Johnny Wood and I spoke to Times Radio about our campaign to get justice for his sister Jackie.We are still waiting on the Government to introduce the changes that they promised to increase maximum sentencing for people who kill by dangerous driving.
The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 5th February:This week we marked World Cancer Day. This initiative was established by the Union for International Cancer Control and is vital in giving a voice and saying thank you to the nurses, doctors, researchers, volunteers, advocates, and other caregivers in oncology from around the world as well as government agencies who support the fight against cancer. This year in particular, we also pay tribute to those around the world who have worked tirelessly these past 12 months through the COVID-19 pandemic. For the past three years the World Cancer Day theme has been “I Am, and I Will” which was chosen to encapsulate the extraordinary spirit and the strength of those facing cancer. The theme is all about each person and their personal commitment to reduce the impact of cancer. No community is immune from the devastating impact of cancer. We all know of someone who has lost a loved one, family member, or neighbour to this devastating disease. Cancer is the second-leading cause of death across the globe with the number of new cancer cases worldwide expected to rise to 30 million by 2040. This year has been particularly trying for international and domestic cancer research as cancer organisations around the world have experienced sharp declines in funding and operational resources due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And whilst it is vital that we tackle COVID-19 head on with all the resources that we can muster, we must not risk a further crisis down the line regarding funding for cancer research. Last November, I spoke in parliament on the importance of a cancer recovery plan to deal with the backlog in breast cancer screening tests. Over the past few months, we have seen spiralling wait lists which has had a devastating impact on people’s health. In response to a parliamentary question that I asked, the Government revealed that nearly 10,000 women were waiting for a breast cancer screening in Barnsley alone, and more than 30,000 women in South Yorkshire. It is important that we all play our part in continuing to regularly check ourselves for lumps and bumps across our bodies and encouraging friends and family members to do so too. I know many people are uneasy at attending hospital appointments due to the pandemic, but I would encourage those of you who are given an appointment to still attend. The NHS is still open for business and will continue to be available for all those who need it.
Today, on World Cancer Day, I met with Cancer Research UK to discuss the incredible work that they do and the importance of tackling the backlog in cancer treatment. Whether it is our friends, our family, or personally, cancer touches all of us. This year has been devastating for cancer treatment and organisations, with thousands of treatments being postponed, whilst NHS staff have treated hundreds of thousands of coronavirus patients. Nearly 10,000 women are currently waiting for a breast cancer screening in Barnsley alone. In November, I spoke in parliament on the importance of a cancer recovery plan to deal with the backlog in breast cancer screening tests. Most of all, this World Cancer Day, I want to encourage everyone to continue to check for symptoms and to make an appointment if you have any concerns or find anything out of the ordinary. The NHS is still open for business and will continue to be available for all those who need it.
We need to end the criminalisation of victims of Child Sexual Exploitation. Having met Sammy Woodhouse this week, I am asking the Government to introduce Sammy’s Law - the right for survivors to have their criminal records as a result of grooming reviewed and removed.You can watch part of my comments in Parliament here.
I met with the Mineworkers Pension Scheme trustees to discuss the next steps in our campaign for a fairer deal for miners.Read more about the issues here.
This week marks the beginning of LGBTQ+ History Month and National HIV Testing Week. Each year we recognise the progress that we have made in the fight for equality - and the strides that we still need to take. It’s A Sin has been an incredibly powerful and moving depiction of the lived experience of the LGBTQ+ community and the impact of HIV, particularly on the community during the 1980s. Thankfully HIV is no longer a death sentence. People who are diagnosed early have normal life expectancy and those on treatment cannot pass it on. It is now possible for us to end HIV altogether. Labour has committed to ending new cases of HIV by 2030 - and we are supporting the blueprint laid out by the HIV Commission. Testing for HIV can be done at home and it is absolutely free. Anyone who wants a free testing kit can order one at https://freetesting.hiv. Together we can, and we will, end HIV.
Our coalfield communities have been forgotten for too long. Before the pandemic they needed investment and for inequalities to tackled to rebuild the resilience that was lost over decades. That challenge has now become more difficult, but even more important. A return to austerity will not be the answer. To tackle the significant social, economic and health challenges facing coalfield communities, transformational investment is required to address these inequalities and create the better future that our communities deserve. I attended a meeting of the Coalfield Regeneration Trust to discuss the effect that the pandemic has had and the need to continue our fight for an economic recovery which tackles inequality and delivers for our coalfield communities. We cannot afford to once again be pushed to the back of the queue by government. I can assure you that I will be fighting to ensure that we are not. You can find out more about the Trust and their latest research at their website: https://www.coalfields-regen.org.uk.
I completed the Hurricane 80K challenge, running 80K in 80 days to commemorate the Battle of Britain and remember all those who fought to protect our country in 1940. Organised by the RAF Museum, you can find out more about their work here: https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk.
I’m pleased that Barnsley Council and the Post Office have confirmed that a pop up post office service will be based in Wombwell Library from this Friday, 29th January, following the closure of the branch in Heron Foods this week.The opening hours for the new service will be: Monday, 1:30pm–4pm Tuesday, 10am–4pm Friday, 12pm–4pm This is intended to be a temporary solution while the Post Office look for a permanent operator. Postal services and banking will be offered, but the majority of bill payment services will not.While this is not a long term solution, it is positive that residents in Wombwell will still be able to access some Post Office services locally.I will remain in touch with the Post Office as they try to find a permanent long term solution for services in Wombwell, and I’ll keep residents updated on this moving forward.
I spoke to Westminster Hour about the difference that the Universal Credit uplift has made for families across Barnsley.The Government must re-think their plan to cut it.