Glamorgan Gem Column – November 2017
The Community Always Steps Up When The Government Lets People Down
What I really love about my job is the community spirit across the constituency. For some people, times are particularly tough at the moment. Seven years of Tory Government cuts really are having an impact on the ground – to suggest they’re not is to be walking around with your eyes closed. From the bedroom tax, to hidden rises to the state pension age, to Universal Credit looming just around the corner, it can seem like there are lots of things to worry about. But during these tough times, what surprises me again and again is the tenacity and the selfless reaction of the wider community.
From food banks to community gardens, there is always somebody out there trying to help out a neighbour who is struggling. For me, this was highlighted in the clearest fashion two weeks ago when I attended a Wings Cymru fundraiser in Aberkenfig. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the group, Wings stands for Women In Need Getting Support and it takes the form of a group of volunteers committed to helping women who cannot afford menstrual products. Their core focus is to help end period poverty – something which clearly shouldn’t even be an issue in 2017 Britain. It was a lovely evening which helped raise a great deal of money for those who need it most. It was so fantastic to see the community coming together in this way to help tackle this injustice.
It just can’t be right that women in modern Britain are in a position where they have to choose between sanitary products and feeding themselves or their family. When this is happening something is going badly wrong.
Following the fundraiser, once I had returned to Westminster, I asked the Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom MP, whether she would find time for MPs to debate this important subject and how the government’s cuts impact women’s access to sanitation. She refused. I was astounded. When 85 per cent of the government’s cuts fall on women and girls there is no mistake in what is happening to women across the UK. The Tories are making a political choice and on this issue it is a particularly ugly one. The contempt for the women and girls affected which Ms Leadsom illustrated was truly shocking.
It’s wonderful that we have grassroots groups like Wings Cymru working in the community to raise money and solve these problems. They do brilliant and much-needed work to protect those who the government has let down. It’s time the Tories stepped up to the plate and helped prevent more women from falling into period poverty. Sneering and refusing to debate the issue is simply not good enough.