SNP MP presents Bill on supervised drug consumption facility

ALISON THEWLISS: ‘WE CANNOT STAND STILL ON THIS ISSUE ANY LONGER’

SNP MP Alison Thewliss has said she has brought her debate on supervised drug consumption facilities today (Wednesday) to Westminster because ‘we cannot stand still on this issue any longer.’

Alison Thewliss is presenting her ten minute rule Bill to ask the UK Government to allow for the piloting of a Supervised Drug Consumption Facility (SDCF) in Glasgow city centre. The MP for Glasgow Central has been a long-standing advocate for an alternative approach to tackling drug-injecting, and the associated public health concerns. The Bill has drawn support from all political parties, with many supporters recognising that the status quo was failing to adequately tackle the matter.

Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“With this Bill, I want to send a very clear message – with widespread and cross-party support – to the UK Government that the status-quo is doing nothing to help the drug-injecting population. Today’s Bill is on the issue of Supervised Drug Consumption Facilities, and the associated proposals for a pilot facility in my constituency of Glasgow Central.

“The problems associated with public injecting are patently clear: my constituency office regularly receives reports of needles and other drug paraphernalia being discarded in public places, and I have seen drug-injecting taking place in locations not far from where my office is located.

“The complex health issues for the drug-injecting population in Scotland are becoming ever more alarming, especially for an ageing population who have been injecting for a long time. In Scotland in 2016 there were 867 deaths from fatal overdoses of drugs – the highest number of deaths from drug overdose in Europe. We cannot stand still on this issue any longer.

“Doing the same thing, over and over, is failing families, communities, and those using drugs. Supervised injecting facilities may not solve everything, but they have worked elsewhere and the Home Office must support my Bill and allow Glasgow to go ahead and assess these proposals with the pilot.”

Alison Thewliss MP and Fay Ripley help launch Marie Curie’s Great Daffodil Appeal

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, and Cold Feet actress Fay Ripley have joined forces this March to help Marie Curie provide care and support to more people living with a terminal illness.

Alison Thewliss and long-term Marie Curie supporter Fay Ripley were pictured together with Marie Curie Nurses, Victoria Shodeko and Victoria Oluwalogbon, at a parliamentary event held this week to celebrate the launch of the Great Daffodil Appeal, Marie Curie’s biggest annual fundraising campaign.

From March 1st, Marie Curie’s daffodil pins will be available from volunteers and shops on high streets across Glasgow. With demand for Marie Curie services growing, as more people die each year, the charity hopes that this March, more people than ever will give a donation and wear the iconic yellow flower.

The money raised will help the charity be there for more people living with any terminal illness, providing them and their loved ones with vital care and support at the most difficult time of their lives.

Ms Thewliss pledged her support to the appeal and is encouraging local people to help the charity raise more money than ever before by simply giving a donation and wearing a Marie Curie daffodil pin.

Alison Thewliss MP said:

“I’m delighted to join Marie Curie to launch this year’s Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal.

“It’s absolutely crucial that people living with a terminal illness, and their loved ones, are able to access the vital services that Marie Curie provide. I hope that my constituents will play their part in showing their support for Marie Curie this March and taking part in the Appeal.”

Fay Ripley, who is best known for her role in the ITV series Cold Feet, said:

“I’m delighted to be here with Alison Thewliss MP to help launch Marie Curie’s annual Great Daffodil Appeal.

“Chances are, we all know someone who’s been affected by a terminal illness, so it’s absolutely crucial that families have the care and support they need at such a difficult time. I hope that as many people as possible wear a daffodil this March and understand that in doing so, they are making a huge difference for people living with a terminal illness and their loved ones.”

Scott Sinclair, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Marie Curie, said:

“Having the support of Alison and Fay makes a huge difference to our Great Daffodil Appeal.

“We ask people to wear a daffodil on their lapel throughout the month to show not only their support for the work of our Marie Curie Nurses, but also to help us highlight the many issues that
people affected by terminal illness confront. We believe that everyone should have the best quality of care and the best quality of life possible when they are dying.”

Marie Curie Rapid Response Nurse Victoria Shodeko said:

“Wearing a daffodil is a really easy way to show your support for the thousands of families affected by terminal illness. Everyone deserves to be cared for at the end of their life.

“Every penny raised, every daffodil worn, helps fund our vital care and support. It means I can be there for someone who is dying. We urgently need as many people as possible to give a donation this year and wear their daffodil with pride.

“Marie Curie services rely on charitable donations, so I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who gives a donation and wears a daffodil pin during March.”

Marie Curie is there for everyone affected by a terminal illness, including those with cancer, dementia, heart or lung disease, and neurological conditions like motor neurone disease. It provides a range of services focussing on where gaps exist in high quality care and where it can reach more people. It also provides practical information and support, funds vital research and campaigns for more people to have access to high quality, personalised care wherever and whenever they need it.

To find out more about the Great Daffodil Appeal, visit www.mariecurie.org.uk/daffodil or call free on 0800 304 7025. You can also text DAFF to 70099 to donate £5.

SNP MP encouraged by increased breastfeeding rates

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, and chair of the APPG on Infant Feeding and Inequalities, has commended the results of a recent Scottish Government survey into breastfeeding rates and infant nutrition.

The Scottish Maternal and Infant Nutrition Survey was conducted in the first half of 2017 and invited responses from hundreds of women, including expectant mothers, those whose babies were between 8-12 weeks old, and those whose babies were 8-12 months old. The questionnaire focussed on maternal nutrition, breastfeeding, infant feeding and related health behaviours.

The survey pointed to progress being made in many areas, with 43% of mothers now continuing to breastfeed up to six months after birth, compared with 32% in 2010. In addition, it spoke to an increase in the overall duration of breastfeeding.

Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“It is greatly encouraging to see an uplift in the number of mothers who are breastfeeding for longer, and I am delighted that this increase is a significant one. It’s important to recognise the work going on in hospitals and local areas by both health professionals and volunteer peer supporters, as this couldn’t be achieved without their incredible efforts.

“The Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative standards recommend that, in order to maximise health outcomes for children, breastfeeding should be promoted exclusively for the first six months. In that sense, it’s terrific to see so many women in Scotland maximising breastmilk and introducing solid foods later.

“I know there is still a lot of work to be done in this area. Whilst help and information is given to mothers to promote and assist with breastfeeding, the survey results show the main reasons for breastfeeding ceasing early is due to concerns around feeding problems, and also finding feeding too difficult. It’s therefore crucial that health professionals continue to provide and develop ongoing support.

“Studies such as this are fundamental, as they provide an evidence base on which more informed policy decisions can be made, in this case to help design and implement better advice and support for families. It’s crucial that the UK Government do the same, in order to improve health outcomes across the country”.

Parliamentary event invites politicians to ‘Come On In’ to Fairtrade

To mark the start of Fairtrade Fortnight Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, attended a celebratory event at Parliament.

The event, sponsored by Co-op, gave parliamentarians from across the political spectrum the chance to show their support for Fairtrade, chat to supporters and campaigners, hear the stories of Fairtrade producers and sample some delicious Fairtrade produce. Parliamentarians also got the chance to pose for photographs with Fairtrade Ambassador Nick Hewer, famous for his roles on Countdown and The Apprentice.

Fairtrade Fortnight 2018 will challenge the British public to open their doors to Fairtrade and help close the door on the exploitation facing farmers and producers in developing nations.

The nationwide campaign ‘Come On In’ runs from Monday 26 February until Sunday 11 March and will invite the public to come in to the world of the people who grow our food to see what life can be like when farmers and workers aren’t paid fairly. The campaign will explore how businesses, farmers, workers and shoppers can come together through Fairtrade to change this.

Thousands of events will be taking place around the country including breakfasts, breaks, bake-offs and more as people ‘Come On In’ and find out more about Fairtrade.

Alison Thewliss MP said:

“It is wonderful to be able to show my support for Fairtrade alongside my fellow parliamentarians.

“Fairtrade Fortnight is a hugely important event and I would encourage the people of Glasgow to get involved wherever they can.

“We can all play a role in ensuring a fair deal for farmers and producers in developing nations simply by ensuring we buy Fairtrade wherever possible.”

Cheryl McGechie, Director of Public Engagement, The Fairtrade Foundation said:

“This Fairtrade Fortnight, we are inviting people to ‘Come On In’ to find out what Fairtrade does for farmers and see what exploitation looks like when trade doesn’t deliver.

“There has never been a better time to stand alongside the people who produce the things we love to eat, drink and wear. People who often do not earn enough to feed, or provide for their own families.

“This unfairness must end. By buying Fairtrade you are guaranteeing farmers a fair price for their efforts. This Fairtrade Fortnight ‘Come On In’ to Fairtrade.”

Brad Hill, Fairtrade Strategy Manager at Co-op, said:

“From selling the UK’s first Fairtrade bananas and the world’s very first own-brand product with the Fairtrade Mark, through to making entire own-brand categories Fairtrade we at Co-op have continued to drive the benefits of Fairtrade. We will continually look for ways and areas that we can develop to help make positive impact and life changes for farmers in developing countries.

“Last year we extended our commitment further in a retailer first and announced that all the cocoa sourced for own brand products will be sourced on Fairtrade terms. This year we will be increasing our sourcing of the other core Fairtrade commodities to drive further Fairtrade Premium to producer communities. Our recent move saw us become the first in the world to adopt the new Fairtrade Sourced Ingredient program on flowers, meaning that all the African roses Co-op sources for use across our entire flower range will return a Fairtrade Premium. Some 35 million Co-op rose stems a year are now certified as Fairtrade and will go to help graduate nurses find employment in Kenya.

“We believe the right approach is to build upon the success of Fairtrade. That’s why in addition to our sourcing commitments we are investing directly to extend further the benefits of our trading relationship and investing directly in our producers and their communities.”

Tony Rowson, Head of Retail at Greggs said:

“As a responsible business, we believe in doing the right thing and are incredibly proud to be a long-standing partner of Fairtrade.

“A number of our products, including coffee, tea, sugar and bananas, are certified Fairtrade and we continue to add more items to the menu, including green tea and peppermint tea more recently.

“Having worked with Fairtrade for over ten years now, it has been incredible to see the positive impact and difference it makes to producer communities and we look forward to strengthening our relationship further in the future.”

Alison Thewliss MP pledges to #PassOnPlastic with Sky Ocean Rescue

Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central, today signed a pledge to #PassOnPlastic with Sky Ocean Rescue – a commitment to reduce single-use plastic consumption. Launched in January 2017, Sky Ocean Rescue aims to shine a spotlight on the issues of ocean health, particularly single-use plastic, and inspire people to make small changes. The #PassOnPlastic pledge was also signed by 113 MPs, all making a public commitment to reduce their consumption of single-use plastics.

Sky Ocean Rescue’s whale, Plasticus, which is made up of a quarter of a ton of plastic – the amount that enters our oceans every second – arrived outside Parliament to bring to life the scale of the problem.

Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“Sky have been working hard to raise awareness of ocean health and I am delighted to join their campaign and look at ways to reduce my own plastic consumption. It is deeply worrying that there are 5 trillion pieces of plastic in the world’s oceans, with 8 million tonnes more ending up there every year. We all have a role to play in protecting our oceans – that’s why I have signed my pledge to #PassOnPlastic and encourage others to do the same.”

Find out more about Sky Ocean Rescue on social media @SkyOceanRescue and on the Sky Ocean Rescue website.

Alison Thewliss MP visits innovative Glasgow research centre for rheumatoid arthritis

Alison Thewliss MP, Bill Kidd MSP and Carol Monaghan MP all visited the Rheumatoid Arthritis Pathogenesis Centre of Excellence (RACE), at the University of Glasgow on Friday 9th February, to learn about the impact of arthritis on their local constituents and the current investment in arthritis research across Scotland.

The centre, which is funded by charity Arthritis Research UK, aims to investigate both the cause and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, a condition which affects over 400,000 people in the UK. New research by the charity reveals that nearly 37,000 people in Scotland have rheumatoid arthritis, with 8,000 of those living in Glasgow and Clyde.

Arthritis Research UK and Arthritis Care have joined together to do more to help people with arthritis to live full and active lives. Together, they invest in breakthrough treatments, the best information and vital support for everyone affected by arthritis.

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, said:

“I greatly enjoyed my visit to Arthritis Research UK’s RACE centre, here in Glasgow. It was very interesting to hear about the important work being provided to help make everyday life better for people living with arthritis in Scotland.”

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints, leading to chronic pain and fatigue. Although drug treatments have improved considerably over the years they are not effective in all patients and many still have difficulty getting to work, climbing the stairs and even getting dressed independently.

In addition, over one million in Scotland live with back pain, and nearly 700,000 people with osteoarthritis, so the impact of musculoskeletal conditions on society and the economy is considerable, and are the largest single cause of workplace absence in the UK, resulting in 30.8 million working days lost each year.

The centre has bought together expertise from universities in Glasgow, Birmingham and Newcastle to explore the underlying causes of rheumatoid arthritis, with researchers focussing on the mechanisms that cause rheumatoid arthritis to start, and why it doesn’t stop.

The four party members, whose constituencies are all in Glasgow, were given the opportunity to have a tour of the research labs and meet those who were carrying out research projects into arthritis.

After the visit, Ms Thewliss said:

“I’m keen to raise the profile of the issues affecting people with arthritis at Westminster, and to help protect our position as a global leader in science, sustaining the benefits the life science sector brings to the economy. Together we can fight this painful condition that has a devastating impact on the lives of people in Scotland.”

Stephen Simpson, Director of Research at Arthritis Research UK, reflected on the visit and said:

“We hope that today’s visit will encourage all parliamentarians to think about the needs of people with arthritis in their local constituency, recognise that arthritis research should be a priority, and take action to ensure that Scotland’s contribution to medical research continues to be supported.

“Our charity supports over £17 million of research in Scotland. The focus has not just been at looking at the cure of arthritis, but also at interventions to help people living with arthritis today, which could positively transform their quality of life.”

Alison Thewliss MP gets things cooking during smart meter challenge

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, has gone head to head with MPs from across the political spectrum as part of the Westminster Pancake Challenge, an energy-saving cooking competition to raise awareness of how smart meters help people save energy.

Tasked with whisking up the best plate of pancakes for the least energy possible, Alison Thewliss MP took on several other MPs in the cook-off, which was judged by Great British Bake-Off finalist Ian Cumming.

Visualising the cost of your household energy is key to finding ways to reduce bills, and Alison had the help of a smart meter to see how much her energy was costing while cooking. Alison used 3.6 pence worth of energy to make her 3 pancakes.

Available at no extra cost from your energy supplier, a smart meter will show you exactly how much you are spending on energy in near real time, helping you to manage your energy at home, reduce waste and bring bills down.

Alison Thewliss MP said:

“Taking on the Westminster Pancake Challenge was great fun and helped me with my preparations for Pancake Day! It also demonstrated how much energy can be consumed when preparing food and how costs of using energy can mount up very quickly.

“Many constituents will find that smart meters can help with budgeting and bringing down energy bills and they should be offered the option of a smart meter by their energy provider. I and my staff are also on hand to provide advice to reduce energy bills – get in touch and we would be more than happy to offer energy saving tips and direct constituents to organisations that can help with the cost of living.”

Great British Bake-Off star Ian Cumming said:

“Pancakes can be tricky to flip at the best of times, but the politicians did an excellent job with nothing dropped on the floor or stuck to the ceiling.

“During the challenge, I kept an eye on how much energy Alison Thewliss MP was using, with the help of a smart meter in-home display. Being able to see the cost of the energy you use when you’re cooking, is key to bringing bills down.

“With so many gadgets, hobs and ovens, the kitchen can be a real draw on energy, but I think everyone was impressed by how a smart meter can help you save in the kitchen”

Robert Cheesewright, Director of Policy and Communications at Smart Energy GB said:

“The pancake challenge was great fun and I’m really pleased that so many MPs from across the country have come together to demonstrate how smart meters can help households reduce their energy bills.”

Bridgeton MP slams Government’s handling of JobCentre closure

MP for Glasgow Central, Alison Thewliss, challenged the Prime Minister during question time on Wednesday to explain why the UK Government has neglected to properly inform residents that a local JobCentre would be closing its doors.

Bridgeton JobCentre, which is based in Ms Thewliss’ constituency, was shut down on Friday 2 February, and is one of six JobCentres in Glasgow to close as part of a wider government programme. The decision was met with widespread, cross-party condemnation, with many MPs commenting that closures would place an additional burden on those already struggling to make ends meet.

In a passionate plea during Prime Minister’s Questions, the SNP MP noted that a constituent of hers who is 58, has a variety of serious health concerns, and was only recently discharged from hospital, attended Bridgeton JobCentre on Tuesday, only to find it was closed. Ms Thewliss asked the Prime Minister to apologise to her constituent for not having made her aware of the JobCentre’s closure, and to refund her taxi fare.

Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“This situation really is absurd. Not only are my constituents who previously used Bridgeton JobCentre expected to travel to alternative locations to attend mandatory appointments, it appears that the government hasn’t even told them that their local JobCentre has closed.

“Unfortunately, whilst shocking, the case I raised during PMQs will not be unique. People will be turning up to JobCentres across Glasgow to find out for the first time that their local service no longer exists.

“The DWP holds extensive details of every claimant: they should take responsibility for their actions and write to everyone on their database to inform them about the closures.

“Surely the government must see what a shambles this whole process has been. My constituent, and scores of others like her, at the very least deserve an apology for the appalling way they have been treated. I will be writing to the Department for Work and Pensions to urge them to do so”.

MP celebrates right to vote to mark centenary of women’s suffrage

To mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, passed on 6 February 1918, giving some women the right to vote in the UK for the first time, Alison Thewliss MP is encouraging women to celebrate their right to vote.

Ms Thewliss celebrated her right to vote, 100 years on from women first getting the right, and called on women across Glasgow to join her for the anniversary by posting pictures of them saying ‘I vote’.

Celebrations to mark the centenary will be taking place across the UK on Tuesday 6th February.

Electoral Commission research has found:

  • Three quarters of women say they always vote at general elections.
  • 2 in 3 women were motivated to vote by civic responsibility at the 2017 Parliamentary general election.
  • Women were four times more likely than men to say that ‘people fought to win them the right to vote’ as a motivation for casting their ballot.

Alison Thewliss MP said:

“The cause of gender equality has come a long way since the Representation of the People Act 1918 extended to franchise to women for the first time. We must never forget the sacrifices that the suffragettes made to ensure that women are able to vote on the same basis as men – something which society now takes for granted.

“Despite considerable progress and improvements in female representation in politics, much more must be done to improve female participation in politics at all levels. I’m making it my priority to challenge the outdated culture of Westminster, encourage women to stand for office and ensure that women are represented on an equal basis with men in all areas of public life.”

You can download the sign from the Electoral Commission’s website, print it off, capture your picture and then share your photos on social media with the hashtag #Vote100.

Alison Thewliss MP signs Holocaust Educational Trust Book of Commitment

This week Alison Thewliss MP signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment, in doing so pledging her commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust as well as paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people today.

Saturday 27th January will mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.

In the lead up to and on Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. The theme for this year’s commemorations is ‘The power of words’.

After signing the Book of Commitment, Alison Thewliss MP commented:

“Holocaust Memorial Day is an important opportunity for people from Glasgow and across the country to reflect on the tragic events of the Holocaust. As the Holocaust moves from living history, to just history, it becomes ever more important that we take the time to remember the victims and also pay tribute to the survivors. I would encourage my constituents to show their support for such an important day.”

Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said:

“The Holocaust did not start in the gas chambers but with hate filled words. Our mission is to educate young people from every background about the Holocaust and its contemporary relevance. We are very grateful to Alison Thewliss MP for signing the Book of Commitment, signalling a continued commitment to remembering the victims of the Holocaust as well as challenging antisemitism, prejudice and bigotry in all its forms.”