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4 Featured Office News

Liz joins Primary Futures programme to raise the aspirations of local children

On 14 May, Liz attended the launch of the Primary Futures Parliamentary Champion programme, a major cross-party initiative that aims to raise the aspirations and broaden the horizons of primary school children.

Primary Futures is an exciting initiative pioneered by the charity Education and Employers and the National Association of Headteachers. The programme helps inspire children by connecting primary schools with local role models through an innovative online service. Volunteers from apprentices to CEOs, architects to zoologists, then give an hour a year to go into schools and chat informally to children about their work.

Children can only dream about what they know. Primary Futures shows pupils exciting futures and helps them understand that by aiming high and working hard, they can realise their dreams. In focussing on young children, the initiative can have a markedly positive effect on attainment. It is also underpinned by technology that gives schools more control over the type of event they believe would be most valuable for their pupils.

Liz commented: “Children’s career aspirations are formed at a young age and influenced overwhelmingly by who they know. All children should have an equal opportunity for a fulfilling career that is not limited by their background. I’m going to be championing Primary Futures in Blaydon as it will help open the eyes of local children to what’s possible and what they could achieve.

“I will be writing to regional business, charity, and public-sector leaders, encouraging them to volunteer and spread the word about Primary Futures in their professional networks, as a growing number of volunteers is essential to boosting these careers events. I will also be registering as a Primary Futures volunteer to share the exciting work of politics with local children.”

Nick Chambers, CEO of Education and Employers, added: “I’m delighted that Liz is supporting Primary Futures and I have no doubt that her involvement will go a long way to raising the aspirations of children in Blaydon.”

 

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4 Featured Office News

Constituency Christmas Card competition

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I’m delighted to announce that the winners of this year’s Christmas Card competition is St Joseph’s Primary School. The winning cards by St Joseph’s are held by Mary Foy (centre), Chair of the Gateshead Council Fairtrade Steering Group, and Jo Lambert (right), Digital Marketing Manager for Traidcraft. Commiserations to the runner-up, Parkhead Community Primary School, whose entry is held by me.

Thanks to all the schools who took part!

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4 Featured Office News

Third meeting of the APPG on PKU

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This afternoon we had the third meeting of the APPG on Phenylketonuria (PKU). It was great to discuss the updates in both NICE and NHS England’s appraisal of PKU drug Kuvan, which is still not available on the NHS.

We also discussed the problems many PKU patients are having in getting their essential dietary products prescribed by their local CCGs. I will be writing to CCGs nationwide about this.

I will continue to fight for PKU patients! I hope in the near future we will finally see Kuvan available on the NHS, and also see dietary products more readily available for patients.

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4 Featured Health & NHS Office News

Liz visits Maternity Unit at QE Hospital

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This morning I visited the Maternity Unit at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead (QE), along with Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).

I was very keen to see first-hand the excellent work done by Midwives at the QE. A recent CQC report rated the Maternity Services at the QE as “Outstanding”; with the Hospital being rated as “Good” overall.

I’ve been delighted today to have seen the tremendous work done by staff at the QE Maternity Unit. It’s made me very proud.

It is important that we now maintain this level of outstanding service. At a time when so many Maternity Units across the country are struggling, it’s essential that we don’t let that happen at the QE. All Maternity Units deserve the high level of service that we have here.

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4 Featured Office News

E-petition seeks to award a medal to British personnel involved in nuclear testing programs

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I recently met with one of my constituents, David Rae, who brought with him his Father’s service medals.

David’s Father, Andrew, served on Operation Grapple Y at Christmas Island (Kiritimati) in the Pacific Ocean in 1958 – which was part of the British hydrogen bomb programme. Andrew was one of 22,000 British service personnel who witnessed the nuclear weapons tests.

These men witnessed one of the most devastating weapons our country has produced, but veterans have not been recognised in the way they ought to have been.

In 2015 Fiji paid compensation to soldiers exposed to radiation during British nuclear tests, yet this has not happened in Britain. It is about time British service personnel were rightly recognised.

I am therefore hopeful that people will sign this e-petition to ‘Award a medal to British personnel involved in any nuclear testing program’: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/220170

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4 Featured Office News

New petition supports calls for hunting legislation to be strengthened

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This week I signed a petition calling for hunting legislation to be strengthened, as British wildlife is still being targeted due to loopholes in the law.

Animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports were in Parliament this week to discuss how ‘trail’ hunting is being used as a cover for illegal hunting and how exemptions and loopholes in the law are resulting in wildlife being chased and killed in the name of ‘sport’.

The Hunting Act 2004 prohibits packs of hounds from chasing and killing foxes, deer, hares and mink, but most hunts converted to ‘trail’ hunting after the ban and use this, as well as exemptions within the law, as an excuse to continue targeting animals.

Strengthening of existing hunting legislation is urgently needed to prevent trail hunting and other false alibis being used to circumvent the law.

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4 Featured Office News

Official opening of Henry Colbeck’s new recycling centre

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I love visiting local businesses.

On Friday I visited Henry Colbeck on the Team Valley to officially open their new used cooking oil recycling centre. I was amazed at just how clean and hygienic the whole process is. The family-run company, established in 1983, are leaders in recycling edible oils and fats to be reused for cooking or for biofuels. They are also harnessing new technology, working with PODfather, to make collections and deliveries more efficient, reducing their carbon footprint.

Bill Colbeck, the Chair of the company, was particularly inspirational, taking new risks to make our region’s food industry cleaner and greener.

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4 Featured Office News

Retail Sector debate

I recently had the opportunity to speak in a debate on the Retail Sector. In my speech I outlined the need to have an improved strategy to help the Retail Sector both locally and nationally.

Nearly a quarter of jobs in the Blaydon constituency are in the Retail Sector, so it is vitally important that this sector thrives. From the high street traders -in the towns of Ryton, Birtley, Whickham, Winlaton, Dunston Hill, Crawcrook, Chopwell, Rowlands Gill, Blaydon- to the major retailers, like the intu Metrocentre, our consituency is made up of important retailers. It is these that have made our towns such great and vibrant places to live in.

It is therefore necessary that the Government implement new measures that can help the Retail Sector with the issues it faces; issues such as internet shopping and empty high streets. I’m currently doing what I can locally, working with retailers and Gateshead Council, but we need to have a more enhanced plan to support the Retail Sector across the UK.

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4 Featured APPG on PKU Office News

MPs sign Early Day Motion (EDM) to improve access to treatment for Phenylketonuria (PKU) patients

MPs today signed an EDM supporting the need for improved access to treatment, support and innovative new medicines for PKU patients.

The six MPs, noted below, hope many more MPs will now follow. The six MPs, including  the MP for Blaydon, Liz Twist, also hope the EDM will raise awareness of PKU, a rare metabolic disease which inhibits the ability to metabolise phenylalanine within protein. There is a concern among MPs that the only treatment currently provided by the NHS is a severely restricted diet which places a great burden on patients or carers.

 

PKU Early day motion

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4 Featured Community

The fight against Puppy Smuggling

Earlier this week, Liz visited a House of Commons reception hosted by Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity. The charity coined the famous slogan – ‘A dog is for Life, not just for Christmas’ and Liz gave her full support in the fight against Puppy Smuggling.

Dogs Trust has been investigating the problem since 2014, and through three undercover investigations has found that unscrupulous breeders take advantage of, and profit from issues with the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). As a result, underage puppies are being illegally imported into Great Britain from Central and Eastern Europe, and sold to unsuspecting members of the public.

Liz Twist MP said “I’m very pleased to support Dogs Trust in raising awareness of the plight of illegally imported puppies, who suffer the most harrowing of journeys at the hands of these unscrupulous dealers. It’s imperative that the Government takes immediate action by enforcing proper checks at the ports and on-the-spot fines to deter these breeders and dealers, as well as introducing revised legislation as a priority when the UK leaves the EU. We hope this will help to effectively regulate pet travel.

Due to the amount of correspondence my office receives, I understand that the animal welfare is a major concern for many constituents across Blaydon constituency.”