Archive | September, 2011

Toby Perkins MP visits Probation Service

Toby Perkins MP visits Probation Service

Toby Perkins, Member of Parliament for Chesterfield, visited Derbyshire Probation Trust’s Brimington Road offices to meet staff and gain a clearer view of the work they do.

Speaking to probation staff, Mr. Perkins recognised the changes going on in the Justice portfolio and that whilst the government intended to reduce the number of custodial sentences, the Probation service were facing extreme funding pressures.  He therefore “wanted to learn more about how things are going on the ground.” 

The Chesterfield MP was given insights into offender supervision, remedial and rehabilitation programmes and education and training support work, as well as Community Payback and a very recent development, Integrated Offender Management which includes meeting Police officers meeting offenders as they leave prison in an attempt to reduce re-offending. 

With a particular interest in families and children, Toby was very impressed by the remedial work probation does with male domestic abuse offenders, and with the support given to female offenders – one of the most vulnerable groups of victims, often the victims of abuse and the sole supporter of children. 

He also heard from an ex-offender who has turned his life around and now mentors other offenders to get their lives on track.

Following the two and a half hour visit , Toby said,

“It has been very helpful to get more background as to how Probation undertakes its role; to understand the challenges it faces.  It demonstrated the value of high quality probation services in helping offenders to become valuable contributors to society and cut re-offending.” 

He described the afternoon as “an incredibly professional, enlightening and thorough review of what probation does.”

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Welcome Back! Shadow Education Minister calls on students to exceed expectations despite Government cuts

Welcome Back! Shadow Education Minister calls on students to exceed expectations despite Government cuts

With schools re-opening after the summer vacation, Toby Perkins, Labour Member of Parliament for Chesterfield and Shadow Education Minister, has urged students to continue to exceed expectations despite the Government’s cuts programmes.  With the economy continuing to stall, Mr. Perkins has stressed the importance of education for young people in an increasingly competitive job market.

While wishing students all the best after a number of weeks away from the classroom, Mr. Perkins also expressed his concerns with the Con Dem Government’s ‘free school’ initiative, which has attracted most of the Government’s energy despite only affecting a handful of the country’s children.

Contrary to the Education Secretary, Michael Gove’s original proposals, less than half of the new ‘free-schools’ have been set up by parents, with many being set up in more affluent areas already having access to good schools.

Mr. Perkins said:-

“The new school year is a great opportunity for our young people to exceed expectations and put a marker down for the rest of their time in education. With Government cuts affecting almost all industries, it has never been more important for schoolchildren and young adults to succeed at school and gain the necessary skills to land good jobs with great potential”.

He added:-

“The Government’s ‘free schools’ project has proved to be a red herring. Michael Gove and the Tory led Government has invested almost all its time in schools which are not democratic, which are not necessarily set up by parents, and which have been created for the benefit of the wealthy few. In a time of deep and unnecessary cuts, this is a missed opportunity for the Government to ensure that the vast majority of students are given the best possible resources to get on in later life. And as for the Lib Dems, yet again the Tory’s have forced through a policy which Nick Clegg and co were actively campaigning against at the expense of the vast majority of our young people relying on LEA funded secondary schools around the country”.

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Chesterfield’s mental health top of the agenda with local MPs

Chesterfield’s mental health top of the agenda with local MPs

Toby Perkins, MP for Chesterfield, and Natascha Engel, MP for North East Derbyshire, visited a Rethink Mental Illness community service that supports people in Chesterfield and North East Derbyshire with severe mental illness.

The MPs were invited to the service following the Chesterfield Mental Health Summit held by Rethink in March this year.  After a tour of the service, Ms Engel and Mr Perkins heard about some of the current issues affecting mental health service users and their carers.  Points raised included:  being treated differently by local hospitals, job centres and the police; concern about an ineffective benefits system that is set up for physical health problems rather than for mental health; and worries that some GPs, who will be involved in commissioning services, do not understand mental health issues.

Michael Crossley, from Dunston, who volunteers at the Rethink Mental Illness Community Service in Chesterfield, said:  “I hope that by meeting my MP today, positive changes will be made for people affected by mental ill health.

“I’d like to see a dedicated Mental Health Minister to make a difference to people living with mental illness.  I came along today because I’d like to see changes in the future, and to talk to the people who have the power to make a difference.”

Toby Perkins, Labour MP for Chesterfield and Shadow Minister, said: “Having the opportunity to come and meet people using this service and hear their concerns has been extremely valuable.

“At a time where the coalition Government is making such significant changes to the way we all receive healthcare, it’s vital they listen to the needs of the most vulnerable parts of our community. It’s not right that people with mental illnesses and their carers are under additional pressure as a result of national reforms. I intend to raise the issues from today in Parliament with the view of getting better outcomes for mental health service users in Chesterfield.”

Natascha Engel, Labour MP for North East Derbyshire, said: “Whilst we are lucky to have some fantastic support groups and care available on the doorstep for many of my constituents, I’ve also heard some very worrying concerns that need to be addressed today.

“It’s vital that the issues we’ve heard, about protecting the rights of people with mental illnesses and their carers, are discussed in Parliament, and actions taken. Local people need the support of good mental health services and the repercussions of their needs not being met not only affects them and their carers, but also other public services and the wider healthcare system.”

Both MPs agreed to visit Derbyshire Health Care NHS Foundation Trust Community Mental Health Team at St Mary’s Gate to learn more about provision locally and what improvements are needed.

Toby Perkins MP agreed to write to The Hub at the Hartington Unit Chesterfield Royal Hospital  Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust to ask them to open  The Hub to outpatients.

Both MPs agreed to host constituency surgeries in the Rethink service on Holywell Street for all constituents affected by mental illness.

Both agreed to help Rethink Mental Illness host a roundtable event with existing and new commissioners of mental health services to ensure the problems people have in accessing services are rectified.

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I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

Contact Toby

Tel: 01246 386286
Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF


I hold regular surgeries for my constituents.
Please call 01246 386286 or email to make a booking.

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