Family Fund

I was delighted to meet with Salena Begley, Partnership Manager of the charity Family Fund recently to find out more about how they can help families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people. Along with Salena I invited Moira and Charlene to meet me at my office for a chat about some of the challenges for their own families. Both Moira and Charlene are mothers who have been helped by the support and guidance Family Fund have been able to provide.

Family Fund has been around for over 40 years, originally part of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, they have provided grants to over a million families over the years. They provide practical and material support along with advice on what is available for families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people..

"We believe that all families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people should have the same opportunities as others. Beginning with the most vulnerable, those on low incomes, and considering all conditions against our disability criteria, we aim to make a difference to outcomes for disabled or seriously ill children and young people and the lives of the families raising them across the UK.

We provide grants for a wide range of items, such as washing machines, sensory toys, family breaks, bedding, tablets, furniture, outdoor play equipment, clothing and computers. It can be a struggle financially, emotionally and physically for families raising a disabled or seriously ill child, and these grants help break down many of the barriers families face, improving their quality of life and easing the additional daily pressures."

If you would like to find out more about the support available please visit https://www.familyfund.org.uk/ or contact Salena.Begley@familyfund.org.uk if you would like to get involved to help Family Fund.

 

 

 

Broadband Information from the Public Meeting (27th September)

The Public Meeting on Broadband Delivery in East Ayrshire held on 27th September helped to bring some understanding of the scale of the task involved to bring high speed broadband across Scotland. It also highlighted some of the problems facing the communities in Kilmarnock and Loudoun.

Duncan Nisbit from Digital Scotland kindly gave permission for the information he presented on the night to be shared which shows the Scottish Governments plans locally. You can find out more online at https://www.scotlandsuperfast.com/.

 

PDF file of Broadband Presentation

PDF file of Broadband Presentation

UK Parliament Week: 14-22 November 2016

UK Parliament Week: 14-22 November 2016

UK Parliament Week: 14-22 November 2016

UK Parliament Week, now in its sixth year is a programme of events and activities that connects people with the UK Parliament explores what the UK parliament means and how people can get involved with the political process.

If you want to find out more go to http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/

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Unsolicited Marketing Communications (Company Directors): Ten Minute Rule Bill

Unsolicited Marketing Communications (Company Directors): Ten Minute Rule Bill

I was happy to support my colleague Patricia Gibson MP when she brought forward her Ten Minute Rule Bill on the 13th September 2016 and welcome the moves by the UK Government to clampdown on nuisance calls.

The Unsolicited Marketing Communications (Company Directors): Ten Minute Rule Bill was introduced to Parliament on 13 September and included provisions to hold company bosses personally responsible for nuisance calls, by giving the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) the power to take action against named company directors found to have made unsolicited marketing calls in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003.

Following the debate in Westminster, UK Ministers have now agreed to Patricia Gibson’s proposal to end the scourge of nuisance calls by legislating for company directors to be fined up to £500,000 each if they are found to be in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. Prior to this, only businesses were liable for fines, many of which try to escape paying nuisance call penalties by declaring bankruptcy - a practice known as “phoenixing”- only to open up again under a new name. 

I gave a comment to the Kilmarnock Standard shortly after Patricia Gibson’s speech:

“Nuisance calls plague millions of people every year and it is wrong that rogue companies are able to avoid paying the penalty for their unlawful actions.
"At best nuisance calls can be an irritant; at worst they can be a blight on the lives of some of the most vulnerable in society.
“If passed, the bill would hold company bosses personally liable for fines imposed for unsolicited marketing calls – elevating the issue of nuisance calls to the boardroom and ensuring that these companies cannot escape responsibility by going into liquidation.
“If the UK government is serious about tackling the practice of cold-calling it should back my bill and give the ICO the powers needed to pursue unpaid fines.
"This would benefit the taxpayer and act as a strong deterrent to firms engaging in this practice.”

If you would like to find out more about the Unsolicited Marketing Communications (Company Directors) Bill the link to the debate in Parliament is here or click the following link to view the speech instead. The Bill has gone to 2nd reading and is due to be heard again on the 18th November 2016.

Notes
To date, fines totalling almost £3.7million have been issued to companies behind nuisance marketing. This year alone, the ICO has fined firms responsible for more than 70 million calls and nearly 8 million spam text messages. Over 114,000 nuisance calls and texts were reported to ICO in the first nine months of 2016. 

Reporting a nuisance call is simple: visit the ICO website at www.ico.org.uk or call their helpline on 0303 123 1113 and they will take it from there.

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Kilmarnock Railway Station – World War 1 Stories

Kilmarnock Railway Station – World War 1 Stories

Back in May 2016 I appealed to constituents and local groups to consider applying to the Heritage Lottery Fund for community projects to learn more about the First World War. The Heritage Lottery Fund announced that they were making money available as part of the ‘First World War: then and now’ programme for small, community grants. This was to encourage local communities interested in marking the Centenary of the First World War to learn more about how the First World War affected the local area and the impact it had on communities.

Through this programme East Ayrshire Council Education Services has come together with the Kilmarnock Station Railway Heritage Trust and applied successfully for a grant of £10,000 for their project ‘Kilmarnock Railway Station – World War 1 Stories’.

I was delighted to be visited by Graham Boyd, Heritage Projects Coordinator East Ayrshire Council along with Sixth Year pupils from St Joseph’s Academy, Ann McGiffen and Ava Hepburn to find out more about the project.

Pupils from local primary schools and St Joseph’s Academy have been researching and developing an archive on a number of Kilmarnock Railway Station workers, employed by the Glasgow & South Western Railway Company and other nearby railway works, who volunteered or were enlisted to serve at The Front during World War 1.

The pupils want to build a picture of what the town was like before WW1 and the changes brought about due to the outbreak of war. Their research is uncovering many fascinating and largely untold stories both with a local and international dimension. In order to share this forgotten heritage with the public, the pupils along with many community groups associated with the Station Village are planning to host a display of the archive along with a service dedicated to the memory of these workers.

I have always been interested in WWI and I think this project combining social history along with consideration of some locals involved in the war is a fantastic way to get a wider understanding of what life really was like. I commend them for their efforts and look forward to the displays. 

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WASPI Petition to the House of Commons

WASPI Petition to the House of Commons

I am helping to support the WASPI campaign by collecting signatures of Kilmarnock and Loudoun for their public petition at my Constituency Office and presenting the petition to the House of Commons on the 11th October.

I will be collecting signatures at the office until Friday 7th October so if you can spare the time please come down to my Constituency Office at 31A Tichfield Street, Kilmarnock to support the campaign and add your signature to the petition.

If you are not available during the week there is an Ayrshire WASPI meeting that I will be attending this Saturday 1st October at 10am in the Kilmarnock Wetherspoons. I will bring the petition to sign and copies for others to gather signatures.

If you're not able to come to the meeting you can download a petition from the WASPI website http://www.waspi.co.uk/action

If you wanted to gather signatures yourself the petition would need to be brought into the office or posted to me and received on or before the 7th October. Please note that any petition I present has to be from Kilmarnock and Loudoun constituents and have the original signatures on the petition (not scanned, copied or emailed).

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UK's Nuclear Deterrent (18 Jul 2016)

UK's Nuclear Deterrent (18 Jul 2016)

Too often today we have heard that Trident is classed as the ultimate deterrent. Yet the great warmonger, Tony Blair, is already on record as saying that it is a status symbol that “serves no military purpose”. What it means is that some others aspire to have that status symbol. We do not argue that we need to stockpile chemical and biological weapons to deter rogue states, so why do we argue that we need nuclear weapons? If we encourage a reckless gambler to play poker, he will not be afraid to go “all in” with his chips, so why do we argue that we should risk nuclear Armageddon as a possible deterrent? That is not the way to go. The only country ever to have suffered a nuclear attack is Japan, and it has never felt the need to get a nuclear weapon as a deterrent against a future attack. Instead, Japan makes the clear and logical argument that we need to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

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Neighbourhood Food Collection (30th June to 2nd July)

Neighbourhood Food Collection (30th June to 2nd July)

I visited the  Neighbourhood Food Collection on the 1st July arranged by Tescos in conjuction with their charity partners The Trussell Trust and FareShare and added my donation and the bags collected in my Constituency Office.

Over the Neighbourhood Food Collection initiative (30th June to 2nd July) Tescos received enough food to supply approximately 7500 meals to those in need in the local community.

Even though the initiative has passed there is still an ongoing need and, if you can, food can still be donated directly to the Trussell Trust and FareShare or through Tescos collection points at over 600 of their stores nationwide.

Below is a suggested list of non perishable food suitable for the collection, any and all donations would be gratefully received.

  • Tinned meat
  • Tinned fish
  • Tinned vegetables
  • Instant mashed potato
  • Cooking sauces
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Jam
  • Fruit juice (long life)
  • Tinned fruit
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Tinned rice pudding
  • Tinned sponge pudding
  • Milk (UHT or powdered)
  • Instant coffee/Tea bags
  • Sugar (500g)
  • Biscuits or snack bars
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Kilmarnock and Loudoun MP Alan Brown marks Srebrenica Memorial Day

Kilmarnock and Loudoun MP Alan Brown marks Srebrenica Memorial Day

To mark Srebrenica Memorial Day, Alan Brown MP honoured those who were murdered during the genocide 21 years ago.

The Kilmarnock and Loudoun politician signed the Remembering Srebrenica Book of Pledges, promising to play his part in ensuring that the lessons from the genocide are learnt and community cohesion is strengthened in Kilmarnock and Loudoun.

Today marks the 21st anniversary of the worst atrocity on European soil since World War Two when over 8,000 men and boys were murdered just because of their faith. The Charity Remembering Srebrenica, which organises memorial events across the UK, says that this year it is time to act to counter the rising threat of Hate Crime in the UK.

Alan said: "We must always remember the atrocity and suffering at Srebrenica, and hope that one day all these type of acts will to confined to history worldwide."

“Srebrenica Memorial Day reminds us all that a shocking genocide took place only 21 years ago and this should never be forgotten. I strongly encourage everyone to take this day as an opportunity to remember the victims and survivors of Srebrenica, but also to work together to make our own community a place of safety that welcomes and cherishes diversity.”

Srebrenica Memorial Week takes places from 10th – 17th July, with hundreds of local commemorative events taking place across the country arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations, as well as UK and national events taking place in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast remembering the victims of the genocide.

 

  • On 11 July 1995 General Ratko Mladić and his Bosnian Serb forces marched into the town of Srebrenica and systematically murdered 8372 Bosnian Muslim men and boys.

  • In 1993, Srebrenica had been declared a UN Safe Area, under the watch of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR). In July 1995, Serbian paramilitary units overran and captured the town, despite its designation as an area 'free from any armed attack or any other hostile act.

  • Remembering Srebrenica is a charitable initiative part-funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government, and supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

  • Since April 2014, more than 800 leaders and key figures have gone on Lessons from Srebrenica visits to Bosnia. The charity has also developed education packs on the lessons of the Srebrenica genocide for use in secondary schools in the UK, which have led to over 21,000 young people being educated on the issues.

For further information on the work of the charity please visit:

Website: http://srebrenica.org.uk/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rememberingsrebrenica

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SrebrenicaUK

Or contact Joe Peacock on 0121 454 3343 or email: joe.peacock@srebrenica.org.uk

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Heart Valve Voice - Heart Valve Disease Awareness in Westminster

Heart Valve Voice - Heart Valve Disease Awareness in Westminster

I visited the drop in hosted by Heart Valve Voice in Parliament on the 5th July to learn more about heart valve disease in the UK and to help support Heart Valve Voice’s awareness campaign. Heart valve disease affects a high proportion of the UK population, yet it's worrying that there are such low levels of awareness and concern across the country. The work of Heart Valve Voice in raising awareness is very important and I welcome their efforts in seeking to improve diagnosis and treatment of heart valve disease.

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Food collection at Constituency Office - 23rd June to 1st July

Food collection at Constituency Office - 23rd June to 1st July

Last December we took part in the Neighbourhood Food Collection arranged by Tescos in conjuction with their charity partners The Trussell Trust and FareShare.

Sadly the referals to foodbanks continue to increase year on year with over 60% citing low pay or changes/delays to benefits as the major factor causing the need for emergency food supplies. Across the UK 1.1 million 3 day emergency food supplies were distributed by the Trussell Trust in 2015/16, over 133000 in Scotland alone. (from Trussell Trust)

To help meet this demand Tescos will be holding their 8th Neighbourhood Food Collection between the 30th June and 2nd July with collection points at over 600 of their stores. We will also be taking part to help support the community by using the Constituency Office as a collection point.

If you would like to support this initiative please bring along any bags to the Constituency Office between 23rd June and 30th June. Alan will be visiting the local Tescos on the 1st to find out how the Collection is going and will take all food collected in the office along at that time. 

Below is a suggested list of non perishable food suitable for the collection, any and all donations would be gratefully received.

  • Tinned meat
  • Tinned fish
  • Tinned vegetables
  • Instant mashed potato
  • Cooking sauces
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Jam
  • Fruit juice (long life)
  • Tinned fruit
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Tinned rice pudding
  • Tinned sponge pudding
  • Milk (UHT or powdered)
  • Instant coffee/Tea bags
  • Sugar (500g)
  • Biscuits or snack bars
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EU referendum - Remember to vote on 23rd June (polls open 7am-10pm)

Polls for the EU referendum will open tomorrow at 7am and will remain open until 10pm tonight.

Whether or not to stay in the European Union as a member country is one of the biggest decisions Scotland the UK will ever make. It will have huge implications for the UK as a whole and Scotland specifically.

Much has been talked about in the media about immigration of EU citizens to the UK but not a lot has been made of the fact that as a nation Scotland has a well established history of emigration. Throughout the ages Scots have looked to the outside world as an opportunity, we have travelled the world and settled in every corner of the globe as economic migrants.

The economic migrants from the EU are no different, they enrich Scotland and the UK by living here, working here and by contributing to our communities. Most of those who move here are young, healthy and motivated to work so do not use the NHS or benefits to the same degree. The taxes they pay in VAT, Income tax, National Insurance, etc contribute to the tax base which in turn pays for services, pensions and the NHS that a growing percentage of UK citizens rely on. Not only that but many EU migrants work in these very services, the NHS would struggle to function without the doctors, nurses and staff that have come to the UK from the EU.

I believe it is in Scotland's best interests to Remain in the EU and below are many more positive reasons why.

Why being in the EU is good for Scotland's economy

How the EU benefits young people

How the EU benefits women

How the EU benefits workers rights

How being in the EU benefits our environment

How the EU benefits Scotland's families

 

Saying thank you to Natasha Kerr on Volunteers Week

Saying thank you to Natasha Kerr on Volunteers Week

I was honoured to meet Natasha Kerr from Catrine during Volunteers Week and to thank her for her amazing contribution to volunteering in Kilmarnock and Loudoun. Natasha has devoted over 800 hours to coaching children and young people last year with the Catrine Youth Club, Kilmarnock Harriers and East Ayrshire Vibrant Communities through her Ayrshire College course.

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Setting the record Straight

Setting the record Straight

This week is Diabetes Awareness Week (Sun 12th to Sat 18th June) and the theme is 'Setting the record Straight'. Many people are aware of the condition but not about how it affects those that have Diabetes.

"...Just about everyone has heard about diabetes. And, with 3.5 million people diagnosed in the UK and a further 549,000 who have the condition but don't yet know it, most of us know a friend or family member living with diabetes. And yet it’s still hugely misunderstood, and there are so many myths and misconceptions out there that this year, the theme is Setting the record straight." 

Find out more about Diabetes, if you are at risk from type 2 Diabetes and how to manage the condition so that it doesn't develop into something more serious and have further health implications.

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Men's Health Week (13th-19th June)

Men's Health Week (13th-19th June)

Stress is a major factor in both physical and mental health and Men's Health Week (13th-19th June) is focussing on this to highlight how you can reduce stress in your life and cope with it better.

Everyone has stress in their lives to a varying degree and 1 in 4 men will develop a mental health problem. If thats you or you feel stress is getting too much, find out about ways to beat the stress at https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/mhw

https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/beat-stress-chat

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Broon's been Roon the Toon

Broon's been Roon the Toon

It was the first ever Roon the Toon 10K in Kilmarnock on Sunday and I took part along with around 1400 other runners.  My wife Cindy and my office colleagues came to cheer me on and with their help I managed to complete the 10k road race in a respectable 51 mins and 42 seconds!

Well done to all the runners who took part in the 10K including family friend Megan who ran in memory of her wonderful Gran and my Parliamentary Assistant Neal who raised money for the East Ayrshire Carers Centre.

I raised money for Kieran and Jack in my Roon the Toon fundraiser  and people generously donated £228.75 (£190 before gift aid) to Gain - Guillain-Barre and Associated Inflammitary Neuropathies. 

Thank you to all those who contributed to a great day and a great event that brought over 1400 people into Kilmarnock on a Sunday and turned the town centre a hive of activity in the Doon the Toon festivities.

I hope that the event can become a regular event in future and encourages people in Kilmarnock and Loudoun to think about taking up physical exercise through sport and promotes a healthier lifestyle for everyone.

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Broon's goin Roon the Toon

Broon's goin Roon the Toon

I am running my first 10k on 12th June as part of the Roon the Toon in Kilmarnock and after meeting Kieran and Jack recently I have decided to raise money for Gain Charity (Guillain-Barre & Associated Inflammatory Neuropathies).

Kieran (10) has lived with this painful and debilitating condition for 2 years and is thankfully now fully recovered but still needs some support and regular 6 monthly check ups.. He and his cousin Jack are now determined to raise awareness of this rare syndrome and fundraise to help others suffering with Guillan-Barre and other debilitating conditions. 

Kieran's cousin Jack has been growing his hair for 2 years for another charity, The Little Princess Trust, but decided that he could raise money for GAIN at the same time through his JustGiving page to support his cousin. Soon Jack will be donating the money raised to GAIN and his hair will be donated as a wig to a little girl who has lost hers because of cancer treatment.

If you want to help me support Kieran you can visit and donate to my Roon the Toon fundraiser or alternatively you can visit Jack's on JustGiving

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Volunteers' Week (1st - 12th June)

Volunteers' Week (1st - 12th June)

Organisations across the country are holding events to thank volunteers for their dedication and contribution. Volunteers’ Week officially started on 1st June and will run through to 12th June and is an annual celebration of the millions of volunteers who give up their time in the service of others.

There are a large number of groups and organisations in Kilmarnock and Loudoun, some that I've met recently, that would be unable to function without the tireless work of local volunteers. I am always impressed with the volunteers dedication and selflessness across the board and would like to add my thanks for the good work that they do in their communities.

If you want to find out what’s happening locally or you have an event you want to promote you can find out more through the Volunteers’ Week webpage.

The definition of a volunteer currently used by the Scottish Government is:

‘the giving of time and energy through a third party, which can bring measurable benefits to the volunteer, individual beneficiaries, groups or organisations, communities, environment and society at large.  It is a choice undertaken by one’s own free will, and is not motivated primarily for financial gain or for a wage or salary.’

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