Monday 13 May 2024

John Healey invites England boxing chief to see work of community minded Parkgate gym

John Healey invited the Head of Operations at England Boxing, Avoen Perryman, to see how Unity Boxing in Parkgate is linking up with the community and providing mental health support to children and adults.

The club has joined forces with Rotherham and Barnsley MIND to offer programmes for those struggling with mental health issues, providing an outlet for physical activity and creating a sense of community.

The programmes are designed for all ages and skill levels and aim to help improve wellbeing through boxing.

John said: “Abdul and his team at Unity Boxing offer such a unique opportunity for people across the borough to help improve both their physical and mental wellbeing.

“It was a pleasure to be able to showcase their set up with Rotherham and Barnsley MIND to Avoen Perryman from England Boxing.

“The gym was full when we called in and I know that they are always looking to expand the sessions they offer and continue to help change people’s lives through the sport.”

Monday 22 April 2024

John Healey says we’re experiencing an ‘unprecedented’ youth mental health crisis

England is in the grips of a deadly crisis in youth mental health while the government continues to deny the problem, says Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey.

It comes as new analysis has highlighted the severity of the crisis in youth mental health care under the Tories, with increasing numbers of people dying by suicide, detentions under the mental health act rising, and more young people in crisis than ever before.

Rishi Sunak recently suggested that many people suffering mental health problems were just experiencing "the everyday challenges and worries of life” and should not receive medical support.

But, just last year, John’s Schools Mental Report revealed every school that responded reported an increase in the number of mental health cases they had to deal with and a rise in anxiety issues for both students and staff.

John Healey said: “I’ve been calling for an increase in mental health support for young people for the past six years – when I carried out my first Schools Mental Health report.

“Since then, the situation has worsened with a record 780,000 children and young people across the country having been in contact with mental health services over the last year alone.

“It’s clear to see we are experiencing an unprecedented crisis in mental health care, with children and young people crying out for support.

"Instead of attempting to cover up the scale of the problem, the next Labour Government will give people the support they desperately need. We'll roll-out 8,500 mental health staff to cut waits, put mental health hubs in every community and support in every school, to help people get back onto their feet.”

Labour's analysis echoes concerns made by a number of charities, experts and those affected by mental ill-health. Last month the Children's Commissioner claimed that children were being treated like 'second-class citizens' when it comes to mental health care, with reports that children have to attempt suicide several times before being able to receive mental health treatment.

Labour has made tackling the crisis in mental health a cornerstone of their mission to get the NHS back on its feet and make it fit for the future. The next Labour Government will deliver 8,500 additional mental health staff, specialist mental health support in every school and an open access mental health hub in every community. This plan is funded by scrapping tax loopholes for private schools and private equity fund managers.

Wednesday 10 April 2024

Government U-turn on shopworker assault “welcome, but why has it taken so long?” – John Healey

John Healey says the government U-turn on making assaulting a shopworker a specific crime is welcome, but long overdue.

John Healey with Usdaw representative and
Wath-upon-Dearne Tesco worker Janine Bowler

The government announced today (10th April 2024) that assaulting a shopworker will be made a separate criminal offence despite previously saying it did not think a law change was required in response to a petition on the subject.

The change comes after the shopworkers union Usdaw revealed last year that two-thirds of its members working in retail were suffering abuse from customers.

John Healey said: “This latest U-turn by the government is welcome, but why has it taken so long for them to act? The Tories dither and delay has meant thousands of shopworkers have needlessly suffered physical and mental injury.

“We’ve been calling for tougher action on those who assault shop workers for the past 10 years but this government has voted against Labour plans for better protection.

“Shopworkers have reported that they’ve been spat at, threatened with knives and faced verbal abuse. It’s important that we respect our shopworkers who provide an important service. Abuse should not be part of the job.”

John has previously backed Usdaw’s Freedom from Fear campaign and shocking statistics from the union’s annual survey of members last year revealed that:

65% have experienced verbal abuse

42% were threatened by a customer

5% were assaulted

60% of incidents were triggered by shoplifting

The Labour Party announced plans earlier this week to tackle anti-social behaviour and shoplifting so that people feel safe when they go out to shop, eat or socialise in their local high street. 

The plans include putting 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs back on the beat and scrapping the Tories’ £200 rule which stops shoplifting being investigated.  

Thursday 7 March 2024

Transport Secretary should end taxi sub-contracting loophole

John Healey has written to the Transport Secretary calling on him to end the taxi sub-contracting loophole enabling drivers to avoid Rotherham’s high standards.

There’s an increasing problem of taxi companies being able to sub-contract fares and bookings to an out of Rotherham company which then uses drivers and vehicles licenced by a different authority to the one where the original company is based.

Rotherham Council implemented significant improvements to local policy from 2015 for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire licensing. The changes brought about much higher standards and expectations for taxi drivers and vehicles in the borough.

The new standards included requirements for applicants such as: completing a BTEC Level 2 certificate; completion of an approved course on safeguarding children and vulnerable people; completing an advanced driving skills test to DVSA standard; and the need for the vehicle to have a taxi camera system installed.

In his letter to the Minister John says: “I understand the Government introduced this concept of sub-contracting after making amendments to private hire legislation through the Deregulation Act 2015. This change has now made it lawful for a Private Hire operator to accept a booking and then sub-contract it to another operator that is licensed by a different local authority.

“I’m very concerned this loophole is allowing drivers and vehicles to circumvent our high requirements in Rotherham and obtain a licence from an area where the standards are lower. This would then allow such individuals to work in our borough even though they may have previously had their licence refused or revoked by Rotherham.

“This is clearly highlighted in the example of Wolverhampton City Council where I understand they currently licence just under a staggering 40,000 taxi drivers, compared to just around 1,200 licensed by Rotherham. This is even more stark when you consider the populations of Wolverhampton and Rotherham are very similar as shown in the Census 2021 data, with Wolverhampton at just below a population of 264,000 compared to just below 266,000 in our borough. I’m also informed that our taxi driver levels have remained relatively constant in our borough but levels in Wolverhampton have increased significantly since 2015.”

 John previously wrote to the Department for Transport in 2014 about the need for tighter checks on both taxis and drivers, and the need for national standards.

In his letter John explained: “My concern then was the same as now, that taxi passengers are better protected and the taxi trade is properly licensed. Ten years on, there has been no Government action on national safeguards or standards.

Friday 16 February 2024

John's defib tax campaign makes national news

John Healey's campaign to put a stop to VAT being charged on the sale of defibrillators made national news as it featured on BBC Breakfast.
John launched the national campaign alongside Wath based defibrillator distributor Martek Lifecare and the British Healthcare Trades Association last year.
Under current regulations local groups, sports clubs and charities face a 20% VAT charge when they buy the lifesaving machines.
John Healey said: “This extra cost on defibrillators is a tax on saving lives.
“At present, only defibrillators purchased by or donated to local authorities and the NHS are exempt from the tax. This cost can deter individuals, businesses, and community groups from buying the potentially lifesaving equipment.
“Defibrillators bought for use by community groups, charities and sports clubs should be VAT exempt to make them more affordable and help save more lives across the country.”
Early defibrillation with a patient in cardiac arrest greatly improves survival rates. Figures from the British Heart Foundation show there are currently over 30,000 cases of out of hospital suspected cardiac arrests every year with fewer than 1 in 10 people surviving.
You can watch the piece on BBC Breakfast below.

Thursday 25 January 2024

Painting highlights veterans’ challenges

John Healey said: “I’d like to thank Richard and Gareth from The Daparian Foundation for the copy “The Thousand Yard Stare”. It’ll take pride and place on the wall of my office.

A painting presented to John Healey by a Rotherham based veterans group aims to highlight the struggles of military veterans across the country.

A print copy of “The Thousand Yard Stare” was given to John by The Daparian Foundation, a veteran and emergency services staff PTSD research organisation which was set up to help improve the lives of those living with trauma.

The group were given the rights to the image by the artist, Steve Stonestreet, and auctioned the original painting to help UK veterans with PTSD through targeted support.

“The painting is thought provoking and helps you to understand the challenges faced by veterans suffering with PTSD on a daily basis.

“The group do some great work supporting veterans and carry out important research to help those experiencing trauma.”

It comes as figures show veterans’ homelessness rose by 14% in the year 2022-23 compared to the previous year.

Labour’s analysis of the latest quarterly homelessness statistics has found there are around 500 veterans’ households being made newly homeless every three months – up to 180 households a month.

Data shows that 2,110 households containing someone who served in the Armed Forces were assessed as homeless, up from 1,850 in the previous year.

 John Healey said: “Labour is deeply proud of our Armed Forces personnel, veterans, and their families for the enormous contribution they make to our country. But they are being let down by this Government.

“Ministers have created a postcode lottery for veterans, halved employment support and more veterans are homelessness this year than last year.

“In Government, Labour will fully incorporate the Armed Forces Covenant into law, fulfilling the moral contract our society makes with those who serve and make sure that former personnel have easy access to high quality, affordable homes fit for our heroes.”

Tuesday 23 January 2024

John calls for Government to end its ‘bad deal for steel’

John Healey has called on the Government to end its ‘bad deal for steel’.

It’s after the Government and Tata steel announced plans for Port Talbot steelworks in South Wales which would cut 2,800 jobs and leave the UK unable to produce primary steel.

John Healey said: “I know that many people across Rotherham and South Yorkshire will relate to the concerns of another proud steel community in South Wales following recent announcements around Port Talbot steelworks.

“Whilst there is no immediate threat to jobs in our area, the wider issue of the UK Government’s lack of a coherent industrial strategy – and its lack of support for our steel industry – is a national concern.

“The deal struck between Tata and the UK Government would be hugely damaging for our entire steel sector and would undermine the UK’s sovereignty and security with the degradation of our primary steelmaking capacity.

“Labour is clear that we will not accept this failed plan for decarbonisation on the cheap, and we urge ministers to look again at the credible multi-union alternative. We need our steel – that is why a Labour government will invest £3billion into securing the industry’s long-term future.”

Tata formally responded to reject the Multi-Union Plan that Community and GMB unions presented to the company and announced a £1.25 billion investment in Electric Arc Furnace technology in Port Talbot, backed by the Government.

In addition to the threat to jobs and steel communities, the proposal would slash the UK’s steelmaking capacity by nearly 1 megatonne, make the country highly reliant on a UK scrap supply chain that does not yet exist, and without any blast furnaces, end the UK’s ability to make virgin/primary steel leaving the industry highly reliant on imports.

John Healey invites England boxing chief to see work of community minded Parkgate gym John Healey invited the Head of Operations at England ...