Gareth Thomas MP

From Harrow, For Harrow.

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Published on behalf of Rose Worley, a constituent from the 70/30 campaign.

At a recent local surgery, I met with an ambassador for 70/30, a local grassroots campaign that’s building support for a primary prevention approach to tackle child maltreatment in Harrow.

As suggested by the name, the 70/30 campaign wants to show how we could reduce child abuse by at least 70% by 2030 in the United Kingdom. This can be achieved through a proper strategy which puts primary prevention as the leading ideology.

I know that far too many statistics can get thrown around these days, but these numbers are ones which really deserve our attention and this is why; 1 out of 5 children in the UK will suffer from significant child abuse and/or neglect. What is even more shocking is that 90% will receive no help at all.

So the argument of the 70/30 campaign goes like this – the damage which is caused by child maltreatment costs the UK taxpayer billions each year in various social services as these children often go on to have a host of problems in later life, thus would it not be better to protect them from maltreatment, rather than waiting until it is too late and trying to control the damage?

The basis for this approach is to prevent maltreatment before it happens by tackling the root causes. This might be maternal mental health problems, domestic violence issues, substance abuse problems or a whole host of other issues which can affect parents. Early and effective support could help them deal with these problems before they get out of control.

For a mother who may be suffering from mental health issues, this early support could make the difference to her ability to cope. It could also mean a couple who have unhealthy tension in their relationship could get support to get things back on track. Helping them prevents the severe stress a baby can experience in a tense or violent home.

The challenge is to get people thinking ahead to the point where we can really start seeing prevention as something urgent, not just an idea that would be nice to work on once we have finished intervening.

This leads us to the whole point of the campaign – we will never finish intervening until we have stopped things going wrong in the first place. Here is an analogy from WAVE Trust, the charity which is behind the campaign – if your taps are on and your sink is overflowing, you will never finish mopping up unless you stop to turn the taps off.

I agree with the wisdom of more support being available to help parents and avoid children being maltreated. That’s why I back the 70/30 campaign. If you have any experiences with children services or you would like to get involved, you can get in touch at slawes@wavetrust.org

Can we cut child maltreatment by 70% by the year 2030?

Published on behalf of Rose Worley, a constituent from the 70/30 campaign. At a recent local surgery, I met with an ambassador for 70/30, a local grassroots campaign that’s building support for...

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Letter to the TfL Commissioner regarding Harrow on the Hill Station on the 8th July 2016:

 

Re: Harrow-on-the-Hill station

I am concerned by the reports I have had of Transport for London’s current plans for six 20-storey tower blocks of flats at Harrow-on-the-Hill station.

As yet, there has been no public consultation or indeed any confirmation as to when such consultation might begin. Such a massive development will obviously be of considerable interest to my constituents who have seen up to a 60% increase in the cost of their commute into central London over the last eight years.

I understand the current plan is to allow only 10% affordable housing and that the land will be sold to developers so that they can then build at their own pace and sell, when it suits them, the remaining proportion. I understand too, that no restrictions are planned on who can buy the properties, so, for example, Harrow residents will not be granted an advance opportunity to buy the properties and sales in Hong Kong, Singapore etc. have not been ruled out.

I understand there are no current plans to work with housing associations. In addition, I understand there are no plans to put covenants on any of the properties built to ensure any future onward sales are to Harrow residents as well.

I would welcome early publication of the financial projections around these particular proposals. It is unclear to me why your ‘ideal’ programme for access works to the station are so expensive at £21million. It would be useful to understand what other options could be put in place that would cost less.

TfL have an Access Fund of some £75m I understand, yet is planning to allocate nothing from this fund towards the Harrow-on-the-Hill works.

I hope you will feel able to commit to work with me on the preparation of a plan for what is both the most important station in my constituency, and whose development will have profound implications for the character, sight line and level of amenity for my constituents. To that end, I would welcome an early meeting with you.

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely

 

Gareth Thomas MP 

Harrow West

Letter regarding developments at Harrow on the Hill Station

Letter to the TfL Commissioner regarding Harrow on the Hill Station on the 8th July 2016:   Re: Harrow-on-the-Hill station I am concerned by the reports I have had of Transport...

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Our campaign to save Gujarati qualifications has been successful. Thanks to the support across the community the OCR exam board has agreed to offer GCSE and A Level Gujarati qualifications for one more year, and the Pearson exam board will then offer them from 2020 onwards.

This is a crucial step, but is not sufficient to save Gujarati teaching, and it is vital now that the Government look at how they can further support the dedicated community organisations that have been running the weekend schools where the majority of students learning Gujarati are taught.

A few months ago I was approached by the Consortium of Gujarati Schools who were concerned about the future of Gujarati teaching. The number of students taking GCSE Gujarati has fallen by 20% since 2010, and cuts to local authorities’ budgets meant that rents had gone up for many of the weekend schools. This in turn meant that community organisations had to charge higher fees or reduce the amount of time available for Gujarati teaching. Added to this, the OCR exam board stated earlier this year that they would not be offering Gujarati qualifications beyond summer 2018.  

As a result, I launched an Open Letter to the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, calling on her to step in and protect these qualifications. I received an overwhelming response, with more than 8,000 people signing up to show their support.

The pressure this put on the exam boards, and on the Department for Education to intervene, was crucial in securing the future of Gujarati qualifications and I want to thank everyone who signed the letter and shared it with their friends and family. Gujarati is the first language of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and is an important form of communication for UK-India trade and other relationships.

Now that the qualifications have been preserved, it is vital that the Government support community organisations in finding affordable premises for them to open weekend schools, and that Gujarati teachers – who are often volunteers – receive financial support for professional development similar to the sort available in mainstream schools.

You can find the open letter here: www.gareththomas.org/save_gujarati

Success on #SaveGujarati Campaign!

Our campaign to save Gujarati qualifications has been successful. Thanks to the support across the community the OCR exam board has agreed to offer GCSE and A Level Gujarati qualifications...


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