Realising Aspiration for All

realising-aspirations-for-allThere are over 100,000 people of working age who are deafblind and living in the UK. However, a new report from the disability charity Sense, has revealed that, although many of them are keen to enter the workforce, only a shocking 4% of 18 to 24-year-olds who are deafblind are actually in employment – a rate almost ten times lower than the employment rate of non-disabled young people – and the employment rate of deafblind people over the age of 24 is just 20% – almost four times lower than the national average.

More broadly, with 46% of disabled people out of work, the rate of employment of disabled people is 30% lower than that of non-disabled people. These striking statistics reveal how important it is that the right support structures are in put in place so that those who want to work, can.

With the Government now publishing their Green Paper on disability employment, and reaffirming their commitment to halving the disability employment gap, it is essential that all disabled people who want to work – especially those with more complex conditions such as deafblindness – benefit from the extra resources being put in to place. I share Sense’s belief that disabled people who want to work, fulfil their ambitions, and play active roles in their communities, should be supported to do so.

In their report, Sense undertook research with people who are deafblind of all ages and in differing employment situations, from actively seeking work to running their own business. The final report, Realising Aspirations For All, revealed the multitude of barriers faced by people who are deafblind, both to enter employment and to progress when in the work place.

The report highlighted the appalling situation that currently prevails, where support programmes and employment support providers are failing to provide the right level and type of support for disabled people to enter, and maintain, employment. The situation is exacerbated by some employers, who lack awareness of existing support schemes, run inaccessible recruitment processes, and harbour negative views about the abilities of disabled people in the work place.

To address these failures Sense is calling on the Government, employment support providers, and employers, to make targeted support available, to increase the accessibility of employment, and to give disabled people equal opportunities to realise their aspirations.

An important first step is for the introduction of specialist support models targeted at people who have more complex support needs and are not likely to benefit from the Work and Health Programme, and trials of innovative specialist support models using the Innovation Fund from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department of Health (DH).

These efforts should be complemented at a local level by a better understanding of the demands of the local labour market so employment support providers can proactively reach out to employers, encouraging applications from disabled people.

The impact of the correct support and guidance for disabled people to access work can make the world of difference. Sense highlights the case of Bethany, who is 23, born deaf and with deteriorating vision. Receiving support meant she could go from struggling to find employment, to growing in confidence and working towards starting her own business.

The new Green Paper provides an important opportunity to build a more inclusive, diverse and meaningful society that enables everyone to contribute. I join Sense in calling on the Government to do all it can to make this a reality.

Labour’s pledge for a real living wage

Grahame Morris - A fair economy

Labour believes in a full and proper wage for a working day. That’s why we are committing to introducing a statutory real Living Wage. The next Labour Government will ensure that everyone in Easington will earn enough to live on.

Failed Tory austerity has produced a low-wage, low-investment, high-debt economy in which productivity is stagnating. Instead, the next Labour Government will ensure that everyone in Easington will earn enough to live on through the introduction of a statutory real Living Wage – independent research has estimated that this is likely to mean a figure in excess of £10 per hour in 2020.

It is a disgrace that low pay has been allowed to flourish in the North-East under the Tories. The people of Easington deserve a wage they can live on and it is only a Labour Government that will deliver it.

Labour’s real Living Wage is just one aspect of our plan to tackle low pay and will be introduced in tandem with an industrial strategy to transform Britain into a high-skill, high-productivity, high-wage and sustainable modern economy by boosting investment and R&D, supporting manufacturing and foundation industries and nurturing the industries of the future.

“Decent pay is not just fundamentally right, it’s good for business, it’s good for employees, and it’s good for Britain. We need a new deal across our whole economy.”
-John McDonnell MP, Shadow Chancellor, Labour Party Conference 2016.

Sugar Bill supported by Grahame Morris MP, Royal College of Physicians and Cancer Research  could save Britain £billions by revealing hidden sugar content to consumers

The Sugar Bill, to be published tomorrow has been supported by local MP Grahame Morris in Parliament and tackles the underlying causes of obesity.
The Bill is supported by the Royal College of Physicians and Cancer Research has been presented by Labour MP Geraint Davies.

Obesity is a big problem in my constituency of Easington. Across the UK it has a greater burden on the economy than armed violence, war and terrorism, costing us £47bn each year.

The UK has the highest level of obesity in Western Europe with 1 in 4 adults obese and nearly 2 in 3 adults overweight, and four million with type two diabetes.

Obesity costs the NHS £16 billion a year through diabetes, heart disease and cancer and costs the economy £47 billion. That’s why we must confront hidden sugar in processed food and drinks as it is a major cause of millions of deaths costing billions of pounds.

The World Health Organisation says sugar intake should not exceed 5% of energy – 9 teaspoons for men (a can of Coke) or 6 for women (a light yoghurt)- yet the average person in Britain consumes twice that amount and teenagers three times. Overconsumption of sugar is due to manufacturers secretly adding it to our processed food and accounts for our growing diabetes epidemic.  
The Sugar Bill therefore requires that added sugar is labelled in teaspoonfuls on processed foods so consumers are empowered to choose healthier options and manufacturers incentivised to compete to reduce added sugar instead of competing by adding sugar. 

Such labelling is allowed and encouraged to be introduced by national governments by EU legislation despite the Food manufacturers claiming otherwise.

Supported by Cancer Research and the RCP the Sugar in Food and Drinks Bill will:

·Require processed food and drink to have added sugar content labelled in teaspoons
·Restrict television advertising of high sugar foods until after the 9.00pm watershed
·Require the Government to publish targets for the total amount of sugar consumed in the UK 
If we’re serious about having a sustainable health service we should tackle the root cause of growing obesity – unrestricted added sugar in processed food and drinks – and give consumers the power to make healthy choices. 
The Bill, is supported by Cancer Research UK who report that 74% of the public back a ban on junk food advertising before 9pm.  
Professor Robert Lustig whose work has explained this link said “The food industry argues that a calorie is a calorie, a sugar is a sugar, and if you’re fat it’s your fault. But the science says that the excess sugar placed in our food is toxic and addictive. How can we exercise personal responsibility when the information is kept from us? Mr. Davies has introduced a rational proposal to limit this practice, to reduce the consumption of unnecessary sugar, and to educate the populace as to what they are consuming so that they can make informed choices”

Show racism the red card- wear red today!

img_5694On Friday 21st October, Show Racism the Red Card is encouraging individuals, schools and organisations to show their support and raise funds for the campaign by taking part in Wear Red Day 2016.
For 20 years Show Racism the Red Card has been educating young people about racism in schools with the help of role-models, including professional footballers, at special events at football clubs and through educational films.
Grahame said on his support for the charity: “I am delighted to continue supporting this wonderful organisation. From my work as an MP, the worrying rise in racism following the EU referendum has caused considerable need for charities like Show Racism the Red Card. I hope that this event on Friday can raise funds for a valuable and much needed charity.”
People are getting involved all over the UK and lots of trade unions have also pledged their support, with members of USDAW, The NUT, Unite the Union, PFA, GMB, Nautilus, Equity, Musicians Union, Prospect, BECTU, NUJ, TUC and PCS, set to wear red and donate.
And in Gateshead and Newcastle the famous Millennium bridge will be turned RED, to mark the support of Gateshead Council.
For every £5 raised, SRtRC can educate a young person for a whole school day. Show your support – Wear red and stand against racism this Friday. Donate now!



Support your local pharmacy


Visiting Whitworths Chemist in Murton

A petition supporting pharmacies was recently presented to 10 Downing Street containing two million signatures – the largest ever healthcare petition inthe UK (that’s 3500 concerned patients and citizens in every constituency in England). 

In September we heard the welcome announcement from Pharmacy Minister David Mowat MP that cuts to pharmacy funding in England and associated ‘efficiency’ measures would be put on hold and that he would have an ongoing dialogue with the sector. Yet, just days later it emerged that cuts could begin as early as December 1st.

The results would be very damaging in neighbourhoods across England, hitting communities like Easington. It has been predicted that many pharmacies would be forced to close, and in the more immediate term we can expect to see services cut back, access reduced and planned improvements shelved. Patients, perhaps especially housebound patients, will be the biggest losers.

I have written to the Minister and the Health Secretary urgently expressing concern about safeguarding vital services provided by pharmacies serving smaller villages and communities in Easington and throughout East Durham.

I will consistently work with my team to encourage Ministers and officials to get around the table with community pharmacy representatives as soon as possible to discuss an alternative way forward. The right approach should maximise patient choice, maintain local access to face-to-face professional advice, provide for the most vulnerable people and populations and make sure patients continue to get their medicines promptly. Overall, it should strengthen the NHS by taking pressure off the system and ensure that quality care is delivered consistently.

It is absolutely paramount that the Government are true to their commitment to take time to get things right for the sector, right for the NHS and right for patients and communities.


Keep the hunting ban!

img_1343The Hunting Act is one of Labour’s most popular and successful pieces of animal welfare legislation and we must protect it from being repealed by the Tories.

Fox hunting is barbaric, completely unnecessary and firmly belongs in the history books.

The 2015 Conservative election manifesto included giving MPs a free vote on scrapping the ban. However, last year instead of holding a vote the Government moved a series of amendments in an effort to weaken the Hunting Act, making it unenforceable. This was a cynical attempt to repeal the act via the back-door and thankfully due to opposition inside and outside of Parliament the Government were forced to postpone their motion rather than face defeat in the House of Commons.

The Government have made it clear that they only ‘postponed’ the vote and they remain wedded to their manifesto commitment aimed at repealing the Hunting Act.

An Ipsos MORI poll recently revealed the scale of support for maintaining the block. It showed 84% of voters do not want a return to fox hunting, while 65% would view an election candidate more favourably if they supported keeping hunting with dogs illegal.

Just nine per cent would view a candidate more favourably if they supported legalisation.

I am deeply concerned that Andrea Leadsom MP is now determined to repeal the hunting bill, which is not only against the broad public view but also makes very little sense politically.

I urge the Prime Minister to keep the hunting ban.

Labour Against Fox Hunting

You deserve more than this Tory Government

People in Easington need a government that can deliver the real change that working people need. They need a Government that can stand up for Britain, build a strong economy, create good homes and good jobs, and defend our NHS and public services.

a-bitter-futureBut Theresa May cannot give Britain the change we need. For the last six years she has been at the heart of a Tory Government which has failed working people.

This should have been the conference where Theresa May outlined a detailed plan to secure British jobs and prosperity in face of Brexit. But for all her talk of ‘fairness’ and ‘opportunity’, all we have seen from the Tories this week is crass and offensive ‘wedge’ politics and a drive into a ‘hard Brexit’ that risks jobs and growth.

People in Easington need answers on what Brexit will mean for their jobs and rights at work, but the Tories still have no answers. They have no idea of how to deliver it, no plan for protecting our economy, and no plan to fix their broken promises.

The Tories offer no change on the economy. They may have abandoned their discredited surplus target, but they are still committed to deep, damaging cuts that will continue to hurt working people, through slower growth, poorer services and rising inequality.

Nor do they have any answers on education. Rather than dealing with chronic teacher shortages, falling school budgets and the lack of good school places, Theresa May is taking us back to the bad old days with grammar schools.

And despite their warm words, they offer no change on the NHS, just more of the same policies which are plunging the health service into crisis. Under the Tories, patients are waiting longer for care, and hospitals are overcrowded, understaffed and facing financial crisis.

Only a Labour Government will deliver the real change working people need. We will invest in the housing and infrastructure Britain needs, and develop a proper industrial strategy to secure good jobs and growth. As Britain leaves the EU, we will stand up for the benefits and investment that our EU membership currently provides.

A Labour Government will tackle the Tory housing crisis, by building over a million new homes over five years. We will stand up for the NHS, by providing the money it needs and joining up services in a properly integrated health and social care service. And we will focus on what matters most in education – good teachers in good schools – and reintroduce an Education Maintenance Allowance and maintenance grants for students from low and middle income backgrounds.

Working people in Easington deserve better than more Tory failure with no answers and no change – only a Labour Government will stand up for them and their families.image002


meningitis-nowI have backed calls by leading UK meningitis charity, Meningitis Now encouraging young people to protect themselves from a deadly strain of bacterial meningitis.

Following a worrying increase of 809% in meningococcal (group W) meningitis cases in the past 5 years, the government launched a vaccination programme to protect young people aged 14-15 through schools, and those aged 17 to 18 through their GP.

Despite the introduction of this vaccine, and the increased risk to students and young people, the uptake of the Men ACWY remains very low, with just 14% of 17 and 18 year olds within the North-East taking up the vaccine, and 17.4% across England.

Young people and particularly first year university students are at an increased risk from meningococcal bacteria which can cause meningitis and septicaemia. Early signs can go undetected, and in young people can be put down to a bout of the flu, or even a hangover.

Liz Brown, Chief Executive at Meningitis Now said:

“We welcome Grahame Morris’ support in calling on young people across the UK To  get the Men ACWY vaccine.  It is particularly poignant given the sad news of a student death at the University of Northumbria from Men W. Young people, especially those attending university for the first time should, if they haven’t done so already, take immediate action to protect themselves from this dangerous meningitis bug.  The vaccination is free and available through GP practices for 17-18 year olds, and first year university students, up to the age of 25.”

For more information on the vaccine, or to download the signs and symptoms app for your phone visit 30years-meningitis

  • Meningitis is usually caused by bacteria or viruses
  • Meningitis is inflammation of the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord
  • Septicaemia is blood poisoning
  • Some bacteria that cause meningitis also cause septicaemia
  • Meningitis and septicaemia often happen together – it is vital to know all the signs and symptoms
  • The early signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia can be similar to ‘flu and include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and muscle pain.
  • The more specific signs and symptoms include fever with cold hands and feet, drowsiness, confusion, pale blotchy skin, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights and a rash which doesn’t fade under pressure.
  • In babies, symptoms can also include being floppy and unresponsive, dislike of being handled, rapid breathing, an unusual, moaning cry and a bulging fontanelle (soft spot on the top of the head).
  • There are an estimated 3,200 cases of bacterial meningitis and septicaemia each year in the UK.
  • Following bacterial meningitis or septicaemia, one in ten people will die and at least a third of survivors will be left with lifelong after-effects such as hearing loss, epilepsy, limb loss or learning difficulties
  • Meningitis and septicaemia can affect anyone, of any age, at any time. However, babies and young children are most at risk, and young people between 15 – 24 years are also a higher risk group.
  • In the past 20 years, effective vaccines have been developed to give protection against SOME types of meningitis. These are offered to all babies and young children as part of the UK childhood immunisation programme. BUT there are not vaccines to protect against ALL types.
  • A vaccine to protect against meningococcal group B (Men B) disease, the most common cause of bacterial meningitis and septicaemia, was introduced into the UK childhood immunisation programme in September 2015.
  • If you suspect someone may be ill with meningitis or septicaemia, trust your instincts and get immediate medical help.

For more information visit Freephone helpline 0808 80 10 388.

Labour Must Speak Up For Our Communities

g-morrisThis has been a very long summer.

A leadership election is rarely a recipe for party unity, however after Jeremy’s historic victory, we must rally together, as factionalism and internal division will mean failing the communities we were elected to serve.

Labour must unite, stop the self-indulgence and start organising at every level if we are to protect our communities.

I have seen first-hand the difference that can be made when communities organise in support of each other.

Not so long ago, I was heartened to visit a community café in Easington that was established in 2013 as Government imposed austerity began to take hold. Volunteers provide a healthy two course meal for £1. The café runs extra sessions during the school holidays offering a safe space for the whole community not just providing meals but friendship, support and social solidarity for those most in need.

The Labour Party can and must be the champion of communities like this.

Particularly when we have a Government that are intent on using Brexit as an excuse to further drive down living standards and cut the last remnants of the safety net of the welfare state to such an extent that many people are struggling to feed their families. A Tory Government that believes it is acceptable that over a million people are reliant on emergency food aid should be a clarion call to unite the left.

We have a Government that are acutely aware of the housing crisis, but are wedded to a political ideology, that refuses to build the homes so desperately needed, blocks local government from replacing council housing sold under the right to buy, and ignores the needs of communities like Horden, Easington and Dawdon that are crying out for housing regeneration. All this Government talk of devolution and localism is simply empty rhetoric to the community of East Durham whose needs have been ignored by Government and its agencies.

We have a Government that has attacked our rights at work, has undermined working people’s pensions, pay and conditions, is systematically removing our capacity to fight back and is now gerrymandering parliamentary constituencies. All workers, whether junior doctors, teaching assistants, or those facing terrible conditions at Sports Direct need a strong Trade Union movement and an effective Labour Party not only to protect rights and pay at work, but to improve pay, pensions and conditions of service in our workplaces.

We must unite, work together, and organise at every level, in our communities, our workplaces and in parliament.

If we fail to do so, hard fought gains will be squandered, our causes and issues will not be advanced, and it will be our communities that have to live with the hardships caused by a Tory Government.

The first priority in the aftermath of Jeremy’s victory, is to take the fight based around the policies that the vast majority of the party’s membership agree with to the Tories in Parliament through a competent effective co-ordinated opposition. The Labour activists planning to re-run the coup as an annual event until the party is destroyed must not prevail.

We have a limited window of opportunity to reach out and build a mass social movement of communities with a common interest and a clear message. Our aim to give hope and mount an effective resistance to which the alternative is a counsel of despair and decline.