Thursday 26 September 2013

Grilled yet again by Winstanley College Students!

A packed audience of students at Winstanley College met with Lisa Nandy MP and myself to discuss a wide  range of current issues.

The questions from students were diverse and we were very impressed with the level of engagement that Winstanley students showed in the discussion.

This now annual visit demonstrates that far from being apathetic, today's young people have a very good grasp of the issues facing the country and the global community.

Friday 20 September 2013

Run4ALife 5K fun run

Pic with Rotary Club President Terry Hogan
Wigan certainly has the running bug following the inaugural Wigan 10K so I hope runners will participate in the Run4ALife 5k on 29th September at the DW Stadium.

I joined race organiser's The Rotary Club of Wigan today to help raise awareness of the event and to encourage everybody to take part over a smaller distance and one that the whole family can undertake.

Whether you run or walk the course it promises to be a great day so don't delay - sign up today!

Debt & Mental Health Seminar

I recently spoke at a debt and mental health seminar in Wigan. A disturbingly high number of professionals dealing with people facing overwhelming debt are failing to recognise that they are often 'at the end of their tether' and may even be suicidal.

Organised by the Campaign for Awareness of Mental Illness Among Debtors (CAMIAD), I outlined that money issues are a growing problem across the country with increasing numbers of people at all levels of society getting sucked into a spiral of debt.

Anyone, regardless of their social background, was at risk of running into debt and frequently the problems were compounded by the fact that victims refused to admit that they had a problem, not even to close members of their own family. The fact that these problems are so often hidden makes them much worse.

Conversely, where people in serious debt spoke to appropriate professionals trained in the recognition of mental health problems and who knew how to signpost them on for counselling or treatment, both money and lives can be saved.

CAMIAD was making a major contribution to reducing the levels of stress experienced by debtors – and the number of debt-related suicides. The one-day event at the Wigan Investment Centre was hosted by  Donna Cartmel, a director with insolvency practitioners, Lawson Fox of Bolton.

She said, “It is often difficult for us as professionals to recognise when one of our clients is suffering from a degree of mental illness or when one of our clients is displaying tell-tale signs of being suicidal, because of debt. It is no surprise in the current economic climate that suicide rates are so high.  The causes of mental illness are varied, as are the factors leading to debt, and we as professionals who face people in debt, need to be sympathetic of both.
Nigel Crompton, a senior mental health nurse and Head of Service Development at Cheshire & Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said, “Suicide is often the elephant in the room and professionals, who don’t have training in such matters, are often wary about raising the issue with debtors. Our experience has shown, however, that most people will experience a great sense of relief if they are feeling suicidal and are asked about it in the right way."

"With some specific mental conditions, notably bi-polar affective disorder, getting into debt was a recognised feature of the condition’s profile. Sufferers are known to go on extravagant spending sprees running up massive credit card bills,” he added.

The nationwide CAMIAD programme is aimed at any professional who might have contact with debtors and this includes insolvency practitioners, accountants, solicitors, debt management advisers, bankers, college and university lecturers, social and welfare workers and even doctors.

Friday 13 September 2013

Wear It Pink Day

I joined the fight against breast cancer by raising awareness of Breast Cancer Campaign’s biggest (and pinkest) fundraiser, wear it pink day.

Over the last 10 years wear it pink has raised a staggering £23 million and on Friday 25 October 2013 people will come together in schools, colleges and businesses throughout the country to raise vital funds for Breast Cancer Campaign’s lifesaving research.

Every year in the UK around 50,000 women and around 400 men are diagnosed with breast cancer. Sadly 12,000 women and 80 men die from this disease. This is why we need to support Breast Cancer Campaign’s fundraising efforts so they can continue to fund research which will one day lead to a cure. So join me, wear something pink and donate £2, it’s really as simple as that.

Breast Cancer Campaign vitally needs the money raised from wear it pink for its researchers to have the best possible chance to find the cure.

To register for wear it pink and receive your fundraising pack visit here or call 0800 107 3104.

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Lottery Funding to mark WWI centenary

With a year to go until we mark the centenary of the UK entering the First World War, I am encouraging constituents to consider applying to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for community projects to learn more about the First World War.

HLF is making at least £1million a year available until 2019 as part of the First World War: then and now programme for small, community grants.  It will provide grants of £3,000 to £10,000 enabling groups right across the UK to explore, conserve and share their First World War heritage and deepen their understanding of the impact of the conflict.

Successful projects will include:

researching, identifying and recording local heritage;
creating a community archive or collection;
developing new interpretation of heritage through exhibitions, trails, smartphone apps etc;
researching, writing and performing creative material based on heritage sources;
conserving and finding out more about war memorials

I’m delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund is making this money available to local communities. Like many areas across the UK, the impact of the First World War on the people of Makerfield was extensive. For those who want to find out more about its legacy or who wish to mark the Centenary, I would urge them to get in touch with HLF.

HLF has already invested over £15million in projects – large and small – that will mark the Centenary of First World War. If a group have a project idea to mark the Centenary of the First World War, an online application pack is available here. If a group needs a grant of more than £10,000 for a First World War project, it can apply to HLF through its open programmes.