I started the week with my last meeting as Co-Chair of the State Pension Inequality for Women All-Party Parliamentary Group. After many years working on the pension inequality campaign and co-chairing the Group, I have now decided to step down as the abuse that myself and my staff have suffered has simply become too much. I am grateful to everyone who has offered their support and I wish the newly elected chairs, Andrew Gwynne and Peter Aldous, all the best in the future.
I was pleased to meet with Labour Police and Crime Commissioner candidates from the North of England this week to discuss gambling related harm. It’s so important that we engage with people across the different spectrums of public life and encourage action to be taken to tackle gambling addiction with the same gusto and seriousness as the commitment to tackle drug and alcohol addictions. It was great to talk about the work that we’ve undertaken on the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gambling Related Harm and the findings we’ve made about the significant impact of gambling addiction on an individual’s and their family’s lives. We can do more to tackle this problem, but it will involve us working together with a variety of stakeholders, and I intend to continue working to bring those people together.
On Tuesday, I was thrilled to meet with Code4000, a fantastic organisation that teach prisoners coding. Using time spent in prison to learn new skills like this can only be beneficial in helping those in prison to find employment and support themselves upon release which reduces the chance of reoffending and helps to break the cycle of crime. 46% of offenders in the UK reoffend within a year of their release from prison; for those sentenced to one year or less, that figure rises to 60%. Only 40% of those leaving prison do so with a suitable work, training, or education opportunity in place, and only 17% find employment. On the other hand, 50% of employers find candidates lack the technical skills necessary for technology roles and 70% of employers anticipate a recruitment crisis which could greatly impact their business. Since Code4000 have worked in prisons teaching computer programming, none of their graduates have reoffended or been returned to custody and 85% of their graduates remain engaged in positive activity – either employment, education, or training – after their release. There are solutions to be found for our reoffending and skills gap questions, but we need to be open-minded and creative in finding them and taking advantage of them. I’m really pleased to support Code4000 in their work and am excited to see the long-term impacts of projects like theirs.
I was really pleased to kick off Welsh Labour’s election campaign launch on Thursday. This year’s election will look very different to the usual campaign, with far more virtual events and many more of us using alternative means of voting rather than going along to the polling station on May 6th. However, it’s still vital that we recognise the importance of a Welsh Labour Government leading our Senedd with all the wonderful things that they can do. We’ve seen over the past 12 months how devolution has enabled our Welsh Labour Government to make different choices for Wales – choices that meant we could offer the best package of business support in the UK; and that we could ensure those people who thought they couldn’t afford to self-isolate were supported to do so, and that our vaccine rollout is one of the quickest anywhere in the world. I am proud of our trade unions, our Welsh Labour colleagues in the Senedd, in local government, and in Westminster – we can work together to improve the lives of everyone in our communities but imagine what we could achieve with Welsh Labour Governments in both Cardiff and London. Let’s hit the phones, let’s do the leaflet rounds, let’s chip in for fundraising – because it’s no exaggeration to say this is one of the most important elections of our lifetime. Let’s give the First Minister, Mark, and his team the tools to finish the job, and give life to the banner under which we are fighting this election – a promise to Move Wales Forward together.
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 – my team and I are here to help. And remember – stay home, observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe!