Grahame Morris MP puts Easington’s heritage on the map

Heritage Lottery Fund reveal the impact of National Lottery investment in Easington and its position on the RSA’s Heritage Index

I have been in touch with the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to learn more about the impact of National Lottery investment in my constituency and where it’s ranked on the RSA’s 2016 Heritage Index.

Produced in collaboration with the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Heritage Index is an annual index that combines over 120 metrics, from historic buildings to local delicacies, revealing which local authorities are best at using heritage to foster a distinctive identity – and which could do better.

Analysis of this year’s index reveals that places which do most with their heritage have a higher quality of life (ONS well-being measures) than areas which have low levels of activity. As well as inherited physical assets such as battlefields and castles, the index measures new forms of heritage activity like community initiatives and volunteering.

Easington sits in the 183rd position overall in England, but that there is potential to make more of its heritage. 

Since The National Lottery started in 1994, the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded over £3.2 million to more than 60 projects in Easington. This includes funding for parks, miners banners, restoration of churches, war memorials, and much more.

It was great to learn more about Easington’s heritage assets and how they are being used by the community.  I would urge constituents to think about the local heritage where they live, and think about how they could apply to HLF to undertake a project to explore it further.

The Heritage Lottery Fund were involved in National Lottery in Parliament: a week-long exhibition to raise awareness among politicians in Westminster of the National Lottery funding available to their constituencies and demonstrate how National Lottery players’ money is changing people’s lives and improving the nation’s wellbeing.

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of HLF, said: “Heritage is at the heart of what makes a place distinctive. The Heritage Index is a vital tool which is helping communities to better understand that heritage and tap into its vast potential. Securing National Lottery funding is one way of helping to fulfill that potential and it’s been making a difference to local communities across the UK for over 20 years.” 

Find out more about the Heritage Index 2016 at the RSA’s here: www.thersa.org/heritage and here http://bit.ly/RSAHeritageIndexdata. Find out more about accessing National Lottery funding for heritage projects at www.hlf.org.uk

Walkers to Consult on Peterlee Crisp Factory Closure

The loss of Walkers Crisps is a devastating blow to the workforce at Peterlee and manufacturing in East Durham.

In the immediate aftermath of this decision my thoughts are with the employees and their families. In the weeks ahead support will be made available via Jobcentre Plus Rapid Response Team to help those affected who may need to retrain and upskill. The Rapid Response Team have been successful in the past assisting many of those made redundant from SSI on Teesside to make the transition into alternative employment.

It is quite right that we question the reasons given by Walkers to justify the closure of the Peterlee factory. Walkers have indicated the decision will improve productivity and deliver savings, however, locating production facilities in the South will increase their transport costs to the North of England and Scotland.

I hope Walkers will also be honest about the improvements required to retain East Durham’s manufacturing competitiveness, such as investment in transport infrastructure, skills and training.

The structural weaknesses in our local economy are issues that I will continue to raise with Government Ministers and the Local Enterprise Partnership who are tasked with strengthening and expanding business and employment opportunities in East Durham.

The Business Minister states the Government have invested £379.6m in the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, however, there is little practical evidence of this investment in East Durham. Ministers are quick to exalt Nissan, however, our manufacturing base is much wider than one specific industry, and their over-reliance of a single business as an example of regional success is a worrying feature of the Government’s rhetoric.

Words are cheap. What we need now is practical support, to help those at Walkers, but also to deliver the growth required to provide the jobs we need for the future.

However, whether it is housing, education, transport investment, local government funding or business support, the North East is being hit first and hit hardest with spending cuts that are kicking away the ladders of opportunity that a responsible government would be looking to build.

To see the Government’s response to my questions about manufacturing in East Durham and Walkers Crisps, please visit: theyworkforyou.com

Invitation to sports funding workshop in Easington

Date: Thursday 6th April
Time: 6pm – 7pm
Venue: Shotton Community Centre, Bridge Road, Shotton Colliery, DH6 2PQ

Do you know how to access funding so that you can improve or upgrade your club?

Grahame Morris MP will be hosting a Sport England workshop on Thursday 6 April with Sport England experts who will be answering any questions you may have.

Sport England is the Government Agency working with grassroots sport. Its investment and expertise has helped thousands of clubs, such as yours, get more people playing sport more often.

Sport England understands that many clubs need that little bit of help and support when they are applying for funding, whether it is being directed to the right funding stream or making sure they take the correct steps when applying. The workshop will explain the funding available, which fund would be most appropriate for your project, and how to apply.

If you would like to attend please email: lee.longstaff@parliament.uk

International Women’s Day- #BeBoldForChange

International Women’s Day, held on 8 March, marks a celebration of the economic, social, cultural and political achievements of women.

Every person – women, men and non-binary people – can play a part in helping drive better outcomes for women. Through meaningful celebration and targeted bold action, we can all be responsive and responsible leaders in creating a more gender inclusive world.

The World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186. This is too long to wait. So around the world, International Women’s Day provides an important opportunity for ground breaking action that can truly drive greater change for women.

This year, the 2017 Spring Budget falls on International Women’s Day, but women won’t have much to celebrate under this government.

Never have we needed a Labour government more. Both at home and internationally we are seeing a worrying erosion of women’s rights and freedoms.

Labour has a strong record on advancing women’s rights and freedoms that we can be proud of. Almost every major piece of legislation that has improved the lives of working women has been introduced by a Labour Government. They brought in the Equal Pay Act, the Sex Discrimination Act, The Equality Act, the minimum wage and introduced Surestart.

A woman I would like to pay tribute to today is Ruth Dodds.

Ruth was born on 8 May 1890 in Gateshead and attended Gateshead High School for Girls. Ruth wrote a number of plays reflecting her historical and political interests, including The Pitman’s Pay, about Thomas Hepburn, the miners’ union pioneer. Ruth was Secretary of the Gateshead branch of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies and became more politically active around 1915.

During the War she started work in her family’s printing business on Newcastle Quayside until a disagreement with her brother in 1926 regarding the General Strike led her to leave the business.

After the War Ruth Dodds joined the Labour Party and her involvement in local politics grew. She served on a number of Gateshead Council committees as a co-opted member and in 1925 took over as editor of the monthly newspaper, Gateshead Labour News (later renamed the Gateshead Herald). In 1929 she was elected as a Labour councillor and retained this position for most of the next decade. Wider political ambitions, however, were not fulfilled as she failed to gain selection as Parliamentary candidate for Gateshead in 1931 or 1936.

Ruth found herself as one of thousands of North East women who worked long shifts in the region’s munitions factories. In her diaries she records observations on her working life at Armstrong’s armaments factory in Newcastle, and also her feelings about the war.

“I hate war and I hate killing and yet I am right to make munitions. I thought once that I could not, but since then I have changed my mind. And our men write saying that every shell helps to save their lives.

“I admire the German women who are working day and night for their men, and shall I not imitate what I admire? I cannot stop the war by holding back, but I and my like may shorten this war by working.

“And I cannot escape blood-guiltiness by sitting at home idle. Thank goodness I have no time for thinking these things when I am actually at work.”

Ruth Dodds’ contribution to her hometown was recognised in 1966 when she became the first woman to be made a Freeman of Gateshead.

Dodds was a pacifist and a Socialist; the last political action of her life was casting a postal vote in the municipal election of May 1972. Ruth was born into a world where women couldn’t even vote and yet she fought her way to become a councillor. Her admirable fight for what she believed in inspired the next generation of female politicians.

While International Women’s Day is about recognising how far we have travelled in the fight for gender equality, we must also recognise how much further we have to go, both in the UK and internationally.

In 2017, women in the UK are more likely to work for less pay than men, in low paid sectors and be disproportionately affected by cuts to public services

Empty words on equality and the occasional cash giveaway will not do. We need structural change, a budget and economy that work for everyone – not just a privileged few.

Under a Labour Government, all economic policies will be gender audited to ensure that we have an economy that works for all.

For International Women’s Day 2017, we’re asking you to #BeBoldForChange.

Call on the masses or call on yourself to help forge a better working world – a more gender inclusive world.

Grahame Morris MP supports NHS bill to put an end to privatisation

MP Grahame Morris has expressed his support for the NHS Bill currently going through parliament.

The NHS Bill is a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Margaret Greenwood MP.

The aim of the Bill is to return the NHS to its founding principles as a publicly-owned, planned and managed National Health Service.

The Bill reverses the core changes of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 which are leading to the break up and privatisation of the NHS.

It provides for the integration of health and social care, removes the costly and inefficient internal market and transfers PFI debt to the Treasury, allowing hospitals to get on with the job of treating patients.

Grahame said:

“The public is well aware of the damage being caused to the NHS by this government’s cuts.

“People in Easington are rightly concerned about the future of healthcare in the region.

“What is less well known is the impact that the 2012 Act is having on the NHS across England.

“As a result of that Act, NHS hospitals in England are now allowed to make up to 49% of their money out of private patients. This is just wrong; an increase in private patients in NHS hospitals will clearly mean longer waiting times for NHS patients.

“The 2012 Act passed by the Tories and Liberal Democrats also means that the NHS no longer has to provide a comprehensive service. As a result, we are seeing the rationing of services such as hip replacements and cataract operations.

“We are also seeing an increase in the number of contracts going to private companies, with the cherry-picking of services by private providers undermining the NHS and threatening the pay and conditions of NHS staff.

“The NHS Bill aims to stop the privatisation of the NHS, remove competition and the profit motive as a driver of policy and return it to its founding principles based on a sense of public service.”

“It really is important we make a stand and call on the government to put a stop to the privatisation of our National Health Service and support the NHS Bill.”

Stop attacks on NHS staff

Ahead of today’s Westminster Hall Debate relating to attacks on medical staff I would like to issue my support and solidarity to everyone working for the NHS.

They are the everyday heroes in our communities; from the doctor performing pioneering surgery, to the auxiliary bringing an old lady a cup of coffee, we cannot take them for granted.

I firmly believe that more action is needed to protect our healthcare staff from violence and aggression.

A survey by the Royal College of Nurses found that 56% of their members had experienced physical or verbal abuse from patients, and a further 63% from relatives of patients or members of the public. Their survey of lone working nurses also found that 10% reported being physically abused over the previous 2 years, and 60% suffered verbal abuse.

These figures correspond with reports from NHS Protect that show a 4% rise in physical assaults against healthcare workers in England from 67,864 in 2014/15 to 70,555 in 2015/16.

Whilst much of the current focus on violence in the NHS draws attention to pressures in Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments, I am also aware that physical assaults occur in a variety of environments including mental health and in the community. The risk of physical assault is even higher for staff working alone – the proportion of lone workers in the NHS sustaining an injury from a physical assault is approximately 9% higher compared to non-lone workers.

Criminal sanctions are not always appropriate and must go alongside prevention.

There are a number of preventative actions which can be taken to reduce and manage the risk of physical assaults such as training in conflict resolution, the provision of lone worker alarms and well-designed environments. However, the length of time waiting to be seen by a health professional is cited as a common factor behind assaults.

A specific offence would send out a strong deterrent message to those who wilfully assault professionals and other health care workers in the pursuit of their work. Such a law would need to be inclusive of all NHS staff working in a variety of environments.

The Tories have made it progressively harder to train and work in the NHS, despite a high demand for these professionals. Medical staff do not deserve to be abused whilst carrying out their job and I fully support any law that would protect them further.

The success of the NHS Breast Screening Programme

Yesterday NHS Digital released the impressive statistics for the NHS Breast Screening Programme, England 2015-16.

Under the NHS Breast Screening Programme, all eligible women aged between 50 and 70 are invited for breast screening every three years, with the aim of detecting breast cancer at an early stage and increase the chances of successful treatment.

The report contains statistics on the proportion of eligible women who have been screened in the last three years, uptake of invitations, outcomes of screening and cancers detected as a result of breast screening.

The Key findings include:

  • In total, more than 2.16 million eligible women aged over 45 were screened, an increase from 2.11 million in 2014-15., which represents an increase of 2.7%.
  • 2015-16 saw the first increase in coverage in five years with 75.7% of women aged 53 to 70 having a recorded test within the last three years.
  • All regions outside of London met the NHS minimum standards for breast screening coverage. London reported breast screening coverage of 69.3%.
  • Uptake of invitations was highest among the women in the 65-70 age groups (73.4%).
  • Uptake at a regional level was above the national minimum standard of 70%, except London, which reported invitation uptake of 64.9%.
  • Of all women screened and with cancers detected, 41.2% (7,543 women) had small but invasive cancers (<15mm) that are usually too small to be detected by self-examination.

This is extremely promising and I hope that the success of the programme continues, and reduces cases of one of the worst types of cancer. I would encourage every woman to get screened whenever it becomes available to them.

Read and interact with the report with here:http://content.digital.nhs.uk/pubs/brstscreen1516

 

 

Grahame Morris MP pledges to help end the ‘cold homes crisis’ in Easington

I am proud to be supporting charity National Energy Action’s Fuel Poverty Awareness Day by pledging to do more to tackle cold homes.

In Easington alone 4217 households are believed to be in fuel poverty.

Fuel Poverty Awareness Day is a national campaign to highlight the problem of fuel poverty, which currently sees over four million households unable to afford the energy they need to stay warm and healthy in their homes. It is a particular problem for those in low incomes living in energy inefficient homes that are difficult and expensive to heat.

For every 1,000 Easington homes, on average 87 received support from the main national energy efficiency programme despite all households paying for the policy through their energy bill.

Living in a cold damp home can lead to extremely poor health, especially in those who are vulnerable such as older people, young children, and those with long term sickness and disabilities.

There are at least 1188 excess winter deaths in North East every year, NEA believes 30% of these were attributed to cold homes. This is also placing a huge strain on our already stretched health services.

More needs to be done nationally, however I know that there is excellent work going on in my constituency and across the UK to tackle this issue, and I look forward to working alongside others in the community to help raise awareness of the problem and the solutions available.

Jenny Saunders OBE, Chief Executive of National Energy Action commented: Fuel poverty is a serious problem and one that we cannot tackle alone. I am delighted that Grahame is supporting the campaign and helping to ensure that his constituents can live warm, healthy and happy lives.

National Energy Action is the national fuel poverty charity, working across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure everyone can afford to stay warm in their homes.

For more information visit www.nea.org.uk

Grahame Morris MP calls for urgent action to tackle Lyme Disease as concerns mount

Grahame Morris has today called for urgent action to tackle Lyme Disease. Lyme disease, or Lyme Borreliosis, is a bacterial infection spread to humans by infected ticks. However, concerns have been raised that the true number of people suffering from Lyme Disease is not known, and that there needs to be greater awareness of the disease among the public and healthcare professionals.

Lyme disease is widespread throughout the UK, yet many people are still unaware of the risks.  Doctors need to be trained to recognise the symptoms and make a clinical diagnosis rather than relying on tests which need improving.

On Wednesday 8th February 2017, an event was held with Lyme Disease specialists, doctors and charities in Parliament regarding the growing problem of Lyme Disease in the UK. 

Speaking after the event, Grahame said:

“More and more people are suffering from Lyme Disease, but it is a disease which many healthcare professionals and ordinary people do not know anything about. We urgently need new measures to determine the true incidence, prevalence and risk of Lyme Disease in the UK, and an awareness campaign for healthcare professionals and for the public, otherwise more and more will be left without appropriate treatment.”

Heart Unions week

From the 8th to 14th of February, the TUC are running a special week of action throughout England and Wales. It will showcase the amazing work unions do, and tell the stories of ordinary members and reps. It’s all about getting members involved, telling positive union stories to the wider public, and recruiting new members to the union movement.

Now, more than ever, we must come together to protect our rights and promote equality in the workplace. Trade union membership currently makes up about 25% of the working population in the UK. However, barely 5% of trade union members in the UK are aged 16-24, but more than one third (39%) are aged over 50. Yet young workers are some of the most vulnerable, who are particularly affected by low pay, precarious contracts, over-qualification, without opportunities for training and progression.

They are often working in sectors with low or no union presence and without collective agreements, such as in retail, hospitality and outsourced social care. They are the workers who could benefit the most from union membership, yet their voice is currently missing from the movement. It is essential these young workers have a better understanding of, and are able to participate in, trade unions.

This means that we need to get better at responding to their needs and organising in ways that benefit them. This will mean organising in different ways, using digital tools and listening to young workers values and aspirations. If we are unable to involve young workers, we won’t have a trade union movement in the future.

The challenge is significant, but I hope that heart unions week gives members and activists the opportunity, ideas and confidence to rise to it.