The Churchill Fellowship

An opportunity has opened up for Oldhamers who are interested in travelling and problem solving in the modern world.

The Churchill Fellowship is looking for 150 people to join their programme this year.

The Fellowship was founded in 1965 by Winston Churchill’s grandson as a tribute to the former Prime Minister and aims to invite around 150 people above the age of 18, regardless of qualifications and experience to travel the world in search of innovative and imaginative solutions to the problems we are facing in the world today, and then applying those solutions and the knowledge gained back home in the UK.

It takes a practical approach to modern problems and since they began the initiative in 1965, they have sent out over 5,700 fellows across the world and they aim to send another 150 in 2020.

This year the Fellowship will be covering all areas of interest from the arts to education, science and technology, healthcare and suicide prevention. Among many more.

I would strongly encourage you to apply if you have a genuine interest in the world today and wish to look at solving some of the problems we currently face.

We in Oldham have always been innovative and forward thinking about how we adapt to problems that present themselves in the world around us, from the Industrial Revolution until now. Perhaps you will be the next person from Oldham to help shape our future.

Applications must be made at www.wcmt.org.uk and closes on the 17th September 2019.

Please, if you are available to travel I would recommend you at least apply, you could make a real difference.

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HS2 & Northern Investment

Parliament debates the next phase of HS2 which sees the route now move north from Birmingham to Crewe, getting closer to Manchester.

There is little doubt that the project is vulnerable, some critics will point to overspend and others to the impact on areas along the route, but too often MPs in the north are asked to support scrapping the project to fund other local transport schemes. I react against that; when does London have to choose?

We don’t want any more, but we certainly shouldn’t accept any less than London.

We want fair funding; HS2 but also better East-West connectivity and better transpennine links. We also want to bring back the many bus routes cut – losing over 30million bus miles a year in Greater Manchester alone.

I also want to see Metrolink extended to connect Ashton with Oldham Mumps, and Westwood through Chadderton to Middleton, before going on to Bury. I’d also make the case for a spur link to Royton.

If I could make a change to HS2 it wouldn’t be to scrap it, but to connect to St Pancreas rather than London Euston; that would then connect to Eurostar and on to France and beyond, that would help reduce air travel and be better for the environment too. But that isn’t an option as it stands today.

I’ll keep fighting for investment in the north.

Martins Fund; A UK Child Funeral Fund

Over the weekend we heard that the Government had finally approved the creation of a Child Funeral Fund. This has been a 2 year-long cross party and movement fight to see help given to parents all across the country.

My Labour Party colleague and friend, Carolyn Harris, has been a staunch campaigner and a cross party leader on this issue and has been campaigning for the fund following the tragic loss of her son Martin. My friend has been leading in the issue and asking the government to create a ‘Martins Fund’ for bereaved parents. She told her story and it is one that is echoed across the country for thousands of suffering parents.

I raised the need for the scheme in February at Prime Ministers Questions and I reminded the Government that 9 months on from the Prime Minister’s pledge to create Martins Fund, the government had not completed their commitment to establishing a Child Funeral Fund.

In that time, 3,000 families had to find the funding to bury their children, this was simply unacceptable and an indignity to those thousands of families having to suffer through the loss of a child. In addition, it is estimated that every year we lose around 3,800 children under the age of 18 with a further 2,700 still-births. This means that every second the government did not commit to the scheme; potentially more and more bereaved parents were left suffering alone. I asked the government if they will also back date the scheme, to help the already thousands of parents that have had to suffer alone, to continue in life while also dealing with a loss no one could begin to comprehend without having been through it. No parent should be left to deal with the loss of a child alone.

This new scheme will aim to stop this injustice by helping grieving parents through the loss of a child by providing the support they need. The scheme will provide up to £2,000 to help cover funeral costs which aims to reduce financial pressure on grieving parents. In addition, the scheme aims to reduce the burden for families by reimbursing burial authorities, cremation authorities and funeral directors directly. It is my hope that this scheme will also include mental and physical health support for all family members to support them holistically through their loss

The impact of this scheme having not been in place can be felt over the country, and in Oldham. Charlies Child Loss Charity was set up by two local parents following the tragic loss of their son Charlie. Hannah and Lee set up this charity to create a support network for grieving parents and they have been doing inspiring work helping people through their grief. This new scheme will aim to help support those families further and ensure that no parent is forced to go through this time alone. If you are currently suffering the loss of a child, please do take a look into this charity and the countless offers that can offer you support. You are not alone.

No amount of money or support will ever replace the child lost but parents will now no longer be left to fend for themselves during their grief.

The Children’s Funeral Fund will come into effect on the 23rd July 2019.

Oldhams New Health Check Service

Last week I had the pleasure of taking part in a panel put on by Oldham Council and Doctor and Councillor, Zahid Chauhan, regarding the new state of the art Health Check Service being launched in the Borough.

I was joined by my brilliant fellow Oldham colleagues, Debbie Abrahams and Angela Rayner alongside our fantastic Shadow Secretary of state for Health, Jon Ashworth.

The afternoon was an informative one and provided great insight into the state of Health Services in Oldham, what it will look like going forward and how the new Health Check Service will help people in the area keep up with their health and identify issues much sooner than expected, reducing long term impact on themselves and the services.

The new Health Check Service looks to identify problems at a much earlier stage, allowing for better pre-emptive treatment and checks rather than the traditional reactionary treatment. It will do this by expanding upon the free checks already administered by GP’s for all who use the NHS, this is done by inviting those of ages 40-74 for additional checks once every 5 years.

These checks will hopefully work to identify the early signs and risk factors of diseases such as stroke, heart disease, diabetes, dementia and kidney disease. The checks will allow doctors to give tailored advice to patients who may be at risk of developing one of these diseases.

In the first 5 years of Health Check, the service has prevented 2500 heart attacks and strokes nationally. Statistically, for every 27 people having an NHS Health Check, one person is diagnosed with high blood pressure. For every 110, one person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. And for every 265 people, one is diagnosed with Kidney Disease.

All of these diagnoses are usually caught much sooner and therefore are more treatable, while many of these would have gone unnoticed without the Health Check and many will have proved fatal.

I think this service will be a huge boost to people in Oldham and will help prevent many deaths across the years. This service will come into effect from April 2020 and is an excellent addition to our health services in Oldham.

Social Mobility in the UK

Yesterday I spoke in the opposition day debate on Social Mobility in the UK.

Under this Government, the UK is second only to the US in terms of inequality among major economies in North America and Europe, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. In its report, published this month, the IFS found that average CEO pay among FTSE 100 companies in the UK in 2017 was 145 times higher than the salary of the average worker, up from 47 times higher back in 1998.

This is a clear step backwards from the work done in this country to promote social mobility and allow each and every person in the country the opportunity to work hard and push on in life, with opportunities in work and life to succeed and do better than their parents, and for their children to do better than them.

Genuine progress was made under the last Labour Government, now the government chooses to twist employment facts in order top justify its failed policies. We need change now.

To make matters worse for the Government, the entire board of the Government’s own Social Mobility Commission resigned in 2017, citing the Government’s lack of progress in creating a fairer society.

The Commission, which suffered a near year-long delay in appointing replacements, warned last month that “social mobility has been virtually stagnant for four years”. Yet another Tory failure.

How long can we go on like this? The Government has failed the public time and time again, and always leaves the most vulnerable and deprived to fend for themselves. This doesn’t have to be this way and the next Labour Government will create lasting change in our society.

Last weekend the Labour Party announced that the next Labour government will create a new Social Justice Commission to replace the Social Mobility Commission.

The core value behind this new commission will be the idea that no one will be left behind and to fend for themselves. We will stand together and fight for social mobility.