It’s been a week full of meeting wonderful people doing wonderful things for our communities. First, I met with the Samaritans for their Brew Monday and chatted to them about their work. The Samaritans do some truly excellent work, supporting people who are struggling, raising awareness, and challenging the social elements that impact on people’s lives and making them think suicide is their only option. They answer a phone call every six seconds with no judgement or pressure, just a shoulder to cry on and a sympathetic ear. It’s hard to know how to help sometimes with issues as serious as suicide, but anyone can get involved with Brew Monday. You just need a brew, maybe also some cakes, and some generous friends and colleagues. It’s an excellent way to raise money and also bring people together to maybe discuss some of the issues behind mental ill health and suicide and maybe provide a sympathetic ear to a friend who needs it. Find more information on holding a Brew Monday here.
It’s National Apprenticeship Week this week and I met with the British Retail Consortium who work with the retail industry to support the businesses within it to ensure that this biggest private sector employer is able to thrive as technology develops and shoppers’ habits change. They have partnered with Leeds Business School to support apprenticeships that will equip students with the necessary and practical experience that will allow them to benefit fully from the opportunities that a dynamic retail industry can offer. Apprenticeships can offer a completely legitimate alternative to higher education and we should do more to support businesses to be able to provide them and to support students take advantage of them as an excellent entry into their career of choice. This year’s National Apprenticeship Week encourages people, and especially employers, to “Look Beyond” traditional hiring routes and to value the diversification of workplaces that apprenticeship schemes can offer. You can find lots of information about apprenticeships whether you are looking to recruit an apprenticeship, become an apprentice, or want to be able to support your child or student, on the Welsh Labour Government website.
It was World Cancer Day on Tuesday when I met with some fantastic campaigners from Radiotherapy4Life. 1 in 4 of us will require radiotherapy at some point in their lives and this treatment is crucial in 4 of every 10 cancer cures. Unfortunately, the UK as a whole has low cancer survival rates in comparison to other similar developed, high-income countries, however cancer survival in the UK has doubled over the last 40 years, and 50% of people now surviving cancer live for 10 years or more. We should not become complacent in our fight against cancer and we must not underestimate the importance of radiotherapy. A recent poll found that over 80% of adults in the UK did not necessarily know about the importance of radiotherapy and the best types that are available. Raising awareness and understanding is always the first step in tackling a problem, and I’m pleased to be able to support this important issue.
It was a pleasure to meet again with other members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on PKU as their Vice-Chair. PKU is Phenylkentonuria, a rare genetic metabolic disorder which affects around 1 in every 10,000 people in the UK. Currently, the only treatment funded in the UK is an extremely restricted dietary therapy where patients have to avoid almost all natural protein. In most other European nations have access to the Kuvan drug, but the NHS does not currently commission this. I will continue to work with this group to fight for this drug to be available on the NHS which would greatly improve the quality of life for those who suffer from this disorder.
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I hope you all have a lovely weekend!