Nov 18

Small Business Saturday is back

2-12 Small Business Saturday logoSmall Business Saturday is back and celebrating its fifth year on December 2.

Scenes from Small Business Saturday

Scenes from Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is a not-for-profit campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages everyone to support small and local businesses.

Small Business Saturday 2016 had a huge impact across the country with customers spending £717 million with small businesses on the day, an increase of 15 per cent on 2015 spending.

Over 140,000 tweets were sent promoting the day, reaching 130 million people.

Liverpool was one of the over 80 per cent of local authorities across the UK that actively supported the campaign in a variety of ways.

I have backed the initiative from the start and had some wonderful feedback from local businesses who have used the day to encourage people to shop with them.

Once again this year, I will be spending Small Business Saturday locally, visiting shops and talking to traders across Liverpool Wavertree.

If you think there is a business that I should be visiting on the day, please do let me know by emailing:

Nov 17

Time to act on eating disorders

BeatI was pleased to be asked this week to host the parliamentary launch of Beat’s new report Delaying for years, denied for months.

Beat started in 1989 as the first national charity for people with eating disorders. Its new report shows that there are long delays in people getting the help they need.

The charity’s findings build on evidence from a survey of people with personal experience of seeking treatment, a survey of carers and their experiences, Freedom of Information requests to NHS mental health Trusts across the country, and interviews with 20 people who have either had or cared for someone who has had an eating disorder.

Its comprehensive research found that the long delays in getting treatment was ‘devastating and widespread, affecting every aspect of people’s lives.’

Around 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder. As Beat points out, these are serious mental health problems, not ‘diets gone wrong.’ That is why it is so important that people get the help when they need it, without long delays.

Beat says that people spend, on average, 21 months between their eating disorder symptoms emerging and realising that they might have an eating disorder. They then wait another year before seeking help from the NHS.

In the future, the charity is going to spend more of its precious resources on working with partners to promote awareness of symptoms and encourage people to recognise them earlier.

However, even when people do seek help, there are further delays. Another six months pass between their first GP visit and treatment starting. Adults wait twice as long as children and adolescents before seeking and starting treatment.

That is why the charity is pressing the government to reduce waiting times and to increase the provision of specialist and intensive community treatment options.

Three years ago, in December 2014, the government pledged £150 million for eating disorder services. The Beat report shows that there is still much to do to make sure that money is reaching the frontline and transforming services.

That is why I am calling on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to use next week’s Budget to ring-fence mental health spending. You can join me in my call by clicking here today.

Nov 16

Time to ring-fence mental health spend

Labour Campaign for mental HealthThe government claims that mental health spending is increasing. So why do so many Clinical Commissioning Groups – the bodies that allocate NHS money locally – tell me that they are reducing the proportion of their budgets that go to the mental health frontline?

If money is increasing why are so many people sharing with me their experiences of long delays in even getting an assessment, let alone receiving the help they need?

The government has announced additional funding for mental health – £1.4 billion over five years to deliver the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health and £1.25 billion for the Future In Mind programme for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

This money is an important step forward but I am deeply concerned that it is not reaching the frontline, where it is needed.

That is why I have launched an online petition calling on the Chancellor to ring-fence mental health spend in his Autumn Budget next week.

The money needed to transform mental health services and save lives is just not reaching the front line. Waiting times are too long, people are not receiving the best care in the community and too many people are having to travel too far for in-patient services.

On November 22, in his Budget, the Chancellor Philip Hammond can make a difference and ring-fence mental health budgets to make sure that the promised money actually reaches local mental health services.

Please sign this petition by clicking here today to urge the Chancellor to ring-fence mental health spending on November 22 and ask your friends and family to sign too.

Nov 12

A time to remember

poppyMillions of people will come together across the country today to remember all those who have sacrificed so much that we might live our lives in freedom.

It is a time to remember and also to thank our Armed Forces who continue to serve with such bravery and distinction.

Labour is proud of our Armed Forces and veterans and their families. We will always honour them through the Armed Forces Covenant. The covenant is our nation’s pledge to our servicemen and women that they will be treated with dignity and respect.

I am particularly concerned that our veterans and reservists can access the very best mental health support they need and deserve.

The dedication they have displayed in past conflicts and continue to show today deserves nothing less.

Nov 03

Today, I’m backing Votes at 16

Votes at 16At 16, people can join the army, get married and have a job – but people can’t vote.

I think that is wrong. Right now, 1.5 million young people are being denied a say in their future. It’s time we changed things.

People should be able to vote for 16. That is why I am supporting the vote in Parliament today to make the government act.

Giving young people a real stake in their future through voting is an important way to ensure young people are engaged and informed about the political process.

Lowering of the voting age for Scottish parliamentary and local elections and the plans to do so for elections in Wales is a welcome development. However, the Tory government continues to oppose votes at 16 for parliamentary elections and other elections in England.

While the European Union Referendum Bill was being considered during the last Parliament, the government consistently opposed amendments which would have allowed 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the EU referendum.

It is time that young people have their say.

That is why I am supporting my colleague Jim McMahon’s Representation of the People (Young People’s Enfranchisement and Education) Bill in Parliament today.

You can sign the Labour Party petition for Votes at 16 by clicking here.

Nov 03

I am backing Seni’s Law

I am backing my colleague Steve Reed’s bid in Parliament today to prevent deaths in custody and mental health units.Seni's Law graphic

Police and mental health staff work incredibly hard to provide quality services against the background of real financial pressures.

The best mental health units save lives and provide fantastic support to people recovering from a crisis. The professionals who work in them treat people with the dignity and respect they deserve.

But there can be no excuse for the use of inappropriate force that leads to the death of someone experiencing a mental health crisis.

Steve’s Private Member’s Bill, the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill, would end of the use of inappropriate force against people using mental health services.

The Bill will create accountability and transparency in mental health services and tackle the unconscious bias that means too many members of our black community are treated differently.

Steve was motivated to present the Bill to Parliament by the death of his constituent Seni Lewis, who died after being restrained by 11 police officers.

‘Seni’s Law’ will ensure that whenever force is used in a mental health unit it is properly recorded. Every unit will have a policy in place on the use of restraint and have a named individual responsible for implementing it.

The Bill is also about supporting staff, who can have an incredibly difficult job to do. It would mean much more training for staff on using de-escalation techniques. Staff would be better supported in handling challenging behaviour and the appropriate use of force, as a last resort.

That is why I am backing the Bill, and I hope that the government will ensure that it has the time to pass into law.


Oct 13

Community action to tackle loneliness

I am delighted to be joined today by Shadow Secretary of State for Health Jonathan Ashworth to host community organisations from across Liverpool, including the police health, housing associations and charities, to share ideas on tackling loneliness.

During his visit to Liverpool, Jonathan will pledge that the next Labour government will work with local councils, charities and business to reconnect communities and end loneliness.

There are proven links between high rates of loneliness and poverty and all the evidence suggests that as community services falter due to government cuts, more people are left isolated and experience the misery of loneliness.

Labour in government will reverse that by working with councils to support the kind of local initiatives that tackle poverty and bring people together in their communities.

Today’s initiative is about bringing people together to discuss ways of working together to tackle loneliness and was inspired by the work of my colleague Jo Cox, who was murdered in her Batley and Spen constituency in June 2016.

The Jo Cox Foundation, set up in her name, has made tackling the scourge of loneliness a major foundation for its work. Today, organisations that already do great work in this area and some that want to do more are coming together to share ideas.

We will be feeding these into the foundation’s work on loneliness ahead of national initiatives to be unveiled later in the year.

Liverpool is famed around the world for its friendliness and community spirit and I know that the work we do today will be shared across the country in the future.

Oct 12

Call to enter schools video competition

PSA video compIt’s hard to know what to believe in some of the media anymore – and that is why it is so important that young people get the chance explore news for themselves.

In its seventh year, the Political Studies Association Schools’ Short Video Competition is asking A-level students to make a video that tackles the issue of Fake News.

The competition is open to post-16 students who will be studying during the academic year 2017-18. Groups of students are invited to submit short videos examining what fake news is, what effect it may be having on the political landscape and what it means for expert opinion and ‘factual’ knowledge.

It is a great opportunity for A level students to add their voice to an important discussion that shows no sign of going away in the near future.

Shortlisted groups will be invited to Speaker’s House in the Palace of Westminster to discuss the ideas raised in their video with a panel of politicians, journalists and academics.

The winners will receive their award at the PSA’s Annual Awards Ceremony in Westminster on December 5 in London. The winning students will also get a week’s work experience with pollsters YouGov’s political team during school/college holidays.

The full competition details are available by clicking here, but hurry, the deadline for entries is noon on Monday October 30.

Oct 10

Celebrating World Mental Health Day

YouTube Preview ImagePeople are today celebrating World Mental Health Day with a renewed assertiveness.

Mental health is what everyone seems to be talking about. It’s good to talk. We don’t have to hide. We don’t have to pretend that everything is ‘fine,’ when really we are struggling. That is something to celebrate.

Liverpool Mental Health Consortium has put together a 14-day festival of laughter, theatre, music, film, debates and discussion which culminates on October 14 with a Festival Finale at Blackburne House featuring free workshops with Bring the Fire Project, followed by a spectacular, fire-tastic, tribal performance by Bring the Fire Project & Katumba. Full details of all the events are here.

The consortium has been bringing together people with direct experience of mental health problems for over 20 years, co-ordinating World Mental Health Day on October 10 for eight years and pulling together a festival for the last two.

We must continue to talk. That is why as part of the festival, I am holding a roundtable event on October 13, under the auspices of the Jo Cox Foundation, bringing together people and organisations to talk about what more we can do to tackle loneliness. Next month, in my role as Mental Health Adviser to Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram, I am bringing together employers to talk about what more we can do together to tackle mental health in the workplace.

It’s good to talk, but on its own talking is not enough. I am pressing the government to ring-fence mental health spending today and in the coming weeks and months because we must close the gap between the rhetoric of parity and the reality of cuts to services on the front-line. We must keep talking. But now is also the time for action.



Sep 15

Time to end the pay cap for all public sector workers

The House of Commons unanimously backed Labour’s call this week to scrap the pay cap for public sector workers, after the Tory government told its MPs to stay away.Scrap the cap

It’s very unusual for the government not to vote down an Opposition motion.

This week, the Tories have ducked a vote twice, first on the public sector pay cap and secondly on the Tories’ increase in student tuition fees.

Labour had the backing of all the Opposition parties in calling for the pay cap to be scrapped – including the Democratic Unionist Party which has done a deal with the Tories over Brexit.

The House of Commons also unanimously approved Labour’s motion to revoke the government’s latest tuition fee hike, which will cost students up to £1,000 each over the course of their degrees.

If the Tories do not now reverse the student fee rise they will be defying the will of Parliament in blatant disregard for our democracy.

In truth, the government avoided the votes because it knew it would lose.

The government may attempt to ignore the clear will of the House of Commons, but Labour is determined to stand up for democracy, pay justice in the public sector and our students.

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