Alison Thewliss MP becomes teal hero for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, was a teal hero for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month at a special event hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ovarian Cancer on 14th March at the Houses of Parliament.

MPs and peers came together to show their support for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, which takes place as every March. Parliamentarians dressed as teal heroes, learned more about the symptoms of ovarian cancer and committed to helping raise awareness. The designated colour for ovarian cancer is teal.

11 women die every day from ovarian cancer. Early diagnosis saves lives, and raising awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer is crucial.

The symptoms of ovarian cancer are:

  • Persistent bloating – not bloating that comes and goes
  • Feeling full quickly and/or loss of appetite
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain (that’s your tummy and below)
  • Urinary symptoms (needing to wee more urgently or more often than usual)

Other symptoms can include unexpected weight loss, changes in bowel habits, and extreme fatigue.

Alison Thewliss MP commented:

“Being a ‘teal hero’ was a great opportunity to take action and raise awareness of ovarian cancer. Although there was a fun element to the event, ensuring women know the symptoms of this disease is extremely serious and I plan on continuing to be a teal hero in the future, working to ensure more women are diagnosed sooner.”

Annwen Jones, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, said:

“It has been delightful to see the MPs getting involved and learning the symptoms of ovarian cancer. Early diagnosis of ovarian cancer makes the disease easier to treat, so Target Ovarian Cancer is urging everyone to learn the symptoms during Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month this March. Our goal has been to inspire parliamentarians to become more engaged with ovarian cancer and the issues around the disease, and effect change at a national level. We are hugely grateful for all they do.”

Katherine Taylor, Chief Executive of Ovarian Cancer Action, said:

“We cannot fight ovarian cancer alone; which is why it is fantastic to see members of parliament showing their support this Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. We need to educate everyone from politicians, to healthcare professionals, to women and men across the UK to recognise the symptoms of ovarian cancer. Symptoms include persistent stomach pain, persistent bloating, feeling full quickly and needing to wee more often. If you recognise any of these, be as persistent with your GP as your symptoms are with you.”

Athena Lamnisos, Chief Executive of The Eve Appeal, said:

“With ovarian cancer it’s about knowing the signs and symptoms so that you can avoid the trauma of a late diagnosis and the grim statistics that go with Stage 3 and 4 disease. That’s why The Eve Appeal know it’s vital to have open conversations about your health and know the signs and symptoms of all the women-specific cancers. With ovarian cancer especially the signs might not automatically lead either a woman or her GP to immediately think of cancer and that’s why arming yourself with information can literally be a life-saver.”

Victoria Clare, Chief Executive of Ovacome, said:

“It is great to see so many MPs getting involved in raising awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer. By working together to raise awareness we really will make progress in detecting and treating the disease. The women we support are always pleased to see those with influence supporting them and thank you so much to all the MPs who have done so this year.”

MP raises awareness of ovarian cancer with The Eve Appeal

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, joined a tea party at the House of Commons organised by women’s cancer charity The Eve Appeal to mark the start of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

During this time The Eve Appeal is committing to raise vital awareness of the key signs and symptoms associated with ovarian cancer, working towards earlier detection and prevention of this women-specific cancer. This is pivotal as:

  • Every year in the UK approximately 7,300 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and sadly 4,200 women lose their fight – that’s 11 women every day.
  • Ovarian cancer is the sixth most common cause of cancer death in women and accounts for more UK deaths than all of the other gynaecological cancers put together.
  • Most women are not diagnosed until ovarian cancer has spread, which is why it is important that women know about the symptoms, so that they can seek advice as early as possible.

As part of the month-long campaign Make Time for Tea, the charity is encouraging people to hold a tea party where they raise awareness and funds for ovarian cancer. This campaign will raise vital funds for pioneering research into early detection and prevention.

Alison Thewliss said:

“I’m proud to be supporting The Eve Appeal throughout March to raise much-needed awareness of the little-known and little-talked about condition of ovarian cancer. It’s vital that we continue to raise awareness of and funds into ovarian cancer research in order to achieve earlier detection and prevention of this cancer before it even begins. I’d ask all my local constituents to look out for the key signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer and do what they can to support The Eve Appeal this March for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.”

Athena Lamnisos, Chief Executive of The Eve Appeal said:

“The biggest piece of mis-information out there is that ovarian cancer is a symptomless, ‘silent’ disease. Ovarian cancer isn’t silent. There needs to be much greater awareness of the symptoms.

“Survival rates are low, few treatments available and few newer ones in the pipeline. What we often hear about is that diagnosis comes late – either because a woman hasn’t recognised the symptoms, or because her GP didn’t. This is something that must change.”

There are four main ovarian cancer symptoms:

• increased abdominal size and persistent bloating (not bloating that comes and goes)
• Persistent pelvic and abdominal pain
• Unexplained change in bowel habits
• Difficulty eating and feeling full quickly, or feeling nauseous

The charity advises local women to always follow the ‘rule of three’. If you’ve had symptoms for three weeks or more, then visit your GP. If you’ve had to see your GP on more than three occasions for these symptoms, and haven’t been referred to a specialist, ask for a referral.

If you have any worries or questions about the signs and symptoms of any of the gynaecological cancers, contact The Eve Appeal’s nurse information service Ask Eve for free, confidential information:

Alison Thewliss MP supports 51,000 strong Changing Places petition

Alison Thewliss MP has joined disability rights campaigners today to call on the Government to make Changing Places toilets compulsory in new buildings to ensure that all people with disabilities can have access to a basic right – the use of a toilet.

Without a Changing Places toilet available, disabled children have to be changed on dirty toilet floors or in the back of cars. Their carers often have no choice but to use manual moving and handling techniques that are considered too dangerous for nurses to use in a hospital setting. Disabled teenagers and adults have little choice but to either sit in soiled continence products or limit their time out of the house to a couple of hours at a time.

The campaign is being led by Lorna Fillingham and Anne Wafula Stike MBE, who have travelled to Downing Street today to present their 51,000 signature strong petition to the Government.

The petition demands that Changing Places toilets be included in plans before planning permission is granted and that the facilities be incorporated into any refurbishments or redevelopments of existing buildings.


Alison Thewliss MP said:

“In the UK in 2018 it is unacceptable that people are finding themselves in positions where they are having to be changed on dirty toilet floors or in the back of cars. How we design our public buildings is a choice we make, and it cannot be a justifiable choice to prevent someone from accessing the basic right of a toilet. I fully support the Changing Places campaign.”

Ms Fillingham, whose own experience is of caring for her seven-year-old daughter, a wheelchair user with global development delay, led her to start this petition from improved facilities for disabled people.

Discussing the regulations that she is campaigning for the Government to adopt, Lorna Fillingham said:

“This would mean a year on year guaranteed increase in facilities, it would give dignity and freedom back to the disabled community. It would mean that there would be a future where no-one had to be changed on a toilet floor.  These are basic human rights, the most vulnerable people in society are being affected by a wholly preventable situation.”

The campaign is also supported by Paralympic athlete and prominent disability rights campaigner Anne Wafula Strike MBE, who experienced first-hand the impact of a lack of disabled toilet facilities when she was forced to wet herself on a CrossCountry train service.

Discussing this petition, Ms Strike said:

“This is a very important campaign and I hope this issue is considered seriously by those in power. Law and policy affects people’s lives and it should be about giving value and dignity to every human being, no matter our abilities and differences. It is not right that disabled people and their families are continuously having to validate our existence and debate our humanity again and again over basic rights such as provision and use of an accessible toilet.”

Changing Places facilities come equipped with a hoist, adult changing bench, toilet and plenty of space for carers which are a necessity for people with physical and learning disabilities. Despite being vital to the sanitation and dignity of a quarter of a million people across the UK, there are currently only 1071 of these toilets available, with many towns lacking a single facility. In comparison, Wembley Stadium alone has 2618 toilets.

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 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.”

Thewliss questions PM on skilled migrant policy

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, today quizzed Theresa May during Prime Minister’s Questions on the record of the Home Office towards skilled migrants applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

Recent reports have elucidated a stark increase in the number of people who have come to the UK on the Tier 1 visa system, worked for years in professional occupations, then encountered issues securing ILR via the Home Office. Often this has been due to trivial issues such as minor errors on tax returns, where the applicant’s character and credibility have been called into question as a result.

Thewliss’ question coincides with a protest being organised by the group ‘Highly Skilled Migrants’. The group, which represents hundreds of individuals from skilled backgrounds such as doctors, engineers and teachers, will gather at Westminster today to show their discontent at the Home Office’s approach.

Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“My constituent, Mr Ali Baig, is unfortunately one of many skilled migrants whose futures have been thrown into disarray by the Home Office’s hostile and heartless policies.

“Highly skilled professionals are coming to the UK and taking up professional occupations where there are serious shortages. They are contributing to the economy, having families, making a life in our community, and yet the Home Office sees fit to refuse them permission to stay because they made a legitimate correction to their tax return. This is totally unacceptable.

“These callous decisions have far-reaching effects. Many of the people affected have young children and other dependents, and by removing their right to work and remain in the UK the Home Office is placing huge burdens on entire families.

“The Prime Minister needs to recognise that these Home Office policies are not fit for purpose. If she wants the UK to continue to attract people from around the world, she needs first to recognise and appreciate the contributions being made by those who are already here”.

Thewliss ‘hugely disappointed’ at Royal Mail decision to relocate G5 sorting office

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, has today voiced her disappointment at the recently announced decision by Royal Mail to move their operation for the G5 postcode area – currently based at Victoria Road – to the delivery office at Baird Street, on the north side of the city. The move is expected to take effect from June 2018. People in the other postcode areas served by Victoria Road delivery office will be unaffected.

Whilst Royal Mail have stated that the changes will not affect deliveries made to customers, those picking up letters and parcels which were unable to be delivered will have to travel around 2.5 miles over the Clyde and across the city centre to retrieve items.

Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“I am hugely disappointed at this decision by Royal Mail, which will cause a massive amount of inconvenience for residents in the G5 postcode area of my constituency.

“I first became aware that Royal Mail were considering this move at the tail end of last year, and wrote to every resident in the G5 area to gauge opinion about the proposals. Unsurprisingly, the weight of objection was staggering, with over 96% of respondents stating they were against it.

“More worrying still was the comments made by several residents who are infirm, or unable to travel. Many explained to me in their responses that they would simply be unable to make a trip to Baird Street, be it due to ill-health or for financial reasons. Whilst I welcome the promise of extended opening hours, and I appreciate that Royal Mail say they can arrange for items to be redelivered, this will not always be suitable. These measures cannot adequately replace the convenience of a local, accessible delivery office.

“The fact that Royal Mail, in spite of the evidence presented, have pressed ahead with this plan is frankly appalling, and strikes a further blow against consumers whose essential, local services are slowly being eroded”.

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.”