Challenging the Government on child poverty

Shocking new research published by the National Education Union has highlighted once again the devastating rise in child poverty and hunger here in the UK, with almost half of teachers believing more children are going hungry now than in recent years. The NEU report highlights the serious impact this has on our children’s health, wellbeing and education, and recently in Parliament, I urged the Government to finally act and bring forward the healthy schools rating system they promised more than two years ago, so that no child here in Barnsley and across the UK goes hungry.

Visiting Barnsley Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Services

I met with Barnsley Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Services.They do an amazing job supporting women, men and young people whose lives have been affected by rape and any form of sexual abuse.They have provided a range of support and therapy to over one thousand four hundred people locally just in the last year.If you need their help you can get in touch with them here:https://www.bsarcs.org.uk/

COLUMN: Loneliness at Christmas

The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 21st December: In my last column of the year, I want to take the chance to wish everybody here in Barnsley a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. It’s also an opportunity to say thank you in advance to all of the people working over this festive period to help make our lives that little bit easier, whether that’s in our emergency services, shops, or pubs. Over this period we have the chance to spend time with others; sharing the festivities with family, evenings with friends, and spreading a bit of Christmas spirit in what we know has been a difficult year for many. But it’s also so important that at this time of year we help others who aren’t as fortunate – and particularly those who don’t have as much company as many of us are lucky to have. Because it’s estimated around 2,500 here in Barnsley suffer from loneliness. Across the UK, it’s suggested over 9 million people – almost a fifth of the entire population – say they are regularly lonely. Whilst we often associate loneliness with elderly people, it really can affect anyone at any time. As you may expect, it’s bad for our mental health. But it has also been shown to have the same effect on our physical health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. And according to research by the Co-Op it can cost UK businesses a staggering £2.5bn a year as a result. In fact, it’s such a problem in our communities that recently the Office for National Statistics stated we are the loneliness capital of Europe. Fortunately, there are some groups in our community who are already doing their best to make sure nobody is alone on Christmas. Age UK Barnsley, for example, and others are offering a free Christmas lunch to provide companionship and company for people who might otherwise have none. For anybody struggling with loneliness, I encourage you join them. And for the rest of us fortunate enough not to be alone, I implore you to look out for those who are. Invite your elderly neighbour in for a drink, encourage your old friend to join you for a mince pie, and let’s make sure everybody in Barnsley has somebody at Christmas.  

Dorothy Hyman's SPOTY trophy

I’m absolutely thrilled that Cudworth born Olympian Dorothy Hyman has been given her replica trophy 55 years after she won BBC Sports Personality of the Year.A huge thank you to the BBC and everyone in Barnsley who got behind our campaign.

Attending Barnsley v Portsmouth

Hopefully I won’t get in trouble with the Commons authorities for this football pic...!Good match at Oakwell and a point for the reds.

Visiting St Michael and All Angels Primary School

It was great to be in Wombwell recently, visiting St Michael and All Angels Primary School to present prizes in my Christmas card competition.Well done on all the great entries!

Speaking on the Plus Option trading company

A constituent of mine was convinced to invest her life savings of £150,000 – all of it has gone.When she threatened action against the Plus Option trading company, they simply offered her a bonus payment to invest even more.They have ignored three letters from me. I raised this in Parliament today.You can watch my comments here.

Supporting Hallam FM's 'Mission Christmas' appeal

I dropped off some toys for Hallam FM's Cash for Kids​ collection this morning.It’s a fantastic initiative to help kids who sadly live in poverty in Barnsley and across South Yorkshire.You can read more about how you can help here.

Opening the Primary School Enterprise Challenge finals day

It was a pleasure to open the Primary School Enterprise Challenge finals day at Tankersley Manor.It was great to meet some of the teams from across Barnsley and see the fantastic projects they’ve put together.

Visiting Hoyland Common School

It was lovely to visit Hoyland Common Primary School​ this morning to present prizes for my Christmas card competition!