On the weekend of the 1st and 2nd of October, the parkrun movement celebrated its 12th anniversary. I was delighted to meet the team of volunteers and runners. Gnoll parkrun is one of more than 900 Parkruns that take place every weekend around the world. Each parkrun is coordinated entirely by volunteers from the local community, and open to anyone who wants to take part. Parkruns are free, weekly, timed events, which are accessible to runners and walkers of all ages and abilities. Saturday 5k events are open to everyone, and 2k junior parkruns, which will hopefully be starting in the Gnoll on Sundays. Parkrun’s mission is to encourage more people to take part in regular physical activity and volunteering, and to make the world a happier and healthier place. Gnoll parkrun starts at 9am every Saturday and the location of the start is near the visitor centre in the Gnoll park. Full details, including directions, can be found on their website at www.parkrun.org.uk/gnoll.
Delighted to attend and present award winners at Neath’s Royal Air Force Air Cadets presentation evening.
The Friends of Neath Abbey Iron Company in association with Swansea University organised an inaugural lecture titled: Neath Abbey Ironworks: Past, Present and Future. The speaker Professor Huw Bowen of Swansea University has done a tremendous amount of work on the Hafod copperworks site. This lecture launched a project concerning the future development of the site in Neath Abbey. The 8,000 engineering drawings from the Neath Abbey Ironworks which are held in the West Glamorgan Archives have been recognised by inscription in the United Kingdom National Register of the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme. This illustrates the importance of this site in smelting, and manufacturing items such as locomotives, pumps and ships.
Attended Usdaw Union shop workers freedom from fear campaign asking customers to keep their cool and respect shop workers.
I was very pleased to return to the Shadow Justice Team as Minister for Courts and Legal Aid, and I am looking forward to building on the work that I have been involved with since my original appointment in January.
I was honored to have been involved in the Bach Commission on access to justice, and am looking forward to the launch of the interim report later this month. The Tories have led a vicious attack on legal aid, leaving many people without support or representation. As the country’s most senior judge, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, said earlier this year “our system of justice has become unaffordable to most”. We must not allow this nasty Tory Government to get away with these raids on working class people, and hold them to account on their failures with the justice system. In addition, we must be proactive, and I am eager to work with a range of partners to develop a set of policies that see justice as a vital public service, accessible in the same way as health or education. I am very keen to return to my role on the Labour frontbench and provide an effective opposition to this defective Tory Government.”
I met with Breast Cancer Care in Parliament to pledge my support for the charity’s campaign to ensure people with incurable secondary breast cancer no longer get second-rate care.
A survey of people with incurable breast cancer by Breast Cancer Care revealed just over a fifth (21%) of people who previously had breast cancer are first treated by their GP for another condition. More than four in 10 (42%) do not feel their overall care is well-managed and well-coordinated.2 This suggests people living with incurable breast cancer are not getting the care and support they need.
Spoke in Westminster Hall Brexit Debate on how important European funding has been to my constituency in Neath.
I am proud of the EU investment that has been made in West Wales and the Valleys. But less proud of the fact that this money has been needed because we are one of the poorest regions in Europe, and I am fearful of the time when this money no longer exists. When I visit communities across my constituency, and the wider region, I find vibrancy, tenacity and life, despite hardship and economic decline. EU has brought community infrastructure, training, apprenticeships, and regeneration, and there is no doubt that these structural funds have played a central role in this re-birth.
I attended the opening of CATCH’s new outreach facility in The Gwaun Cae Gurwen Clinic and met Nina, Lynne & Katy. The community in the GCG area will have access to food parcels in the GCG Clinic every Friday 10am-12:00 as well as normal opening times in Ystalyfera. Food for this initiative is being collected in the GCG area at the following drop off points : CKstores GCG & Cwmllynfell, Brynaman One stop shop in the Texaco Garage, Cresci’s Café,GCG, the Community Centre GCG and Canolfan Maerdy, Tairgwaith. The Hells Angels are also going to collect food at their base in GCG.
I am very proud to be Welsh, and have been studying the language for many years. As one of the many people around the country seeking to learn Welsh and reconnect with our rich culture, I am delighted that Parliament is creating this resource to support the many Welsh speakers, enhancing their democratic engagement.’
In the Chamber:
I asked the Minister, “Reports suggest that Capita rewards its assessors on the basis of how many assessments they complete every month, which leads to rushed assessments where applicants are not given enough time to describe how their condition affects them daily. What is the Minister doing to ensure that applicants are given enough time and that such a reward system is not operating?”
I also asked “What steps his Department is taking to ensure that personal independence payment assessments are undertaken fairly.”
I attended the Westminster Hall debate on Concentrix and was able to ask the following “Concentrix took the approach of stopping payments without warning. Many single mothers in my constituency have told me that they discovered that their payments had stopped only by checking their bank accounts. Does she agree that HMRC should not have given Concentrix the authority to stop payments, and that the process must stop?”
“One woman claimant in my Neath constituency came in to see me because her payments had been stopped, as she had not replied to a letter that she had not received and there were no follow-up letters. Where does the burden of proof lie there?”
I attended Wales’ questions and was able to ask the following “The Swansea bay city deal aims to turn the region, which includes Neath, into a digital super-hub to boost the local economy, transform energy delivery, and improve health and social care. Will the Minister assure the House that this deal will not face the delays experienced by the Swansea bay tidal lagoon and rail electrification projects?”
Young builder awards, delighted to meet Alex from Neath who made the top 20.
“Bingo players across the country, including those who play at the Castle Leisure Bingo Club in Neath, help to raised £250,000 for the industry’s charity partner, Variety, that will help the charity reach even more sick, disabled and disadvantaged children.” It was great to join bingo players in presenting this money to Variety, and to celebrate the National Bingo Game’s 30th Anniversary.”
Delighted to pop into the International Credit Union Day Celebration in Parliament.
Westminster Hall Arthritis debate:
I attended the Westminster Hall debate on Arthritis and joined forces with the charity as part of its Share Your Everyday campaign. 10 million people live with arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions across the UK. What this debate has made clear is the massive impact arthritis can have on a person’s life, and the huge number of local people that are living with arthritis right now. These are painful conditions, and Arthritis Research UK’s work to raise awareness of the impact it has on people’s lives and help people push back the limits of arthritis is crucial. The Government needs to listen to the voice of people with arthritis and help Arthritis Research UK ensure they receive the care, support and opportunities they need to live independent lives.
Arthritis attacks what it means to live, from the big things like being able to remain in work to the frustration of not being able to do even simple daily tasks like cooking, using household items or dressing oneself. I want to make sure my constituents are not limited by their arthritis and am happy to support Arthritis Research UK’s Share Your Everyday campaign.”
Spoke in the chamber and urged colleagues to join with me to move closer to pardon those convicted, simply, for being gay.
Great to be at Women’s committee and welcome Joanna Mcintyre to her new role and all the wish Michelle all the very best in her new role.
Spoke in the Westminster Hall debate – effect on funding for Wales of the UK leaving the EU. 16,000 farmers across Wales gain direct subsidies from CAP. Without that funding, more than 90% of them would go bust. Asked the UK Government to commit to ensuring that the subsidies continue for all farmers?
Labour welcomes the cancellation of the Concentrix contract and the fact that it will be administered in-house by HMRC staff. Asked the Minister would he reassure the thousands of single parents and families, many in my Neath constituency, that their tax credits erroneously stopped by Concentrix will be reinstated immediately so their children can be kept safe and warm and not go unfed as winter approaches?
I also asked if they agreed with me that the Government should commit to an official investigation into Concentrix’s conduct since it was awarded the contract in 2014, so that we know how what she has described was allowed to happen?
Attended the APPG Womens Sport and Fitness.
In the chamber for Women and Equalities questions, I stated Men continue to dominate apprenticeships in the fields with the best earning potential. In 2013, nearly 13,000 men started engineering apprenticeships, but only 400 women did so. Will the Minister commit to ensuring 50:50 recruitments in STEM-focused apprenticeships?
In the Chamber speaking about Young peoples mental health.
It is not even the case that the service provided is good, but young people expect excellent and they deserve excellent. It is the case that the service is simply substandard.
The stories from young people, up and down the country, of substandard interactions with their GPs and medical practitioners are many. With countless witness testimonies, the report highlights the many areas where improvements need to be made with regard to the medical profession and health services. I therefore requested an update from the Minister.
Popped along to St David’s craft Fair, a beautiful selection of different stalls. #workingtogether