Season’s Greetings to everyone

Congratulations and thank you to Grace Scully, age 11, from Bishop Eton Primary School, who designed my Christmas Card.

Every year, I invite every primary school across the constituency to enter the competition that offers all the participants a great chance to use their imagination and creative skills. This year, saw a fantastic response and, as ever, it was really hard to pick just one winner.

So, thank you also to our very special four runners-up.

The competition is made possible by the kind support of Eureka Greek Restaurant, Romal Capital, Titanic Hotel and Capital&Centric. Thank you to each of them.

Every year, there is a great response from local schools to the competition to design the card, underlining the wonderful artistic talent that is developing in our city.

Having a Christmas card designed and printed locally really helps me stay in touch.

Thank you, as ever, to everyone involved.

Nurses back call for a People’s Vote

The National Health Service benefits greatly from its close links with countries across the European Union. That includes being able to call on the vital skills of people who work to make the NHS the envy of the world.

I recently met a number of frontline nurses from the Royal College of Nursing, including from the North West, to listen to their fears of Brexit and their determination to enable the people to have the final say on the Prime Minister’s botched deal.

The ‘Nursing at Brexit point’ event, in Parliament, brought together MPs, members of the House of Lords and nurses.

The nursing staff back a second referendum on the final terms of the Brexit deal – People’s Vote – because they see every day how a broken Brexit will harm their ability to deliver for all of us who use the NHS.

Several nurses from the EU shared their experiences of working in the NHS across the UK since the Brexit vote. Both EU and UK nurses highlighted their concerns about how Brexit is affecting the nursing workforce and its impact on the future supply of medicines, public health and nursing regulation.

The Royal College of Nursing warns that Brexit poses an immediate risk to the provision of safe and effective health care, as well as collective efforts to improve our nation’s public health.

There has been a fall in the number of EU nurses applying to work in the UK. Between October 2017 – September 2018 fewer than 900 EU nurses signed up to work in the UK compared to 10,000 only two years ago.

Meanwhile, the number of EU nurses and midwives who left the register from October 2017-September 2018 was 3,560.

Our NHS is too precious to be risked in this way. We need the care and dedication of NHS staff, including nurses, from across the EU. That is why we need to demand that the Prime Minister faces up the fact that Parliament is deadlocked and the people need to be trusted with a final say over the future.

Thank you to all our postal workers

I was pleased to visit two very busy sorting offices in the Liverpool Wavertree constituency to witness first hand our hard-working postal workers striving to deliver the very best Christmas to constituents.

A huge ‘thank-you’ to everyone at Liverpool South East and Mossley Hill delivery offices for pulling out all the stops to sort and deliver our mail in this incredibly busy festive period.

Christmas is Royal Mail’s busiest period, as millions of people shop online for gifts as well as sending Christmas cards and parcels. Royal Mail also plays a key role in e-commerce for many businesses sending goods and communications to customers throughout the Christmas shopping season.

Postal workers make an enormous effort to make sure that every card, letter and parcel makes its way from sender to receiver in time for Christmas and it really helps to make sure that the correct postcode and address are clearly marked on every item.

Customers do not need to travel to a Royal Mail Delivery office to pick up parcels if they can’t or do not want to. They can arrange a redelivery free of charge on a day that is convenient, including Saturdays, or Royal Mail can deliver the item to a different address within the same postcode area.

Please remember the last recommended posting dates for Christmas are:

  • Second Class – Tuesday 18 December
  • First Class – Thursday 20 December
  • Special Delivery – Saturday 22 December

Thank you again to all the staff I met and to everyone working day and night to get our mail delivered.

For more information about Royal Mail’s last recommended posting dates, please visit: www.royalmail.com/greetings or call 03457 740 740.

Brexit tops concerns of Old Swan residents

Brexit uncertainty, parking and traffic and improving the local environment were the hot topics at my latest coffee afternoon, held in the Old Swan Ward of the Liverpool Wavertree constituency.

Letters, emails and telephone calls have been coming in at a rate of 10-1 in favour of a People’s Vote on the final Brexit decision that has now been delayed by the rattled Prime Minister, so it was good to once again discuss the issues face-to-face with constituents and hear local concerns.

The meeting was the latest around the six wards that make up the constituency – Picton, Kensington and Fairfield, Church, Childwall and Wavertree.

Thank you to the Joseph Lappin Centre, who hosted the coffee afternoon, and to Sway with Ray and the dancers who provided some welcome musical entertainment after the event.

Thank you to everyone who came and raised such vital questions about the possibility and impact of a second referendum, the protection of workers’ rights and what one resident warned of as the risk of ‘self-imposed economic sanctions’ if we see the Withdrawal Agreement implemented or, even worse, a no-deal Brexit.

Some residents were frustrated about parking in the streets, particularly around schools when children are being dropped off and picked up and how some roads were being used as race tracks by speeding cars.

People really care about the area and want to see pavements cleared of dog mess and the environment better supported.

I will be raising all these issues in the coming weeks and working with Labour councillors in the Ward and the council to address them.

I hold regular surgeries if you want to speak to me about community issues in your area or have other issues you want to raise. Please book an appointment by telephoning 0151 228 1628 or emailing luciana.berger.mp@parliament.uk.

Great to visit and shop

It was great to be out and about around the constituency on Small Business Saturday to support shops, cafes, markets and entrepreneurs from across Liverpool Wavertree who are working so hard to provide services for our local community.

I met up with Peter from local business Elabora who had a stall at the Anglican Cathedral as part of the Winter Fair showcasing his range of quality handcrafted products, including gifts and furniture.

Small Business Saturday was founded in 2013 as a way of giving an extra boost to the businesses that make a huge local difference but don’t have access to the advertising budgets of the big firms.

Shopping can be thirsty work so I was very happy to stop off at espresso plus on Rose Lane for a coffee and to say hello to the team. The independent fully licensed coffee bar and bistro is open daytime 7 days a week and is available for evening hire.

There is always a warm welcome from Julie at Voglio who sells really lovely Liverpool themed gifts, including Lambananas, Liverbirds, Sagaform, Wotmalike and lots of exclusive Liverpool products.

The service sector makes up around 80 per cent of the UK economy, much of it made up of-small businesses like BMD Law on Wavertree High Street led by Bernadette McDonald.

The Joseph Lappin Centre in Old Swan was kind enough to host my most recent coffee afternoon for local residents. Joe’s Diner is open during the week at the centre and also available for catering through the Posh Nosh Family.

This is a great time of year to shop with a local business that are such an important part of our communities and I was delighted to be able to meet up with so many people contributing to our local economy.

Thank you to the Patchwork Foundation and all who voted

Thank you to everyone involved at the Patchwork Foundation and all the people who voted for the wonderful honour of being named The Labour People’s Choice MP of the Year.

Luciana Berger MP with Sir Martyn Lewis CBE, Patron of the Patchwork Foundation

The Foundation does really important work encouraging young people from disadvantaged and minority communities to get involved in our democracy. It is heart-warming to know that the work I have been involved in throughout the constituency and across the country has contributed to these aims and been recognised by the members of the public who nominated and voted for me.

It is crucial for the future of our democracy that we all work together to remove barriers to people’s participation and encourage everyone to get involved in their local communities and politics more generally.

It is particularly important at a time when politics seems deeply polarised that elected politicians reach out and make sure that the people who we represent have their voices heard and are involved in all our decision making.

I can promise you that I will continue to work just as hard in the future for all my constituents.

We need a revolution in mental health

I am delighted to be appointed as one of three new Vice Presidents of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). 

I am currently President of the Labour Campaign for Mental Health I am also a member of the House of Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee. My experience from both of these responsibilities, and from listening to constituents, tells me that we need a revolution in how we approach mental health. 

BACP champions the counselling professions and the expertise of its 47,000 counsellor and psychotherapist members, while working to raise professional and ethical standards within the field. 

I firmly believe we need a revolution in mental health, moving away from crisis toward prevention and early intervention; from mental illness to mental health. I know BACP will be part of that revolution and I really look forward to working alongside them and their members in the months and years ahead, to increase their success and impact. 

‘Revolution’ suggests a complete overthrow of the old order and a new system to replace it; I choose this word quite deliberately. We need a wholly new approach to mental health, of which counselling and psychotherapy should be a central part. 

Hundreds of people in Liverpool Wavertree experience mental ill health. But the system supposedly there to help is creaking at the seams. 

A National Health Service designed to deal with people when they are ill, rather than a whole-systems approach which intervenes early and tackles the fundamental causes of mental ill health, will always be on the brink of crisis. 

I want to see a ‘Health in All Policies’ approach that puts an onus on all national and local government departments to consider the nation’s physical and mental health before taking any public decision.  

Where you live, what you earn, how you work, what assets you own, how educated you are, and what your parents did – all these factors have an impact on a person’s length of life, and number of years lived free from physical and mental health conditions. 

Societies which are more equal and more prosperous enjoy better mental health and wellbeing. For this reason, if no other, social justice should run through our social and economic policies like a golden thread.

Reducing suicide by talking openly

I was pleased to witness first-hand the wonderful work being done at James’ Place to reduce suicide amongst men.

James’ Place is an initiative formed by Clare Milford Haven and Nick Wentworth-Stanley, as part of the James Wentworth-Stanley Memorial Fund which they founded in 2008, after they tragically lost their 21-year-old son, James, to suicide.

James died 10 days after a minor operation. He had looked for someone to talk to about his anxiety and suicidal thoughts but didn’t get the urgent help he needed.  James’ Place aims to address this very issue, offering to support and listen to men who would like to talk.

I met with Centre Manager Jane Boland and Executive Director Nafeesa Zulfiqar who showed me around the centre that offers a calm and peaceful environment that includes a landscaped garden.

Jane was Suicide Prevention Clinical Lead for Mersey Care and played an important role in developing its suicide awareness and prevention training, which is now being rolled out in communities across the country.

They showed me ‘Lay Your Cards on the Table’, the innovative intervention they have developed to encourage people to talk. The centre points out that talking is a strength that all men should be encouraged to develop.

I wish James’ Place and all the team every success in supporting men from across the city. You can read more here.

Let’s look behind the smile

I was pleased to join Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, to hear about some of the work not-for-profit organisation n-compass northwest is doing to combat loneliness and isolation across our region. 

The organisation supports over 25,000 people in the North West each year and says that every person has a story to tell that we should all be listening to. Its Behind the Smile campaign, seeks to draw attention to the lives that exist behind our immediate facial expressions.  

People’s stories often tell of lives that are less fulfilled and meaningful that they could be with just a little community support and engagement. n-compass northwest aims to help people regain control of their lives, providing hope and a sense of purpose, through the provision of carers, advocacy, wellbeing, counselling and volunteering services.  

Like every organisation working across social care, n-compass northwest is feeling the impact of the government’s programme of cuts to local authority budgets and wants to do more. 

Tackling domestic violence

I’m backing a new initiative from the GMB union to call on employers to support their staff experiencing domestic abuse.  

We need employers to stand up for their employees and make the workplace a truly safe and supportive space. 

There are 2 million domestic violence incidents a year and often employers can help.  The GMB union is urging employers to sign up to a ‘Work to Stop Domestic Violence’ charter which urges employers to train staff to be able to appropriately and confidently support their staff. 

The Charter launches at a House of Commons meeting this afternoon chaired by Stephanie Peacock, MP for Barnsley East and a GMB member. 

Domestic abuse has a devastating impact on individuals and their families, but many specialist support services have themselves been victims of government cuts. 

People subjected to domestic violence can find the stress impacted on their work life too and the GMB reports members actually losing their jobs. 

Good employers can signpost affected staff to support services and create a work environment where employees are safe in the knowledge that they will be believed and not disadvantaged if they choose to disclose. 

A poster, a policy, a person who is trained to support staff facing domestic violence are the small things that can make a big difference.