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[23/10/2014 | No comment]

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On the 14th October I hosted an event in Parliament to celebrate Shared Lives Plus and to promote the amazing work they do.

Shared Lives carers welcome disabled and older people into their homes and their lives, during the day, for short periods of time or permanently. Carers are recruited assessed and trained by local schemes and paid a modest amount of money to cover their expenses and time.

One of the scheme’s users, Claire, gave a very moving speech about how her carers have opened their home and hearts to her, transforming her life. She said that since she’s been living with them she doesn’t feel lonely anymore, and that she has a genuine choice about how she lives her life. You can find out more about Shared Lives and Claire’s story by watching this video.

I’ve been championing Shared Lives locally, so I’m really pleased the City Council is helping our local scheme to expand to include people with dementia for the first time, as well as people with learning disabilities. I joined care staff on Friday at Beaumont Leys shopping centre to provide information to the public on the scheme and how they can get involved. If you’re interested I’d urge you to find out more by ringing 0116 221 1370 or by emailing sharedlives {at} leicester.gov(.)uk

[09/09/2014 | No comment]

On Monday 8 September I spoke at a meeting at TUC Congress on a new deal for older workers organised by Unions21.

One of the biggest challenges facing many older employees is juggling work with caring for elderly or disabled relatives. There are more than 6 million unpaid family carers in Britain. 60% are women, many of whom feel really stretched because they’re looking after a frail or sick parent – and helping out with the grandchildren, too. For working carers, this often becomes too much, and they have to give up work or reduce their hours.

Labour’s Older Women’s Commission has called for more flexible working arrangements for family carers, including new ‘adjustment leave’: a short-term period of leave or flexibility to help employees deal with an immediate crisis in care and to allow time to adjust to a new caring role. A future Labour Government will consult with employers, trade unions and carers organisations on how to improve flexibility for working carers, including through measures like adjustment leave.

You can read coverage of this story in the Mirror here and I’ve written an article for the LabourList website here.

[09/09/2014 | No comment]

bedroom-tax-photo-with-Rachel-Reeves-2-540x4061On Friday 5 September, I voted in the House of Commons to support the Affordable Homes Bill – a proposed change in the law which would exempt some people from having to pay the bedroom tax. The Bill passed its Second Reading, despite the opposition of Conservative MPs.

Whilst this Bill doesn’t fully abolish the bedroom tax, as Labour has been calling for since September 2013, Labour MPs will seek to amend and strengthen it.

I’ve seen firsthand the huge distress and financial hardship caused by this tax, which hits some of the most vulnerable people in our city. Many of the 2,400 people currently affected in Leicester are genuinely sick and disabled. Moving is not an option for them as they need a room for their partner or children who provide vital care. Hitting these families with an average bill of £720 a year whilst handing millionaires an average tax cut of £100,000 is completely wrong.

We’ve been clear and consistent in our opposition to the bedroom tax. Even if this Bill doesn’t make it into law, the next Labour Government will abolish the bedroom tax immediately.

[01/09/2014 | No comment]

Softtouch (1)

“Style your Space” is a free, nine week course run by Soft touch with the support of Big Lottery, Leicester Skills Council and the Arts Council. The course helps people who are out of work to gain new skills, by doing improvements to their homes.

I was really impressed with the creativity shown by all the participants. A new course will be beginning later this month – for more details on how to join please contact Kieran on 0116 2702706.

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