My weekly round up of work in the European Parliament, the UK and beyond!
Last week was a 'Green Week' which means that MEPs work in their constituencies or else go on 'Missions' related to their committee work. I did both!
On Monday I visited Eden Flood Volunteers in their warehouse in Penrith and learnt about the amazing work they have been doing right across Cumbria as first responders, providing tailored support from the outset of the floods in early December.
On Tuesday I was given a tour of a new state of the art sports centre in Workington which is being built in the town centre and will hopefully open this summer. As a member of the European Parliament's Committee on Culture and Education I have responsibility for sport so it's good to see the people of Allerdale getting the best quality in terms of leisure facilities.
I then toured the Ewanrigg Estate in Maryport to see some of the improvements such as housing for veterans and plans for a community cafe attached to the doctor's surgery. I was treated to yummy pancakes at the community centre and enjoyed a discussion with staff, volunteers and local residents. It's great to see the Ewanrigg Local Trust working with artists and theatre companies, many of whom I know from my previous work in the cultural sector.
Tuesday afternoon was spent at Camp Farm, the site of Alauna Fort, overlooking Maryport, where I talked to representatives from the North of England Civic Trust about their plans to develop a new tourism and education offer linked to the extensive Roman remains on the site. Watch this space!
By Tuesday evening I was in Manchester meeting with campaigners as part of an ongoing commitment to combat the increasing racism in our society. March 21st is designated International Day for the Elimination of Racism so put the date in your diary now and find out about events happening over the previous weekend.
On Wednesday morning I joined Junior Doctors on the picket line at Wythenshawe Hospital as part of a national strike to challenge the government's plans to increase doctors' working hours, effectively lower their pay and compromise patient safety. Our doctors are already working flat out for an NHS which the Tories refuse to finance adequately, without Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt trying to impose a contract which is not fair and not safe. It was great to see huge local support for the strikers with car horns hooting and people dropping off hot drinks and cakes.
Then it was off to Munich to join colleagues from the Parliament's Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality as part of a fact-finding mission to learn about the Bavarian authorities' experiences of welcoming, supporting and integrating refugees. Notwithstanding the challenging nature of the huge numbers arriving, Germany is dealing with refugees in a humane, compassionate and dignified manner, seeing their arrival as an opportunity for mutual benefits.
On Saturday I spent the day in Tameside, Greater Manchester, with 'Future Leaders', a group of talented musicians, dancers and artists from across the UK who are being mentored by community music organisation, Global Grooves. Tutors included Who drummer Steve White and the amazing special effects whizz, Shaune Harrison, who was born on The Wirral and made his name on films such as Harry Potter and Star Wars. I had the chance to watch Shaune and Steve in action and talk to the young people about my work promoting creative and cultural industries.
On Sunday I joined with the annual One Billion Rising global action to highlight the ongoing Violence Against Women & Girls by participating in a community dance project with UCLan Creative Communities Group in Preston. 1 in 3 women will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. This is an intolerable situation and is the single most important issue that brought me into politics. As a member of the parliament's Women's Rights Committee I fight all gender-based discrimination and look forward to the day when we can live our lives without fear and enjoying full equal rights. You might like to read 'Gathering' the poem I wrote for One Billion Rising in 2014, the year I was elected.