It was fantastic to join New Life for their Global celebration. Global combines what this outward looking faith community is doing both Globally and Locally. Locally there is fantastic work being done through the Lighthouse for people struggling to get a roof over their head, the Gifted project that supports women who’ve had significant difficulty to get back on their feet as well as the Open House initiative that provides a weekly hot meal to people who need one. This work puts New Life right at the centre of our community making a difference to people’s lives.
But I was also interested to learn how they reach out to communities elsewhere in the world through links with Zimbabwe, Columbia and the Philippines. The event ended with a collection to support those stricken by disaster in the Philippines.
It was World Aids Day on Sunday – another reminder of how we live in a connected world and that by working together we can make a real difference. I led a debate this week on the need to do more to get on top of TB which, believe it or not, is still the infectious disease that kills most people every year. And the link to HIV/Aids is strong with those people who have TB and Aids at the greatest risk. Yet this is a curable disease. Surely in the twenty first century we can step up to the plate and improve the diagnosis and treatment of this terrible disease?
I’ve agreed to support the work of the charity Results UK by going to see some of their programmes in Cambodia next year. Continuing the international theme I met separately with representatives of the Bahai community and of the Dalai Lama. The theme of the meetings was similar though – concern about human rights abuses by the Iranian and Chinese governments. The changes in Iran bring some hope but there remains significant persecution of minorities including Christians and Bahais.
And the Prime Minister visits China against a backcloth of rising concern about human rights abuses in Tibet. The Dalai Lama is committed to a peaceful solution and recognises the Chinese right to rule Tibet. It would be really helpful if the authorities were able to talk directly to him or his representatives and change things for the better.
Back in parliament it was really good to see so many happy children taking part in the Tata Kids of Steel triathlon challenge supported by the Olympic Brownlee brothers.
I raised my concerns again about the impact the Bedroom Tax is having on local people and called on North Lincolnshire Council to use its Discretionary HOusing Payments to help people trapped in a difficult situation and unable to move.
I dropped into a meeting of people who get support from the Independent Living Fund. They emphasised what I knew already from talking to local people that the ILF gives them real independence. Hopefully the court decision which says that it shouldn’t be transferred to Local Authorities will allow a rethink so that those people who it helps will continue to benefit into the future.
I presented a petition on behalf of local people asking the government to bring down energy bills. Listening to the news today it sounds as if the petition had some impact as the PM announces some action. About time too!
Another thing that was about time too was the excellent win for the Iron on Saturday. Their confidence is clearly rising as is their position in the table. Excellent!