Welcome to my March update, here’s some of the things I have been up to in Parliament and Luton South this month.

Conservative’s Spring Budget
This month, we saw the Tories’ Spring Budget lift the lid on 14 years of Conservative economic failure: a Conservative Government in their end days, bereft of ideas, and lacking in vision.

The economy is now in recession, taxes and prices are still rising, mortgage rates are still higher, and many in Luton and across the country continue to struggle with the cost-of-living crisis.

It’s clear now more than ever that Luton and Bedfordshire need a change in government. I spoke about this in the debate, I also wrote about the budget in the Luton News.

Rachel's March Luton News article

Funding for Youth Services
Youth Services help young people in Luton, and across the country, deal with school and societal pressures, supports their mental health and allows then to socialise and make friends in a safe space.

All young people deserve high quality youth services in their area. But 14 years of Conservative Government has left them at breaking point, with many young people having no access to youth services at all.

Labour’s national network of Young Futures hubs will bring local services together, delivering support for teenagers at risk of being drawn into crime or facing mental health challenges, and universal youth provision. Read more here.

I was pleased to lead a debate on funding for youth services earlier this month,
you can watch my full speech below or read the debate transcript on Hansard.

World Book Day at Brown Books
On World Book day, I was delighted to visit Brown Books, an excellent community bookshop in High Town.

Reading for pleasure is the biggest indicator of a child’s future success and improves children’s mental wellbeing, vocabulary and empathy skills.

It was lovely to meet pupils from St Matthews and hear about their favourite books and why they love to read! Great also to chat to Mariana and the excellent staff and volunteer team about their role in helping children develop a love of reading.

Rachel at Brown Books
Rachel at Brown Books

Joining the Premier League and Luton Town FC at Linden Academy
I was delighted to join the Premier League and Luton Town FC Community Trust at the Linden Academy for the presentation of their girls’ football teams’ new Premier League Primary Stars kit!

It was lovely to see the girls testing out their new kit training with the LTFC Community Trust, they all looked so proud!

Labour will give every girl the chance to play and be active in school, to break down barriers to female participation in sports, by:

  • Broadening the curriculum through a Curriculum and Assessment Review
  • Making PE an assessed subject so schools are motivated to provide it
  • Recruiting 6,500 expert teachers to boost access across the country
  • Bringing together businesses, charities and the public, Labour will deliver the change needed to support young girls

By boosting girls sport in schools, we can break down the barriers to participation and end the ‘gender play gap’.

Rachel with the girls
Rachel with the girls' team at Linden Academy

Sports Gambling Advertising
This month, I spoke in a debate on sports gambling advertising. I’m proud Luton Town FC is leading the way by not selecting a gambling company as their shirt or stadium sponsor.

It is clear that gambling addiction, fuelled by excessive gambling advertisements, harms our communities. The current gambling regulations are failing the public, and there is no sign of change to protect the next generation. It’s time for the government to finally take action and tackle gambling advertising in sport. Read the full debate here.

Celebrating St Patrick’s Day 
On St Patrick’s Day I was delighted to attend Luton Irish Forum’s 25th St Patrick’s Festival, alongside Sarah Owen MP. It was great to be part of celebrating Luton’s Irish community. The festival was a great success, with our Luton community coming together as one town, many voices.

Left: Rachel and Sarah with the St Patrick float Top Right: dancers performing at the festival Bottom Right: Rachel, Sarah and Noelette, Chief Executive of the Luton Irish Forum
Left: Rachel and Sarah with the St Patrick float Top Right: dancers performing at the festival Bottom Right: Rachel, Sarah and Noelette, Chief Executive of the Luton Irish Forum

Ahead of St Patrick’s Day, I spoke in a debate on the Irish diaspora’s contribution to the UK. Luton has benefited enormously from our Irish community and I was proud to speak about this in Parliament.

Continuing to Press the Government on the Ongoing Situation in Gaza
I continue to press for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, I raised this again in Parliament earlier this month. In my latest letter to the Foreign Secretary, I also expressed concerns about the UK’s arms sales to Israel. The UK must act to uphold international law. Read my letter below.

Rachel's latest letter to the Foreign Secretary

Celebrating with Shri Guru Ravidass Gurdwara
It was lovely to join the wonderful community at Shri Guru Ravidass Sangat Luton Gurdwara for their celebration of the birth anniversary of Shri Guru Ravidass.

A pleasure to join Sarah Owen MP in presenting recognition awards to Martin Rogers (on behalf of the GoodGym Luton), Dr Tahir Mehmood and Dave Crean, for their contribution to serving our Luton community.
Rachel at Sri Guru Ravidass Gurdwara
Rachel at Sri Guru Ravidass Gurdwara

Visiting Schools in Slip End and Caddington
This month, I spoke to pupils at Slip End and Caddington Village Schools about my role as their MP.  Pupils asked me such intelligent questions, ranging from Parliament to potholes! It was lovely to join their assemblies and meet with both schools’ student councils.

Top Left: Rachel speaking to Caddington Village School
Top Left: Rachel speaking to Caddington Village School's School Council Top Right: Rachel speaking at Caddington Village School's Assembly Bottom Left: Rachel speaking at Slip End Village School's Assembly Bottom Right: Rachel speaking to Slip End Village School's School Council

Joining Iftars in Luton South
It was great to see everyone at the Big Iftar in St George’s Square last Friday. The Big Iftar is an important celebration of diversity, unity, and community spirit, and all proceeds go to Luton Foodbank, you can donate here.

I was also honoured to attend the Luton Turkish Education and Culture Trust’s Iftar, alongside Sarah Owen MP. There were many thoughtful contributions reflecting on Ramadan, with a focus on community and compassion. A wonderful home-made meal prepared by the members of the Turkish Women’s Association.

Top Left: Rachel and Sarah with award winner Dr Tahir Mehmood Top Right: Rachel with the Luton Foodbank team Bottom Left: Rachel Speaking at the Luton Turkish Centre
Top Left: Rachel and Sarah with award winner Dr Tahir Mehmood Top Right: Rachel with the Luton Foodbank team Bottom Left: Rachel Speaking at the Luton Turkish Centre's Iftar Bottom Right: Rachel, Sarah with Atilla Ustun and family

Ending Homelessness Together Lobby Day
As part of Social Interest Group’s ‘Ending Homelessness Together’ lobby day, I met with Penrose and Signposts, who do vital work in Luton. We discussed how secure, affordable housing, a holistic approach to services and a focus on prevention is essential to tackling homelessness.

Rachel in Parliament with representatives from Signposts and Penrose
Rachel in Parliament with representatives from Signposts and Penrose

Meeting Health Care Assistants at L&D Hospital
Last week, I met with Unison members who are Health Care Assistants at Luton & Dunstable Hospital to discuss their dispute over fair pay and a backdated settlement. Health Care Assistants are a vital part of the NHS workforce, often working beyond their duties to care for patients. yet they are some of the lowest-paid staff members. They deserve respect and fair pay for the essential work they do.

Rachel with Health Care Assistants at the L&D
Rachel with Health Care Assistants at the L&D

Marking Two Years Since P&O Ferries’ shameful Fire and Rehire
I recently joined a rally in Westminster marking two years since P&O’s shameful and illegal sacking of almost 800 seafarers. Two years on the government has spent nearly £900,000 with P&O and they have never faced any sanctions. We need preventative legislation and an end to “fire and rehire”.

Rachel at the rally
Rachel at the rally
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