One of the wonderful things I love about Wales is how we often are able to punch above our weight in the sporting arena, despite our relatively small size. It is therefore disappointing that plans have come to light this week which would see the Six Nations removed from free-to-air TV and put behind a paywall. This would be a disastrous move for the championship and for the many fans up and down the country. Here in Wales especially, rugby is a game that is close to our heart and to move its broadcast to a subscription service would be to move it out of reach of many dedicated fans of the sport. This is particularly disappointing when we consider the positive initiatives the Welsh Rugby Union have been enacting to increase participation in Welsh schools and colleges. In addition, we have seen women’s rugby increase in popularity significantly recently and this is hugely positive. Rugby has never been an elitist sport in Wales and we should keep the sport’s most famous and popular tournament free to all who wish to enjoy it. For the fans, and for the next generation of budding rugby players, it’s the right thing to do.
In keeping with the sports theme, I was thrilled this week to be elected Vice-Chair of the Olympic and Paralympic All-Party Parliamentary Group. Sport is so important to our physical and mental health, and for our culture and economy more widely. Sport and physical activity contribute a whopping £39 billion to the UK economy and a significant proportion comes from grassroots sport – that’s everything from us buying our running shoes or our child’s bike, to that gym membership that we swear to use more often! Indirectly, sport reduces healthcare costs as we can reduce our risks of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease and other illnesses where physical inactivity is a common contributing factor. Sport has played such a huge role in my life: it helped me gain confidence as a child and gave me some fantastic experiences representing Wales as a squash player. I know how important sport is for the body and the mind and I intend to work with this cross-party group of MPs to make sure the Olympics and Paralympics continue to open up new opportunities for the next generation to get involved in sport, and continue my campaign to get squash included in the Olympics.
It was great to meet Iwan Llewelyn from the National Lottery Community Fund in Westminster this week and to get an update on the fantastic number of projects lottery funding is continuing to support. Iwan is the Communications and Engagement Officer for the National Lottery Community Fund and just happens to be from Ystalyfera! It’s fantastic to see money going into worthwhile projects across our Neath constituency and, of course, I will carry on pushing for more. It was also wonderful to talk to Iwan about how he’s working with community groups right across Wales to help improve people’s lives in our local area.
I also had the chance to meet with representatives from the Living Wage Foundation to talk about their campaign to see people paid a fair and living wage for the work that they do. The Tories’ fake living wage is 79p less per hour than what is recognised as the real living wage by the Foundation. It’s so wrong that there are people working hard across our communities yet aren’t paid a fair wage for what they do. To add salt to the wound, if you are under 25, you aren’t even entitled to the Tories’ fake living wage! I fully support the Living Wage Foundation in demanding a fair and real living wage for everyone.
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I hope you all have a lovely weekend!