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Gavin Newlands MP continues campaign for fair and affordable insurance for those with Huntington’s disease

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has continued his campaign to ensure that individuals living with Huntington’s disease, or are at risk from Huntington’s, can access affordable and fair insurance.

Earlier this year, following representations from the Renfrewshire-based Scottish Huntington’s Association, Mr Newlands led a debate in parliament on the challenges that people with Huntington’s disease have with accessing insurance and called for action to be taken to ensure that the insurance companies cannot price out those individuals from acquiring insurance.

Gavin has followed this up with a meeting with the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen MP, where he was joined by the John Eden, Chief Executive of the Scottish Huntington’s Association and also representatives from the Huntington’s Disease Association and Genetic Alliance UK. They repeated the calls to the UK Government to intervene to help ensure that those with Huntington’s disease can access affordable insurance.

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, said:

“I am determined to continue the campaign so that individuals either living with Huntington’s, or the risk of being a carrier, can access affordable insurance to allow them to live their lives without added financial stress and complication to be able go on holiday, buy a house or secure life insurance.

“It’s clear that the insurance companies still don’t fully understand this condition and this means that too many people who suffer from Huntington’s, when not refused insurance, are even priced out from acquiring basic insurance to go on a family holiday.

“This was productive meeting and I am grateful for John, Cathy and Ruth for joining me at this meeting to explain what has to be done to ensure that individuals with Huntington’s disease can access fair and affordable insurance, and to the minister for vowing to work with us to try and make the current regulations fit for purpose.”

John Eden, Chief Executive of the Scottish Huntington’s Association, said:

“People with Huntington’s Disease and their families live at the sharp end of the day-to-day challenges of a severe, progressive condition. They face battles getting others to understand their needs, access services, and cope with the many symptoms the condition causes. Accessing life insurance is yet another battle and many, if not most families stand little chance of winning. Insurance companies simply don’t understand this condition and frankly seem indifferent to the impact their resultant decision making process have on already difficult circumstances. It really is time that changed and they must engage with the HD community and find workable solutions. People with HD don’t expect special treatment, they just want to be treated fairly.”

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Gavin Newlands MP calls for more support for Bridge of Weir Universal Credit claimants

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has highlighted in Parliament the case of Universal Credit claimants living in Bridge of Weir having to travel over 11 miles for an appointment at a Jobcentre in Greenock.

New Universal Credit claimants living in Bridge of Weir are required to attend Greenock Jobcentre for their initial appointment, as their closest Jobcentre in Johnstone, just 3 miles away, isn’t able to process Universal Credit applications yet.

People from PA11 postcode are included in the full Universal Credit rollout area, unlike most of Renfrewshire. Previously, they had to attend appointments in Port Glasgow, but after the closure of that Jobcentre, claimants living in Bridge of Weir now have to travel even further to Greenock.

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, commented:

“I was shocked to find out that some Universal Credit claimants from Bridge of Weir are being told that they have to make a 20 mile plus roundtrip to attend appointments at the Greenock Jobcentre, when there is a closer one just a few miles away in Johnstone. I have heard from people having to walk for miles as they can’t afford the near £8 bus fare. I have contacted the DWP and they have confirmed that after the initial appointment, people are able to request appointments in Johnstone, but this is little comfort to anyone struggling to make it to the initial appointment in Greenock to get their claim up and running.

“This is just one of the numerous issues with the Universal Credit rollout, which is causing hardship for people all over the country. I have written to the Leader of the House to request support for claimants from Bridge of Weir to help with their travel costs. People shouldn’t have to spend up to 14% of their benefits just on travel to the Jobcentre.”

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Gavin Newlands MP welcomes launch of digital safety ambassadors

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, attended a reception in Parliament with Facebook and youth charities, Childnet International and The Diana Award to welcome the roll-out of a major programme which will offer every UK secondary school dedicated digital safety ambassadors. These youth ambassadors will provide peer-to-peer support and online safety initiatives in secondary schools.

Gavin Newlands MP met Digital Leaders from Childnet International and Anti-Bullying Ambassadors from The Diana Award who him about their efforts to eliminate bullying and promote digital citizenship online and offline.

 

The Member of Parliament for Paisley and Renfrewshire North – who previously led a debate in parliament on the impact that bullying has on young people – also met with representatives of Facebook about the steps they are taking to keep young people safe online and this new commitment which could see tens of thousands of pupils in schools across the UK trained as Digital Leaders or Anti-Bullying Ambassadors.

MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, Gavin Newlands MP, said:

“Too many young people are afraid to go to school every morning due to the bullying behaviour of others. Unfortunately, with the rise of social media, that torment can sadly be extended beyond the school gates and into the safety of the home.

“We need to do more to tackle bullying behaviour and that also includes making social media a safe place for all children.

“It’s absolutely vital that students in Renfrewshire have the tools to stay safe and to tackle bullying behaviour. I welcome Facebook’s commitment to provide digital ambassadors and encourage schools to find out how to get involved in this.”

Will Gardner, CEO at Childnet International said:

“We launched the Childnet Digital Leaders Programme two years ago as part of our work in the UK Safer Internet Centre, with support from Facebook and the European Commission. Since then we have trained thousands of peer educators in schools across the UK using our innovative digital platform and we are constantly inspired by the amazing activities they deliver to make a really positive difference in their school communities.”

Katie Collett, Head of Anti-Bullying at The Diana Award said:

“Facebook’s support will enable us to upscale our work empowering 20,000 more young people to stand up to all forms of bullying and protect their peers over the next two years. Our tried and tested peer-led approach has transformed the lives of thousands of young people in schools across the UK & Ireland who spend 11,000 hours of their hours in education.”

Notes

 

Schools who don’t yet have a Digital Leader or Anti-Bullying Ambassador can register their interest in the programmes at www.childnet.com/digital-leaders or www.antibullyingpro.com.

Childnet International

Childnet International is a UK charity that empowers children, families and schools in the digital age, and its vision is to make the internet a great and safe place for children.

Find out more at www.childnet.com

Childnet Digital Leaders Programme

Delivered by Childnet as part of its work in the UK Safer Internet Centre, this pupil-powered online safety programme empowers young people to be Digital Leaders so they can educate their peers, parents and teachers about staying safe online. With interactive training and an exciting online community, the programme helps schools put young people at the heart of their whole-school approach and ensures internet safety learning is fun and effective.

Find out more at: www.childnet.com/digital-leaders

The Diana Award Anti-Bullying Ambassador Programme

The Diana Award runs the leading Anti-Bullying Campaign in the UK and Ireland giving young people the skills, confidence and training to tackle all forms of bullying as Anti-Bullying Ambassadors in their schools, communities and online.

Find out more at: http://diana-award.org.uk/registerforantibullying/

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Gavin Newlands MP visits Lamont Farm

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has praised Lamont City farm, the long-established community farm which has spent the past 41 years helping to improve animal welfare through education and helping to rescue animals at risk.

Lamont City Farm is run entirely by volunteers and provides school children and residents from Renfrewshire and beyond to meet a range of animals, from horses and llamas, to exotic reptiles and small furries.

The Farm run workshops on animal care, welfare and husbandry. Unfortunately, last week, the farm building was targeted by vandals who caused a significant amount of damage. As a result, the volunteers have launched a crowdfunder to help repair the damage that was caused.

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire, North, said:

“Lamont City Farm is a well-established part of the wider Renfrewshire community. They have provided opportunities for countless school children over the years to see some fantastic animals and it’s an outrage that they’ve been targeted by senseless vandals.

“They provide a fantastic resource to Renfrewshire and help educate kids about the importance of animal welfare. In addition many of its residents have been saved from a life of neglect, abuse and suffering. To hear that this organisation has recently been targeted by vandals is especially distressing. I hope all those who have visited Lamont City Farm over the years, and have seen witnessed the excellent job that they do, will contribute to this fundraiser if they are able to. ”

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Gavin Newlands MP urges community to rally around Leighanne Sanderson

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, is urging local people to show their support for a family’s fundraising efforts to support a local mum who is suffering from brain cancer.

Local mum, Leighanne Sanderson from Renfrew has been diagnosed with having a brain tumour and has only been given 18 months to 5 years to live.

Leighanne’s family and friends are now rallying behind her to help raise funds so she can create happy memories with her loved ones.

The family have organised a charity hypnotist and band event for this coming Saturday (24th) in the David Lloyd Club, in Renfrew, and local people are being urged to buy tickets to support this worthy cause.

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, said:

“Leighanne was delivered devastating news and her family and friends have rightly come to her aid to help support her during this difficult time. I can’t begin to imagine the distress that the Sandersons are going through at this time and it’s only right that the local community offers all the support they can to the family.

“The Sandersons want to help Leighanne create positive memories and I’m sure our community can contribute to that by supporting their fundraising efforts. The family have organised a hypnotist and band event for this coming Saturday and I would encourage everyone to buy a ticket for this event. This sounds like a great night, and you will also be supporting a worthy cause in the process. There will be numerous ways that you can help Leighanne out and I would call on everyone to support her during this time.”

ENDS.

Notes to Editors:

All media enquiries to Garry Quigley 07833634386

Attached picture: Leighanne Sanderson with Gavin Newlands MP

For more information on this event please visit Gavin Newlands MP Facebook event.

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Gavin Newlands MP visits Jaw Brew

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has praised the Hillington based brewery, Jaw Brew, on their innovative work on reducing waste and becoming a more sustainable business after a visit to their brewery.

Jaw Brew is an independent craft micro-brewery, owned and managed by Mark and Alison Hazel, who have won several awards for their real ales since the brewery’s inception in 2014. Mr Newlands visited the brewery following their win at the ROCCO Awards, where they were named the Family Business of the Year last November.

Jaw Brew is working to become a more sustainable business and last year they started a partnership with bakery Aulds assisted by Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and Zero Waste Scotland to offer a beer made from leftover bread rolls which aims to turn waste into a resource.

Gavin Newlands MP commented: “I would like to thank Mark for taking the time to tell me more about the business. I was impressed by Jaw Brew’s ambition on working to make the business more circular and their ingenuity on turning waste from the brewing process into useful products. They have already achieved a huge amount, despite only having started a few years ago.

“It’s great to hear that a local business is working to become more environmentally friendly and any assistance I can provide to help them towards their environmental sustainability targets will be theirs. As they look to grow the business, I look forward to seeing what Jaw Brew achieve next.

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Gavin Newlands MP visits Bridge of Weir Leather

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has visited Bridge of Weir Leather, part of Scottish Leather Group, on their site to find out more about the business and to hear their concerns about Brexit.

Bridge of Weir Leather is the UK’s only leather manufacturer for the automotive industry, and as part of the Scottish Leather Group operates one of the largest tanneries in Europe exporting to over 60 countries around the world. They supply leather to brands including Volvo, Jaguar Land Rover, Lincoln and Aston Martin.

Gavin Newlands commented: “I’m grateful to Iain and his team for taking the time to meet with me and for the very informative tour of the site. Bridge of Weir Leather have gone from strength to strength in recent years and it was interesting to hear how they have managed to grow the business, essentially doubling their turnover in the past few years. With that growth has come jobs. With nearly 1000 employees across the group, they have a significant impact on the local economy and are seen as one of Scotland’s leading companies.

“Bridge of Weir Leather raised many of the same concerns businesses have highlighted to me about Brexit and what challenges the uncertainty has brought to them. Their main competitors are in mainland Europe, which makes the current lack of clarity and the threat of possible no deal scenario extremely worrying to them.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the tour of the large site and was hugely impressed by the level of skill and technology involved in the leather treatment process. I wish them every success in the future.”

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Gavin Newlands MP supports MSYPs’ student ticket campaign

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has met with the local Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament, Josh Kennedy and Maria Alam, who have been campaigning hard over the recent decision by McGill’s Buses to scrap the Student Day Ticket.

McGill’s announced recently that the £3 Student Day Ticket wouldn’t be offered from 22nd January onwards, leaving students to either buy adult day tickets at £4.20, or Student Weekly tickets at £15.71, when they may only need to travel a couple of days a week.

The MSYPs Josh and Maria have so far collected over 5,000 signatures to their petition which calls on McGill’s Buses to reinstate the Student Day Ticket which is used by young people in Renfrewshire.

The large number of signatures collected in just a few days highlights how angry and disappointed people in the area are about the price hike.

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, said:

“Several constituents have contacted me about this issue since McGill’s announced the change a few weeks ago and I have contacted McGill’s to find out why the clearly very popular Student Day Ticket was scrapped, but am yet to hear back from them.

“This decision will hurt young people in Renfrewshire and forces those young people who can afford to do so to buy a weekly ticket, regardless of how frequently they use the service.  I recognise McGill’s have a new offer of 5 journeys for £10, which covers most of Renfrewshire but does not help students living in Bridge of Weir, Houston or Langbank. Given the context of regular large price rises that people using the bus have experienced in the recent years, many of them don’t trust that this offer is going to be available long-term.

“The petition calling for the Student Day Ticket to be saved is available at https://www.change.org/p/mcgills-bus-company-petition-to-save-the-mcgills-student-daily-ticket and I’d encourage you to support Josh and Maria’s efforts in trying to encourage McGill’s to reverse the decision to scrap the student daily ticket.”

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Local MP urges Tory Government to save Renfrew bank branch

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has continued his campaign to save the Royal Bank of Scotland branch in Renfrew town centre by calling on the UK Government to intervene to stop the popular branch from closing its doors for good.

The Member of Parliament for Paisley and Renfrewshire North was speaking in a Westminster debate on Thursday and slammed banking bosses for putting profits before the needs of the community.

Mr Newlands stated that this is fourth bank closure campaign that he’s been involved in since his election just two and a half years ago. Since then the Bank of Scotland closed their branch on Glasgow Road and the Clydesdale Bank have closed their branches in Renfrew and Bridge of Weir.

The Royal Bank plan to closing 62 of their branches across Scotland and Mr Newlands has urged the UK Government – as the major shareholder of the RBS – to intervene and save these vital banks.

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, said:

“Banks like the Royal Bank of Scotland are callously ignoring the interest of their customers and the communities that they serve. This is not good enough and is, in fact, completely unacceptable when we recognise that it was the everyday taxpayer who bailed out the big banks.

“RBS are ignoring the fact that the Renfrew branch is a thriving busy branch, valued immensely by the local community, which only a few short months ago was deemed important enough for a costly refurbishment. RBS is ignoring the fact that local businesses rely on this branch and that it’s a vital service for those with a disability as well as older people.

“Following my disappointing and ultimately unproductive meeting with RBS bosses last month, it was clear that they have little interest in being transparent about how busy the branch actually is and are ignoring the fact that the Paisley branch is not a viable option for many of their customers.

“The Tory UK Government – as the major RBS shareholder – could intervene and save the Renfrew branch. All it takes is political will. However, it seems that the Tories are beholden to the banking bosses rather than standing up for the people of Renfrew.”

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Campaign for greater insurance access for people with Huntington’s disease

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has called on the UK Government to ensure that insurance companies provide greater access to affordable insurance for individuals with Huntington’s disease and similar genetic conditions.

The Scottish Huntington’s Association is the only charity in Scotland exclusively dedicated to supporting families impacted by Huntington’s disease and has long campaigned for those diagnosed with Huntington’s disease to be able to access insurance at an affordable rate.

Mr Newlands spoke in Monday night’s adjournment debate about the struggle that too many individuals face when trying to access basic insurance. He expressed his disappointment about how many people with Huntington’s are being priced out from being able to afford insurance, and about the length of time that it takes to complete a simple application.

According to a survey completed by Genetic Alliance UK, 65% of respondents have problems accessing insurance with half of the respondents stating that the process has meant that they have avoided applying for insurance in the past.

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, said:

“For most of us, given the proliferation of price comparison websites, accessing insurance has never been easier. However, for individuals with Huntington’s disease, it’s an uphill struggle to even access insurance and if they do they will likely have to pay premiums at astronomical rates, pricing many of them from being able to secure insurance at all.

“In reality, this will prevent individuals from securing car insurance, stop them from going on holiday and from acquiring life insurance to prepare for the possible future financial impact of Huntington’s disease.

“From speaking with individuals affected, it’s clear that the insurance companies still lack the necessary understanding about the symptoms of Huntington’s disease. It’s important that the insurance industry is guided by medical evidence and provide affordable insurance to those with complex neurological conditions like Huntington’s.

“Individuals with Huntington’s disease experience great challenges in life, but securing affordable insurance should not be another burden to overcome. The action required to tackle this unfairness is long overdue in creating an insurance system which works for everyone.”

John Eden, Chief Executive of Scottish Huntington Association, said:

“It is time we questioned if people with genetic conditions are being treated fairly by insurance companies. In the UK there is no legislation to protect people, leaving the insurance industry to self-regulate on this issue. The negative experience of people with Huntington’s Disease in relation to insurance serves as a warning that we risk creating a ‘genetic underclass’, which as our ability to test for more conditions improves; we run the risk of disadvantaging many more people.”