Letter from Parliament

IEF Mental Health in Schools

A mental health conference, funded by the Integrated Education Fund, revealed that 79% of young people are too embarrassed or afraid to get support for their emotional well-being or mental health. Freya Collins and Grace Doherty, pictured above, spoke with confidence and passion on the need for student access to mental health experts, and the need for training for all teachers in mental health and emotional well-being. The conference also highlighted that all schools should have a whole school approach to mental health and emotional well-being delivered through the curriculum, a mental health first aid kit, and programmes which connects with parents.

PIP Fails

With the MS Society on the steps of 10 Downing Street highlighting the widespread concerns with the Personal Independence Payment scheme (PIP), including badly trained assessors who don’t understand the conditions of the people they are dealing with, inaccurate reports and excessively complex forms.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an incurable condition that damages people’s nervous systems, making it harder to do everyday things, like walk, talk, eat and even think.

PIP is essential for claimants with MS and other illnesses who want to live independently. I know that disabled claimants feel their assessors do not understand their conditions at all, and do not give them the opportunity to explain how their conditions affect them. These assessment processes are not fit for purpose, and instead of supporting people, the process is dehumanising, inaccurate and worsens existing health conditions.


I attended a Parliamentary reception hosted by Macmillan Cancer Support to discuss their Save Our Support initiative, a campaign to ensure that the country has a fully funded and sustainable cancer workforce in order to support the millions of people living with cancer across the UK. The NHS currently has a shortage of nurses which is damaging frontline services and the care patients receive here in Rochdale. There are more than 40,000 nurse vacancies in the NHS workforce and Government figures show that waiting times for cancer treatment and diagnosis are at record high levels. This is why I’m backing Macmillan’s campaign to ensure that people in need have access to the fantastic nurse specialists that will support them through a very difficult time in their lives.


At the Parliamentary Group on the Perpetrators of Domestic Abuse I met with Rochdale Connections Trust, a community-based charity which offers support for young people, adults and families. More than 1.9 million adults experienced domestic abuse last year, each one abused by a member of their family.  The people committing domestic abuse are often missing from the story and the response. The Group launched the ‘Call to Action’ campaign, a strategy to tackle endemic levels of domestic abuse by ensuring public and voluntary services are empowered to hold the abusers to account.

Icek Alterman

Holocaust survivor, Icek Alterman, spoke movingly and with such generosity of spirit at the Greater Manchester Holocaust Memorial Day 2020. At 91 his ability to make us sad, make us think and even make us laugh is undimmed. That’s why remembering the Holocaust is still so important- we mustn’t forget its horror, we mustn’t forget the barbarity of those who executed it but above all we mustn’t forget the humanity of those who died and those who survived.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2

For the Holocaust memorial I lit a candle in memory of Jakub Wygodzki who was a member of the Lithuanian parliament. He was tortured and killed in Lukiškės Prison in 1941, when the Nazis occupied Vilnius, for the simple but unacceptable reason that he was Jewish.

British Red Cross

British Red Cross volunteers and staff Were in Westminster to celebrate the organisation’s 150th year of supporting people in crisis. Red Cross volunteers routinely support people during emergencies, which range from getting people home from hospital, reuniting refugee families torn apart by conflict, or supporting people who have been trafficked and exploited. The volunteers do great work not just internationally but here in Rochdale and throughout the UK, and I want to thank all British Red Cross volunteers for the amazing work they do.


I met with Make UK, an organisation that champions British manufacturing and manufacturers. Manufacturers play a vital role in Rochdale’s economy and the 310 manufacturing businesses employ 6,000 people, which makes up 14.30% of all employment. Here in Rochdale, manufacturers have created business hubs as well as training and employing local people.

We also discussed the priorities of manufacturing, such as ensuring clarity and certainty for businesses as we negotiate our future trading relationship with the EU, and creating a low-carbon, sustainable and internationally competitive UK manufacturing sector which acts as an exemplar for green growth and thriving economy.


Around two million people in the UK have sight loss severe enough to have a significant impact on their daily lives. I met with David Clarke, and guide dog Dennis who was looking a bit bored with events, at the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) training event in Parliament to discuss guidance in place to ensure Parliamentary correspondence to constituents is accessible to people with sight loss.

Performers Alliance

People working in our creative industries, actors, musicians, producers, have long enjoyed easy access to working in Europe. Visas and other restrictions impose significant costs and administration, and occasionally considerable financial loss when visas aren’t processed in time.  I am  urging the Government to ensure that they can continue to travel easily across Europe post-Brexit for touring and performing with minimum administrative burdens.

End our Pain

Medical cannabis was legalised last year, but patients still can’t get access and for those who should benefit, their suffering continues. The End Our Pain campaign asked me to sign their letter to Prime Minister Johnson urging him to take immediate action to give children suffering from severe epilepsy access on the NHS to medical cannabis. As a result, families have had to obtain private prescriptions and then find up to £2,000 per month to pay for medicine which is now legally available in the UK.

Heart Unions

I celebrated #HeartUnions week in Parliament to celebrate the work trade unions do to make our workplaces and communities fairer. Our trade unions have fought for and won sick pay, the eight-hour day, the weekend, paid holiday and parental leave, the minimum wage, protection from discrimination, equal pay and healthy, safe workplaces. Not a bad record.

You have a legal right to join a union if you wish, and it’s illegal for an employer to disadvantage you in any way just because you are a union member. Join one today: https://www.tuc.org.uk/join-union


Hollingworth Academy’s Adam Rennie, and Falinge Park High School’s Ismail Malik have been elected to the UK’s Youth Parliament. Congratulations go out to them and all of the candidates who took the time and made the effort to put themselves forward to be Rochdale’s newest Member of the UK’s Youth Parliament. Adam and Ismail should be very proud to have been elected amongst such a very talented group of candidates.