Alison Thewliss MP supports calls to remove employment barriers facing deaf people

Alison Thewliss MP is supporting Action on Hearing Loss’s campaigning to break down the barriers facing people who are deaf or have a hearing loss trying to secure or stay in employment.

Following a presentation of its Working for change: Improving attitudes to hearing loss in the workplace report to MPs, Ms Thewliss is backing the charity’s call on businesses and the UK Government to work closer together to help people who are deaf or hard of hearing to find and stay in employment.

Ms Thewliss also found out about the positive impacts of Action on Hearing Loss Scotland’s specialist employability service, Moving On, which is available to support young people in Glasgow Central who are Deaf or have hearing loss into employment, and advises employers how to meet their responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 to be accessible and make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for jobseekers and employees with hearing loss.

Alison Thewliss MP, said:

“It’s been great to find out more about Action on Hearing Loss’s specialist support for people who are Deaf or have hearing loss in to employment as well as the charity’s work with businesses to bust myths and eradicate concerns about employing deaf or hard of hearing staff.

“An increasing number of people of working age have hearing loss so it is vitally important that employers across Glasgow Central are aware of the support that it is available and the small changes they can make to break down barriers facing talented jobseekers or staff who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Delia Henry, Director of Action on Hearing Loss Scotland, said:

“We are delighted that Alison Thewliss MP took the time to learn more about the full range of support – including our Moving On service – that is available to help people who are Deaf or have hearing loss to gain valuable work experience, stay in employment and fulfil their career potential.”

Alison Thewliss MP pledges to become an Arthritis Champion for Glasgow

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, has pledged to work alongside leading charity, Arthritis Research UK to represent the thousands of people in Glasgow living every day with the pain of arthritis.

Arthritis is the single biggest cause of disability and pain across the country with 10 million people living with arthritis, and other musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain. The pain, fatigue and lack of mobility caused by arthritis affects every aspect of a person’s life, making everyday tasks such as making a cup of tea, travelling to work or getting out of bed extremely difficult.

As well as the personal impact, the cost to NHS Scotland for hip fractures alone exceeds £73 million per year, and these conditions are the cause of one in five working days lost in the UK.

Alison Thewliss MP, pictured at Arthritis Research UK’s annual Parliamentary reception, has pledged to support Arthritis Research UK’s Prevent, Transform, Cure manifesto in Parliament as an Arthritis Champion, which calls for:

  • Making arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions a public health priority
  • Ensuring people have timely access to health and care services that enable them to improve their musculoskeletal health
  • Ensure people with arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions have fair and timely access to services that support them to be in work, including financial support
  • Protect the UK’s position as a global leader in science and sustain the benefits of the life-science sector to the economy

Speaking about becoming an Arthritis Champion, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“I’m proud to champion Arthritis Research UK’s policy calls to tackle the prevention, transformation and cure of arthritis. We need to put the issues affecting people with arthritis at the forefront of Parliament’s agenda.

“I’m committed to making a difference. Together we can fight this painful condition that has such a huge impact on all aspects of people’s lives in Glasgow.”

Dr Liam O’Toole, chief executive officer of Arthritis Research UK, said:

“I’m delighted that Alison Thewliss MP has become an Arthritis Champion. It’s imperative that we have the support of as many MPs and Peers as possible to stand up for the rights of people with arthritis.

“There needs to be a public health approach focusing on preventing arthritis, transforming services and finding a cure for the 10 million people affected by this devastating condition. It’s vital we work together to make life better for everyone affected by arthritis.”

Alison Thewliss MP celebrates community’s efforts to cure blood cancer

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, joined a cross-party Parliamentary event on Tuesday 18th July to celebrate the number of people who are registered as stem cell donors.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Stem Cell Transplantation, supported by blood cancer charity and stem cell register Anthony Nolan, held the event to mark the progress made by the transplant community in the past year.

In Glasgow Central, the number of potential stem cell donors registered with Anthony Nolan is 1,760. 44% of these donors are male, and the average age of a donor is 30.

In total, 645,000 people in the UK are on the Anthony Nolan register, any of whom could be a match for someone with blood cancer and asked to donate their stem cells to give a patient a second chance of life.

Alison Thewliss MP is encouraging more people from Glasgow Central, particularly men aged 16-30 and people from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds, to register as stem cell donors and make sure that a match is available for everyone in need of a transplant. While anyone on the register could be a match for someone with blood cancer, men aged 16-30 are most likely to be asked to donate, and are currently underrepresented on the register. There is also a shortage of donors from non-white and mixed-race backgrounds.

Alison Thewliss MP said:

“I am very proud that Glasgow Central has 1,760 people who have selflessly volunteered to give someone a second chance at life. Donating stem cells is straightforward but it could make an enormous difference to someone with no other chance of a cure.

“I strongly hope that more people across Glasgow will be inspired to sign up and show that together, our communities can provide a cure for blood cancer.”

Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, said: “It’s wonderful to have this opportunity to celebrate the achievements the transplant community has made in the past year, and we’re particularly grateful to all the registered donors in Glasgow Central for helping us in our goal of saving and improving the lives of people with blood cancer and blood disorders.

“Anthony Nolan’s pioneering research, dedicated nurses and patient-focused services mean we have increased the support patients receive at every stage of their transplant journey – but without the contribution of selfless donors, our vital work would be impossible.”

Alison Thewliss MP pledges to help beat cancer sooner

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central , has committed her support to help Cancer Research UK save more lives in her constituency and across the UK.

The MP attended a parliamentary event held by Cancer Research UK in Westminster on 12th July to find out how she can keep cancer at the top of the new Parliament’s agenda.

Over the course of this Parliament, two million people will be diagnosed with cancer across the UK, so Cancer Research UK needs political support in order to continue to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.

Cancer survival in the UK is still lagging behind other countries and too many cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when they are harder to treat successfully.

At the event, Ms Thewliss met some of Cancer Research UK’s dedicated volunteer Campaign Ambassadors. She found out that, in Glasgow Central constituency, 6800 people are diagnosed with cancer each year, underlining the need for MPs to join the fight against the disease.

Commenting after the event, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“We must not underestimate the devastating impact cancer will have on people in Glasgow now and in the future, so it gives me hope to hear that Cancer Research UK’s pioneering research is turning the tables on the disease.

“The outlook for new and better cancer treatments in the UK is bright. However, it is clear that there is a critical role for politicians to play in helping to prevent and detect cancer earlier and bring innovative new treatments to patients faster.

“One life lost to this terrible disease is one too many and that’s why I’m supporting Cancer Research UK in their mission to beat cancer sooner.”

Matt Davies, Cancer Research UK’s Head of Public Affairs and Campaigning said:

“At Cancer Research UK, we’re resolute in our ambition to see 3 in 4 patients surviving cancer by 2034. To achieve this we need cancer at the top of the political agenda and so we’re grateful to (insert name) MP for helping to highlight the importance of research and action in beating the disease.

“Survival in the UK has doubled in the last 40 years. But there’s still so much more to do and we cannot do it alone.

“Creating the right environment for cancer research alongside cancer prevention, early diagnosis and ensuring patients have access to the best possible treatments must be key priorities for the new Government.”

Alison Thewliss MP calls for action on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, has revealed the staggering amount lost on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) in Glasgow Central constituency and backed the work of the FOBT All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) in Parliament, expressing his/her support for the Group’s ‘Cut the Stake, Reduce FOBT Harm’ campaign.

FOBTs allow punters to stake £100 every 20 seconds on electronic versions of casino games such as roulette, but in a low supervision high street bookie environment. Political concern and controversy has been growing about the highly addictive nature of the machines, with one campaign group even calling them the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling.

The cross party group of MPs and Peers, published its report in January 2017, assessing the impact of FOBTs, and called for a substantial reduction in the maximum stake playable, stating that there was a strong case for this to be no more than £2.

The campaign has secured the widespread support with 93 local authorities, the Royal Society for Public Health and politicians from all parties supporting the campaign.

Lending her support to the campaign for a stake reduction, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“The case for action on FOBTs is clear and I urge the Government to act now and cut the stake. There is no excuse for the continued misery these machines are causing. The problems associated with them are obvious, and it is really not acceptable to be able to walk in off the street and stake such a high amount with no checks or safeguards in place whatsoever.

“I am extremely concerned to hear that £10,303,128 was lost to FOBTs in Glasgow Central. We cannot go on with this situation. I urge the Government to bring forward their proposals, and to cut the maximum stake on FOBTs to £2 without further delay.

The Government is currently considering responses from the Call for Evidence into Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility launched in October 2016. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is expected to publish the next stage of the Review, with its proposals, in October 2017.

The FOBT APPG is chaired by Carolyn Harris MP and is supported by groups including Bacta, The Hippodrome Casino, Novomatic, Praesepe and the Royal Society for Public Health.

Alison Thewliss MP asks the people of Glasgow: “are you feeling breathless?”

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, has pledged her support for the British Lung Foundation’s lung health awareness campaign by taking their online ‘breath test’ at the Houses of Parliament and encouraging others to do the same.

The charity’s UK-wide campaign aims to raise awareness that feeling out of breath doing everyday tasks could be a sign of lung disease. They encourage anyone who feels breathless take their online breath test.

The test allows people to check their health through a 10 simple questions, based around the Medical Research Council breathlessness scale. The aim is to reassure people who don’t have a problem and guide those with significant breathlessness to make an appointment with their GP.

At the British Lung Foundation’s summer reception, MPs and Peers had a chance to find out more about lung disease and try the ‘breath test’ themselves on iPads.

Alison Thewliss MP said:

“Completing the BLF’s online ‘breath test’ is a really easy way of checking your lung health. I’d encourage everyone to try it. It’ll either give you peace of mind or start you on a path to helping you manage your breathlessness.

“If you’re even slightly worried a loved one has been feeling increasingly short of breath – please make sure they take the test.”

Dr Penny Woods, CEO of British Lung Foundation said:

“Our reception in Westminster gave us the opportunity to throw the spotlight on breathlessness, which can be sign of lung disease. Fewer than half of us would be concerned at feeling short of breath doing daily tasks. Often people put it down to age or fitness, and don’t seek advice from their GP.

“There are thousands of people in Glasgow with a lung condition, but not everyone’s aware they have one. It’s great to have support from Alison Thewliss MP in encouraging people to ‘Listen to their lungs’ if they feel breathless. Together we can ensure that those people who are suffering with an undiagnosed lung condition seek help and get the support they need. With treatment, people can live longer, healthier lives.”

Over 250,000 people have taken the test since it was launched last year. Over 70% of people who have taken the test have had medically concerning levels of breathlessness.
The BLF’s Listen to your lungs campaign complements the Scottish Government’s national Detect Cancer Early campaign, which aims to increase the proportion of people who are diagnosed in the early stages of breast, bowel and lung cancer. To take the test visit: www.blf.org.uk/breathtest

Backing the best possible deal for musicians post-Brexit

The creative industries are worth over £87bn in GVA – more than oil and gas, life sciences and aerospace combined – and is the fastest-growing sector of the economy, employing 1 in 11 people. The UK has the largest cultural economy in the world relative to GDP and is the largest producer of recorded music in Europe and is the second largest exporter of music (after the US).

It is vital we get the best possible deal for the sector in a number of areas that have been so critical to its success – the ability to tour and trade easily with the UK’s largest export market and to attract talent, IP protection, EU arts funding, workers’ rights and the rights of EU citizens in the UK.

Musicians are very concerned that the Brexit process may lead to the introduction of individual member state work permits and/or visas for British musicians touring and working across Europe. Most professional musicians and performers rely on touring and travelling for their careers and livelihoods and gigs are often organised at short notice. As some performers can be working in several different European countries over the course of a few days, the possible introduction of work permissions and/or visas for British musicians touring and working in Europe could be extremely detrimental.

Alison Thewliss MP says: “Today, I confirmed my support for professional musicians and performers in my constituency, and will urge the Government to ensure that they can continue to be able to travel easily across Europe post-Brexit for touring and performing with minimum administrative burdens”.

Horace Trubridge, Musicians’ Union General Secretary says: “British musicians have long enjoyed easy access to touring in Europe, as UK venues and festivals have benefited from easy access to European performers. We know from touring in the US and elsewhere, that visas and other restrictions impose significant costs and administration, and occasionally considerable financial loss when visas aren’t processed in time. We are calling on MPs and the Government to help secure a deal that will ensure ease of movement for touring and performing post-Brexit”.

MP slams UK Government over delays for museum funding

Alison Thewliss MP sitting at her desk in Parliament

Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central, has today that museums across the UK are losing out on thousands of pounds of funding due to delays in processing VAT refunds by the UK Government.

The VAT (Refund of Tax to Museums and Galleries) (Amendment) Order 2017, which provides for VAT refunds for musems and art galleries, was first announced in the 2016 Spring Budget. Over a year later, and despite Parliament sitting for over 5 weeks since the election, the legislation has still not been enacted by Parliament.

At Business Questions, Ms Thewliss called on Government Ministers today to bring the VAT relief scheme into operation as soon as possible. A motion has also been tabled, signed by MPs from across the House of Commons with affected museums in their constituencies, to call on the UK Government to put the draft law on the statute book immediately.

Speaking after Business Questions, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“Museums and art galleries across Scotland and the UK have unique and specialist collections which enrich our culture and heritage. With incomes for culture and the arts facing swingeing cuts from the UK Government, the VAT relief scheme is increasingly important to allow museums to devote more resources to educating and informing the public.

“The weakness of the UK Government is clear for all to see – not only have they had to ditch many planned Bills following the Prime Minister’s botched election gamble, it now transpires that they are unable to get simple, uncontroversial statutory instruments through Parliament quickly.

“Museums and art galleries across the UK are suffering from the dithering at the heart of Theresa May’s weak and wobbly Government. The Government must act now to honour the applications made for VAT refunds and provide certainty for hard-pressed museums and art galleries across the UK.”

Alison Thewliss MP supports Summer Reading Challenge

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, is supporting a campaign run by Scottish libraries, Tesco Bank and The Reading Agency to encourage children to take part in this year’s Tesco Bank Summer Reading Challenge Scotland.

The annual Tesco Bank Summer Reading Challenge Scotland, run by national charity The Reading Agency in partnership with Scotland’s libraries and Tesco Bank, encourages children to read at least six books of their choosing over the summer holidays, a time when children’s literacy skills traditionally dip. This year the initiative follows on naturally from the inaugural First Minister’s Reading Challenge which runs during term time, helping to contribute to a continuation of children’s reading in the break from school.

Research shows that reading for pleasure is a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background, and that children who use libraries are twice as likely to be above average readers.

The Challenge is a unique partnership between The Reading Agency and public libraries across the UK which last year got over three quarters of a million children borrowing, reading and talking about their favourite books.

This year’s challenge theme is Animal Agents, based on a detective agency staffed by all kinds of clever animals – furry, scaly and slippery – who are out to crack a case with a little help from their friends. Tony Ross, the UK’s best-selling children’s illustrator (including creator of the Little Princess books, illustrator of the Horrid Henry series by Francesca Simon, and books by David Walliams and Claire Balding), has created this year’s exclusive artwork.

To take part, all children need to do is to head to their local library where they will be given a collector folder to keep a record of their reading journey. Children that read at least six library books over the summer, will collect stickers which will give them helpful clues to crack the case and help the Animal Agents find out what’s really been going on!

Alison Thewliss MP said: “I hope parents, grandparents and carers in Glasgow will take their children to the library over the summer to sign up for the Tesco Bank Summer Reading Challenge Scotland. The challenge is free, inclusive and makes reading fun – a vital ingredient in building literacy.’

Sue Wilkinson, CEO of The Reading Agency said: “At The Reading Agency, we believe that everything changes when we read and we know from our research how much fun families and children have when taking part in the Challenge. This year we hope the wonderful characters created for us by Tony Ross will inspire more children than ever to take part and make use of their local library throughout the summer and beyond.”

Adele Mills, Senior Community Investment Manager at Tesco Bank said: “Reading for pleasure is one of the best ways to spend the long summer holiday so we’re delighted that over 40,000 children from across the country will get involved in the Tesco Bank Summer Reading Challenge Scotland through their local library. The Challenge aims to inspire children to pick up and enjoy reading books – something that will undoubtedly have a positive effect on their future.”

For more information on the Summer Reading Challenge including how to get involved and resources for schools, go to www.readingagency.org.uk/summerreadingchallenge

Follow the Summer Reading Challenge at www.facebook.com/SummerReadingChallengeUK and on Twitter @readingagency #summerreadingchallenge

Local MP slams callous decision to close Bridgeton JobCentre

Alison Thewliss MP sitting at her desk in Parliament

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, has condemned today’s (Thursday) decision by the UK Government’s to close Bridgeton JobCentre, leaving only one JobCentre office in the East End of Glasgow.

The UK Government published a statement confirming that Bridgeton JobCentre, along with 6 other JobCentres in Glasgow, will be closed from 31st March 2018. The statement was released shortly after the responses to the Government’s consultation on the closure of the JobCentre were published, which demonstrated significant opposition to the closure proposals. 64% of the responses expressed concerns that local services in Bridgeton would suffer as a result of closing Bridgeton JobCentre and that jobseekers would find it more difficult to make ends meet due to increased travel costs to other JobCentres.

Glasgow has been targeted disproportionate cuts to DWP offices, with over 50% of the DWP estate, including JobCentres and support offices, earmarked for closure by the UK Government. Local Jobseekers will now need to travel over three miles to attend appointments at Shettleston JobCentre – something that 79% of consultation responses highlighted as a concern in their submissions to the Government’s own consultation.

The decision will also put considerable pressure on JobCentre staff – the full extent of which is unclear as Ministers have previously admitted, in responses to written questions tabled by Ms Thewliss, that they do not know how many people currently use Bridgeton JobCentre.

Commenting on the decision, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“The UK Government’s decision to close Bridgeton JobCentre is yet another slap in the face to the East End of Glasgow. For constituents who are already struggling, paying bus fares to get to mandatory JobCentre appointments will be an extra burden. Increased travel times will also put people at increased risk of falling foul of the Tories’ brutal sanctions regime.

“Ministers have admitted that they have no idea how many people rely on Bridgeton JobCentre, and not a single Minister visited Bridgeton JobCentre before the decision was taken to close it. Now they have decided to ignore the results of the consultation and sneak out a written statement on the closures, denying MPs an opportunity to hold Ministers to account in Parliament.

“Today’s callous decision shows that the Tories will continue to treat the people of Glasgow with contempt. I will be making every effort to bring Ministers to the despatch box to account for this poorly thought out and ill-informed decision and explain why they have not listened to the overwhelming evidence presented in their own consultation.”