Setting sights higher

The Sutton Trust is offering a great New Year opportunity to school students across Liverpool Wavertree to break through into higher education.

The Sutton Trust summer school programme opens today to applicants, and it wants to see more children from Liverpool Wavertree applying through their schools.

The scheme is designed to support young people to make informed choices about your future, raise aspirations, and provide the tools needed to navigate the higher education system.

The Trust’s Student Destinations report shows that young people who took part in a UK Summer School between 2006 and 2016 were four times more likely to receive an offer from a top university and four and a half times more likely to accept the offer.

The Trust’s research also shows that students from state schools are less likely to apply to leading universities. In 1997 it ran its first Summer School and over 20,000 students have been through the programme since.

Across all its programmes, around 7,000 young people enrolled at a top university than otherwise would have. 

The summer schools take place at a dozen universities around the country and are open to all Year 12 students who attend, and have always attended, a state school or college in the UK.

There are then additional criteria, the more of which students meet, the more likely they are to secure a place. Click here to find out more and apply.

Happy New Year for 2019

There is no doubt that our country is at a crossroads and over the next few weeks and months choices will be made that will determine the direction we follow for generations to come.

I desperately want everyone in Liverpool Wavertree, and across the country, to be involved in the momentous decision making that is in front of us.

Unfortunately, the Tory government is playing the most irresponsible game of chicken – taking us to the cliff edge of a no-deal Brexit and offering only Theresa May’s botched, unworkable and deeply unpopular withdrawal deal as an alternative to falling over the edge on March 29.

There is an alternative, and it one that involves the whole country – a People’s Vote. That is, a choice between what the government is offering on Brexit and rejecting that in favour of our current deal and remaining in the European Union.

I believe that the choice is so fundamental and profound, and that Parliament is so divided, that the only responsible option is to put a vote to the people.

The government should have held the meaningful vote on its deal before Christmas, but instead agreed to spend £2 billion triggering no-deal contingency plans that the country cannot afford.

To be absolutely clear, when the Prime Minister does bring the vote on her deal before Parliament, I will vote against it. I will oppose a no-deal Brexit and I will demand that the final decision be put to the people of our country so they get a final say.

Having lost the argument the PM is now trying blackmail. It’s simply not true when she says that the only way to rule out no deal is to support her deal. I believe that Parliament should insist that the people be given the opportunity have the final say on Brexit.

I continue to receive hundreds of emails, phone calls, letters and postcards from constituents fearful of the future and astonished that the government is planning for a scenario that will see troops on our streets.

The overwhelming majority of people contacting me are encouraging me to oppose the government’s plans. That encouragement includes people who supported Leave in the 2016 Referendum but have come to recognise that the Brexit that is on offer is not the Brexit that was promised by its supporters during the Referendum campaign.

Many more come from people who voted Remain in 2016 and see their worst fears being realised in a deal that will cut us off from our closest neighbours and our most important markets making our country poorer, threatening jobs and cross-border ties built up over decades.

The best deal for Liverpool Wavertree, our country and the future, is the deal that already exists – our continued membership of the EU.

Please take time over the coming days to speak to friends, family and work colleagues to encourage them to press their MPs to call for the right to take the final decision over our country’s future.

Of course, Brexit is not the only issue facing our constituency in 2019, and I can promise you that I will continue to meet with constituents at my coffee mornings across each ward, my regular surgeries and continue to represent all the people of Liverpool Wavertree.

You can get in touch very easily:

To book an appointment at one of my regular surgeries, simply ring or email, and we will make an appointment that suits you. Please do contact me for an appointment first, so that we can see everyone who wants to attend as soon as possible.

You can also follow all my activity on twitter, facebook and instagram as well as on my website.

Let’s work together to ensure that all our hopes are realised for 2019.

Reach out to talk

I know from the two roundtable sessions I have held in Liverpool on loneliness that it is an issue for many people all year around, but the festive period can be particularly difficult for some people.

It takes some people by surprise to know that loneliness is a particular challenge for young people.

What was heartening to hear at the events where we discussed loneliness was the strength of feeling and desire to support people from so many agencies like the NHS, police, housing associations and community organisations.

Unfortunately, not all of these bodies are available over the Christmas and New Year period and those that are will be hard-pressed to meet demand. That is why it is so important that organisations like Samaritans are available ever hour of every day throughout the year.

I have pledged to work with the Samaritans to prevent youth loneliness in 2019.

Loneliness amongst young people is at worrying levels and can lead to people self-harming and even suicide. It’s vital that services are there when people need them, but too often gaps in provision see people’s call for help go answered.

Last year nearly 1,600 young people in the UK took their own lives.

Samaritans is calling on the government to make a number of policy commitments, including setting out ambitious national targets to improve young people’s wellbeing, and setting up national awareness campaigns to tackle the stigma associated with loneliness: letting young people know that it’s okay to seek help.

These are all reasonable requests that the government should respond to.

If you are feeling lonely and isolated this Christmas and New Year, please reach out to the Samaritans who are there 24 hours a day. Telephone from any phone on 116 123 or email: jo@samaritans.org.

If you have concerns about someone sleeping rough in Liverpool over Christmas or into the New Year, please contact the Always Room Inside helpline number on 0300 123 2041.

You may also find these numbers useful:

Liverpool City Council: 0151 233 3000

Careline Children’s Services: 0151 233 3700

Careline Adults Services: 0151 233 3800

 

 

Brexit vote delays raise local fears

Fear and uncertainty over the prospect of a catastrophic no-deal Brexit dominated my latest coffee afternoon, in the Kensington and Fairfield Ward.

It is clear listening to constituents from across the ward that the government’s delay in bringing forward a meaningful vote while talking up the likelihood of a no deal exit from the European Union is really worrying people locally.

Residents are passionate about their community and deeply concerned that the government simply doesn’t care about risking potential business investment, medicines being held up at our borders and new rules at our borders which will keep families apart.

Brexit uncertainty has already delayed the introduction of the expected NHS 10 Year Plan and a strategy to deal with the social care funding crisis, both of which are big issues locally.

Constituents want to see the government investing in Kensington and Fairfield and to recognise that cutting initiatives like the nurse training bursary deter people getting trained and into work.

They also raised concerns that the council had too little power to control the number of houses of multiple occupation blighting some areas and increasing pressure on existing council services.

Too many property developers and builders are moving in to convert family homes into flats with little thought for the short-term building +disruption and long-term impact on the area and constituents want the council to have the powers and resources to act.

People felt that fly-tipping, anti-social behaviour and crime was on the rise as a result of council cuts and fewer resources being available, as well as a lack of consideration for others shown by some.

I will be taking up every issue raised at the coffee afternoon and working alongside Labour councillors in the Ward as well as the Council to resolve them.

Thank you to our Kensington Community Fire Station for hosting us.

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.

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.