Feb 12

Selling Big Issue on the streets of Liverpool

Luciana selling Big IssueI joined regular Big Issue seller Les last week to show my support for the magazine that has helped thousands of homeless people get back on their feet.

Vendors, like Les, buy the magazine for £1.25 and sell it for £2.50, keeping the £1.25 profit they make, earning their own living and supporting themselves and their families.

I gained a real insight into what it is like to sell the Big Issue North. It was hard work. Many busy people put their heads down and rushed past while others declined the offer. However, I was pleased to finally sell a few and engage some passers-by in conversation about the great work the magazine helps achieve.

It is clear that selling the magazine to the public in all weathers demands real determination and the ability to reach busy people. Of course, every penny I earned from my sales went to Les.

Street papers like Big Issue North make a real impact around the world. It is part of the International Network of Street Papers which supports and develops 112 street paper projects in 34 countries, in 23 languages. The network has a combined readership of 6 million per edition.

I’m pleased that I was able to add a few sales to that number and offer my support to this important enterprise.

 

Feb 11

Join the Care Quality Commission listening event

The Care Quality Commission wants to hear your views about the health care on offer at The Royal and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust.CQC logo

The independent regulator will be in Liverpool on the evening of Tuesday March 8 and wants as many people as possible to share their experiences about how the trust delivers its services.

These listening events are an opportunity for the people who use the services of the hospital trust, or their families and carers, to feed in to the inspection process and share their experiences of care. The listening events help the regulator’s inspectors identify particular issues to pay attention to during their inspections.

Inspections are carried out by inspectors, clinicians and experts by experience who assess whether a service overall is safe, effective, caring, responsive to people’s needs and well-led. It is crucial that patients have the chance to let inspectors know about their experiences too.

The listening event will take place at the Gateway Conference Centre, 71 London road, Liverpool L3 8HY from 6pm-7.30pm. To find out more, click here.

Feb 09

Keeping music on the BBC

UK_Music_TwoTone_400x400The government’s consultation on BBC Charter Review closed in October last year and over 190,000 people responded to it. The government says that it is analysing these responses and will publish the results once this exercise is completed.

The BBC is the cornerstone of the UK’s creative industries and one of our greatest cultural institutions. The investment and scope of the BBC must be maintained and the BBC must continue to be a great universal broadcaster that continues to inform, educate and entertain – and provide something for everyone.

I know from my work as a member of the All-Party Parliamentary group on Music about the fantastic support it gives to new up and coming music.

UK Music is the umbrella body representing the interests of songwriters, composers, artists and musicians, studio producers, music managers, music publishers, major and independent record labels, music licensing companies and the live music sector.

Its #LetItBeeb campaign has highlighted the vital role that the BBC provides in offering new music and the need to strengthen and build upon existing music services.

The campaign is supported by an online petition which has attracted over 11,000 signatories already and closes at the end of this week. You can add your name by clicking here.

I will oppose any attempts by the government to diminish or dismantle the BBC. I am pleased my Shadow Frontbench colleagues have committed to work with the creative industries to defend the BBC.

Feb 04

National Voter Registration Drive

Bite the Ballot’s National Voter Registration Drive is underway this week urging everyone to check that they are registered for vital votes this year in local elections and a likely referendum on Britain’s future in the European Union.Luciana berger Labour voting

Changes to the way voters register were rushed through by the Tories and have meant that, across the country, around 800,000 people have vanished from the voter register. They won’t be able to vote unless they take action.

There has been a particular challenge in towns and cities which have universities and colleges, where students have failed to register and can no longer be registered in blocks by their institutions.

Labour is calling on the government to back universities who are making individual voter registration part of the enrolment process for new students. Where schools, colleges and universities have encouraged students to register, numbers have held up or even increased.

Here in Liverpool Wavertree, initial figures suggest that several hundred voters are no longer on the register who should be. This means that too many people living, working and studying in Liverpool Wavertree who should have their voices heard at the ballot box will not.

The good news is that people can still register in time for the local elections in May and for the EU referendum expected in the summer.

You can register online or update your details if you have moved by clicking here. You will need your National Insurance number.

You can find out more about the registration process by clicking here or by telephone: 0151 233 3028.

You can find out more about the Bite the Ballot National Voter Registration Drive by clicking here.

 

Feb 04

It’s time to talk about mental health

Time to talk 2 logoCongratulations to everyone in Liverpool and across the country involved in organising events for Time to Talk Day, today.

As Shadow Mental Health Minister I am delighted to see major employers are getting behind the need to address mental health in workplace.

This morning, I am with Royal Mail, Anglian Water and Business in the Community as they commit to tackling ‘the culture of silence surrounding mental health’ and supporting wellbeing across the workplace.

Later, I will join Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn to celebrate the work at communications giant O2 who have put mental health on the agenda of their Board to help get the conversations started.

Staff have appointed mental health champions in the workplace and senior managers have got behind the initiative, recognising the business benefits of good mental health in the workplace.

I’ve said many times that the crisis facing mental health will not be solved from the department of Health alone – it is vital that we make mental health something we talk about in our workplaces and our communities.

Mental health problems affect 1 in 4 people every year, but too many people fear talking about their experiences in case being open has a negative impact on their job or relationships.

We can all do something today by starting a conversation about mental health with friends, family or work colleagues. Time to Talk Day is part of Time to Change the campaign organised by mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. Time to change is urging people to log their conversations at: www.time-to-change.org.uk/timetotalkday. The conversation map will update throughout the day to show which county is having the most talks.

Time to Talk Day can help break the silence and end the stigma surrounding mental health. Let’s keep the conversation going.

Jan 29

Labour votes to halt government housing cuts

Liverpool housingLabour MPs called a vote in Parliament this week to halt Tory plans to cut housing benefit support for thousands of elderly and vulnerable people across the country.

Supported housing provides specialist care for groups including the elderly, the homeless, disabled people, veterans, people with mental health problems, young people leaving care and women fleeing domestic violence.

The planned cuts to government support could hit up to 6,000 people in Liverpool alone, 4,000 of them elderly.

Experts say that across the country 156,000 supported homes are at risk of closure due to the Chancellor’s cuts.

In Parliament, Labour called on George Osborne to exempt supported housing from his housing benefit cuts and to consult with charities, councils and housing associations to safeguard this vital accommodation.

However, Conservative MPs voted down Labour’s motion to protect these homes.

These crude cuts to housing benefit would be a catastrophe for those who can least afford it. There is no way these people or the organisations who support them could make up the yawning shortfall these cuts are set to open up.

One Liverpool housing association told me the cuts would have ‘a devastating effect’ on its tenants. The housing association said that the cuts would also push up costs in social care and the NHS as ‘people with multiple and complex needs’ would no longer receive support at a relatively early stage that has saved substantial amounts of direct costs to the NHS.

The housing association has over 2,000 supported and sheltered housing units across Cheshire and Merseyside and warns: ‘If the cap is applied we estimate that there will be an average annual shortfall of £2,100 per unit which would almost certainly result in us having no option but to close some schemes.’

The government has been warned. Labour is calling on the Chancellor to urgently exempt supported housing from his housing benefit cuts and consult fully with the organisations that provide this vital accommodation.

You can read more about the issue here.

Jan 28

Help save lives with Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

cervical cancer logoMore than 3,000 women a year in the UK are diagnosed with cervical cancer but too few of those eligible for a smear test are taking up the offer. This week, Cervical Cancer Prevention Week is urging all women invited to attend their cervical smear test and help save lives.

Research from the Health and Social Care Information Centre shows that the number of women of all eligible ages having a smear test in Liverpool is slightly down year-on-year. In 2014 67.8 per cent of women attended and in 2015 67.6 per cent of women attended. Those percentages are amongst the lowest for the whole of the North West. They mean that many women are being diagnosed late and lives are being lost.

Across the UK almost 1 in 4 women do not attend cervical screening each year, yet cervical cancer affects over 3,000 women annually and 1,000 will lose their lives.

Eight women are diagnosed every day with cervical cancer and three women die from the disease. It is also the most common cancer in women under the age of 35.

The good news is that cervical cancer is largely preventable thanks to cervical screening and the HPV vaccination. If we can help 85 per cent of women attend their screening, the incidence of cervical cancer could decrease by 14 per cent in just one year and deaths would fall by 27 per cent over five years.

The symptoms of cervical cancer aren’t always obvious, and it may not cause any symptoms at all until it’s reached an advanced stage. Cervical screening isn’t a test for cancer. It’s a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix, the entrance to the womb.

Most women’s test results show that everything is normal, but for around 1 in 20 women the test shows some abnormal changes in the cells. This is why it’s very important that women attend cervical screening appointments when they get the letter from the GP in the post.

To find out more, visit the Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust website www.jostrust.org.uk.or the NHS Choices website.

Jan 27

Remembering those who died during the Holocaust

Luciana HET Book of Commitment 2016I have signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment pledging my support to today’s Holocaust Memorial Day and remembering the millions of people who perished at the hands of the nazis as well as paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people.

Today marks the liberation of the nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.

In the weeks leading up to and after Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will have been arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. I will be attending the national commemoration in London.

The Holocaust and subsequent genocides took place because too many people allowed insidious persecution to take root. Some actively supported or facilitated state policies of persecution, the vast majority of people stood by silently – at best, afraid to speak out; at worst, indifferent. Bystanders enabled the Holocaust, nazi persecution and subsequent genocides. Today, we cannot be bystanders to hate crime and prejudice.

This is an important opportunity for us all to come together to remember the victims and survivors of the Holocaust and make sure they are not forgotten, while committing ourselves to the continuing fight against prejudice and intolerance.

Jan 22

Call to celebrate our World in One City

world-footballLiverpool County FA is calling for people to sign up to its new World in One City league to help kick off a new initiative to celebrate the city’s diversity through the international language of football.

Liverpool is one of the country’s most diverse cities and the Football Association wants to help bring everybody together and unite them through football.

The league will be up and running next month and is open to teams over the age of 16 representing a different nation from around the world and is completely free to enter.

Each team will have a designated manager responsible for registering a squad of players to compete and ensuring that they have a link to the country they are proposing to represent. Teams should be available to play games between 1pm and 3pm on Sunday afternoons on a league basis at Walton Hall Park Liverpool Soccer Centre’s 3G astro-turf.

The aim is to celebrate Liverpool’s cultural diversity with teams able to represent respective nations with pride and bring together all those who have made Merseyside their home; whether that be permanently or temporarily during studies at university.

For more information or to register visit www.liverpoolfa.com, telephone 0151 523 4488 or email anthony.smith@liverpoolfa.com.

 

 

Jan 19

Standing up for students

Luciana Berger addresses students lobbying Parliament

Luciana Berger addresses students lobbying Parliament

The Tories are planning to scrap maintenance grants for students replacing them with a loans system.

Labour has tabled a motion to annul the statutory instrument in which these changes are contained, to try to halt the Tories’ pernicious and ill-considered plans.

The Tory change will impact on students from the lowest income families. Students from the poorest backgrounds will leave university with substantially higher debts than their better-off peers and, as the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies warn, will do little to improve government finances in the long run.

The Tories tried to sneak the changes through using procedures that limited the number of MPs involved in voting on them.

Today, Labour will try to shine a light on the Tory plans and have them properly debated.

The Tories kicked the regulations into committee away from the light of scrutiny and challenge that would have come with debating them on the floor of the House of Commons.

Given the widespread opposition to the changes and the strength of feeling from constituents and from students across the country, Labour has secured an Opposition Day Debate on the issue followed by a vote and an additional vote on a motion to annul the statutory instrument that would introduce these changes.

Labour is standing up for the students of the future and exposing the Tory government’s tactics.

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