Stephen at the Christian Aid reception in Parliament

Stephen at the Christian Aid reception in Parliament

Stephen this week met with representatives from charity Christian Aid to show his support for its Christmas Appeal, ‘Enough for Everyone’.  The appeal aims to raise much-needed funds for people experiencing hunger and malnutrition in South Sudan, in particular for mothers and children.

For every pound the public give to the appeal, the UK Government will also give a pound.  This doubles the support for families struggling to feed themselves, meaning even more mothers and infants under-five in South Sudan will be saved from the life-threatening effects of malnutrition. 

Earlier this year, famine was declared in parts of South Sudan, the first time it has been declared anywhere in six years. Although urgent humanitarian response helped to prevent it from spreading, more people are now facing extreme hunger than ever before with approximately 50% of the population still in urgent need of food. Families have often been forced to eat wild foods like water lilies and drink unsafe water in a desperate bid to survive. 

Stephen said “Hunger isn’t inevitable, as there is more than enough food in the world to feed everyone. Yet, every day, thousands of the world’s most vulnerable people don’t have enough to eat.  

“I am supporting Christian Aid’s Christmas Appeal this year which is raising vital funds to help hungry women and children in South Sudan. I would urge the people of East Ham to consider donating to the appeal if they can. The Department for International Development will be matching every £1 donated and this will double the impact of the appeal.” 

Simon Kirkland, Christian Aid’s UK Parliamentary and Political Adviser, said: “We are extremely grateful to Stephen Timms MP for supporting our Christmas Appeal. The situation is desperate and we welcome any donations that the people of East Ham can give. Just £5 could provide enough food for a family for four days, and £150 could provide ten families with fishing gear to get food rich in protein.”

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Stephen  has visited a project aiming to help young people to manage money.

The Money House programme is based in Ferrier Point, Canning Town, and sees experts teach 16 to 25-year-olds essential finance skills.

Newham Council has made the scheme, run by education charity MyBnk, mandatory for young people who want to bid for social housing.

Speaking afterwards, Stephen said: “I was impressed by the work of MyBnk in preparing young people for independent living. Knowing how to budget, understanding your tenancy, and making informed decisions are vital in tackling the debt and housing crisis.

“The Money House is a valuable resource for Newham. I hope agencies working with vulnerable 16 to 25-year-olds will give their young people this unique opportunity.”

For more information or to make a referral, including a self-referral, visit mybnk.org

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Stephen has attended a parliamentary event hosted by Ombudsman Services, one of the leading providers of redress in the UK, to learn more about local consumer trends in the energy and communications sectors.

Designed to provide support for MPs helping residents in their local areas with consumer issues, the Ombudsman Services team were on hand to offer a tailored overview of specific energy and communications issues affecting those in each area. 

Last year, in East Ham, residents made over 115 complaints about energy and communications issues, from billing issues to switching suppliers. In total, consumers were handed back £7,500 - the equivalent of £64 per case - as Ombudsman Services corrected the injustices they had experienced.

As well as hearing more about current consumer issues in his constituency, Ombudsman Services invited Stephen Timms to show they take consumer rights seriously, by pledging to 'stand up for consumer rights', along with  29 other MPs from across the UK.

The event forms part of a larger drive by Ombudsman Services to develop a more systematic and proactive approach to consumer redress, with a view to tackling issues at source, and enhancing consumer experiences for everyone. 

Stephen is able to help residents with complaints, as well as many other issues, at his weekly surgeries at. For ongoing energy and consumer complaints, residents should get in touch with Ombudsman Services by visiting www.ombudsman-services.org. 

At the event, Lewis Shand Smith, Chief Ombudsman at Ombudsman Services, said: “Knowing your consumer rights and the options available to you if you receive poor service is very important. We want to see a more proactive approach to consumer redress in the UK, so it’s great to see MP’s like Stephen Timms showing commitment to helping constituents, showing that this is not an issue to be taken lightly.

"Complaining should be an easy, hassle-free experience – if you’re still in a dispute with an energy or communications company after eight weeks, Ombudsman Services can look into the case for free and provide a resolution – it could be worth your while.”

Speaking afterwards, Stephen said: “I meet a lot of people in East Ham about consumer rights and complaints, and often they don't know how to take a complaint further, so I’m keen to raise awareness of how people can tackle bad service.

"Today was a good opportunity to discuss the barriers and issues for customers when it comes to complaining, and to learn more about the redress sector. If anyone has an issue that can’t be resolved with the company, I would encourage them to come to one of my clinics, or approach the relevant Ombudsman.’’

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Stephen has pledged support for the 126 convenience stores in East Ham at the Association of Convenience Stores’ Heart of the Community reception in Parliament to celebrate the essential role that local shops play in our communities. 

ACS Heart of the Community is an annual event which brings together retailers from across the country with MPs to voice their concerns about the future of the sector. 

Stephen  said: “Local shops provide essential goods and services in our communities and it is vital that all MPs show support for these retailers both in Westminster and the local area. These stores really are at the heart of our communities and the Government must do everything they can to ensure that they succeed during this difficult economic time.”  

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Convenience stores are one of the services that have the most positive impact on local high streets, towns and villages, and we welcome the support of Stephen Timms MP for the local shop sector. It is now more important than ever that MPs engage with small businesses in their constituencies, and we look forward to working with Stephen Timms MP in the future.”

The 2017 ACS Local Shop Report shows that there are 49,918 convenience stores in mainland UK making up a sector that is now worth over £38 billion. Local shops are also a vital source of employment, providing jobs for over 370,000 people. Local shop owners are some of the hardest working people in the UK – 20% of shop owners work more than 70 hours per week on average, and 19% take no holiday at all throughout the year. 

For more information about ACS and the Local Shop Report 2017, visit: http://www.acs.org.uk/.

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Stephen has asked the Government to do all it can in securing the release of British-Iranians Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Kamal Foroughi. 

Charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced last year to five years in prison after being accused of trying to topple regime whilst  Kamal Foroughi, 77, is being held for alleged espionage. Both Foroughi and Zaghari-Ratcliffe have maintained their innocence.

Speaking about the cases, Stephen said: "I call for the immediate and unconditional release by the Iranian authorities of British-Iranian dual nationals, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Kamal Foroughi.  I urge the Prime Minister, Theresa May, and the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, to do the same.  The Iranian authorities need to hear the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary go beyond raising concerns, as they have done repeatedly, and call for the immediate release of Nazanin and Kamal.”

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