Modern Slavery Day – 18th October
During last month’s Women’s Forum, we watched BBC clips on ‘Making a Slave’. (August 08 2016) Three volunteers experienced 24 hours of life as a modern day slave. All but one, believed their experience was real. Watching it was quite an emotional experience in itself. Modern day slavery is thriving. According to the British Government there are tens of thousands of people in modern slavery in the UK today. Most are trafficked from overseas, but there are also a significant number of British nationals in slavery. Most commonly people are trafficked into forced labour in industries such as agriculture, construction, hospitality, manufacturing and car washes. Many women and girls are trafficked into sexual exploitation. Our very own Stevenage Borough Council have signed a Modern Day Slavery Charter. To gauge more of an understanding, go to stevenage.gov.uk site and check out Modern Day Slavery. If you have any concerns about an individual or an establishment in relation to modern slavery or human trafficking, please contact either SADA Modern Slavery Initiative on 01438-242666 or for general enquiries regarding the Modern Slavery Charter Initiative contact the Community Safety Team on 01438-242666 or email modern.slaveryGCSX@Stevenage.gcsx.gov.uk
Diane Abbott MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, responding to recent figures released in the National Crime Agency report on modern slavery, said:“The National Crime Agency report shows that recorded modern slavery is clearly rising. These are terrible, brutal crimes against the most vulnerable in our society.“But the Tories cut staff at the Border Force, have axed 21,000 police officers and cut other police staff. They are the frontline in the fight against modern slavery and other hidden or complex crimes.“In government, Labour will add hundreds of new border guards and ten thousand new police officers and tackle the scourge of modern slavery head-on.”
On 30th October, a plaque was unveiled in memory of Pat Palmer, a stalwart of Stevenage who volunteered for over 40 years in the community. Many of you will remember, Pat was also a member of the Women’s Forum for many years and is sadly missed. Her words of wisdom and support to many was immeasurable. She will live on in our memories and for those who see her plaque at the Credit Union located at the Hyde shops, we will always be reminded of this wonderful woman. RIP
Many of you will know, recently we sadly lost a wonderful Labour Party supporter called Maggie Dolan. Maggie was a staunch supporter of Human Rights. She attended numerous marches and stalls in support of social justice. If she wasn’t leafleting to highlight the need of medical aid for Palestinians, she was raising the profile of homelessness or attending NHS or anti Trump demonstrations. Maggie was a formidable and tenacious campaigner but this should come as no surprise as her mother ‘Hetty Bower’ a British activist and suffragette who was a devout campaigner since 1920’s until she died in 2013. Maggie is sorely missed but her memory will go on. Our thanks to an amazing example of someone who was dedicated and committed to spreading the word for an equal and fairer society. RIP.
We had a busy summer, out and about canvassing not only in Stevenage but also in the villages including Knebworth, Codicote and Datchworth. The lead article on our recent constituency newsletter proved particularly appropriate given the recent media focus on concerns about School Funding. I recently joined in a presentation of a petition at the Department of Education signed by 34000 people concerned about how School Cuts affect our most vulnerable students including those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.
This year I had my first opportunity to attend the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool and attended a series of special candidate briefings. Kate Osamor, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development visited us immediately after conference and we can expect to have visits from key members of the shadow cabinet over the months to come. If any women are involved with any organisations that would be particularly suitable to host such a visit, do get in touch. I helped organise a fringe event run by Labour Cycles and cycled along the Mersey on a Liverpool hire bike along with Tom Watson, himself now a passionate advocate of cycling for health.
At Conference, I had the chance to speak in the main hall, just before Angela Rayner, about the forced academisation of schools. The 5 schools in Stevenage that have already become academies directly accountable to the Department for Education rather than the Local Authority, had chosen to do so. In contrast, forced academisation is when a Multi Academy Trust is identified by the DfE through the Regional Schools Commissioner to take over a school. As National Education Union representative at Barclay which is facing such an academization, I spoke at a recent community meeting where parents and others were raising serious concerns.
Since being selected as PPC, I have spoken at various meetings in our adjacent constituencies and we are often welcoming visitors from elsewhere to help with campaigning. We now have supporters from Jeremy Corbyn’s own constituency, Islington North joining us on a regular basis for our Super Saturday canvass sessions. Over the coming weeks and months, I look forward to meeting, talking with and working alongside more of our local Women’s Forum members to help spread the message about what a transformative Labour Government could do for Stevenage.
Labour is as strong as its membership!
As a Woman’s Officer I am looking for women who would like to get more involved in supporting the Labour Party. If you would like to know more, do please get in touch. We have numerous occasions where you can gain experience before making any real decisions of whether to join us on a regular basis. We hold Saturday stalls in the town centre and in local wards, we go door knocking and hold social events to build networks, which you are welcome to come along to. It is an opportunity to witness how we reach the people of Stevenage and spread our message. You can either watch how it’s done or take part in conversations, no pressure! The socials are a great way to chat to likeminded members and if you need to, find your confidence in speaking about politics. I would also like to offer the opportunity to those who cannot make the Saturday Women’s Forums to maybe meet on other occasions. Let me know what you think. So, do get in touch and see what you can do to help us get a Labour Party in Government. We cannot continue to allow the Tories to devastate our towns. Keep in touch at www.stevenagelabour.org We are also on Facebook and Twitter.
Women’s Forum Schedule
All Forums will be held at Stevenage Borough Council, The Ingleheim Suite, Daneshill House, Danestrete, Stevenage, Herts SG! 1HN (10:30 – 12:00)
The following are Stevenage Labour Women’s Forum dates for your 2018/19 diary:
Saturday 8th December 2018
Saturday 12th January 2019
Saturday 9th February 2019
Saturday 8th March 2019 (International Women’s Day)
Saturday 6th April 2019
Saturday 11th May 2019
Saturday 8th June 2019
Saturday 6th July 2019
Saturday 7th September 2019
Saturday 5th October 2019
Saturday 2nd November 2019
Saturday 7th December 2019
Contact: Chair Michelle Gardner: firstname.lastname@example.org
IMPORTANT NOTE: We are first and foremost a Labour Party group who would like to reach out to women who may or may not wish to join the Labour Party. If we are to reach our goal of encouraging more women to get involved in political discussion and use their vote, we must become financially self sufficient. So all financial support is welcome. Our forum will continue to offer a welcome to all women who would like to join us in conversation.