Please note: This site covers the period that I was a Member of Parliament from May 2010 to June 2017.
Richard Fuller, MP for Bedford, attended the Second Reading of the Homelessness Reduction Bill in Parliament today, which was passed by the House of Commons with Government support. The Bill will ensure that local authorities provide homelessness services to all those affected, not just those who are protected under existing legislation. It will also legally require local authorities to introduce measures to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.
Richard backed the Bill to reduce homelessness, continuing his work with national and local homeless charities such as the King’s Arms Project in Bedford.
Speaking from the House for Commons, Richard said: “This Bill aims to prevent people from losing their homes through early intervention and cross agency support and helps those who are not currently considered a priority under current legislation. At the moment, if you don’t have dependent children or you can’t prove that you are particularly vulnerable, your local authority has no legal obligation to offer you help.”
The Bill places a prevention duty on local authorities to help anyone who is eligible and at risk of homelessness to secure accommodation, 56 days before they are threatened with homelessness regardless of their priority need status. It also creates a new duty for councils to provide those who find themselves homeless with support for a further period of 56 days to help to secure accommodation. The Bill will also ensure that other local services refer those either homeless or at risk of being homeless to local authority housing teams.
The passing of the Bill, proposed by Conservative MP Bob Blackman, follows a Government commitment to provide a £40 million fund to prevent homelessness and help those on the streets with the most complex needs.
On Saturday, Richard was in Kempston for the launch party of the Companions Real Bread Community Interest Company – a not-for-profit bakery which helps ex-offenders to reduce their re-offending by involving them in the work of a real bread bakery.
Richard said: “This is a great new initiative led by Maggie and Nigel to create great bread and help ex-offenders back into work: a cause close to my heart.”
You can find Companions Real Bread at Bedford Gourmet Market every Thursday, or this Saturday at St Andrew’s Church Bedford or Sunday at St Paul’s Church Bedford. For more information on how you can get involved or purchase their bread, visit the Companions Real Bread CIC facebook page.
On Saturday night, Richard attended the 2016 Bedfordshire Asian Business Association (BABA) Awards night in Kempston.
The keynote address was given by Post Office CEO, Paula Vennells and the awards acknowledged strong leadership in business, public service and local charity organisations.
Richard, who had the opportunity to speak at the Awards said:
“There have been many examples tonight of business success from local leaders of Asian origin worthy of celebration. Now that we are looking at a new future for our country, we need to excite people about the opportunities for business all across the world and that is what BABA does so well.”
Richard also thanked the organisers, in particular BABA Chairman, Jas Parmar, for a great night. You can find out more about BABA here.
Richard attended a British Red Cross event in Westminster on Tuesday where new research revealed that up to 59% of ‘pre-hospital’ deaths from injury could potentially be prevented if more people stepped in with some simple first aid. The research was commissioned by the British Red Cross and conducted by the University of Manchester.
Data taken from coroners’ offices showed that while 93% will call for an ambulance if they find someone with an injury, first aid intervention of any kind was infrequent. Around half did not attempt any first aid while waiting for the emergency medical services to arrive.
At the event, Richard learnt two simple first aid skills and pledged support for others to also have the opportunity to gain the confidence and learn the skills that could save a life.
Richard said: “I was shocked to hear that so many deaths potentially could have been prevented by some basic first aid. Something as simple as turning someone on their side and tilting their head back to keep their airway open could be all it takes to make that difference between life and death in certain situations.”
Joe Mulligan, British Red Cross head of first aid education said: “The good news is that most people are calling 999. But after calling 999 we want people to then do something in those crucial minutes before the ambulance arrives. Sadly in the majority of deaths we looked at, the simplest interventions could have helped keep someone alive until they got to hospital.”
The British Red Cross is calling for everyone in the UK to learn two basic first aid skills that could help to prevent the number of people who die from injuries before reaching hospital. The simple interventions which could have saved lives and improved outcomes are:
• Breathing: turning someone on their side and tilting the head to open the airway if they are unresponsive and breathing.
• Bleeding: applying pressure to a wound to stem blood flow.
The charity is calling for more opportunities for people to learn first aid, starting at school, but also through the driving test and public health initiatives.
Find the report and more about the British Red Cross campaign here.
Earlier this year, Richard took local charity, Schoolreaders, to the Department for Education to meet with the Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb.
Schoolreaders was set up to help improve children’s literacy by matching reading volunteers with primary schools. The charity provides an invaluable resource for schools and enables children to receive much needed one-on-one reading time with an adult volunteer who wants to make a difference to a child’s life.
Founded in Bedfordshire just three years ago, Schoolreaders now operates in 14 counties, works with over 100 schools and has hundreds of volunteer readers. The charity has built relationships with organisations like the Women’s Institute, Rotary and U3A to spread the word and find volunteers. The charity is making an important contribution to literacy in the schools in which it operates and aims to help many more schools and children across the country.
After the meeting, Nick Gibb said: “I am pleased to see this wide partnership of organisations coming together to tackle illiteracy. Nothing is more important in education than making sure every child can read; in fact the whole of society has a role to play in ensuring that children become fluent readers.
“Tackling literacy failure is a priority for the Government, and our plan for education is designed to ensure every single child leaves school prepared for life in modern Britain.”
If you are interested in volunteering or would like to find our more about the charity, please visit the Schoolreaders website.
Music 4 Memory, part of Tibbs Dementia Foundation, hosted a very special session on Friday when they were joined by over 35 members of the Dunstable Rock Choir and Richard Fuller MP. With over 90 people with dementia, family carers, volunteers, the rock choir and the MP singing, dancing and laughing together, the morning was a joyous celebration and lesson in how to live for the moment and highlighted the wonderfully transformational power of music.
Music 4 Memory meets weekly to give people with dementia and their families a space to sing, dance and have fun together, importantly through performance and inviting other community groups to join sessions. Participants are able to challenge some of the negative stereotypes and misconceptions that still exist with dementia.
Sarah Russell, Chief Executive of Tibbs Dementia Foundation said, “All of our services and especially Music 4 Memory focus on what the person with dementia can still do. There are many losses associated with dementia but what people often forget is that a great deal remains and with the right support and encouragement people can continue to live fulfilled, active and meaningful lives and make a huge contribution to community life”.
Tibbs Dementia Foundation uses a community approach encouraging people with dementia, their families and a large pool of committed volunteers to actively work together to make positive changes for dementia in Bedford.
Richard Fuller MP, having last visited Music 4 Memory 18 months ago, said it was amazing to see how much it has grown and added, “For a local community organisation which is based on volunteers, it makes a huge impact on so many people’s lives. It really is a gold standard charity”.
The idea of creating a Dementia Friendly Community has long been promoted by David Cameron. Richard added, “Tibbs can tell Mr Cameron what works. It is groups like Tibbs across the country that should be leading and shaping what that community should look like. It has to be based on real life experiences, individual to individual, family by family. That’s what Tibbs does”.
For more information about the work of Tibbs Dementia Foundation, please visit their website.
Last night, Richard joined YMCA Bedfordshire’s SleepEasy fundraising event at Viking Storage depot in Bedford to draw attention to youth homelessness.
Richard said: “I was happy to support YMCA Bedfordshire again and although it was a cold night, people were in good spirits. Street homelessness is a growing problem and although it is a comparatively small number of people affected, every single person matters. It is not a question of what resources we throw at the problem but how we use the resources we have, which is why the role of organisations like the YMCA is so important.”
MP for Bedford and Kempston, Richard Fuller, visited the local office of Age UK earlier this month. Age UK provides help and independent advice on a range of issues affecting local residents over the age of 50.
Richard said, “I was delighted to meet the staff and volunteers at Age UK Bedfordshire to see first hand the important work they do in the community. From services like Home Help, gardening and DIY to giving advice on a range of issues such as benefit entitlements and housing, it is clear that Age UK has a crucial role to play in supporting the over 50s in Bedford and Kempston.”
If you are over 50 and need any help or advice, or you are interested in volunteering, please contact Age UK Bedfordshire on 01234 360510 or by visiting their offices at 78-82 Bromham Road Bedford or their website.
The Come and Go café run by the Tibbs Dementia Foundation in Bedford was officially launched on 16th March 2015. The launch was attended by local MP, Richard Fuller, who welcomed the addition of this excellent resource for people with dementia.
The Tibbs Foundation linked up with the Salvation Army and will be using their cafe environment to offer a relaxed and friendly space where anyone can drop in find out a little more about living well with dementia and gather extra information from a support worker if needed.
People with dementia from the Clear Voices group at the Tibbs Foundation had a major role in developing the idea of the café and in making sure the launch went well.
More information is available via the Tibbs Foundation.
On Saturday, Richard waved off some of the cyclists who took part in this year’s Beds and Herts Historic Churches Trust Bike ‘n’ Hike day. The group set off from St Paul’s Church in Bedford and cycled to Cambridge and back, stopping off at a number of churches along the way.
The Beds and Herts Historic Churches Trust provides a helping hand when repair costs are beyond the resources of a local congregation. Half of the money raised from the annual Bike ’n’ Hike goes towards grants, the remaining 50% is returned to the sponsored church for their own use.
The group, which included Mr Waine, who teaches mathematics at Mark Rutherford School, Dr Waine who is Head of Key Stage 5 Chemistry at Wootton Upper School and Kimberley STEM College, and Holly Barnard, who is a support worker for children with Special Educational Needs at Central Bedfordshire Council, was also waved off by Madeline Russell, the organiser of the Beds and Herts Bike ‘n’ Hike Day and Reverend Kevin Goss, the new vicar of St Paul’s. The group raised almost £800 between them.