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CALLS FOR RETAILER BAN ON FIREWORKS SALES

MP WRITES TO CEOs TO FOLLOW SAINSBURY’S LEAD WITH FIREWORK BAN AND HEED PUBLIC CALLS

Motherwell and Wishaw MP, Marion Fellows, has written to the CEOs of major retailers to call for them to follow suit with Sainsbury’s and ban the sale of fireworks in their stores as Bonfire Night approaches.

Sainsbury’s announced their ban on Thursday (17 October) which Mrs Fellows supports due to the impact fireworks can have on the physical and mental wellbeing of people and animals.

Mrs Fellows has written to the CEOs of Asda, Tesco, Morrison’s, Lidl, Aldi, Spar, and The Range.

Last year, Mrs Fellows called for the UK Government to enforce greater regulations on the sale of fireworks when a constituent’s car was set on fire. The UK Government refused, and Mrs Fellows has since called for powers to be devolved to Scotland and made these calls again by signing a motion in Parliament.

A Scottish Government consultation found that 94% want tighter controls on the sale of fireworks; 92% feel there should be tighter controls on fireworks use; 93% want stronger regulations to ensure animals are not caused unnecessary suffering as a result of fireworks misuse; 87% would support an outright ban on the sale of fireworks; and 70% reported being affected by fireworks used in an irresponsible or unsafe way.

Scottish Minister, Ash Denham MSP, said she will make a statement to Parliament soon on what steps the Scottish Government will be taking using its limited powers.

Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:

“It is the explicit view of people in Motherwell, Wishaw and Bellshill, and communities across Scotland that there must be tighter controls on the sale of fireworks. If the UK Government won’t act, then retailers who sell fireworks must take a portion of the responsibility for the harm fireworks are causing to peoples’ physical and mental wellbeing and stop selling them.

“Every year as Bonfire Night approaches, my office is inundated with complaints about fireworks. Some incidents can result in detrimental and lifechanging consequences for people and their families.

“Young children, people with PTSD – including our veterans – and people with Autism Spectrum Conditions can all be mentally affected by fireworks. Pets and wild animals are also impacted.

“It is utterly heart breaking to hear that people do not feel safe or comfortable in their own homes and feel this way not just on Bonfire Night, but in the weeks leading up to it and after. Enough is enough.”

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MP MARION READY TO FIGHT ELECTION AND BRING DOWN TORIES

MARION FELLOWS RE-SELECTED AS SNP CANDIDATE FOR MOTHERWELL & WISHAW

Marion Fellows, MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, was today re-selected by local branches as the SNP’s candidate for the next Westminster General Election and says she is ready to fight a snap election to bring down the Tories.

Marion says she will continue to prioritise the same three issues she always has: defending Scottish sovereignty; opposing austerity and supporting investment in jobs and services; and halting the Tories’ Brexit plans.

Marion has spearheaded campaigns to protect the Post Office network locally and nationally; making the Child Maintenance Service fairer for families; raising awareness of Autistic Spectrum Conditions; and improve access to lifechanging Cystic Fibrosis drugs.

Marion served as a Wishaw Councillor from 2012 to 2015 when she was elected as the Member of Parliament for Motherwell and Wishaw and re-elected again in 2017.

Commenting, Marion Fellows said:

“It has always been a privilege to fight for the wonderful communities in Motherwell, Wishaw and Bellshill. I’m elated my branch has re-selected me as their candidate. The SNP is ready to fight an election at any time and bring down the Tory Government.

“We need to halt Brexit so we can continue trading to protect jobs and services. We need to end austerity and invest in people and our economy. We need to defend the will of Scotland’s people and Parliament and stop the Westminster power grab.

“Corbyn’s Labour and the Tories are in engaged in full-blown civil wars. Labour has failed to form a coherent position on Brexit and the Tories’ position is tearing communities apart. The SNP has a clear plan to stop austerity and Brexit.

“I know the struggles of local, hardworking people. Johnson and his pals don’t. It will be ordinary families, not the Tories, who will pay the price of a no deal Brexit and continued austerity.”E

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AMAZING AUTISM SUPPORT GROUPS

Yesterday I met with parents from local support group – PDA Awareness & Support Group. PDA (pathological demand avoidance) is a neurological condition that affects many individuals with Autism Spectrum Conditions. The meeting was very informative shedding light on the ways in which children and young people with PDA are affected in their everyday lives with a focus on educational needs that are not being met.

The group supports parents in accessing information and services they require for their children.

Currently parents are championing the government to introduce a PDA Toolbox for teachers as the current autism toolbox is not inclusive of the strategies necessary for teachers to support students with PDA.

I intend to support this group as much as I can and encourage everyone to raise their awareness of PDA.

This coming Saturday you can demonstrate your support by attending the Community Awareness event where you can meet this group and other voluntary support groups in the constituency such as Autism Take 5.

The event will be at the Forgewood Community Centre from 1-4. Please pop in and meet these incredible parents.

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PUSH FOR ACTION ON AUTISM

MARION MEETS WITH UK MINISTER TO CALL FOR SUPPORT AND UNDERSTANDING

Motherwell and Wishaw MP, Marion Fellows, this week met with the Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work – Justin Tomlinson MP – to push for further action to increase employment amongst people with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASCs).

Following her debate two weeks ago on autism and unemployment, Marion pushed the Minister to include autism in the labour force survey as soon as possible so that progress could be measured.

The Minister was also pressed to improve training for Jobcentre staff with Marion asking to attend a training session to make her own assessment.

Marion called for quiet rooms in Jobcentres, a more flexible approach to appointments for people with ASCs and simpler application forms for PIP and ESA.

A survey from the National Autistic Society found that 16% of adults with ASCs are in full-time employment, despite 77% wanting to work. The London School of Economics found that figures have remained static since 2007 and are considerably lower than the employment figure for people belonging to other disability categories, which currently sits at 47%.

Earlier this year, Marion became the first elected representative in the UK to receive the National Autistic Society’s Autism Friendly Award.

Commenting, Marion said:

“We are achieving progress on support for and understanding of people with ASCs. But the UK Government really must grasp that the bare minimum will not do and that much more needs to be done to provide equality of opportunities.

“There are many simple steps that can be taken in Jobcentres, such as quiet rooms and more flexibility with appointments, to make things more accommodating for people with ASCs.

“In turn, this will make it easier for them to get the support they need to get into employment where they have so much to offer.

“It’s not just Government Ministers who need to improve their understanding of ASCs, it’s employers and society. In addition to the work carried out by community groups in Motherwell and Wishaw and across Scotland, this will improve their life chances.”

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AUTISM UPDATE – MEETING WITH UK MINISTER

Following my debate on Autism and Unemployment, I met with Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, Justin Tomlinson MP.

In his response during the debate he advised he will be pressing the Office of National Statistics to begin recording the amount of people with Autism Spectrum Conditions in employment. I have now asked when we can expect to see these figures. I feel this will not happen overnight, but I do believe he is committed to delivering on this promise.

I pressed him on the autism awareness training initiative the department claim to be delivering to frontline staff in Jobcentres and to assessors. I am yet to be convinced the training is adequate and nothing more than a minimal briefing which is far from good enough. Therefore, I have requested that he arrange for me to attend one of the training sessions.

I have suggested the DWP provide a quiet room within Jobcentres which the Minister has agreed to consider. I also asked for a review of sanctions to achieve a more flexible approach in terms of appointments for those with ASCs.

I have reiterated the desperate need for PIP and ESA forms to be redesigned and simplified which he has agreed is required and is planning to continue working on what are currently very complex forms.

On behalf of my constituents with ASCs and people across Scotland, I will continue to press on these issues until the UK Government ensures those with ASCs are no longer excluded from accessing employment and where necessary have equal access to social security when they cannot work.

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CALL FOR ACTION ON UNEMPLOYMENT AMONGST ADULTS WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM CONDITIONS

SNP MP SECURES PROGRESS ON MEASURING UNEMPLOYMENT GAP

This week, Motherwell and Wishaw MP, Marion Fellows, urged the UK Government to act to bridge the unemployment gap between people with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASCs) and neuro-typical individuals in her debate in Parliament.

A survey from the National Autistic Society found that only 16% of adults with ASCs are in full-time employment, despite 77% of them wanting to work. The London School of Economics found that figures have remained static since 2007 and are considerably lower than the employment figure for people belonging to other disability categories, which currently sits at 47%.

While asking for steps to be taken to bridge the unemployment gap generally, Mrs Fellows asked that the UK Government ensures Jobcentre staff be trained in understanding Autism; raises awareness of the Autism Friendly Employer Award; and records Autism in the Labour Force Survey to measure progress.

Ministers have agreed to record figures and to meet with Marion to discuss her issues further. They also praised her questioning of the Department for Work and Pensions describing her as “the most prolific Member on parliamentary questions”.

Mrs Fellows praised the work of local group, Autism Take 5, and the National Autistic Society who awarded her with the Autism Friendly Award earlier this year making her the first Parliamentarian to achieve it.

Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:

“The UK Government and employers need to do more to help people with Autism Spectrum Conditions get into work and understand the condition. People with ASCs have so much to offer. People must look beyond the condition and see the person and their talents.

“The Tories’ welfare regime requires an overhaul so that people with ASCs do not continue to be discriminated against. There is still a major lack of understanding from Jobcentre and DWP staff and it is inherent in the system. People are being left behind.

“Society is making progress on understanding ASCs and people with them. But there still needs to be a bigger push from all corners and I will be doing this in my meeting with the Minister.”

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ACTION NEEDED ON UNEMPLOYMENT AMONGST ADULTS WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM CONDITIONS

The UK Government and employers need to do more to help people with Autism Spectrum Conditions get into work and understand the condition. ASCs have so much to offer.

Welfare staff and the system as a whole also need to be more understanding of the condition so ASCs are not discriminated against and left behind.

My Asks:
❓What steps will UK Gov take to close autism employment gap;
❓commit to ensuring Jobcentre staff have proper autism training;
❓commit to recording autism in labour force survey to measure progress;
❓commit to raising awareness of the autism friendly employer award?

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UNDERSTANDING AUTISM

On May 1st I was one of 82 MPs to attend the National Autistic Society’s first ever Understanding Autism session. The session provided information on what autism is and tips on how to support autistic constituents. The sessions were run by four National Autistic staff, two of whom are autistic.

The National Autistic Society believe that increasing MPs awareness and understanding of autism is an important step to improving our ability to support and champion issues that matter to autistic people in our constituencies and in Parliament too. It was agreed that kindness, patience and sensitivity would make a large difference to the way we support autistic constituents.

I was delighted to attend this session and grateful to the National Autistic Society for organising it.

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Marion Fellows first MP to receive National Autistic Society Scotland’s Autism Friendly Award

The constituency office of Marion Fellows MP has become the first in the UK to be certified as autism-friendly after achieving the National Autistic Society Scotland’s Autism Friendly Award.

To achieve the award, office staff learned about autism and made adjustments to the way they work to ensure autistic people and their families, in Marion’s Motherwell and Wishaw constituency, can access the services it offers.  

This included identifying a designated quiet room where autistic people and their families can go if they are feeling overwhelmed by anxiety or sensory overload, and offering a friendly and welcoming environment that targets the accessibility needs of autistic constituents and their families.

The Autism Friendly Award, administered by the National Autistic Society Scotland, recognises organisations that ensure autistic visitors and their families can access and enjoy their venues.

Marion Fellows, MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, said:

“It is important that my office meets the needs of my constituents and is accessible to everyone. Autistic adults are not on a level playing field with neurotypicals when trying to access employment, therefore, more autistic people are forced into applying for social security benefits. This increase in applications has resulted in more autistic people requiring assistance from their MP, due to the detrimental impact of the application process. The UK Government needs to revisit this process and take into consideration the distress and anxiety it causes.

“It has been highlighted that many autistic adults will abandon the application before submission. Those that manage to complete an application for benefits are all too often invited to assessments that are far too intimidating and impact negatively on their wellbeing. Assessors are not trained to assess autistic claimants and this leads to benefits being denied.

“It was vitally important that my office make small changes to be more autism-friendly. I would encourage all MPs to do the same. The changes do not need to be extravagant, just subtle changes can make all the difference.”

Nick Ward, director at the National Autistic Society Scotland said: “We are delighted to see the adjustments that Marion’s office has made to improve accessibility for its autistic constituents. Around 58,000 people are autistic in Scotland. This means they see, hear and feel the world differently to other people, often in a more intense way, which can make visiting a busy office a great anxiety.

“By creating a designated quiet space where autistic people and their families can go if they are feeling overwhelmed and providing autism awareness training to staff, Marion’s office has shown a real commitment to making a big difference to the lives of its autistic constituents in Motherwell and Wishaw”.

“As elected representatives, MPs are our community leaders and so need to be a leader in autism awareness and understanding. We hope that many more MPs and MSPs will follow Marion’s excellent example and make their constituency offices autism-friendly. We will then be a little bit closer to creating a world that supports and works for autistic people, their families and carers.”   

The National Autistic Society Scotland wants to support more organisations in Scotland to become autism-friendly. To find out more about the award, please visit www.autism.org.uk/autismfriendlyaward.   

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Autism Awareness Week

With next week being Autism Awareness Week, this week I called upon the UK government to agree a time for a debate with respect to the issues adults with autism spectrum disorders accessing employment and apprenticeships.

Frequently many adults with ASDs graduate university with degrees and PhDs but find that they are unable to access or maintain employment due to the work environment not being autism friendly.

Many young adults successfully complete a college course or leaveschool with a desire to access apprenticeships, but, as yet there is no legislation that mandates providers to ensure a working environment meets autism friendly requirement.

I would like to see the government introduce new legislation that makes it compulsory that all employment sectors must ensure they offer an autism friendly work environment.