• Prayer150

    As St Helens continues celebrations to mark its 150th anniversary, Conor met with Phil Fell, Pastor of St Helens Christian Life Centre, to hear about Prayer150 – an initiative by St Helens churches to join the celebrations and look to the future of our borough.

    Prayer150 is a year-long prayer campaign for St Helens, organised through St Helens Church Leaders Hub, which will provide prayer materials and ideas for praying creatively for every aspect of St Helens life through video, social media, our website and prayer cards both for individuals and churches.

    Each month the project will focus on a different aspect of life in St Helens, with February focusing on health and social care.

    Churches in the constituency and across the borough play a vital role in St Helens, and Conor is supporting Prayer150 as an opportunity to celebrate our strong faith communities.


  • Station clean up

    Well done to the members of the Network Rail North West communications team who travelled to Earlestown from Manchester and Birmingham to help clean up the station.

    Network Rail allow staff a number of days to do something positive in the community, and the team chose to volunteer at Earlestown station.

    They spent the day clearing litter from the platforms and cutting back some of the overgrown pathways, helping commuters on their journeys and making the station and its surroundings look much better.

  • Congratulations to Haydock Band

    It is fantastic news that Haydock Band have won the Butlins National Championship Trophy – their first accolade of 2018 after a very successful year in 2017 – and a great start to the St Helens 150th anniversary year.

    Brass bands like Haydock and Valley Brass in our borough are immensely talented and the dedication of band members is a testament to the excellent grassroots music scene in St Helens.

    But bands in St Helens are facing financial difficulties that mean the groups often have difficulty finding permanent homes and storing instruments – and local bands have lost out on Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery grants.

    Conor written to the head of Arts Council England calling for alternative funding streams to be put in place for our local brass bands, making sure that our communities can benefit from them in years to come

  • School funding crisis

    Conor met with secondary and special school headteachers from across the borough to hear about the impacts of the schools funding crisis in St Helens.

    The meeting, which was hosted at St Cuthbert’s School, was also a chance to catch-up about local developments in education, and to hear about some of the great achievements of our schools and young people.

    But the Government’s refusal to properly fund our schools is having a direct impact on teaching and learning, with a number of teachers facing redundancy and class sizes being increased.

    As a result of the Government’s failure to raise the pupil premium, there are now fewer subjects on offer at some schools.

    The frustration of our local headteachers and teachers – who work hard and want pupils to have the best education – is clear to see. The Government needs to act now and ensure schools in St Helens are properly funded.

  • State of Mind working to improve mental health

    I met with Simon Barbour and Phil Cooper from charity State of Mind to discuss their excellent work improving the mental health and wellbeing of rugby league players, supporters and their communities.

    Simon, who is the Chief Executive of the North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Trust, and Phil, a co-founder of the charity, do excellent work across St Helens in raising the profile of mental health Issues.

    NHS figures show that one in four people will experience a mental health condition at some point in our lives, so education and awareness is key.

    State of Mind is a fantastic programme and a testament to the positive effect Rugby League has on our communities across St Helens – you can find out more about their work here http://rugbyleague.stateofmindsport.org/areas/st-helens/


  • National award for Rainford high

    It was great to visit Rainford High to meet a team of pupils who won a national award in a global health and development contest.

    Zach Cunningham, Evan Cunningham, Rebecca Spencer, and Katie Wilkinson won in the Silver category of the Youth Grand Challenges competition – organised by the British Science Council.

    The team came up with the idea of Soap & Suds toys, to help stop the spread of deadly infectious diseases by encouraging children in developing countries to wash their hands more often.

    The team were supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and Unilever to successfully trial the Soap & Suds toys with young people in Ghana.

    The team have done a fantastic job and are a great example of just what young people across the Borough are capable of – especially when they get the right support, as in this case with head teacher Ian Young and STEM coordinator Hazel Duffy.

    I have written to the Secretary of State for International Development to make her aware of the project and asked her Department to help its development.

  • Conor warns over drop in number of people starting apprenticeships

    St Helens North MP Conor McGinn has warned of the potential impact on jobs and skills in St Helens after figures show the number of people starting apprenticeships across the borough has dropped by a fifth.

    The Department for Education statistics show there were 2,850 apprenticeship starts in St Helens during the 2011/12 academic year, but this has dropped to 2,280 for the 2016/17 school year.

    The figures show a growing skills crisis in St Helens, with 20 per cent fewer apprenticeship starts across the borough, some four times higher than the national average.

    Young people in St Helens are particularly badly affected, with 22 per cent fewer under 19 year olds starting apprenticeships, when the national figure is just 7 per cent.

    Mr McGinn has criticised the Government for leaving St Helens behind and not doing enough to support young people into apprenticeships across the borough.

    Meanwhile, Labour has pledged to invest £1 billion in vocational training and to reintroduce Educational Maintenance Allowance for young people as part of a new National Education Service, ensuring everyone can access high-quality education.

    Commenting, Mr McGinn said:

    “St Helens is a great place to learn, work and do business, with innovative local firms and a proud industrial heritage.

    “But a shocking 20 per cent drop in apprenticeship starts across the borough in the last five years shows the Government is leaving St Helens behind and if this is not halted it will mean a jobs and skills crisis for future generations.

    “This is also a let-down to St Helens College, the Chamber of Commerce and local businesses supporting apprenticeships.

    “My top priority is to bring more jobs and investment to St Helens. Following the launch of the Government’s industrial strategy this week, I will be pressing ministers to make sure that strategy includes improving transport links and attracting investment to St Helens and across Merseyside.

    “Young people deserve better, which is why Labour has pledged to reintroduce Educational Maintenance Allowance – which was scrapped by the Tories – and to invest £1 billion in a new National Education Service.”

  • Real term cuts to policing

    With crime rising, the police and emergency services need as much support as they can get. But this Tory Government has frozen the grant for Merseyside Police at its current level – effectively a real terms cut.

    The Government’s attempt to shift funding from the central grant on to local council tax payers will do nothing to replace the 1,000 police officers that Merseyside Police has lost since 2010.

    The Government must urgently end its failed austerity policies and support our hardworking police and emergency services in fighting crime and protecting law and order in our communities.

    Last week I met Chief Constable Andy Cooke and assured him of my continuing support for the police and welcome his assurance of a continued focus on St Helens.

  • National Postal Workers Day

    Tuesday 12th December was National Postal Workers Day, a chance to recognise the year round hard work and dedication thousands of men and women who collect, sort and deliver letters and parcels.

    Our posties work in all weather – like in the icy cold today – to get the post delivered, and today is one of the busiest days of the year in the run up to Christmas.

    Conor proud to have the support and endorsement of the postal workers’ union, the CWU.

    Thank you to all hardworking postal workers in St Helens.

  • Trussell Trust Annual Food Collection

    Conor visited the Tesco store in Earlestown to meet store manager Sam Aldred, Leslie and Linda and to support the Trussell Trust annual food collection, which last year alone collected 3.6 million meals for people in need.

    2,600 Tesco stores across the UK are taking part in the annual Food Collection, which encourages shoppers to donate to The Trussell Trust to support to people who might otherwise go hungry this Christmas in St Helens North.

    People should not have to rely on food banks. However, the Tory Government’s austerity policies are the reality for many people, both in and out of work.

    But thanks to the generosity of many people, those in need will be able to get support through The Trussell Trust’s foodbanks and the work of organisations such as the Hope Centre in St Helens and their volunteers who are working hard to prevent people going hungry at Christmas

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