This week I wrote an article for Politics Home on the importance of the rehabilitation and employability programmes offered by Working Chance for women leaving prison. The stigma of having a criminal record makes it incredibly challenging for people to find jobs when they leave prison, increasing the risk of reoffending and ending up back inside. With over 70% of women sentenced to fewer than six months in custody – and with many serving just a matter of weeks – they have little hope of sufficient counselling as survivors of abuse or having experienced trauma, little chance to be treated for any addictions or mental health conditions, and little time to gain any new skills or qualifications. Working Chance provides that vital link between these women and employers across many different sectors. With many women attributing their crime to a need to support their children, it is clear that we need to rethink how our justice system operates, particularly in relation to women and mothers. Charities such as Working Chance are a lifeline for those caught up in the system already and who need support to find employment to move forward with their lives.
I spoke to Talk Radio and met with Gambling with Lives this week to discuss the news that the National Lottery allows 16-year-olds to deposit up to £350 a week to gamble. In 2017-18, 16-17-year-olds splurged an incredible £47 million on National Lottery games. There are now fears growing about a gambling epidemic among future generations who are being groomed into believing that gambling is normal. We should be protecting our children and teaching them to behave responsibly and national organisations should not be countering that message by encouraging irresponsible behaviour. £350 a week to spend on gambling is an extraordinary amount of money for your average adult, for youngsters in school or college it is astounding that this option is there for them. The National Lottery does some great things in our communities and has been an organisation that we have been proud of in the past, but this news is shameful and needs to be put right immediately.
Thursday sees the anniversary of the introduction of the Children’s Funeral Fund in England. Almost 3000 bereaved families in England have been able to access the funding they needed to help give their children a funeral in the year since its launch. We all hope that we will never have to access such a fund, but sadly, nearly 4000 children under the age of 18 die each year and over 2,500 babies are stillborn. It’s heart-breaking to go through, and parents do not need the added burden of struggling to find the money to give their children a dignified burial. Data that the Co-op have obtained shows, however, that just under half of bereaved families eligible for the fund apply for funding and so the next step is to ensure that everyone who needs the support knows that they can access it.
I was pleased to meet (virtually) with the CEO of the Social Mobility Foundation this week to discuss their campaign to increase the social mobility of youngsters. Inequality, it seems, is only increasing and we need to do much more to improve the life chances of everyone in our society. This must start from the beginning, with opportunities to gain new experiences and learn new things from an early age. We need our kids to be able to see and access the opportunities open to them, regardless of their background and where they went to school.
Today, I was pleased to visit the Oaktree Parc Clinic, specialising in conventional and alternative therapies in Birchgrove. I was interested to see what measures they have in place to allow them to reopen in a Covid-secure way. It’s great to see businesses relating to wellbeing reopening across the constituency and across the country, and I hope that the UK Government will listen to businesses about what works so that more of the beauty industry can be allowed to reopen so that they can begin earning again while keeping their employees and customers safe.
Our Welsh and British steel industry has a proud history, providing highly skilled, highly paid jobs across the country and supporting local economies in the supply stream. Rebuilding our economy will mean some physical rebuilding and a green British steel industry is key to this recovery. Investing in good jobs will allow people to rebuild their lives and rebuild the country. You can sign the steel unions’ #WeNeedOurSteel petition here to make your voice heard and show your support for this vital sector.
You can keep up to date with Welsh Government announcements and information on their dedicated coronavirus page. 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.
I hope you all keep well and remember – stay safe, follow the guidance – and keep washing your hands!