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Virendra_Sharma_1.jpgI have joined the fight against breast cancer and will be taking part in Breast Cancer Campaign’s flagship fundraiser, wear it pink day.

The theme of wear it pink this year is to ‘look good, do good’ in support of breast cancer research. On Friday 24 October people across the country will come together to find fun and stylish ways to wear pink in the office, at home or at school. Donations raised by this year’s fashion inspired event will go to Breast Cancer Campaign to fund lifesaving breast cancer research. 

Every year in the UK around 50,000 women and 400 men are diagnosed with breast cancer. Sadly, 12,000 women and 80 men die from this disease each year. This is why we need to support Breast Cancer Campaign’s fundraising efforts to support world-class breast cancer research that saves and improves lives, giving people quicker diagnoses and more effective treatments. I hope you’ll all join me by wearing it pink on Friday 24 October and showing your support for breast cancer research.

wear it pink on Friday 24 October to support Breast Cancer Campaign’s lifesaving research. For more information or to register for wear it pink and receive your fundraising pack visit www.wearitpink.org

Politics goes pink for breast cancer awareness

I have joined the fight against breast cancer and will be taking part in Breast Cancer Campaign’s flagship fundraiser, wear it pink day.

Westminster_0.7_036.jpgI am glad to have supported the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill, which will enshrine in law the UK Government’s commitment to spend 0.7% of national spend on overseas aid, and I am pleased that it passed Second Reading in the House of Commons with such a clear majority. 

British aid saves and changes lives and it is right that we help the millions of people around the world who are in desperate need as a result of conflict, natural disasters, entrenched poverty and climate change.

The previous Labour Government made real progress on this by trebling overseas aid, helping lift three million people out of poverty a year and by reaching historic agreements on debt reduction with some of the world's poorest countries. The previous Labour Government also made a firm commitment to enshrine the 0.7% target in law back in 2010.

It is disappointing that more than four years into this Parliament the current Government have not kept their promise to legislate for the 0.7% target and I know that many charities, campaign groups and my Shadow Frontbench colleagues have repeatedly raised this. It is welcome, therefore, that a Private Members Bill - the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill - has now been introduced to address this.

I believe this Bill will build on the achievements of the previous Labour Government and help ensure that our commitment to help some of the world's poorest people continues in the future. That is why I supported this Bill at Second Reading in the House of Commons and why I hope it will continue to progress through Parliament.

It is also important to remember that making a fixed commitment on the UK's overseas development budget is not the same as writing a blank cheque. Even a small amount of aid can help save a life, so I believe it is vital there is rigorous accountability and oversight of this spending so that every pound of taxpayers' money does the maximum amount of good. It is welcome that there are provisions in this Bill that seek to address this and I hope this will be debated further as the Bill progresses.

I am proud to represent Ealing Southall and always make it a priority to listen to people from my local area, whether it’s on a local or a global issue. After hearing from local residents, I wanted to fulfil our commitment to meeting our UK Aid promise and enshrine it in law. We have a duty to care for the world's poorest and it is also in our interest to help build a more peaceful and stable world.

Turn up, Save Lives

I am glad to have supported the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill, which will enshrine in law the UK Government’s commitment to spend 0.7% of national spend on...

20140904_145659.jpgLast week, I visited St Bernard’s Hospital, for a tour of the Wolsey Wing; one of its newly refurbished buildings. Since spring 2013, the wing has housed many of the local mental health services provided for Ealing residents, so I was eager to see the building, find out how service delivery has improved and discuss the trust’s plans for the future of the site.  

Horizon ward, a male service users ward was my first stop where I met service users and staff and was impressed by the ward’s ‘Tree of Hope’ a functional image which allows service users to attach inspirational quotes and messages to motivate others on the ward. It was then over to Hope Ward, where I spoke to some of the women about their experiences of the mental health system, before going to Discovery Ward to view the artwork displays and complete my tour. 

The St Bernard’s site is currently being transformed to provide a more modern and suitable environment for everyone receiving care there. This includes the construction of a new medium secure unit (MSU) which will be completed in early 2016 bringing all the trust’s medium secure services together into one campus. This will result in more effective care as well as a range of brand new facilities benefitting both patients and staff.    

With local services based in the newly refurbished accommodation and the MSU project well underway, the trust continues to upgrade and make improvements to other services both on the St Bernard’s site and throughout the borough.

Once people actually realise the imperative work that takes place within mental health services or have their own personal experience, they finally understand how important the work of the trust is. Visiting the Wolsey Wing and speaking to Ealing residents, it’s clear that the trust is doing everything it can to improve mental health care both on this site and out in the wider community.

This work is helping to alleviate the negative stigma attached to mental health conditions and shows that although many people are affected, with the specialised support and care the trust offers, these conditions are manageable.

Leading the tour, Sandra Bailey, senior nurse manager said: “Virendra has shown a keen interest in our work, and this visit reflects the importance he places on mental health services in his constituency. He has already requested a follow up visit and expressed an interest in getting more involved with some of the activities we have coming up over the next 12 months.’

Visit to the new Wolsey Wing at St Bernard’s Hospital

Last week, I visited St Bernard’s Hospital, for a tour of the Wolsey Wing; one of its newly refurbished buildings. Since spring 2013, the wing has housed many of the...


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