Sharon speaking at a business event on apprenticeships and social value 29.04.16
Image copyright Henk Geertsema ACIM, 2016
Sharon was invited to speak at a business event in Sedgefield titled 'Competing for Social Value in Procurement Contracts', along with Labour MEP, Jude Kirton-Darling, about stretching social value by businesses and companies when recruiting apprentices. Sharon spoke about the need to address the issue of young people being left in a constant cycle of check-list training courses or short-term apprenticeships with no prospects of a job at the end of it, and the despondency both can have on the life chances of young people and the need for businesses and training providers to recognise the social value they can have in creating a diverse and skilled workforce.
You can read Sharon's speech below:
Firstly, I want to thank Stephanie and Rachel for inviting me to come and speak to you today.
Social value has become a much more important part of public procurement in recent years, with businesses and organisations who bid for public contracts now needing to consider how they can improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of their local area.
This is something I have worked on in recent months with Rachel Lumsden, Stephanie Smith and other experts and organisations within my local authority area in Sunderland, especially when it comes to the social impact of apprenticeships for young people.
In latest guidance by the Government to authorities and businesses on procurement of contracts, it stated that contracts worth £10 million or more, and last for 12 months or longer, should support the upskilling of their workforce and the wider community, along with working towards the Government’s ambitious, but noble, target of creating three million apprenticeships by 2020.
Organisations here in the room today may never be competing for contracts worth £10 million or more, but this doesn’t mean that the principles of ensuring that we work towards upskilling our workforce - a value held across the board within the business community – is not still worth pursuing and I know that many here today, will agree and already champion this belief.
However, there is always more that can be done and this is what I wish to talk to you all about today.
Apprenticeships unlock success
It is undeniable the impact that a high-quality apprenticeship can have on the lives of young people in providing them with skills for life, along with the chance to earn whilst they learn and move on in life with a sustainable career path – something we all wish for our children.
As a region, we pride ourselves on our strong manufacturing and industrial heritage and the entwined appreciation for just how important an apprenticeship can be to getting on in life.
It is important that when a business provides an apprenticeship to a young person, that we don’t, after six months, see them tossed out on to the street with no job to go into and that they have just been making up the numbers to ensure targets set out by the Government are met.
This is something I know all too well from personal experience, when during the 1980s, I saw my two brothers go through a turnstile of training programmes, they were called YOPs and YTSs back then, but when it came to the end of the six-month period, they were told: ‘There’s no job here for you’ and they would end up on yet another scheme, and see this repeated time and time again.
My youngest brother did four YTS’s and went from an eager 16-year-old dreaming of being a mechanic to an angry disillusioned 18-year-old on the dole with no prospects. It took a number of years to recover from that and he eventually got his chance when thankfully his best friend’s dad, who laid marble floor tiles as a sub-contractor in airports and shopping malls, gave him a job labouring for him.
This was just the break my brother, probably aged 20 or 21 by then, needed. He went from strength to strength, learnt the trade, became a floorer himself and is now a director of the company. Now, that’s the difference giving a young person a chance makes to their life. If only those 4 companies which let him go after 6 months had given him a chance! Their loss!
This is why I am passionate about the recognition of the social value and impact that businesses can have on the lives of young people.
If we take the message that came out of National Apprenticeship Week last month, of: the positive impact apprenticeships can have on our economy, but also on a more personal level with the social mobility that can come with undertaking an apprenticeship, it is understandable just how far we have come since the 1980s.
We can’t just celebrate apprenticeships for one week alone though, we need to do this day in, day out, by actively working towards improving the quality and access to apprenticeships on offer to our young people.
That is why there is still more to do, and this is a message that I hope will come out of today.
For many young people in our region there is no hope of them securing an apprenticeship, with the Government’s requirements that young people must have a Grade C in English and Maths.
Whilst it is important that we continue to aspire to pushing the outcomes of young people achieving an A* to C in the core subjects, we have to realise that this is not always possible for all young people, especially some with SEND.
There are many skilled apprenticeships which understandably need to have the grades in order to complete the work needed of them to a high-standard, such as using high level thinking, maths skills such as algebra etc, or complex concepts.
But should a young person aspiring to do an apprenticeship working in an office, with the functional mathematical and literacy skills to do the job, be excluded from this life changing apprenticeship that is open to their peers.
Or excluding a young person who is good with their hands from an apprenticeship as a construction worker or a welder, because they didn’t get their C in Maths and English, although may have plenty other GCSE A – C, I think this is wrong when they can learn all the functional skills needed to do this job whilst working on site.
For many young people applying what they are trying to learn in the classroom to the actual life scenarios they are now in can make the penny drop to help them develop skills they never thought they would have, with some then reaching the magic C in English and Maths during their apprenticeship. Others will bring their Maths and English up to the functional level. They just need the chance, their break.
Recent figures I obtained through a Parliamentary Question to the Department for Education found that 42% of young people in the North East by the age of 16 were not achieving at least a Grade C in English and Maths.
Many of those young people may get the required grades the following year, or the year after that, yet what is deeply concerning is that because of this block imposed on the entry requirements for an apprenticeship we are seeing some young people being placed onto remedial course after remedial course, so that training providers can tick a box to say they are supporting young people to achieve their needed qualifications – and in some cases, no real progress is ever made. With the young person becoming increasingly disillusioned and losing all hope of ever getting the chance to get on, get a break, to start their life as an adult.
This harks back to what I mentioned earlier with my brother’s experiences in the 1980s, and the danger of creating a despondent and disengaged generation of young people who are being locked out of achieving their true potential because they have not been given the opportunities to do so. Not able to even get over the first hurdle.
What can businesses do
That is why it is up to businesses, such as yourselves here today, to tap into this idea of social value and ensure that young people are given the opportunities they need in life to change their lives for the better.
To do this, there needs to be scrutiny and creativity driving forward how we look at the way we recruit apprentices and always keeping in mind the idea of: ‘what am I giving back to my local community?’
One way of doing this is by looking at the processes undertaken by training companies and holding them to account on how they are recruiting and training the apprenticeship workforce in our region, and who better to do this than those who use their services – that is all of you.
Secondly, speak to them and find out more about their recruitment procedures and have the important discussions about how making social value a central ethos to your apprenticeship recruitment is important to you and your organisation and challenging them to do more.
These are two important ways of taking this issue further.
There is so much more we can do to ensure we unlock the doors of opportunity to the widest possible cross-section of society, and allow those young people in our local area to have the best chances in life through the social mobility an apprenticeship can have on their life.
Thank you for listening.
Sharon speaking at a business event on apprenticeships and social value 29.04.16 Image copyright Henk Geertsema ACIM, 2016 Sharon was invited to speak at a business event in Sedgefield titled... Read more
Sharon speaking in the Backbench Business Debate on Record copies of Acts 20.04.16
Image copyright Parliamentary Recording Unit 2016
Over the past few months, Sharon has campaigned on protecting the Parliamentary practice of printing the Acts passed in the Houses of Parliament on vellum. This came about after her work as Chair of the Art, Craft and Design in Education APPG and was approached by Patricia Lovett, a calligrapher and user of vellum, about the possibility of Parliament ending the use of vellum. This debate was the chance for Members of Parliament to officially record their opposition and concern with the decision which was taken by the House of Lords earlier this year.
You can read Sharon's speech in Hansard here: Sharon Hodgson MP Backbench Business Debate on Record Copies of Acts 20.04.16
Text of speech pasted below:
Sharon speaking in the Backbench Business Debate on Record copies of Acts 20.04.16 Image copyright Parliamentary Recording Unit 2016 Over the past few months, Sharon has campaigned on protecting the...
Sharon speaking in the teenage pregnancy Westminster Hall Debate 19.04.16
Image copyright Parliamentary Recording Unit 2016
As Shadow Minister for Children, Sharon responded to a debate on teenage pregnancy in Westminster Hall, highlighting the important work done to reduce the under-18 conception rate, the multi-agency and co-operative work seen under the last Labour Government with their Teenage Pregnancy strategy between central and local government, and the need to improve sex and relationship education in our schools as part of statutory PSHE Education.
You can read Sharon's speech in Hansard here: Sharon Hodgson MP Teenage Pregnancy Westminster Hall Debate 19.04.16
Sharon speaking in the teenage pregnancy Westminster Hall Debate 19.04.16 Image copyright Parliamentary Recording Unit 2016 As Shadow Minister for Children, Sharon responded to a debate on teenage pregnancy in...
Sharon speaking in the Westminster Hall Debate on Children's Homes 19.04.16
Image copyright Parliamentary Recording Unit 2016
As Shadow Minister for Children, Sharon spoke in a Westminster Hall debate focused around the pending Sir Martin Narey review into looked-after children's residential care, and highlighted concerns with out-of-area placements and the criminalisation of looked-after children.
You can read Sharon's speech in Hansard here: Sharon Hodgson MP Children's Homes Westminster Hall Debate 19.04.16
Speech pasted below:
Sharon speaking in the Westminster Hall Debate on Children's Homes 19.04.16 Image copyright Parliamentary Recording Unit 2016 As Shadow Minister for Children, Sharon spoke in a Westminster Hall debate focused...
Sharon speaking in the Brain Tumour Research Westminster Hall debate 18.04.16
Image copyright Parliamentary Recording Unit 2016
Following the decision by the House of Common's Petitions Committee to debate the Brain Tumour Research petition, which 132 of Sharon's constituents had signed, and a number of on-going cases with constituents regarding treatment of brain tumours, Sharon took part in the debate in Westminster Hall to highlight two of these cases along with the need for better funding of research to ensure patients receive the best treatment and care possible.
Read Sharon's speech in Hansard here: Sharon Hodgson MP in Brain Tumour Research Westminster Hall Debate
Text pasted here:
Sharon speaking in the Brain Tumour Research Westminster Hall debate 18.04.16 Image copyright Parliamentary Recording Unit 2016 Following the decision by the House of Common's Petitions Committee to debate the...
Sharon Hodgson speaking at the launch of the Honeypot Campaign For Children Who Care - 22nd March 2016
Image copyright Honeypot Campaign
As Shadow Minister for Children, Sharon was invited to speak at the launch of Honeypot Campaign's 'For Children Who Care' which is campaigning to provide respite services to young carers, especially those between the ages of 5 and 12 who Honeypot work with, so that they can have the childhood that they deserve along with addressing many of the health and educational disadvantages they may face.
You can read Sharon's speech below:
Thank you for having me here today.
As the Shadow Minister for Children, I am all too aware of the challenges faced by young carers - both when I was in this role in the previous Parliament and even before that when I raised many concerns from the backbenches.
For me, the underlying philosophy I have as Labour’s spokesperson for children is that: all children, no matter what their background or circumstances, should have a childhood that is nurturing and full of opportunities so they become well-rounded adults in later life.
Everyone in this room knows that being the main care giver for a loved one at any stage of their life is tough, but for a child it can be even more so when it impacts on their ability to enjoy the same kind of childhood as their peers, and also, in far too many cases, define how the rest of their life will pan out.
Evidence has shown that young carers have significantly lower educational attainment at GCSE, which is equivalent to nine grades overall lower than their peers at the same age, and these children also see a toll on their health, wellbeing and personal development.
With over 160,000 young carers in the UK - with many more estimated by the University of Nottingham which believe the number stands closer to 700,000 young carers – there is still a lot more we can do for this significant group of children and young people to support them in their childhood.
That is why I welcome the work of Honeypot which provides young carers the chance of a break from being a carer and gives those children a safe and nurturing environment so they can take part in being a child alongside their peers.
Last time I was in this job, I worked closely on the passing of the Children and Families Act which helped address some of the difficulties a young carer faces by placing a duty on local authorities to assess the needs of young carers. This was a welcome step forward in recognising that children who are primary care givers need that extra support in their lives from local agencies.
Yet, we can do more. That is why I hope Honeypot’s campaign to give children an entitlement to respite care will be received by the Government. This is a belief that I share with all of you here in the room today and through my role as Shadow Children’s Minister, I will use every available opportunity to raise this issue with the Government.
However, this is something I can’t do alone and I hope everyone here today will go away and write to their local Member of Parliament, or even speak to them if they are here today and lobby them about the need to raise awareness of respite care for young carers.
It is our duty to make sure we do all we can to help these children who do such an incredible loving act for their family and allow them that chance of a childhood filled with fun, joy and laughter.
Thank you and I hope you all have a lovely afternoon here in Parliament.
Sharon Hodgson speaking at the launch of the Honeypot Campaign For Children Who Care - 22nd March 2016 Image copyright Honeypot Campaign As Shadow Minister for Children, Sharon was invited to speak...
Sharon Hodgson speaking in the second day of the Budget Debates - 21st February 2016
Image copyright Parliamentary Recording Unit 2016
Following the Chancellor's Budget on 16th March 2016, Sharon spoke in the second day of the Budget debates and raised concerns about the complete and forced academisation of schools in England and the impact this could have on children with special educational needs and disabilities, along with the failure of the Chancellor to significantly recognise the North East in his Budget which was driven by his desire to push further on his pet project, the Northern Powerhouse.
Read Sharon's speech in Hansard here: Sharon Hodgson MP in the Budget Debate 2016
Test pasted here:
Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab): In the time allotted, I cannot cover all the items that make up this ultra-shambles of a Budget, but I will set out a few.
The Government believe that the complete academisation of our schools by 2020 will help to address the widening gap in educational outcomes for the most disadvantaged in our schools. Yet there are many concerns about what that will mean in reality, especially for children with special educational needs and disability.
Since the publication of the Department for Education White Paper, many parents and organisations have contacted me regarding their concerns about what the proposals will mean for children with autism, dyslexia or other special educational needs or disabilities. Evidence has shown that academies have higher rates of exclusion of children with SEND, who are then pushed into local authority maintained schools. Once all schools are academies, who will take the excluded children with SEND? Those children are as worthy as any others of receiving a high-quality education, and I hope the Government will ensure that we continue to have an inclusive education system and that children with SEND are not sidelined or excluded in the fully academised school system they are creating.
Other announcements by the Chancellor failed to recognise the need for further investment in the north-east. That was seen clearly when he announced £80 million for Crossrail 2 in London and the next phase of high-speed rail—High Speed 3—which will go only as far as Leeds. Some of us live more than 100 miles further north, in the north-east, and I wait with bated breath for the day when HS4 or HS5—or will it be HS 67?—reaches us in the north-east.
The Chancellor obviously sees himself as the King in the North, with his northern powerhouse project, but he needs to realise that there is a lot more of the north before he gets to the wall—that is Hadrian’s wall, not the one in “Game of Thrones”. If he truly wants to be the King in the North, and we all know he has—or should I now say had?—ambitions for higher office, he needs to realise that there is a large section of the north between Yorkshire and Scotland called the north-east and to ensure that investment is directed to our region too.
However, there is still something the Chancellor can do now—invest in the future of the Tyne and Wear Metro. The rolling stock has not been updated in its 36-year history. However, for an estimated £400 million, a much-needed completely new fleet could be built, which would future-proof the network into the 21st century, with options for dual voltage giving it the ability to procure vehicles suitable to support future route extensions, such as the expansion into Washington via the Leamside line, which I have campaigned for more than 10 years. That would help not only to drive economic growth, with improved connectivity to other parts of the region, but provide the vital jobs we need through the building of the new fleet.
Sharon Hodgson speaking in the second day of the Budget Debates - 21st February 2016 Image copyright Parliamentary Recording Unit 2016 Following the Chancellor's Budget on 16th March 2016, Sharon...
Sharon Hodgson with Unipres Staff, Gatsby Project team; George Ritchie, Chair of the North East Apprenticeship Ambassador Network and Associate Director PX group and pupils and staff from Link School and Biddick Academy - 14th March 2016
Image Copyright: Unipres 2016.
For National Apprenticeship Week 2016, Sharon was invited to Unipres in Sunderland to welcome the beginning of the week, meet with apprentices and have a tour of the Unipres factory. In her speech, Sharon spoke about the importance of apprenticeships to helping young people reach their potential in life and recognised the work done by Unipres in Sunderland over their 27 years based in the City to support the local economy and workforce.
You can read Sharon's speech here below:
Thank you for inviting me to join you for today’s launch of National Apprenticeships Week celebrations here at Unipres.
It is wonderful that National Apprenticeship Week, which started in 2008, is now in its ninth year where we continue to showcase the positive impact apprentices have on our economy, whilst celebrating the tens of thousands who are currently developing their skills, expertise and knowledge through an apprenticeship, may it be in nuclear technology, fashion design, or of course, car manufacturing.
After the success of last year’s celebrations which saw 600 events held right across the country and businesses pledging to increase apprenticeship numbers by 23,000, I hope this year’s events will build on those achievements ensuring we reaffirm our commitment to apprenticeships as a vehicle to achieve great success in life.
This year’s theme for National Apprenticeships Week is all about rising to the top and recognising the importance an apprenticeship can have on an individual achieving their potential, by learning and earning at the same time.
This is something which is at the very heart of the business ethos of Unipres, who for the last 26 years, have been an important employer here on Wearside, whilst developing a close relationship with Nissan to whom they supply parts for the cars manufactured just up the road.
Unipres’ clear commitment to Sunderland’s local workforce is shown through their continued investment into training local people, providing sustainable and high-quality job opportunities and nurturing a sense of pride in the work that goes on here in Sunderland.
In recent years Unipres has invested heavily into their factory here on Wearside with capital investment of over £40 million between 2012 and 2013 in preparation for the increased production at Nissan, and more recently Renault.
This led to an additional investment of nearly £13 million to install two new presses – which went live just before Christmas and I hope we will get to see them in action later this morning – this created 22 additional new jobs at the factory to work on the production of supplies for both Nissan and Honda’s assembly plant in Swindon, along with exporting to international markets including mainland Europe and Russia.
Parallel to all of this investment into the future of the business, there has been just as much investment into the future of the workforce where over the last year there has been a doubling in the number of apprentices based at the factory.
In total, Unipres now has over 60 apprentices who are studying for their qualifications in engineering, electrical engineering and die and tool-making whilst training hands-on here in order to reinforce what they learn in the classroom.
For any of those young men or women here today, I wish you all the very best with your studies and future career success here at Unipres.
But as the leadership here know the work to inspire the next generation coming into the workforce starts way before they join the business as an apprentice. That is why Unipres has supported an excellent initiative, called Industrial Cadets, which aims to spark the imagination and minds of young people about the career possibilities within engineering and the sometimes unknown career success that can come with starting a high-quality apprenticeship.
That is why it is wonderful that this year’s National Apprenticeship Week celebrations in the North-East have been launched today here at Unipres – showing appreciation of the leadership of Plant Director, John Cruddace, and the hard-work and dedication of everyone who works here.
This week is all about celebration and marking the importance of apprenticeships, and I wish all the success in the world to this year’s National Apprenticeship Week and hope that events like this inspire the young people attending to start an apprenticeship so they too can achieve their full potential and reach the top of their chosen career.
Sharon Hodgson with Unipres Staff, Gatsby Project team; George Ritchie, Chair of the North East Apprenticeship Ambassador Network and Associate Director PX group and pupils and staff from Link School and...
Sharon Hodgson speaking in the Opposition Day Debate on transitional state pensions arrangements for women - 24th February 2016
Image copyright Parliamentary Recording Unit 2016
Over the last year, Sharon has had local women who were born in the 1950s raise their concerns with the equalisation of the State Pension Age, which has negatively impacted many thousands of women across the country. During one of Labour's allotted Opposition Day Debates, Sharon raised her concerns with these changes and one of the cases of her constituent who has been impacted by these changes.
Read Sharon's speech in Hansard here: Sharon Hodgson MP in WASPI Debate 2016
Text pasted here:
24 Feb 2016 : Column 351
Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab): Today, we again debate the need for transitional arrangements following the equalisation of the state pension age. Contrary to what the Minister said, everyone—including the women affected—accepts the equalisation of the state pension age for men and women in principle. However, in practice it is clear that these changes have had such a detrimental effect on the lives of a particular group of women born in the 1950s—many thousands of them up and down the country—that we must look at transitional arrangements. We can ignore this no longer.
Like many others in the Chamber today, I have had many women from WASPI contact me at my surgeries, or via email or social media, to raise their concerns about the impact that the lack of transitional arrangements will have on their lives. In recent weeks and months, we have had many debates on this important matter, yet time and again the Government have failed to move an inch in their position and have continued to ignore the concerns of these women.
The common theme of all the many letters I have received from constituents has been that the escalation in the equalisation of the state pension age has ruined these women’s plans, savings and, in some cases, lives. One constituent’s case stands out in particular. She was born in 1957. I will not name her, but she explained to me that she saw these changes mentioned on the news a few times but as she never received a letter, she assumed they must not affect her, as she would surely have been told if they did. She eventually received a letter in 2014. She thought it was a routine pension calculation, but it showed her state pension age as taking effect in 2023. She thought it must be an error and was horrified later to discover that it was not. What that meant for her was that instead of retiring next year, as expected and as she planned for, she has to work a further six years. She is in very bad health and could just about envisage coping until next year, when she thought her state pension age applied. However, upon the realisation of the enormity of this information and what it meant to her and her life; her health rapidly deteriorated. She became severely depressed and required medication, and I would hazard that she may never be the same again.
No one here has a magic wand, not even the Minister, and none of us can turn back time, but just for a second, can the Minister put himself in that lady’s
24 Feb 2016 : Column 352
position? Imagine being that lady and finding out that news in that way—imagine how that would feel and imagine the shock! We—this institution, this Parliament—did that. Lots of us were not MPs in 1995, but some of us were in 2011, and the laws of the land that we make here affect people out there. Was it not our duty to ensure that these women, to whom we were about to deliver this great life-altering shock, at least knew about it? Should we not have ensured that they knew when they heard it on the news that it did indeed affect them, not because they had researched the small print themselves, but because the Department for Work and Pensions wrote to them and personally told them in good time, not as late as 2014? Surely that was the least the DWP should have done and we, Parliament, should have insisted upon it.
As I have said, we cannot turn back time and we cannot wave the magic wand that a lot of people think we have, because we do not have one—it does not exist. But we can do something today: we can insist that the Government do something. The Minister must go away and draft, with haste, transitional arrangements for this group of WASPI women who have been failed by the system and failed by these changes. We cannot fail them today. Parliament is at its best when using its powers for the good of its people. Parliament is speaking very clearly today to the Government. It is saying, “Go away, sort this out and bring forward transitional arrangements so that these women are not left destitute in what should have been their well-earned retirement.”
Sharon Hodgson speaking in the Opposition Day Debate on transitional state pensions arrangements for women - 24th February 2016 Image copyright Parliamentary Recording Unit 2016 Over the last year, Sharon...
Sharon Hodgson speaking at the launch of the Sense Inquiry into disabled children's access to play settings and schemes - 24th February 2016
Image copyright Office of Sharon Hodgson MP
As Shadow Minister for Children, Sharon was invited to speak at the launch of Sense's inquiry report into the access opportunities to play settings and schemes for disabled children, where she welcomed the findings of the report and the need for policy-makers, charities, play providers and families of disabled children to work together to call on the Government to do more to address this disparity.
You can read Sharon's speech below:
Thank you for having me along today.
It is such an honour to be here and support the launch of such an important report.
Already we have heard some wonderful speeches, including Lord Blunkett’s eloquent run through of the report’s recommendations and Leslie Rogers talking about her experiences of Play and highlighting just how important it is to children lives, especially those with SEND.
I, of course, am not going to differ greatly (if at all) from what has already been said by our two previous speakers.
For me, it is important that all children have the opportunity to explore and experience the world around them through play. Yet, sometimes, this can be harder for SEND children.
As many of us here in this room will know, there are multiple and complex needs of a child with SEND and early childhood can be a stressful time in that child’s life.
From medical appointments, health interventions and medical therapies, it can be one thing after another for a child who only wants to enjoy their childhood and live a care-free life.
That is why it is important that children with SEND, and their families, are enabled to access play schemes so that that child can experience as normal a childhood as possible – just like all of their peers, allowing a child to access play settings allows them that escape and respite to just be a child and relax in that moment where all that matters is how much fun they are going to have.
For parents, it is a beautiful moment that they can see their child doing exactly what they always wanted them to do as a child – have fun.
In the report, there is one quote which sticks out for me on this.
“Play is so important; it helped him realise he existed. Before that he was not doing anything – just lying down.”
This is such a powerful quote which hits home about exactly why play, and the access to play is so vital to disabled children’s lives.
It allows them to be a child.
Yet, the reality does not always seem to be the case.
As this inquiry found:
- 51% of children had been intentionally excluded from play opportunities by providers …
- 40% of families said they faced additional financial costs when seeking access to play settings …
- And, families felt there was a lack of specialist support on offer locally and had to travel further afield to access the right kind of play setting.
These findings are damning in highlighting the reality that many of those here in this room have experienced with their own children.
And it is up to us Parliamentarians from across the House to work to ensure that the right kind of policy is implemented that benefits these children.
No matter what their circumstances, children deserve the best start in life and for many this can come through play opportunities where they can expand their minds, enjoy their childhood and be amongst their peers.
That is why it is so important that Sense’s inquiry has been published today and makes a strong case to Government and policy-makers to improve the access to play opportunities for disabled children with multiple needs.
Labour has a proud record of campaigning for better services for disabled children, which most recently was seen in our efforts to review childcare for disabled children during the passing of the Childcare Bill to make sure those children did not miss out on high-quality provisions.
That is why I can assure you that the disparity seen by families with disabled children accessing play is something I am fully aware of and I cannot stress how much I support calls for better provision and will press Government to take action on this by working closely with Sense, providers of play settings and those who access these settings to ensure that parity is achieved for all children.
This fantastic report will aide my work as Labour’s Shadow Children’s Minister and the development of our future policy proposals around play settings and the access for disabled children.
Again, thank you for inviting me along to talk to you all today.
I hope you have all had a wonderful day and I look forwarded to meeting many of you after the other speeches.
You can find out more about the inquiry and Sharon's reaction post-reception by following this link here.
Sharon Hodgson speaking at the launch of the Sense Inquiry into disabled children's access to play settings and schemes - 24th February 2016 Image copyright Office of Sharon Hodgson MP...