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.”

Campaigning MP welcomes Judicial Review of two child policy

Alison Thewliss MP joins supporters at the launch of her campaign to scrap the rape clause

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, has today hailed the efforts of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) who have been granted permission to apply for judicial review of the two child limit.

The decision follows a claim made by CPAG to the High Court against the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, challenging the DWP’s decision to introduce the two child limit in April 2017. The rule change now means child tax credits and universal credit claims are restricted to the first two children in a family.

In addition, the policy also requires tax credit claimants, whose third or subsequent child was conceived as a result of rape, to prove this to social workers and health professionals in order to qualify for an exemption – a move that has been categorically denounced by faith leaders, women’s welfare groups, trade unions and child poverty campaigners alike.

Alison Thewliss MP – who first exposed the policy – said:

“I welcome the work that the Child Poverty Action Group have done to put pressure on the UK Government, following the introduction of the callous and heartless two child policy earlier this year.

“The sad truth is, independent analysis shows that in excess of 200,000 children will move into relative poverty as a result of the two child policy. Indeed, those families who now choose to have a third child could be £50,000 worse off under these new rules than they might have been previously.

“Forcing women whose third child was conceived as a result of rape to relive their past trauma, simply in order to make a claim for benefit, is an appalling way to treat women and it’s hardly surprising that ministers have done everything in their power to avoid being drawn into discussion on this issue.

“With the prospect of a judicial review on the horizon, I will continue to urge the UK Government to scrap the two child policy and rape clause altogether”.

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.”

Alison Thewliss MP calls on Chancellor to Keep Pubs Afloat

Glasgow Central MP Alison Thewliss has joined with representatives of the UK’s beer drinkers, pub goers, brewers and publicans to urge the Chancellor to keep pubs afloat in the Autumn Budget.

Ms Thewliss was one of over 50 MPs to add their voice to the campaign, calling on the Chancellor to give serious consideration to introducing a freeze in beer duty for the rest of this Parliament.

Alison Thewliss MP said: “Pubs are a force for good in Glasgow Central and across the UK. Pubs are at the heart of our communities and the local economy, but they are struggling under the weight of a growing tax burden.

“In Glasgow Central, we have a brewery and 309 pubs, supporting 5,768 jobs. These establishments need all the help they can get, which is why I’m asking the Chancellor to do whatever he can to support them in the Autumn budget.”

Taxes now make up a third of the cost of a pint, and UK beer duty is among the highest in Europe. Recent research carried out by YouGov for CAMRA found that 55% of people who expressed an opinion believe beer duty is too high at 54p per pint.

Campaigning MP: Northern Ireland MPs must unite to scrap rape clause

Alison Thewliss MP joins supporters at the launch of her campaign to scrap the rape clause

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, has called on Northern Ireland’s MPs to join her campaign to scrap the UK Government’s two child policy and rape clause, following a rally against the policy in Belfast today.

The campaigning MP spoke at the rally, which was hosted by Reclaim the Agenda and Women’s Aid Federation of Northern Ireland, and highlighted the risk that existing criminal laws place on vulnerable women and third party professionals for failing to disclose that the crime of rape had taken place.

Ms Thewliss is now writing to every MP in Northern Ireland to seek their support for her campaign to end the UK Government’s abhorrent two child policy and rape clause.
Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“Women in Northern Ireland sent a clear message to the UK Government today – the rape clause stigmatises vulnerable women, places them and professionals at risk of criminalisation and will cause greater poverty and misery, both in Northern Ireland and across the UK.

“Women in abusive relationships in Northern Ireland should not have to choose either entering the criminal justice system or struggling to make ends meet to support their families. The chilling effect of the rape clause on rape victims will discourage women from speaking out about the horrific crimes committed against them, which no-one, regardless of their party political persuasion, wants to see happen in a civilised society.

“MPs from all major political parties in Northern Ireland must now combine efforts to end the suffering that women and families have endured from changes to child tax credit entitlement. With the UK Government now reliant on the support of Northern Ireland MPs to survive votes in the House of Commons, it’s time for a renewed cross party effort to consign the poorly thought-out and abhorrent rape clause to the Downing Street dustbin.”

Campaigning MP to address rape clause rally in Northern Ireland

Alison Thewliss MP joins supporters at the launch of her campaign to scrap the rape clause

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, will be joining campaigners in Northern Ireland today (Thursday 21st September) to protest the introduction of the UK Government’s two child policy and rape clause.

The campaigning MP will join the Women’s Aid Federation of Northern Ireland and Reclaim the Agenda in Belfast to highlight the stigmatisation of vulnerable women by the rape clause and two child policy and to call on all of Northern Ireland’s MPs to join her campaign to scrap the two child policy and rape clause.

Under Section 5 of the Criminal Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1967, it is a crime to fail to report a criminal offence or to provide information which leads to the conviction of a crime. Third party professionals, such as doctors, midwives, social workers and support workers, could potentially face a prison sentence of up to 10 years if they fail to disclose that a woman has been raped when completing the rape clause form – even if doing so means that women are placed in further danger of violence and sexual assault from their abusive partners.

Speaking ahead of the rally, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“Since its introduction in April, the rape clause has caused untold harm and distress across the UK. The cruelty of forcing women to relive the worst ordeal of their life, just in order to make a claim for benefit, shows the morally repugnant depths to which the UK Government has plumbed.

“As if this wasn’t bad enough, women in Northern Ireland face a very specific risk under existing laws, which requires crimes such as rape to be reported to the police by the third party referrer. Women in abusive relationships are therefore placed in an appalling situation where either they are forced into the criminal justice system or they will struggle to afford to pay bills and put food on the table.

“The rape clause also puts professionals in Northern Ireland in an incredibly difficult position, as they face the prospect of their reputations and careers being destroyed if they do not report that a woman has been raped to the police. It’s no coincidence that a growing number of trade unions and women’s aid groups have refused to endorse the third party referral mechanism for claims made under the rape clause, given the risks it presents to their members.

“The rape clause could criminalise incredibly vulnerable women and the professionals who would wish to support them in Northern Ireland. I’ll be asking all of Northern Ireland’s MPs to join me in demanding an end to the two child policy and rape clause and the misery and poverty it has created for families across the UK.”

MP to visit Blackpool to highlight cuts to breastfeeding support services

Alison Thewliss MP, Chair of the UK Parliament’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Infant Feeding and Inequalities, will be chairing a public meeting in Blackpool today to discuss drastic funding cuts to breastfeeding support services in the area.

Ms Thewliss will meet with residents and local campaigners to discuss the decision of Blackpool County Council to close down the Star Buddies peer support service in July 2017, after 10 years of providing one-to-one support to breastfeeding mums in Blackpool. Ms Thewliss will host a public meeting, where she will be joined by residents, local MPs and breastfeeding support groups.

The peer support service paired new mums with mums who had experience with breastfeeding their babies. The service covered the first few weeks and months of the baby’s life, with scheduled visits before, and up to 6 weeks after, the baby is born. As well as providing reliable and informative advice to new mums, regular visits to the new mums by peer support volunteers helped the new mums to monitor babies’ progress and identify any problems that may arise at an early stage.

The closure of the Star Buddies peer support service has been met with serious concern by campaigners and health professionals in the NHS. Figures released by Public Health England reveal that Blackpool has below average breastfeeding rates, with 61.6% of mothers initiating breastfeeding within 48 hours of their babies being born, compared with 74.3% for England as a whole.

Commenting prior to her visit, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“The closure of peer support services for breastfeeding in Blackpool has left many people understandably concerned about the quality and level of support available for new mums who are taking their first steps into parenthood.

“Mums need access to reliable sources of information in order to make the best decisions for feeding their babies and understanding what works for them for feeding their babies. Drawing on the knowledge of mums who have breastfed their babies within the first few weeks of a baby’s life provides valuable guidance and support at what can be a daunting and stressful period for new mums.

“The APPG has heard evidence of the positive impact that peer support services like Star Buddies can have on the lives of new mums. I am keen to recognise the efforts of those volunteers who have dedicated their time to run the service in Blackpool and challenge the decision of the Council to close an effective, integrated service which made an important contribution to improving breastfeeding rates.”

Alison Thewliss MP poses in pink to support Breast Cancer Now

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, has dressed in pink to lend her support to Breast Cancer Now’s flagship fundraiser, wear it pink, which will see thousands of people across the UK adding a splash of pink to their outfits on Friday 20 October and raise vital funds for breast cancer research.

Ms Thewliss is encouraging her constituents in Glasgow Central to join her and sign up to take part in the UK’s biggest pink fundraiser. The event, which takes place during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is in its 16th year and has raised over £30 million to date for Breast Cancer Now’s life-saving research.

Ms Thewliss joined fellow parliamentarians in Westminster earlier this month to show her support for the thousands of women and men affected by breast cancer each year, encouraging people across the UK to take part on wear it pink day.

Anyone can take part in wear it pink, which brings together schools, workplaces and communities. All you need to do is wear something pink, or hold a pink event at home, work or school, and make a donation to Breast Cancer Now. Whatever you do, you’re helping the charity achieve its aim that, if we all act now, by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live.

Commenting on the campaign, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. One in eight women will face it in their lifetime, and every year around 11,500 women and 80 men lose their lives to the disease. This is why I’m urging everyone in Glasgow Central to take part in wear it pink on Friday 20 October. It’s such a fun and easy way to support Breast Cancer Now’s vital research, and help stop breast cancer taking the lives of those we love.

Also in attendance was Sky News presenter and former Olympic gymnast Jacquie Beltrao. Jacquie, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, is lending her support to wear it pink in the hope that thousands of people across the country will take part in the event.

Jacquie Beltrao said:

“I’m very proud to support wear it pink; it’s a great excuse to dress up in pink and have some fun while raising money for a really important cause. I have had breast cancer myself and following my diagnosis and treatment have become incredibly passionate about raising awareness and funds for research.

“Wear it pink has raised over £30 million to date for Breast Cancer Now, which is incredible. The event raises funds for the charity’s world-class research, which will hopefully one day put a stop to this dreadful disease. That is why I’m asking people across the country join me, and the MPs who took part in Westminster, by adding a splash of pink to their outfits on wear it pink day and donating to Breast Cancer Now. I hope lots of people across the UK take part!”

To take part in wear it pink this October, please visit Wear it Pink for further details, fundraising ideas and how to register for your free fundraising pack.