Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Calling for increased awareness about organ donation

With Organ Donation Week campaigners
This year I am proudly supporting Organ Donation Week and an appeal for more people to talk about organ donation.

Thousands of local people are on the NHS Organ Donor Register but hundreds of lifesaving transplants are being missed around the country every year because families don't know what their relative wanted.

During the week, NHS Blood and Transplant, hospitals, charities, and supporters of organ donation are encouraging people across the UK to talk about organ donation with their relatives and friends.

I'm happy to support this lifesaving appeal and it's really easy for everyone to take part: just have a chat with the people around you.

That chat might be the next time you sit down for a meal, when you are shopping or working, or when you are just driving in the car. If you want to be a donor, your family's agreement is still needed for donation to go ahead, even if you are on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Families who agree to donate say it helps with their grief and that they feel enormous sense of pride at knowing their relative gave others the chance of a new beginning, so I would encourage everyone to do what they can to support this appeal.

Pledging my support to breast cancer fundraiser 'wear it pink'

With Sky News present Jacquie Beltrao pledging
our support for 'wear it pink'
I am pleased to again pledge my support to Breast Cancer Now's flagship fundraiser, 'wear it pink,' which will see thousands of people across the UK adding a splash of pink to their outfits on Friday 20 October and raise vital funds for breast cancer research.

Wear it pink takes place during October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month and is now in its 16th year. Over this time it has raised £30 million to fund life-saving breast cancer research - but there is always more to do, so I would encourage everyone to sign up and help raise more funds for this worthwhile cause.

Anyone can take part in wear it pink, which brings together schools, workplaces, and communities. All you need to do is wear something pink, or hold a pink event at home, work, or school, and make a donation to Breast Cancer Now. Whatever you do, you're helping the charity achieve its aim that, if we all act now, by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live.

The fact is, breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, and one in eight women will face it in their lifetime. Each year around 11,500 women and 80 men lose their lives to this awful disease.

This is why I'm urging local people to take part in wear it pink in October.

To take part, please visit www.wearitpink.org/2017 for further details, fundraising ideas, and how to register for your free fundraising pack.

Supporting Internet Matters to help keep children safe online

I recently met with online safety campaigners from Internet Matters to hear about how we can help make the internet a safer place for children.

The not-for-profit aims to assist parents in keeping kids safe online and held a drop-in session in Parliament, alongside Google, to showcase the tools they both have available for parents and schools.

Just in time for the new school term, Internet Matter have relaunched the schools section on their website. Research shows that schools are the most popular place for parents to seek help with online safety issues, so I was given a guided tour of the new resource hub which now includes a host of school programmes, training, classroom resources, and a communication pack to help schools drive engagement with parents.

Likewise Google has already developed online safety tools such as its Safe Search feature which filters potentially offensive content, and the YouTube Kids app which allows families to watch child friendly programmes with peace of mind.

As children increasingly live their lives online, internet safety is becoming more of a pressing issue for teachers and schools.

All young people should be able to enjoy the wealth of information and entertainment available online in a way that is as safe and age appropriate as possible, and building a form of digital resilience is key for life in today's world.

For more information on helping to keep children safe online, please visit www.internetmatters.org.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Supporting the National Garden Scheme in Bowers Gifford

With John Spooner supporting the National Garden Scheme
I was delighted to visit John and Barbara Spooner's garden in Bowers Gifford, which they kindly opened up to the public to support the National Garden Scheme (NGS).

NGS encourages homeowners across the country to open up their private gardens to the public in support of a number of nursing charities, including Macmillan Cancer Care, Marie Curie, and Hospice UK.

So far this year NGS has raised over £3million, with the garden season now entering full bloom.

I was very grateful for the invitation to visit their beautiful garden, for their hospitality, and also for their dedication and hard work in supporting the National Garden Scheme - which helps to raise crucial funds for nursing charities across the country.

I would encourage anyone from the local area and beyond to visit next time it is open, or check the NGS website for other open gardens!

Monday, 17 July 2017

Traveller occupation of Rushley Park

At Rushley Park, Basildon, after recent events
Recently we saw the third occupation of Rushley Park by travellers. This incursion has again caused much distress to local residents with reports of intimidation, fires being lit on both park furniture and in the trees, fly tipping on an industrial scale, and a general disregard for acceptable behaviour.

These events have again rightly resulted in a call for more action to be taken to ensure that everyone, regardless of social status, is treated equally under the law. Trespass, malicious damage, fly tipping, and intimidation of others are all criminal acts and anyone breaking these laws should be treated in exactly the same way.

Local residents are rightly concerned about the impact of the occupation on the local park, a much loved public place. It is also the third time in nine months that the local community has been affected by such an incursion.

I am grateful to the Police and the local Council for the actions they have taken to clear the site, but I am calling on all authorities - locally and nationally - to do more. I have therefore written to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government asking what more we can do collectively to ensure the protection of our public spaces and how we can prevent such trespass in the future.

Likewise I am opening discussions with Basildon Borough Council, Thurrock Council, and Essex County Council to explore putting in place a borough-wide Section 61 order similar to that imposed by Harlow Council. This could help to protect the environment and residents from the constant abuses both during and after such incursions.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Opening the Horndon Feast & Fayre

It was a tremendous honour to help open the Horndon-on-the-Hill Feast & Fayre with Thurrock mayor Tunde Ojetola and cut the ribbon!

The event dates back to the 13th century when Horndon-on-the-Hill was granted a Royal Charter to hold the annual end-of-June celebration.

More recently it has hosted the Horndon 10k run and brings different parts of the local community together to celebrate summer in the village.

I look forward to hopefully attending the event again next year!

Meeting the new student leadership team at Hassenbrook Academy

I was recently delighted to visit Hassenbrook Academy to meet the new Head Girl, Boy and their deputies, who were all optimistic about what they can achieve at, and for, the school.

It was also very encouraging to see that Hassenbrook continues to make progress under the leadership of Executive Head Dr Asong and her teaching staff.

As MP I always enjoy the chance to catch up with local schools and see first-hand the hard work all our teachers do to drive up standards and give pupils a great start in life. Education is one of the most important gifts we can give to local young people and it can make all the difference.