From Stephen Kinnock MP <[email protected]>
Subject July 2021 Newsletter
Date July 26, 2021 8:40 AM
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** July 2021 Newsletter

** Virtual Funding Fair turns dream projects into reality

This month I launched my virtual funding fair to provide crucial connections between funding bodies and community groups looking for a cash boost to get their dream projects off the ground.

Over the past six years our funding fairs have seen vital connections made between innovative community groups and key funding bodies which this year included People's Postcode Lottery, Sport Wales, The Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm Community Fund CIC, The National Lottery Community Fund and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

We were also really excited to be joined for the first time by Wales Co-operative Centre, Charity Bank, Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales and The Moondance Foundation.

Thank you to everyone who took part in the event.

It was fantastic to see so many amazing groups and organisations with such innovative ideas and projects and I am confident the connections they made will bring their aspirations one step closer to reality.

Our next funding fair will take place in February 2022 and it would be wonderful to see you there.

My thanks go to everyone who took part in our inaugural virtual funding fair for making it such a resounding success.

** EU Settled Status: Carer thanks our office for ending his Settled Status nightmare

A SPANISH carer who has lived in Wales for more than 30 years has thanked our office after we were able to secure his vital status to remain in the UK.

Andres Garcia, who now lives in Cwmavon, was one of thousands of EU citizens currently living in Britain who have been faced with the prospect of proving their right to remain in this country after the UK Government instructed them to achieve EU Settled Status.

All EU citizens living in Britain were told they must meet the criteria for Settled Status by Wednesday June 30 or become classed as unlawful.

Mr Garcia (pictured below) was able to secure his Settled Status after contacting our office but said: “I never thought I would have to go through this nightmare.”

A friend of the 58-year-old contacted our office earlier this year asking for help on his behalf.

Mr Garcia, who is also a father-of-two and a grandfather, had tried to apply online for Settled Status but struggled because he didn’t have a current Spanish passport.

We were able to secure him a paper version of his passport and also wrote to the Spanish Embassy in London and Manchester as well as the Spanish Ambassador because Mr Garcia couldn’t renew his passport due to lockdown.

Several weeks later he got his Settled Status and said: “I never thought, after 30 years of living in this country, I would have to go through this nightmare.

“I was struggling to maintain my permanent status on my own and was having a great amount of stress caused by this due to most things being shut due to COVID but after I gained contact with Mr Kinnock’s advisers a massive weight was taken of my shoulders.”

Settled Status means that people have the right to live, work, and remain indefinitely, free of immigration control. It also means that the holder can access public funds such as benefits, and after 12 months, apply for British citizenship.

The Labour Party is calling on the UK Government to extend the deadline for the EU Settlement Scheme by three months and Mr Kinnock’s office is also helping a 92-year-old Italian woman faced with proving her right to remain in the UK.

I said: “I am delighted we were able to secure the vital victory for Mr Garcia and relieve the unimaginable stress this must have placed on him and his family.

“Unfortunately this is not an isolated case and it is appalling that hard-working people who have, in some cases, lived in this country for decades are now being forced to prove their right to remain.

“I and my colleagues in the Labour Party will do everything we can to ensure no-one has to suffer such levels of anxiety just to live their lives.”

** Sensory garden officially opened in Port Talbot school

It was a great honour to attend the official opening of the Ysgol Hendrefelin sensory garden in Port Talbot earlier this month.

This was a real community effort which transformed a former car park area into a fantastic facility for children aged 11-14 in the space of just two months.

I’m sure it will play such a vital role in the development of these young people and my thanks go to all involved.

** Coding and robotics helps NPT children bridge digital skills gap

CHILDREN in Neath Port Talbot will soon be taking a leap into the future thanks to a hi-tech coding and robotics project being led by libraries and schools.

The unique ‘:bits & PCs’ scheme being launched later this year will offer young people in the area training using laptops and micro:bits with the aim of creating enthused, enabled and skilled coders across Port Talbot, Neath and Pontardawe.

It will also see Neath Port Talbot Library staff and teachers from participating schools given the chance to learn new digital skills and taught coding and microbit programme delivery.

They will also be shown how to create resources linked to the school curriculum and trained to deliver child-led coding sessions at all three of the borough’s central libraries.

Not-for-profit organisation A2B Active Sport CIC (A2B CIC), in conjunction with NPT Library Services has won grant funding for the scheme that is designed to tackle educational inequality and disparity of opportunity for schoolchildren in Neath Port Talbot (NPT).

‘:bits & PCs’ also aims to improve future employability prospects, enhance life chances and narrow the attainment gap for hundreds of children and adults in NPT.

Once the project is complete, NPT Library Services will be given 18 laptops and a large supply of micro:bits to enable them to offer Coding Clubs as a separate and sustainable programme.

A2B CIC Director Simon Pridham said: ‘’The UK has a digital skills crisis: it is estimated that the country’s digital skills gap costs the UK economy £63 billion in lost revenue. Wales sits bottom placed with regards the level of digital skills in the national workforce.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has knocked things back further and while matters are improving, much more needs to be done.

“In all relevant surveys conducted, education is listed as the key in developing digital opportunities. Literacy in coding provides a massive advantage in a technology driven economy. Traditional IT training teaches people how to consume IT; coding teaches them how to create it. Coding puts children and adults in control of the computer and lets them learn through experimentation, by mastering the concepts of logic and consequence’’

Mr Pridham also thanked our office for our support in securing funding for the project funding through our annual funding fair.

He said: “ Stephen Kinnock is a very proactive and innovative MP, who is in tune with the needs of the community in Port Talbot. His help for this project has been invaluable; through his Funding Fair, which he holds every year in different venues around the town, not-for-profit organisations, charities, community groups, sports and social enterprises like A2B CIC, are able to meet funders face-2-face.

In doing so, we are able to run projects past the funders to gauge interest, obtain advice and forge personal relationships.”

I said: “It is essential that we give all children access to innovative and forward thinking educational programmes such as ‘:bits & PCs’ in order to bridge the digital skills gap and provide the best possible opportunities for long lasting and rewarding careers.

“I was delighted that A2B CIC was able to secure vital funding for this scheme through the connections they made at our annual funding fair which has seen many dream projects turned into a reality thanks to crucial financial assistance being accessed when it is needed the most.”

** Visit to Wernick

I was honoured to be able to see first hand the incredible hi-tech work of Wernick Group Limited, one of Port Talbot’s major employers.

It is fantastic that our constituency is home to such well-established firms leading the way on the national stage.

I was also thrilled to hear about Wernick’s plans for expansion and long term career opportunities companies like theirs are providing for the people of our community.

** Beauty Bank Donations

I was thrilled to deliver vital donations to the Foodbank at Cymmer Afan Community Library and Port Talbot Foodbank at Carmel Chapel.

The items were very kindly donated to my office by the wonderful team at Beauty Banks.

They are a brilliant organisation who want to put an end to hygiene poverty by supplying personal care and hygiene essentials to those who are unable to access or afford them.

** Visiting Rhondda Tunnel

I was incredibly lucky to have the chance to visit the Rhondda Tunnels which have so much potential to become a major tourist attraction linking the communities of the Rhondda and Afan Valleys as a pedestrian and cycling route.

At almost two miles long, the former Rhondda and Swansea Bay Railway Tunnel will be the longest tunnel in Europe and second longest in the world, for walking and cycling.

I have been working closely with the The Rhondda Tunnel Society. to ensure the success of this exciting development.

** Port Talbot Town Cricket Club

It was great to visit Port Talbot Town Cricket Club and see their fantastic new training facilities. The training nets were part funded by Sport Wales and I was delighted to help them secure funding.

Also a real honour to be presented with a club tie by chairman Mark Jones.

** Coedffranc Primary

I enjoyed my visit to Coedffranc Primary to speak with Years 5 and 6 about their climate change project - 'What would happen if we don't make a change?'

It was great to hear so many young people enthusiastic about tackling climate change and they had some really interesting ideas about changes they would like to see to help prevent climate change.

** This Month In Parliament
Standing up for Steel: Forcing the UK Government to u-turn on safeguard removals

On 19 May the Trade Remedies Authority (a UK government body) set out its intentions to remove nine safeguards which protect UK steelmakers from surges in steel imports. Such surges are often brought about by countries such as China, who deliberately overproduce steel and dump it into European markets to gain an uncompetitive advantage. Import surges would severely damage UK steel companies, and in turn their workforces and steel communities. Eight of the 10 biggest steel producing countries have safeguards to protect their steel industries, so removing the safeguards would put the UK at a serious disadvantage.

Initially UK Conservative ministers gave indications that they would back the TRA recommendations, but after a relentless month-long campaign by the trade body UK Steel, Community Union, and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Steel (which I chair), the UK government were forced into an embarrassing but welcome u-turn on extending a number of the crucial safeguards. A victory for unions, business and steel MPs working together! Long may it continue.

Yet more work needs to be done by the UK government to level the playing field between UK steelmakers and European competitors. In a speech in Parliament, and in a letter to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, I set out the why he must step in to ensure that industrial electricity prices should be cut to fall in line with prices in France and Germany, not increase as Ofgem are recommending. I also set out why we need a plan for greening the steel industry which prepares steelworkers for these changes, making absolutely clear that decarbonisation must not mean deindustrialisation. The Conservative government are dragging their feet and are well behind other steelmaking countries in their planning.
Standing up for British values and interests

In my role as Shadow Minister for Asia & Pacific I have been standing up for democracy, international law and human rights around the globe – principles that we must protect if liberal democracies such as Britain are to flourish. This month Labour has called for the UK government to undertake a political and diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February 2022, to send a clear message to Beijing that the Chinese government’s genocide against the Uyghur people will not go unnoticed. We’re calling for UN Investigators to be allowed into Xinjiang ahead of the next UN meeting on 14 September.

On 15 July, following a debate in Parliament, MPs backed a motion supporting a political and diplomatic boycott, albeit with the Tory government shamefully abstaining. It was widely recognised that sending the Royal Family and British politicians to the Games would not be fair on those dignitaries as they would be forced to legitimise an increasingly oppressive and authoritarian Chinese regime. Labour is also calling for more sanctions on Chinese officials in a bid to get the Chinese government to change its behaviour.

On another matter, I’ve been standing up for the British Council – a cornerstone of UK cultural influence abroad which has helped make Britain a soft power superpower. The Council now faces the closure offices in 20 countries due to shortfall in government support through Covid-19. Worst still, it is being forced to sell its culturally influential English language teaching operation in India – and which also generates significant revenue – to a competitor so that it can afford to pay its staff redundancy and meet the punitive repayment terms of a UK government loan. This is the definition of a false economy and the UK government’s actions make a mockery of their increasingly vacuous ‘Global Britain’ slogan.
Supporting a UK Labour renaissance

While the Welsh Labour government goes from strength to strength, the UK Labour Party has had a difficult 10 years. Leader Keir Starmer has done an excellent job of laying the foundations on which we can rebuild, but he needs support to win back the voters who feel Labour no longer stands for them. This is why I have launched ‘Renaissance’, with support from other MPs and leading Labour figures, and with the blessing of Keir’s team.

Renaissance will have a laser-like focus in helping Labour reconnect with former voters. As an organisation we are clear that 104 of our 124 target seats for the next election are outside the major cities, but this is not just about electoral gains; Renaissance is clear that it is Labour’s moral purpose and historic mission to be a whole nation party that appeals to workers and families across the length and breadth of Britain. Our research will support this endeavour.

You can find out more about Renaissance on our website, join the Renaissance mailing list to stay in touch, and follow Renaissance on Twitter: ([link removed]) , @lab_renaissance ([link removed])

** Media Highlights

I spoke to The Wave radio station about the appalling plans by the UK Government to reverse a £20 rise in Universal Credit.

Around 40% of those claiming Universal Credit are in work so this plan to cut the benefit would hit those households as well as those not in work.

It is simply shameful that the Government wants to take £1,000 a year from thousands of families in Aberavon in a matter of months.

** Contact Details

YOU can get in touch with us by calling the office on 01639 897660.

Alternatively please send an email to [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) or follow this link to subscribe to my newsletter [link removed]

We are not currently operating a drop-in surgery in the office, but you can book a call-back or Teams appointment with a caseworker, Monday to Friday, by completing this form [link removed]
All the best,

Stephen Kinnock
MP for Aberavon

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MP for Aberavon
Water Street Business Centre
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Port Talbot, Neath Port Talbot SA12 6LF
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