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 I’m making it my priority to challenge the outdated culture of Westminster, encourage women to stand for office and ensure that women are represented on an equal basis with men in all areas of public life.”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.”

SNP MP appeals to UK Government to allow safe injecting pilot

Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central, has called on the UK Government to give proper consideration to a request for a temporary relaxation of drugs laws, in order that a safe injecting pilot can be carried out.

Ms Thewliss – an ardent supporter of plans for a Safer Drugs Consumption Facility (SDCF) – will speak during a Westminster Hall debate on Wednesday, to highlight the myriad problems that drug users and the wider public face in Glasgow as a result of public injecting.

A cross-party letter, with signatures from a number of Scottish MPs, has been issued to the Home Office in order to demonstrate the extent of support for the plans which, up to now, have been blocked by the UK Government.

Commenting, Ms Thewliss said:

“Evidence on the need for action on this issue has never been more compelling. In 2015 for example, there was 47 new diagnoses of HIV compared to an annual average of 10, for those who are injecting drugs. Indeed, there is thought to be around 500 people who regularly inject drugs in public places in Glasgow City Centre alone.

“I can attest to the fact that Glasgow has a growing problem with respect to public injecting; my constituency office often receives reports of needles and other drug paraphernalia being discarded in public places. In addition, I have seen for myself public injecting taking place in locations not far from where my office is located.

“It’s clear to me that the drug injecting population in Glasgow face a number of different barriers in accessing health services which can help them with their addiction, and that current methods are falling short of offering the appropriate level of support. For this reason, Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership, and other parties, have developed innovative plans for the implementation of a Safe Injecting Facility.

“It is imperative that the Home Office consider this request – which has cross-party support from a number of Scottish MPs – to allow an SDCF to be trialled in Glasgow. This issue has become a serious public health issue, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure that we do what we can to improve the situation not just for drug users, but for the wider public in general”.

Alison Thewliss MP urges women in Glasgow to attend cervical screening as attendance falls across the UK

Glasgow Central MP Ms Alison Thewliss is supporting Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust in their call to make cervical cancer a disease of the past. Cervical screening prevents 75.5% of cervical cancers from developing, yet attendance in Scotland is falling. Only 70.0% of women in Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board are taking up their screening invitation.

Alison Thewliss MP said: “Nine women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every day in the UK. Cervical screening provides the best protection against the disease so it is concerning to hear that so many women are not attending this potentially life-saving test when invited. We all have a role to play in increasing attendance and I would urge the Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board to take action to tackle the declining coverage, which could ultimately save lives.”

Robert Music, Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “Thanks to the cervical screening and HPV vaccination programme, cervical cancer is a disease that can be prevented. We want to see it eradicated, however to get there we need to work together to increase uptake of cervical screening and HPV vaccination. If we do not do this, we will see more women diagnosed and more lives lost.”

Women aged 25-49 are invited for their screening every 3 years and women aged 50-64 are invited every five years. In the UK, over 3,200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year and 890 will lose their lives.

During January’s Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (22-28 January), Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, will be raising awareness of how women can reduce their risk of cervical cancer through attending regular cervical screening, being symptoms aware, knowing the risk factors and taking up the HPV vaccination if offered.

Alison Thewliss MP backs campaign for better post-transplant care

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, has backed a campaign by blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, calling for better care for people recovering from a stem cell transplant.

Despite stem cell transplant patients often being known as “patients for life” due to the long-term side-effects of the treatment, many patients are not receiving adequate support for the physical, practical and psychological challenges they experience during recovery. According to research by Anthony Nolan, one in five are not offered any specialist care to help with their recovery, which includes access to physiotherapists, counsellors, and fertility experts.

Anthony Nolan is calling on health commissioners across the UK to urgently review the care arrangements they have in place for transplant recipients once they leave hospital, to ensure that patients and their families can continue to access vital support and services.

At an event in the House of Commons on Wednesday 11 October, Alison Thewliss MP heard from patient representatives about how difficult recovery can be without appropriate support.

Alison Thewliss MP said:

“A number of my constituents have got in touch to bring this issue to my attention, so I know how important it is for people in Glasgow that stem cell transplant patients and their families receive appropriate support.

“No patient’s recovery should be made more difficult by a lack of care and support, and that’s why I’m backing Anthony Nolan’s campaign, urging health commissioners to review the care arrangements they have in place once transplant patients leave hospital.”

Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, said:

“It’s vital that health commissioners carry out an urgent review into the long-term care that stem cell transplant recipients need throughout their recovery, so we’re delighted to have the support of Alison Thewliss MP in raising awareness of this issue in Parliament and in their constituency.

“Anthony Nolan is calling on health commissioners to work with us and the clinical community and make sure that post-transplant care works for every patient, to ensure they get the support they need to make a good recovery.”

Alison Thewliss MP urges households to ‘Keep a Step Ahead of Winter’

New research from Scottish Gas has highlighted that having no heating or hot water would be the number one disaster for households in Scotland this winter. Even so, many people in Glasgow have not taken action to ensure their homes are winter-ready.

Despite the autumn chill, a national survey* shows that more than a third of households (35%) in Scotland have not checked that their central heating is working and nearly four in ten have not prepared their home for winter by getting their boiler serviced. Having an annual boiler service carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer is crucial as it detects problems with the boiler and controls, including whether it is leaking poisonous carbon monoxide.

Keeping homes safe is an important part of winter preparation, yet only four in ten households in Scotland have checked that their carbon monoxide alarm is working. Carbon monoxide is known as the ‘silent killer’, because the gas has no odour or taste, and is invisible. Fitting an audible alarm is the second line of defence against carbon monoxide poisoning.

Being energy efficient is particularly important during the winter months, and technology can help with this. Whilst more than half of households in Scotland (51%) acknowledge that technology could help their home to run more smoothly during winter, less than a third (32%) have smart meters.

Having smart meters installed can help keep household energy in check, as they automatically send readings to the energy supplier. Smart meters also come with a display that shows you how much energy is being used, in pounds and pence, in near real-time, and identify where savings can be made.

Alison Thewliss MP said: “It’s really important to keep a step ahead of winter. I want everyone in Glasgow to understand what help is available for them, and for their family and friends. Being energy efficient and keeping bills under control is really important, so I’d encourage people to get in touch with their energy supplier to find out what support is on offer.”

Scottish Gas engineer Stephen Cosgrove, who fixes and repairs boilers, said: “Winter can be a challenging time for households, but there are some practical steps that you can take, with our help, to make sure that you are prepared:

Get the best deal

We have been working hard to ensure buying energy is simple, transparent and fair for customers – for every customer on a standard variable tariff they will get an Annual Energy Health Check to make sure they’re on the right tariff. This will highlight other ways we can help our customers save money like replacing old and inefficient boilers or insulating their homes for free.

Get smart meters

Your energy supplier will be able to install smart meters, which mean an end to estimated bills. A smart energy monitor shows how much energy you are using, and what you are spending. Scottish Gas customers are provided with online tools to help them manage their energy usage. Find out more by visiting www.britishgas.co.uk/smartmeters

The Scottish Gas Energy Trust

This independent trust gives face-to-face advice, financial support and grants to help clear energy and household debts. The average grant is around £600 and you don’t have to be a Scottish Gas customer. Find out more by visiting: www.britishgasenergytrust.org.uk.

Bleed your radiators: to make sure they are working properly. If your radiators have cold spots at the top, this means you have air in the system, so you will need to bleed them to get them working efficiently.

a. To do this, turn the system off and when cool turn the radiator key until the air stops and water runs consistently. Once you have turned the system back on, the problem should be solved.
b. Cold spots in the bottom or centre of the radiator may be an indication of sludge build up and the need for system flushing.
c. Bleeding your radiator may result in pressure dropping. If you have a pressure gauge, make sure the boiler is at the right pressure and top up as necessary.

Block the breeze: Make sure all of your windows and doors seal properly to stop warm air escaping. For those that don’t, fitting draught excluders, which you can buy from most DIY stores, is a quick and cheap way to cut down on your energy bills.

Stay safe: It’s vital to have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted and that you test it regularly.

Love your boiler: Check to make sure that your boiler is working properly before winter sets in. The older your boiler, the more inefficient it will be. If you have a pressure gauge, make sure the boiler is at the right pressure and top up as necessary.

Insulate your pipes: Burst pipes are a huge issue during winter months. To help prevent burst pipes, ensure all pipes are properly insulated by using lagging, which can be bought cheaply from most DIY shops.

Maintain your drains: If you’re trying to keep your drains outside well maintained, it’s a good idea to make sure they are clear of debris at the point at which they enter the ground. This involves checking your gullies for autumnal leaves and twigs in order to ensure that they don’t restrict water flow at any point.

Control your heating remotely with Hive Active Heating: Using Hive Active Heating means you can control your heating and hot water remotely from your smartphone with the Hive app, so you can ensure your home is warm when you need it to be. Find out more: www.britishgas.co.uk/hive

Peace of mind: Scottish Gas has a range of HomeCare products to help keep your home a step ahead of winter with protection for your boiler, heating, electrics and plumbing. With HomeCare you can have your boiler serviced every year for less than 40p a day. Find out more: www.britishgas.co.uk/homecare”

Alison Thewliss MP calls for secondary schools in Glasgow Central to teach CPR to students

Alison Thewliss MP is urging secondary schools in Glasgow Central to teach their students CPR, following the British Heart Foundation (BHF) warning that people who have not been trained in CPR are nearly 3 times less likely to perform it.

Alison Thewliss MP met life saving charities BHF, St John Ambulance and British Red Cross in Westminster on Monday 16 October, Restart a Heart Day, to discuss making first aid skills a vital part of the PSHE curriculum.

There are over 30,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests every year in the UK, and devastatingly only 1 in 10 survive. The BHF estimates that 10,000 people die every year as rates of bystander CPR are very low.

Every minute without CPR or defibrillation can reduce a person’s chance of surviving a cardiac arrest by around ten per cent.

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, said:

“It is worrying to hear the number of lives being lost because rates of bystander CPR in the UK are too low. Every second counts, and CPR really is the difference between life and death.”

“All young people should have the skills to save a life. I’m supporting first aid skills on the school curriculum as a vital part of the PSHE curriculum.”

Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, said:

“It’s great to have the support of Alison Thewliss MP in incorporating this life saving skill into the secondary school curriculum. The chance of surviving is almost zero if people collapse and receive no bystander CPR until the emergency services arrive.

“There is clearly a huge benefit to the public knowing life saving CPR skills, evidenced by the vastly better survival rates from cardiac arrests in countries where CPR is part of the curriculum. Thousands of deaths could be prevented if more people learn CPR.

I encourage all secondary schools in Glasgow Central to apply for the BHF’s free training kits.”

Mel Fox, Director of Training at St John Ambulance, said:

“Now’s the time for first aid education to be available to all our young people. Learning CPR and other life saving skills should be part of their passage into adulthood and with many free resources available for schools like our Big First Aid Lesson on 3rd November, there is plenty of opportunity for children to become life savers.”

Joe Mulligan, head of first aid education at The British Red Cross said:

“We want all young people to feel confident and willing to help when faced with a first aid emergency. Learning first aid helps to increase confidence levels and we believe it’s a life skill everyone should have.

“Ultimately the British Red Cross would like everyone to have the opportunity to learn first aid throughout their lives, starting at school, so that a generation of people can be equipped with the skills they need to help in an emergency.

“Our free teaching resources and workshops are designed to give young people the skills, confidence and willingness to act in an emergency.”

Alison Thewliss MP gets a “dog bowl in one” for Guide Dogs Scotland

Alison Thewliss MP saw the fun side of the SNP Party Conference this week by putting around street clutter on Guide Dogs Scotland’s mini golf course. With the interactive game, Guide Dogs Scotland raised awareness of their Streets Ahead campaign to keep streets free from clutter.

Street clutter, such as pavement parked cars, shop advertising boards and wheelie bins, is a real blight on the streetscape and a major problem for pedestrians. It is particularly dangerous for people with visual impairments, parents with pushchairs, wheelchair users and other disabled people.

According to a Guide Dogs survey, 98% of people with a vision impairment in Scotland encountered obstacles on the pavement and 88% of them have had problems with pavement parked cars specifically. Guide Dogs Scotland campaigns against problem pavement parking to make sure that blind and partially sighted people can get out and about independently.

Alison Thewliss MP commented:

“Our streets must be accessible to all our citizens and I am delighted to give my support to Guide Dogs Scotland in their campaign to tackle street clutter. The SNP in government have already taken action to tackle the most common obstacles facing blind and visually impaired people – including significant changes to the commercial bin arrangements in Glasgow which will see a reduction in the visibility of large commercial bins, thereby reducing clutter and making the city’s streets more attractive for everyone.

“I regularly receive complaints from my constituents about inconsiderate parking and I am hopeful that the SNP Scottish Government will adopt the proposals put forward by my colleague Sandra White MSP to ban unsafe pavement parking, thereby making the streets safer for all but especially those who are blind and visually impaired and rely on clear, obstacle-free pavements to navigate through everyday life.”

Niall Foley, Engagement Manager at Guide Dogs Scotland, commented:

“It is terrifying for someone who cannot see oncoming traffic or has small children with them to take the risk of stepping out into a road because of cars parked on the pavement. Everyone should be able to walk the streets without fear.

“We welcome Transport Scotland’s work on a law to curb unsafe pavement parking and are looking forward to seeing a prohibition of unsafe pavement parking as part of the Transport Bill in the near future.”

Chancellor must scrap tampon tax as more major stores absorb costs for consumers

Alison Thewliss MP sitting at her desk in Parliament

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, has called on the Chancellor to scrap the tampon tax for good, following the Co-op’s announcement today (29th August) that they will cover the cost of the tax for their customers.

Several big retail companies, including Tesco, Waitrose, Morrisons and Lloyds Pharmacy, have already announced that they will absorb the cost of the tampon tax for their customers before it is scrapped entirely.

In October 2015, the UK Government announced that it had reached agreement with the European Commission to scrap the tampon tax, after an amendment to the 2015 Finance Bill forced them to explore options to remove the levy. In March 2016, the UK Government promised to bring forward legislation to scrap the tampon tax by changing the bands at which VAT is applied to tampons and sanitary products.

However, over a year since the UK Government promised new laws to remove VAT on tampons and sanitary products, they remain subject to 5% VAT and no legislation has been brought before Parliament to end the tampon tax.

Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“I am pleased that the Co-op have joined several other major retailers in paying the cost of the tampon tax for their customers. However, retailers should not need to mitigate the cost of an unjust tax that the UK Government has already promised to scrap.

“It is appalling that, over a year since the UK Government promised to end the injustice of taxing periods, no draft legislation has been brought to the House of Commons to remove VAT from tampons and sanitary products. This issue has been running on for far too long and too many women are still being taxed for their periods, despite the commitments of some retailers to shield their customers from the tampon tax.

“The only way to guarantee that all women will benefit from the tampon tax being axed is for new laws to be brought in without further delay. The Chancellor must now come to Parliament with a clear plan and timetable to end this unjust tax once and for all.”

Alison Thewliss MP supports heart disease and stroke patients in Glasgow Central

Last week Alison Thewliss MP met with health experts to discuss the burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in Glasgow Central.

Latest figures show that there are 14,400 people living with heart disease and stroke in Glasgow Central.

Ms Thewliss attended an event in Westminster held by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Heart Disease and met with experts from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to learn more about the levels of CVD locally, and ways to improve patient care.

They also discussed the progress the group had made on other issues such as heart failure, and inherited heart conditions.

Commenting on the meeting, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“Cardiovascular disease is a devastating condition responsible for more than a quarter of all UK deaths, and it is the most common cause of hospital admission for people over 65 years of age.

“Politicians in Westminster and the British Heart Foundation are working to support people burdened by heart disease and stroke, and find new ways of improving care in Glasgow Central.

“It’s vitally important that we work together to ensure that people living with cardiovascular disease in Glasgow Central get access to the care and support they need.”