Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Heritage Lottery Fund in Hyndburn - a priority development area

Dear Graham Jones, I thought you’d appreciate an overview about projects funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund in Hyndburn.

HLF is committed to providing MPs with information and advice about our funding in their constituencies and I would be very happy to meet with you, provide opportunities for you to visit an HLF funded project in your constituency or supply you with further information about any of the projects mentioned in this letter.

As the largest dedicated funder of the UK’s heritage, with around £375million a year to invest in new projects and a considerable body of knowledge, we are also a leading advocate for the value of heritage to modern life. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our heritage. Since 1994, HLF has supported over 36,500 projects allocating more than £6billion across the UK.

We have identified a number of priority development areas within the North West; one of which is Hyndburn. Priority Development Areas are the focus of additional targeted activity by our development staff who will be doing more to raise awareness about Heritage Lottery Fund programmes and supporting local organisations and groups in making applications for grants in these areas. As a Priority Development Area Hyndburn will not receive automatic funding but our aim is to generate a greater number of good quality bids which will be able to compete with applications from other places.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Armed forces recruitment from the BME community: offering opportunities to young people

I have written the minister regarding armed forces recruitment being offered to constituents form BME backgrounds. British armed forces have long and proud record of attracting people from various backgrounds to fight for British values of freedom and democracy.

Indian, Pakistani and Gurkha regiments amongst others have a long and distinguished history within the British army.

Employment within the British armed forces can be very rewarding in terms of skills and employment. However I do not believe constituents are being offered such opportunities and I have written to the minister to express my concerns. It is difficult enough getting a decent job in this area. The MoD state that since 2007 the number of Muslims serving in the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force has risen by more than 40 per cent but here in Hyndburn that figure does not reflect that statistic.


There are barriers to recruitment and the British Army has a duty in this area to actively encourage and overcome any misperceptions. The British armed forces' first Muslim chaplain says there is no conflict in being a Muslim and fighting for Britain. Imam Asim Hafiz, one of two Islamic advisers to the Ministry of Defence since 2005, says Islam encourages the defence of life and country. There are currently 650 Muslims in the military making up less than 1 per cent of its strength.

It is important that such good and rewarding careers area available to all. The British army must do more in this area to offer opportunities and I will be writing to the minster again to seek assurances that those opportunities are highly visible to those that would wish to consider such a rewarding career.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Haslingden Task Force update

The Haslingden Task Force has released its second newsletter for local traders. The report outlines the work that the taskforce is undertaking and the continuing consultation with local traders and other key stakeholders. I'd ask people to keep Sunday 14th September free in their diaries for the Haslingden Street Fair which will be taking place in the town centre in aid of local community and voluntary organisation.

There is also an important section on local parking arrangements and possible proposals for changing the current parking waiting times. In addition, it's crucial that residents and those interested express their views on the public realm changes discussed and the possibility of Haslingden applying for conservation area status.

I'd like to thank Rossendale BC, local traders and volunteers for their work on the task force and for producing the newsletter – I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the future of Haslingden.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

We need more Superheroes in Hyndburn and Haslingden

The Antony Nolan Trust has ranked Hyndburn and Haslingden as 228th in the league table of constituencies by the number of registered stem cell donors. We have a total of 840 people registered and I’d like to think we can recruit more people in order to help people with blood cancer.

I was recently contacted by a young Hyndburn family whose son Charlie aged 5, needed a registered donor and I hope this story will encourage others to register as a superhero donor.

Lucy Hamlin, Charlie's mother has given permission to use Charlie's details to help raise awareness of the issue.

Charlie, had just turned 5 when he was taken to Royal Blackburn A and E in January 2013 with a nosebleed that just wouldn’t stop. A blood test at the hospital showed he had low red blood cells and platelets and that he needed an immediate blood transfusion, followed by a platelet transfusion. The next morning he was transferred by Ambulance to Royal Manchester Children’s hospital with suspected leukaemia.

Further tests including a bone marrow aspirate and further blood tests showed that he had Aplastic Anemia - bone marrow failure - and needed ATG treatment or a Bone Marrow transplant as soon as possible. He was let home after a week’s stay but had to return twice weekly to Manchester for blood tests and weekly blood and platelet transfusions. He was at risk of infection and was unable to return to school, or mix with other children in case he picked up an infection. He was also on antibiotic medication to prevent him getting ill.

Association of Translation Companies says that languages are important.

Click to enlarge
This follows my discussions with the Lancashire County Council to ensure there is enough provision for crucial languages such as Spanish and Mandarin Chinese in this area.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Comment on the crisis in Northern Iraq - Douglas Alexander

Douglas Alexander MP, Labour's Shadow Foreign Secretary, commenting on the crisis in Northern Iraq, said:

"Iraq today faces an acute internal security challenge, as extremist violent Islamist militants attempt to destabilise the government, terrorise the population, and divide the country

"ISIL's violent and brutal campaign to terrorise and persecute religious minorities, including Christians, has already caused the death and suffering of thousands of innocent civilians across Iraq.

Friday, 8 August 2014

The reply from the FCO on the crisis in Gaza

Double click the image (or open in new window) to enlarge

Monday, 4 August 2014

The Ten Minute Shake Up is a campaign by Change4Life

As the schools have broken up for the summer, Public Health England have launched their annual campaign to get young people moving and keep fit.

The Ten Minute Shake Up is a campaign by Change4Life in conjunction with Disney, which aims to get children to reach their recommended 60 minutes of physical exercise per day, broken down into manageable 10 minute bursts.

There is a tendency that outside of school term and without regular PE lessons, some young people can let their physical exercise slide. Indeed even inside term time, only 1 in 5 children aged 5-10 currently meets the recommended target 60 minutes of daily activity, with almost 40% of children in this age group doing less than 30 minutes per day

To sign up, simply search Change4Life online and register for your free pack, support emails and access to the Shake Up Zone - which is full of ideas for games and activities to keep your kids active this summer. The free 10 Minute Shake Up pack contents include a stopwatch for timing 10 minutes of activity, a wall chart and stickers for monitoring activity, Disney Character activity cards, personalised emails and SMS support, as well as exclusive access to an online portal, the Shake Up Zone full of games and activity suggestions for kids to play.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

My letter to Jeremy Hunt on unfunded responsibilities of the new Care Act

Parliament recently passed the Care Act, which placed new duties on local authorities (in our case on Lancashire County Council), but the Government has yet to outlay what funding (if any) they are to make available to local authorities to undertake these new responsibilities.

We know that in Lancashire as in much of the country, NHS budgets are incredibly stretched, as this Government has overseen a huge tightening of money in the health service, and pressure on primary services.

This is why I wrote to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to raise this matter – we must ensure that the good intentions of the Care Act do not become yet more broken promises of Cameron’s health service.

Friday, 1 August 2014

BookTrust is encouraging parents in Hyndburn to read to their children

with Viv Bird, chief executive of Booktrust
The BookTrust and I are encouraging parents and carers of young children in Haslingden and Hyndburn to read regularly to their children. Reading to children is fun and it gives them a better start in life by helping their language, wellbeing, confidence and concentration. All the evidence is that the more they are read to, the better they do.  

It is vital in Haslingden and Hyndburn that children are read to by ‘Tiger Moms’ and ‘Tiger Dads’ and that they are given the same chance in life as others in a globalised world which will change dramatically for them in the next 20-60 years.

I felt it was really important for me to attend the Parliamentary Booktrust event, “Reading together changes lives”, at the House of Commons on 15 July 2014. The national charity Booktrust gifts books to every baby and young child in the UK and seeks to motivate parents to read to their children.

Fiona Protheroe, a mother of two who came with her eight-year-old son James, told the meeting, “The earlier you start reading, the more it becomes part of your family life. Getting a Booktrust pack when your child is a baby makes books special. James’s dad found the tips really useful at getting over his awkwardness about reading to the kids!”

Viv Bird, chief executive of Booktrust, was kind enough to say, “We really appreciate Graham's support. Whatever their background, we know that children who are read to regularly at age five do better in vocabulary, spelling and maths at age 16. Even if you’re not a great reader, you can still help your child by telling the stories using the pictures and talking to them about what you see.”

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors

1. For more information, please contact Graham Jones MP on graham.jones.mp@parliament.uk, or contact Harriet Jackson at Booktrust on harriet.jackson@booktrust.org.uk, Tel. 0208 875 4827.

2. In his 2010 government review of health inequalities, Sir Michael Marmot found that "being read to every day" was "likely to relate to a child’s chance of doing well in school" and, “Parental involvement in their child’s reading has been found to be the most important determinant of language and emergent literacy.” Other research shows that being read to three-five days a week aged four to five puts children’s reading skills six months ahead by the time they are eight or nine; and reading to them six to seven days a week moves them 12 months ahead.

3. Booktrust is a UK-wide charity that focuses on getting parents and carers reading to their young children and on building children and young people’s own love of reading. Research shows if their parents read to them or if they read for pleasure themselves, children’s life chances are expanded.

4. Booktrust gifts over five million books a year to two million children up to the age of five, along with tips, guidance and fun activities for the whole family. It also gives hundreds of thousands of books to older students. It partners with children’s centres, health visitors, schools, libraries, local authorities and others to distribute books and hold family reading sessions and events.

5. Booktrust seeks to reach every child and to provide additional, hands-on support for children and families who need this. To build a buzz around reading, it support the Children's Laureate and run awards and prizes. Its work supports government policy on improving young people’s literacy and numeracy and tackling child poverty.

6. Booktrust is funded by the governments in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, with further funding from the Arts Council, publishers and private donations.