Many Leader readers will know that raising awareness of and playing my part in tackling different types of cancer is not just political for me – it is personal.
Last week I hosted a drop in session in the Senedd to promote the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, so that they are as widely recognised as possible. Early diagnosis is key to helping save lives so if you or a loved one has any of the following symptoms, please reach out to see your GP – a bloated stomach, needing to wee more often, constantly feeling full, or having stomach pains.
It was great to have the support of over 20 Members of the Senedd at the event, all becoming “Teal Heroes” and highlighting the importance of not ignoring and instead knowing the symptoms.
I know through my own experiences, correspondence and constituency transport survey undertaken last year, that there is a real desire for better public transport in our corner of the country – particularly buses and trains. Just across the border we’ve seen the Mayor of Greater Manchester win a legal battle against private bus companies to allow the region to bring bus services back under public control. A £1 billion investment over the next five years will improve infrastructure across the region and lower bus fares to no more than £2 in an effort to encourage more people to use public transport.
For many of us across Delyn and our part of Wales, it is better buses that would make a real difference – better in terms of the way in which they serve our communities and to do so in a way that isn’t too expensive. This is in stark contrast to what we have now in many instances thanks to the legacy of the deregulation of the bus industry that has left us with a system focused on profit and serving shareholders.
That’s why I have been working with constituents and campaigning for change here in Wales and I look forward to the Welsh Government bringing forward bus reform proposals in this Senedd term. I’ll continue to work with constituents, the bus workforce and colleagues in the Welsh Government and Welsh Parliament on this issue, pushing for fairer fares, a valued workforce and better frequency and flexibility of services.
The Welsh Government recognises the hard work which carers – paid and unpaid – both before and during the coronavirus pandemic and has been taking steps to further support carers in their roles. From the 1 April carers will be paid the Real Living Wage, which is particularly important as we continue to face a cost of living crisis.
Now the Deputy Minister for Social Services has announced that unpaid carers across Wales will receive a one off payment of £500 as a sign of the Welsh Government’s gratitude for all they do every day to support their friends and family. For our corner of the country that means that almost 2400 unpaid carers will be £500 better off.
Unpaid carers often carry out their caring responsibilities on top of working either full or part time, adding pressure to their lives and sadly meaning that some are forced to reduce their hours or quit their jobs. This is of course avoidable and we need employers to recognise the pressures which caring responsibilities can place on their employees and be flexible enough to accommodate them as much as possible.
The Wales Trade Unions Congress is currently carrying out a survey to hear the experiences of unpaid carers across Wales to help them better engage with employers about support for unpaid carers. You can complete the survey at www.tuc.org.uk.
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If you have an issue you’d like to speak to me about, I will do my best to help.