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Too often, it’s left to people with mental health problems to talk about mental health. It’s treated as a taboo subject, and something that we shouldn’t speak openly about. But mental health affects us all, and everyone should feel able to talk about it.

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On Time to Talk Day 2018, let’s spread the word that wherever you are, any place can be the right space to talk about mental health – queuing for the cinema, sitting on a bus, or even in a lift!

This month I met with the fantastic local charity Rethink Mental Illness, whose Survivors of Suicide service provides practical and emotional support to those affected by suicide. They reminded me not to shy away from talking to someone who is depressed and that a simple conversation with someone can make such a difference. 

Too many people with mental health problems are still made to feel isolated, worthless and ashamed. Whether you are at work, at home – or even up a mountain – have a conversation about mental health. Conversations have the power to change lives, wherever they take place.

I’d encourage employers, schools and community groups to all get involved - together we can tackle the stigma of mental health. Take a look at the Time to Talk Day website for ideas and free resources: https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/get-involved/time-talk-day-2018/make-most-day

Peter Kyle MP: I’m supporting “Time to Talk” Day for Better Mental Health

Too often, it’s left to people with mental health problems to talk about mental health. It’s treated as a taboo subject, and something that we shouldn’t speak openly about. But mental...

The latest government statistics on rough sleeping and homelessness have been made available and make for depressing reading. Brighton and Hove show the second highest number of recorded cases with 178 rough sleepers in their count in November, this is a 24% increase on the previous year.

Additionally, outreach workers in the Brighton and Hove region have reported dealing with up to 30 new cases per week. For anyone who has walked from Hove Town Hall to Churchill square this figure will not come as a surprise. It never fails to be distressing to pass 10-15 people in shop doorways along this relatively short walk. Since the Tories have come to power charities have reported a 169% increase in rough sleeping since 2010. The Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government has outlined that rough sleepers numbered 4751 in 2017, an increase of 15% from autumn 2016.

This is the seventh consecutive year that rough sleeping has increased in England. This is utterly disheartening and totally avoidable. A large proportion of homelessness is due to political decisions and will-power, and it is through political will that we can forge a path to eradicate it.

Labour Councillor Clare Moonan, lead councillor for rough sleeping in Brighton & Hove, said: “There is a national housing crisis and the local increase in rough sleeping is part of a shocking broader trend. As a council, we’re looking at how established and innovative ways can help all those in need in our city, for example by opening a night shelter in our conference centre during the winter months. It’s a huge challenge. We’re seeing more people vulnerable people sleeping rough on our streets at a time when funding from government is being dramatically reduced, which is having an impact on services. We can’t tackle this alone so we’re linking with partners and embracing community support to see positive change. At the same time, there are many services already in place which are doing a fantastic job and we need to remember how much higher the number of rough sleepers would be without the dedication of all involved. Yet while there is anyone sleeping rough in the city there is still more we can and will do. The scale of the support being provided is not always apparent when looking at the sadly familiar sight of people sleeping rough”.

The council is tackling the issue to the best of their ability but local authority funding to help vulnerable people avoid homelessness was cut by 45% between 2009-10 and 2014-15. Similarly, half of disabled PIP claimants have had benefits cut by DWP in the last year and a half. The reduced network of support being offered to vulnerable people is responsible for the increase in rough sleepers, the incessant cuts to public services directly correlate with the number of people who are having to sleep rough.

A person does not suddenly become homeless. Changes in circumstances such as cuts to benefits, a mental health crisis or a bereavement can push more vulnerable people on to the street. That is why the reduced network of support being offered to vulnerable people is responsible for the increase in rough sleepers, the incessant cuts to public services directly correlate with the number of people who are having to sleep rough. I have seen homelessness tackled in my own lifetime. In 1999 the Labour Government ploughed £200m into lifting the poorest people in Britain off the streets. The new Rough Sleepers Unit was life changing, it crucially developed an action plan based around accommodation and work.

So having seen these depressing figures, I am calling on government to re-assess their priorities and focus on helping those at the very bottom and doing as Labour did between 1997-2010 – to eradicate homelessness and rough sleeping in 2018.

Political Willpower Needed To Solve Homelessness Rise

The latest government statistics on rough sleeping and homelessness have been made available and make for depressing reading. Brighton and Hove show the second highest number of recorded cases with...

The Argus newspaper recently revealed that the private ambulance firm which provided such abysmal service that it was stripped of its four-year contract after seven months was paid more than it should have. I've been helping the drivers, their union the GMB and service users since the start of this debacle and now I'm more angry than ever.

During the tenure of the service ran by Coperforma tens of thousands of patient journeys were missed, patients were left waiting for hours, patients missed appointments, ambulances were sent to the homes of patients who had died, ambulances operated without a licence and drivers went for months without pay.

In fact, Coperforma performed so poorly that after seven months the NHS pulled the plug. For this 'service' Coperforma were paid £16.2 million and the NHS paid close to £1 million in extra payments. 

At a time of crisis in the NHS, we now know that NHS managers have been pouring taxpayers’ money straight down the drain. This is enormous investment for no return whatsoever. In fact, all most patients got for these millions was misery, uncertainty and the indignity of waiting countless hours for a terrible service. Taxpayers and patients alike need answers. And they need to know that there are consequences for this gross malpractice. The people who wasted these millions must pay a price.

As part of my efforts for fairness I am working with Age UK on this because our system for getting older people to hospital isn't fit-for-purpose. Our key concerns are:

*who gets help and how good that help is seems to be a postcode lottery.
*currently many older people are experiencing anxiety, exhaustion and distress getting to their hospital appointments.
*we want every older person to get to their hospital appointments safely without it being a struggle.

In Brighton and Hove my concerns are:

*Patients not being permitted to have a companion when needed, for example one individual got in touch to tell us that despite her mother being partially  sighted she was not allowed to travel with her.
 
*Patients being referred to hospitals which are too far to travel to on public transport.
 
*Unreliability of public transport to get patients to hospital, and the eligibility for PTS being set too high.

You can read a campaign report here: www.ageuk.org.uk/our-impact/campaigning/painful-journeys/

JOIN THE CAMPAIGN HERE: www.ageuk.org.uk/our-impact/campaigning/painful-journeys/

Patient Transport Is Painful

The Argus newspaper recently revealed that the private ambulance firm which provided such abysmal service that it was stripped of its four-year contract after seven months was paid more than it...

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