• further easing of lockdown restrictions

    From tomorrow, we will see a further easing of lockdown restrictions in our hospitality, leisure and retail sectors, which are vital to the livelihoods of many in our community.

    However, this is not risk-free move and it is crucial that the action taken is phased, managed, carefully planned and properly communicated.

    Our excellent local businesses have spent much time and money preparing to operate under the new rules. As we see customers return, I hope the Government continues to give additional support to them where necessary, and stick to its commitment to provide “whatever it takes”.

    The Government is also increasingly passing responsibilities for managing the pandemic down to a local level, but here their messages are confused and many businesses and constituents are understandably asking when their businesses and groups can undertake activities.

    I have been working alongside St Helens Council, to support businesses and help them prepare. I know a lot of hard work is being undertaken to ensure social distancing can be retained when outlets reopen, and I want to thank local business hubs and St Helens Chamber, alongside council officers, for providing valuable support and advice on how to both meet the new requirements and to plan for the future.

    Coming out of lockdown brings with it many challenges, but if we all continue to act with caution and follow the advice to prevent the spread of infection, we will hopefully see life slowly return to normal.

  • concern as Universal Credit (UC) numbers in St Helens North have rocketed

    I’m hugely concerned that Universal Credit (UC) numbers in St Helens North have rocketed by a starling 65% since March – making clear yet again the deep-felt consequences of this pandemic for low-income families.

    There were 9,400 people in our communities on UC in May 2020, which includes those both in and out of work. This is a sharp rise of nearly 4,000 since March.

    We in St Helens borough know how long-term unemployment, in-work precarity and poverty can devastate livelihoods in communities like ours.

    It’s why we need a Back to Work budget; one focusing on jobs, decent wages and measured support, so that local people are not plunged further into hardship by this crisis.

  • Armed Forces Day

    Today is Armed Forces Day, and while this year’s events in Newton-le-Willows and St Helens sadly cannot take place as usual, I know everyone across the borough will want to acknowledge the Armed Forces community and their service.
    Our communities here have strong connections and associations with the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force, and today on behalf of everyone in St Helens North I want to thank all serving personnel, their families and the many veterans locally.

  • help me identify groups and individuals who deserve recognition

    In these challenging times, many local people are doing great things: helping others, leading their communities, putting their own needs aside for the benefit of their neighbours and going that extra mile to make St Helens borough a better place.

    That is why I am asking for your help to identify groups and individuals who deserve recognition – whether it’s actions during the COVID-19 crisis, a record of volunteering, an enterprising local business, a charity or sports group or an individual who has made a significant contribution to our borough.

    If you know would like to put forward an individual or organisation please let me know. I do not need you to provide a great level of detail, just names, contact details and a short paragraph on why you are suggesting them.

  • the Daniel Fox Foundation

    I was delighted to meet Dawn Jones from the Daniel Fox Foundation to discuss the charity’s positive work in educating, raising awareness and transforming outcomes for local young people in relation to the devastating consequences of knife-crime.

    Set up in 2017 to commemorate Daniel’s life, following his tragic murder in St Helens Town Centre, the Foundation’s focus remains on tackling the causes and effects of knife-crime, such as discouraging carrying weapons, better targeting resources, tackling perpetrators, and meeting victims’ needs. Their commendable efforts have seen them establish close working relationships with local schools, colleges and St Helens Council.

    I want to thank all those at the Foundation and St Helens Community Policing for the real difference they make in tackling the scourge of knife-crime from roots to branch. I fully support their work and will be raising their campaigns with Ministers and colleagues in Parliament.

  • The Great Get Together

    Today marks the start of this year’s Great Get Together, which I’m fully supporting in memory of my dear colleague, the late Jo Cox MP.

    All this weekend, communities like ours right across the country are safely coming together to celebrate all we have in common; helping to build a brighter, kinder and more compassionate society for everyone.

    As ever, during this crisis I have truly been amazed by the kindness, generosity and compassion of local people in our proud St Helens communities. This weekend, our get togethers – whether big or small – remind us once more of all the many things that unite us.

  • Government’s U-turn on ending free school meals

    I strongly welcome the Government’s U-turn on ending free school meals for 1.3 million vulnerable children this summer holiday, a move which would have affected nearly 5000 children here in St Helens borough.

    Manchester United player Marcus Rashford has done an inspirational job in showing leadership and generating support for the Covid Summer Food Fund, and it is only thanks to him, local & national campaigners and action in Parliament by Labour MPs that Ministers changed course.

    St Helens North has seen a 72% rise in unemployment since March, indicating the growing burdens Covid-19 has forced on households across our communities. For countless families feeling the squeeze, free school meals are a real lifeline – ensuring many of our children don’t go hungry.

    It’s only right this isn’t taken away from those who need it most.

  • Post Office Horizon scandal

    The revelations exposed by last week’s BBC Panorama programme, which uncovered the Post Office Horizon scandal, are deeply shocking, and now we must see swift answers provided for all those who were unjustly wronged.

    For years, sub-postmasters tragically had their lives ruined by being falsely accused, pursued and imprisoned due to a faulty IT system, all whilst Post Office bosses refused to accept computer glitches were causing problems, and spent tens of millions of pounds defending its position.

    This appalling scandal has had a profound impact on many Post Office workers, and sadly I know some in St Helens North were affected. Clearly, a thorough investigation and compensation are urgently needed to restore public confidence and ultimately deliver justice.

  • British Airways

    The shocking announcement that British Airways is to make up to 12,000 employees redundant – a quarter of its workforce – is devastating news for all those affected, and highlights the uncertainty facing airline staff across St Helens borough and the North West.

    With 1.6 million jobs dependent on the UK’s aviation industry, it’s clear from my discussions with Unite and local trade unionists that a robust sector-wide package is needed to mitigate the intense financial pressures caused by coronavirus, with taxpayer funding conditional on companies safeguarding jobs, staff salaries, workers’ rights and environmental protections.

    There’s little question that the sector, trade unions, and above all workers are crying out for leadership, urgency and clarity. So far, the Government has failed to provide either.

  • Volunteers’ Week

    This week marked a Volunteers’ Week like never before, when more than ever we should show our appreciation and thanks for the millions of people across the country who generously give their time to help others and keep our communities flourishing.

    As the local MP, I am fortunate enough to meet so many dedicated volunteers across St Helens North and see their fantastic work in action, whether it’s as individuals, clubs or organisations. They are the backbone of our communities and we are all very grateful for them and their work.

    During these difficult times, their contribution has shone brighter than ever, from collecting and distributing food to the vulnerable and those shielding, to befriending the elderly and working with local charities. Through St Helens Together, St Helens Council and St Helens VCA, hundreds of constituents have come forward to help out during this crisis; acting as street champions, dropping off medicines and much more.

    I know all local residents appreciate the valuable work they do, but this week has been an excellent opportunity to say another huge thank you to all our local volunteers for the time they give, and the real difference they make to so many.

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