It’s been absolutely non-stop this week, but we are settling down more into the swing of things in Westminster. It was great to get back in the saddle with my work as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Beauty, Aesthetics, and Wellbeing, this week meeting with the Teenage Cancer Trust on Wednesday to discuss their work and how we on the APPG could work with them to help support teenagers with cancer. Their message is simple, but often overlooked – teenagers with cancer are still just teenagers! It’s of course true that they might be dealing with challenges that as adults we find difficult and scary; but they’re doing it all at age where they’re still figuring out who they are, what they want to do, and how they want to look while doing it. If we can do anything that would support them during this difficult time and distract them for a short while from hospitals and therapy, it’ll be a good result!
It was a real pleasure to welcome Cefn Hengoed school from Swansea to Parliament on Wednesday. It’s never too early to learn about politics and the way things work in Parliament, and they took the opportunity to give me a good grilling about my work here! Many thanks to the teachers and staff who brought the students along; the pupils were a credit to their school and their community. If you know a school who may be interested in visiting Parliament, please get in touch with my office!
It’s been pretty busy for my team this week, as I was back on the airwaves and TV screens early on Thursday morning, speaking about the hugely important issue of bereavement leave for parents. “Jack’s Law”, announced this week, will see new measures to allow parents two weeks’ paid leave after they lose a child. It will apply to all those who lose a child under the age of 18 or suffer a stillbirth. On BBC Breakfast I spoke about how devastating it is to lose a child and how the period after is so hard to navigate as other people struggle to know how to interact with you – do they avoid you and give you space or do they overwhelm you with hugs and love? It’s sometimes hard not to feel angry at the postman for continuing to deliver the post or the milkman deliver the milk because your world has stopped. I couldn’t have gone back to work straight away, so this news is very welcome, but it’s not enough – we need to give parents more time and more support to deal with their heart-breaking loss.
It was back to the front bench on Thursday too in my role as Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities. Pensions for 1950s women is back in the news as the case that was dismissed by the High Court in October is now in the Court of Appeal. While this legal action speaks for some women, it does not speak for all and there are many women who are suffering in silence and they too need to be heard. The Government’s promises about an Older People’s Champion working through the Department of Health and the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy and the claims that the best part of your career can come later in life ring hollow if you are living in poverty having been left without notice to prepare for these significant and life-changing increases to the state pension age for women. I met this week with the other members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on State Pension Inequality for Women and we will continue to hold the Government to account on their actions towards 1950s women.
I also spoke in The Holocaust Memorial Day debate on Thursday on what marks this year the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz as well as the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Bosnia. This year’s theme is Stand Together – something we would do well to think about considering the fracturing of societies that is occurring across the world. Allowing societal divisions to grow and limiting individuals’ rights make it so much easier for people to persuade others that the oppression of some is necessary for the whole. We need to work together to heal the fractures in our societies so that no one is left alone to come to harm.
The all-too recent history of the Holocaust is one of the darkest moments in our European history, but there were flashes of light. I’m thinking particularly of Sir Nicholas Winton, the London stockbroker who refused to stand by while children suffered and organised transport and families for Jewish refugee children from Nazi-occupied Europe. The British government would only let vulnerable children enter the country if there were families willing to take the children in, so Nicholas had to persuade families, mostly complete strangers, to offer to look after the children. All in all, Nicholas managed to secure the rescue of 669 children from almost certain death. It is important to remember people like Nicholas, who stood by those who needed help and stood against such unimaginable evil.
As always, if you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01792 462054.
I hope you all have a great weekend!