Weekly Update - 4th December

Mental Health at Sussex University


On Wednesday evening I hosted a Parliamentary Reception organised by Sussex University, which focused on the vital issue of student well-being and mental health.

Having recently met with Student Union Officers from both Universities in Brighton, I was reminded of the scale of the issue for many of young people in our city and why it is so that vital that we keep mental health high on the agenda in Parliament.
One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year and we know that for students there are many unique pressures that can contribute to this. Pressure from studying; pressures from having to find work while studying  and, of course, pressures from student debt piling up.
There’s more information about mental health work at Sussex University here.


Equality Impact Assessments
I joined MPs from across the political spectrum in calling on the Government to publish details of the impact of their policies broken down by gender, race, age, disability, class and region, after analysis showed women continue to bear the brunt of austerity.
We wrote to the education secretary, Justine Greening, whose brief covers equalities, telling the Government that it is failing in its duty to sufficiently consider the impact of its actions on all groups in society.
You can read more about the letter here.


Sanctuary in Parliament

It was really inspiring to attend the annual Sanctuary in Parliament event this week - and to meet refugees and their supporters from across the country and the world. The first-hand accounts from refugees were incredibly powerful, and made me really proud of Brighton and Hove for being a city of sanctuary and welcoming people fleeing war and persecution. And I loved the children’s choir who sang beautifully for the MPs and staff at the event. 
I'm looking forward to continuing to work with those involved in the City of Sanctuary in the year to come, and taking to Parliament their arguments for better treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.


Small Business Saturday


On Saturday I caught up with Martin Searle, the Federation of Small Businesses representative development manager for East Sussex. We spoke about the many challenges facing firms in our city. I’m a proud champion of small businesses which is why i’ve been persistently pressing the Government over business rate changes,pushing for a VAT reduction for tourism and campaigning to keep Britain in the Single Market. I’ll also be lobbying Government to increase support for apprenticeships and ensure that small businesses can better access public procurement contracts.


Animal Sentience
After a significant u-turn from the Government on animal sentience last week I am now pressing for ministers to put their words into action. I’ve tabled an Early Day Motion, which has cross-party support, urging Ministers to amend the EU Withdrawal Bill to incorporate Animal Sentience into British law. It’s been amazing to see so many people taking online actions and writing to their MPs on this issue - and I believe we have the momentum now to win this battle and force the Government to take action soon.
Coats to Calais
On Friday I dropped off a coat with the amazing ‘Coats to Calais’ volunteers who are taking clothing across the Channel to those in need. The situation in Northern France continues to be grim for many refugees - despite it slipping away from the headlines - but as ever Brighton residents are doing all they can to help those in need. You can find out more about the 'Coats to Calais' campaign here. 


GTR to be split up
THE train company behind Southern Railway will be split up under plans announced by the Transport Secretary. Chris Grayling said he wants franchise Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) to be broken up when it is due for renewal in 2021. 

The planned break up of GTR suggests that the Government accepts that the company is incapable of doing its job, but its refusal to contemplate public ownership shows it is also unwilling to take the action needed to solve the major problems on the line. I’ve been pushing [link] for the Government to consider public ownership for years - but their ideological commitment to privatisation is unbending. 

If ministers are serious about reviving our railways then they should also be committing to funding Brighton Mainline 2 - a project I continue to lobby for. 

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