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Fix Free School Meals and implement a child poverty action plan, Darren Jones writes to Prime Minister

Following the latest Free School Meals scandal which revealed widespread problems with child food parcels, Darren wrote to the Prime Minister demanding action. With millions of children asked to learn from home during the winter spike in COVID cases, families across the country have been supplied with inadequate and unnutritious food parcels by outsourced catering companies, instead of supermarket vouchers.

Parents are the best judge of which foods their children will eat, and the Government’s approach to Free School Meals shows a disregard for the serious issue of child poverty in the UK. The standard of food parcels offered to some families is not only a national embarrassment but deeply offensive to parents struggling to provide for their children during a pandemic that has cost one million jobs so far.

An example of a 10-day food parcel received by parents.

During the previous Labour governments, two million children were lifted out of poverty. Yet since 2017, there has been a 52% increase in children living in destitution in the UK. Darren raised the lack of a child poverty strategy in any of the Chancellor’s economic policies during the last Financial Statement and this admission remains unaddressed.

Darren followed up his letter to the Prime Minister by giving an assessment of the Government’s dismissive attitude towards child poverty on Channel Four News, January 12th. You can read Darren’s letter in full below:

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Stop ignoring child poverty, warns Darren to Chancellor

Following a disappointing Financial Statement from the Chancellor this winter, Darren questioned the Government’s commitment to eliminating child poverty.

Despite rates of child poverty increasing in the UK, the world 6th richest country, this winter’s financial statement does nothing to address the system causes of child poverty. The statement also fails to dedicate budget to helping families during the winter period that are suffering from in-work poverty.

Speaking in Parliament, Darren raised this issue to the Chancellor directly. You can watch the exchange here:

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Don’t struggle alone. Darren launches winter Foodbank appeal

Following his meeting with the Bristol North West Foodbank in October, Darren launched an appeal encouraging those suffering from food insecurity to access their local foodbank.

This year, foodbank usage has increased in Bristol but the Trussle Trust are concerned that many people that need help are still not able to access it. Bristol has a well-established network of foodbanks that are able to meet increasing demand caused by food insecurity and the North West Foodbank has been using local champions to reach people suffering from food insecurity in silence.

Widespread support for the Free School Meal campaign and an increase in local donations to foodbanks shows that foodbank users should not be put off a perceived social stigma. Darren has urged anyone that is struggling to maintain a varied and healthy diet to seek a referral to a foodbank.

To access a foodbank, you simply need to be referred by your local Citizen’s Advice or GP using the voucher system. 

If there is someone in your life that may be struggling with food insecurity, please encourage them to access a food voucher. Help and support is available.

Watch Darren’s appeal here:

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Darren attends Filton Avenue Primary School’s Great Oracy Exhibition

Filton Avenue organised its first Great Oracy Exhibition last week, in partnership with Voice 21. The exhibition highlighted the importance of speaking and language when building physical, cognitive, emotional and social skills. Discussion is an important way for us to learn, and Darren was very touched to be invited.

Attending the event, Darren said:

It’s inspiring to see Filton Avenue continue to find innovative ways to educate Bristo’s children. The exhibition was fantastic, and I hope I get invited next year too!

 

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Darren backs Alzheimer’s UK report

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has offered his support to Alzheimer’s Research UK’s new report. The report calls on government to prioritise funding and research to find a cure for dementia.

In their 2019 manifesto, the Conservative party pledged to launch a “Dementia Moonshot” to find a cure for dementia – doubling research funding and speeding up trials for new treatments. Alzheimer’s Research UK’s plan outlines the steps government must take to deliver its Moonshot ambition of finding a life-changing treatment for dementia.

These are:

  1. Find ways to detect the diseases that cause dementia 10-15 years earlier, to broaden the search for new treatments and intervene with those most at risk of developing dementia.
  2. Find ways to more effectively validate novel targets in early drug development to maximise chances of successful clinical trials.
  3. Make the UK the best place to conduct clinical dementia research.
  4. Expand research infrastructure to maintain the UK’s position as a world leader in dementia research.
  5. Further our understanding of dementia risk reduction and prevention and dementia in the context of multi-morbidities.
  6. Develop robust prevalence data for dementia to further our knowledge of the impact of dementia across our society.

Darren said:

” Dementia affects 1483 people in Bristol North West and, as a Dementia Champion, I know just how devastating dementia can be for families. Alzheimer’s Research UK has launched an ambitious plan in response to the government’s pre-election pledge to find a cure for dementia.

Dementia is the nation’s biggest killer. By 2021, over one million people in the UK will be living with dementia, and the condition will cost the UK economy a staggering £30bn each year. Despite this, dementia treatment and research lags far behind other serious diseases.

Finding new treatments means investing in key areas which have historically received little or no government funding. Government must take note of this report and act quickly. Opposition parties must hold the government to account to ensure they deliver on their manifesto promise”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can find out more about Cystic Fibrosis and the support available here.

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Darren welcomes Cystic Fibrosis breakthrough

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has welcomed news that a deal has been agreed between Vertex Pharmaceuticals and the NHS to supply revolutionary drugs Orkambi and Symkevi to people with cystic fibrosis.

Following multiple communications supported by Darren last year, the MP had co-signed new letters in July (available below) to Vertex Pharmaceuticals and the Secretary of State for Health and Social, Matt Hancock,  requesting both parties urgently sit down together and resolve the negotiations regards Orkambi so those with cystic fibrosis can have access to this revolutionary drug.

Darren said:

“After 4 years of hard work from Labour MPs and cystic fibrosis (CF) campaign groups and charities an agreement has finally been reached for these life-saving drugs to be available to people in the UK.

Median life expectancy for someone with CF is just 47 – in the context of that stark figure four years was harrowingly long to wait – I am glad that wait is now over and these drugs will be available within a matter of weeks.

Whilst I’m delighted with today’s (24 10 19) announcement, the 10,400 people with Cystic Fibrosis in the UK should not have been keep waiting 4-years for this vital treatment to be available.

I thank NHS England and Vertex Pharmaceuticals for finally agreeing a deal that is fair to the NHS”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can find out more about Cystic Fibrosis and the support available here.