-looking, true to its long-standing friends and partners and stands up for freedom and justice.

We need to protect institutions like the United Nations which, while not perfect, offers a forum to debate and impact on the issues that touch every country in the world. We also need to protect regional organisations like NATO that offer all members mutual support and protection in times of increasing tension.

Here, we must not only hope, but work hard to bring the Tory government back to Parliament to share their plan for Brexit that will do the least damage to our economy. We need a deal that will offer the best chance of our country remaining an open and welcoming destination for those who want to work in partnership with us in our universities, businesses, cultural institutions and communities.

New powers will be devolved from Westminster to the Liverpool City Region in 2017, backed up by the election of a new city region mayor. The Labour candidate is Steve Rotheram. The election in May will be an important opportunity for our region to give a lead to the rest of the country in electing a Labour politician determined to make a real difference.

In Liverpool, the city council faces yet another year of painful budget decisions as the Tory government pulls yet more funding from the council, even as demand for its vital services rise. The council has been open about the scale of the challenges it is facing and has offered every community and individual the chance to get involved. There will be no easy answers, but if we stand as one city and face the future together in hope, we will come through these difficult times.

Over this next year, as in every year since I was honoured to be elected as your Member of Parliament for Liverpool Wavertree in 2010, I will be meeting as many constituents as I can at community events and on the doorstep to listen to your concerns and to make sure that the work I do locally and in Parliament is informed by what is important to you.

You can get in touch very easily:

  • Telephone my constituency office on 0151 228 1628;
  • Write to me at: Luciana Berger, UCATT Building, 56 Derwent Road East, Liverpool L13 6QR;
  • Book an appointment at one of my weekly surgeries. Simply ring or email, and we will make an appointment at a venue that suits you. Please do contact us for an appointment first, as the venues or times can change and we want to make sure that we can see everyone who wants to attend as soon as possible.

I wish you all a Happy New Year in which all your hopes are realised.

 

Dec 29

No one should sleep rough

rough-sleeping-logoLiverpool is proud to operate a no second night out pledge for people experiencing homelessness in the city.

If you see someone sleeping rough on the streets of Liverpool this holiday season, please ring 0300 123 2041 and the team that answers will do the rest.

The Prime Minister should take a leaf out of the city’s book and send a seasonal gift to the homeless by backing Labour’s pledge to put an end to rough sleeping.

She should take personal charge of a new national strategy and act on Labour’s plan for an extra 4,000 homes for those moving on from homeless hostels.

The hard truth for the Prime Minister is that six years of Tory housing failure has caused the tragic homelessness crisis we are now seeing on our streets. Rough sleeping has doubled since 2010 after falling to a record low under Labour.

In Liverpool this holiday season, we can act – please ring 0300 123 2041 if you see a homeless person sleeping rough.

Dec 23

Seasons Greetings

xmas-card-frontxmas-card-backThank you to the amazing 448 children from primary schools across the constituency who entered my Design a Christmas Card competition this year. It has been a fantastic response that has brightened up the office. Thank you also to all the school headteachers and staff who made it possible.

I was delighted to present the top prize to Emilyneen Chong from Year 5 at Dovedale school. You can see her wonderful cover design above.

Emilyneen’s design will be seen in over 2,500 Liverpool and parliamentary homes and offices

Congratulations too to all the runners-up whose work features on the reverse of the card.

I am visiting every school to thank all the runners-up and to present them with their prizes too.

The entries are proof, once again, that our schools are overflowing with talent and imagination.

The competition was made possible by the kind support of Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Allegro.

I wish you all Season’s Greetings and a very happy 2017.

Dec 20

UpRising Leadership Programme open for applications

uprising-2016Uprising, the UK-wide youth leadership development organisation, is launching its ninth programme in Liverpool in the New Year aimed at 19-25 year olds.

The Liverpool Core Leadership Programme starts in February, but applications from young people from diverse and under-represented backgrounds who have a passion to make a positive difference in their community need to be in by the end of January.

The nine month leadership programme offers young people ‘access behind the scenes’ training sessions with senior leaders across the political, private, public and not-for-profit sectors.

Participants are individually matched with a coach and a mentor and also work with other ‘UpRisers’ to design and deliver a social action campaign on a local issue they are passionate about.

Past programmes have proved hugely popular with eight out of 10 taking part saying the course had improved their confidence and provided them with the skills to a have an impact on the world around them.

People can apply online by clicking here. Applicants must be aged 19-25, live, work or study in the Liverpool area and have a passion to make a positive difference in their community.

Applications close on Tuesday 31st January 2017 and the programme gets up and running in early February. For more information, click here.

Dec 16

Tackling violence against women and girls

Violence against women and girls remains a hugely significant problem across the UK. Up to 3 million women experience violence each year, and two women a week are killed in the UK by a current or former male partner.luciana-berger-violence-against-women

Despite these horrific statistics, the government is standing back as many domestic violence shelters for women close due to cuts.

The government should honour its commitment and ratify the Istanbul Convention, which it promised to do over four years ago. The convention is a comprehensive international legal framework to tackle violence against women and girls. The UK government signed the convention in June 2012 and said then that it would ratify it to bring it into UK law.

The convention sets minimum standards around prevention, protection, prosecution and monitoring, which add up to an integrated policy approach to tackling this unacceptable violence.

Ratification will mean that women and girls in the UK are legally guaranteed the right to live lives free from violence and the fear of violence.

The backbench Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Bill is being debated in Parliament today.

In 2015, a United Nations report expressed concerns about the impact of austerity measures on services designed to tackle violence against women.

In March this year the government published its Ending Violence against Women and Girls Strategy which made welcome promises about the future, but I want to see action now.

Of course violence against women and girls has a long history and is spread around the world.

One local teacher tells me that in her all-girls school they spend a great deal of time talking about the rights and opportunities available to their students. For A Level they are studying the Greek comedy Lysistrata, which has at its heart ‘women’s rights and having a voice’ even though it was written over 2,400 years ago.

She says: ‘The Istanbul Convention is the single most constructive move that has been made towards ending violence against women and girls globally.’

At the General Election I stood on a manifesto which included commitments to introduce a Violence against Women and Girls Bill, appoint a Commissioner to set minimum standards in tackling domestic and sexual violence and to provide more stable funding for women’s refuges and Rape Crisis Centres.

This government should ratify the Istanbul Convention to protect women now and introduce compulsory and universal education programmes on healthy relationships for our children, so that future generations do not have to experience violence and abuse.

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