I’ve met with some great people this week in Parliament and there’s been lots of really positive opportunities to work on some of my campaigns on behalf of constituents.
We had our first meeting this Parliament of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer, and I was delighted to be elected Vice-Chair. We had some great discussions around our plan of work for the year ahead, specifically around the mental health of cancer patients and their families, as well as looking outside the UK to the rest of Europe and the world at why they have better cancer survival rates. I know the Welsh Labour Government is working hard to improve this in Wales and they’re achieving real results for patients. In the weeks and months ahead, I’ll be continuing to work hard on a cross-party basis so we can share best practice and improve outcomes on this vital issue.
I was delighted to attend the Welsh Regiments’ Parliamentary Reception on Tuesday with other Welsh Labour MPs to celebrate the work that they do as part of our armed forces, both at home and abroad. From deploying on operations in West Africa, providing expertise and support to peace keeping operations, to operating as part of Her Majesty’s Household Division supporting State Ceremonial and Public Duties, our Welsh Regiments have a proud history of serving and representing their country. It was wonderful to meet with some of the serving personnel and learn more about the work they are currently undertaking.
Domestic abuse is never far from the news these days, which is both a good and a bad thing. It’s good that we’re finally starting to recognise all the complex issues around domestic abuse, the different forms that it can take, and the impact it has on a wider circle than just the person or persons experiencing the abuse directly. I met with Action for Children to discuss the devastating impact domestic abuse within a family can have on children in the home. The statistics are shocking – as many as one in five children have been exposed to domestic abuse and it is the most common factor in ‘end of social care’ assessments for children in need. Action for Children want to see the Domestic Abuse Bill contain provisions for specialist support services for children in all local areas and a strengthening of The Children Act (1989) to take different forms of domestic abuse into account, including aspects of coercive control that often do direct harm to children. We are currently waiting for the Domestic Abuse Bill to return to Parliament so that we can ensure that women, children, and families are given the best protection possible against domestic abuse.
There was a debate around the protection of retail workers in Westminster Hall this week that I attended. Every year around 10,000 retail workers are physically attacked and hundreds of thousands experience verbal abuse and intimidation. This is absolutely unacceptable and USDAW’s Freedom from Fear campaign is a really important step in protecting retail workers who should be able to go to work without fearing for their safety. The retail industry is the biggest private employer in the country, with 3 million employees, worth £3.8 billion a year, and 1 in 10 workers work within this industry. The UK Government must do more to protect workers and I will be supporting the USDAW Union’s campaign whenever I can.
I also had chance to pop along to an event hosted by The Climate Coalition where they showcased their Show the Love campaign. The Climate Coalition focuses in particular on how our living spaces can be more environmentally friendly through the use of cleaner energy to heat our homes, and better insulation so that we need less energy to do so, and more green spaces with tree-planting so that our air is cleaner and our health better. I’m really pleased to support such an important campaign – we only have one planet and we really need to start looking after it better. I am very proud that in Neath 16 homes are being built on the site of a former care home off Wenham Place, which will have solar roofs, external steel walls, airtight panels, and Tesla batteries to store and release extra electricity. This specialist technology will prevent heat loss, generate heat from the sun, extract moist air to prevent damp, and generate electricity to heat hot water so that bills are significantly lower. This is a pilot project of the ‘Homes as Power Stations’ project, which is part of the Swansea Bay City Deal. It is a joint venture between Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, POBL, and Specific, with construction being undertaken by TRJ
I was honoured to be elected as Deputy Chair of the Coalfields Communities APPG, and my colleague Connor McGinn MP was elected as chair. I’m looking forward to working together to find long-term solutions to re-skill, rejuvenate and celebrate our communities.
Privileged to be re-elected as Secretary of the Industrial Heritage APPG alongside Nick Thomas-Symonds who was re-elected as chair. In Neath a fantastic hardworking group of volunteers have been restoring the Neath Abbey Ironworks. Debbie Harvey, who was a prominent and important member of this group, has sadly passed away. She was a wonderful person and it is absolutely vital that the Ironworks restoration becomes her legacy. I will do all I can to support the work and to ensure the project is completed.
I had the pleasure of meeting the pupils from Cwmtawe Community School, who have won their heat of the RSPCA Great Debate 2020 and have qualified for the final to be held in the Senedd later this year. During my visit to the school we had a very lively, though-provoking Q&A which was thoroughly enjoyable.
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I hope you all have a lovely weekend!