This week I also visited a local charity in my constituency called Open Door. I had visited them soon after I was elected in 2005 and this was a visit to see how things were going. They do invaluable work with young people who have real problems and need support. Therapists work with individuals one by one, using talking therapies to help them back to being able to get on with their lives. This is critical work and naturally they need more funding – and deserve it, as I firmly believe it is this sort of investment in young people that later on pays back and then some. It is so easy to lose your way for one reason or another, and talking therapies are in my view one of the very best ways to support a young person so that they can cope with the rest of their lives.
The Government did allocate £175 million recently for cognitive behavioural therapy – but that is a short-term solution, not suitable for many deep seated problems and finally – no-one knows exactly how much of that money has actually filtered through to those in need. I am putting down a Parliamentary Question to find out where that money has gone. My fear is that it gets as far as the the PCT (health trust) and may then be lost in budgets. We will see.
One important fact jumped out at me during my visit – which was that the work stops at 18. Problems don’t stop at 18. And during that critical 18-25 period for young people there is virtually nothing out there. So – I am writing to the Minister to find out what you do if you are in that age bracket and you need the sort of long term help that talking therapies and constant individual support can bring.
On Saturday I cut the ribbon starting Haringey’s Relay For Life event. It took place in Albert Recreation grounds and was part of Cancer UK’s fundraising – taking part all over the country. A lot of organisation was needed to get the teams together – local people formed into teams to walk, jog or run round and round the grounds for 22 hours! Tents were pitched in the park for those taking part so they could get some sleep.
The Friends of Albert Park, the organising committee and Cancer Research – not to forget the park’s cafe – all worked incredibly hard to get this event together. Those of us who have had family members with cancer, or ourselves had cancer, know how important the work is.
My father died of cancer when I was fifteen and my mother had four types of cancer before she died around eighteen years ago. Cancer UK’s work has meant that nowadays – as opposed to when my parents died – many cancers are curable or treatable – and it is no longer necessarily the death sentence it sadly often was in those days. But there is a long way to go before all cancer sufferers survival rates are at a level where it is just another illness.
So congratulations to all who took part and all who organised such a great event. I hope they raised a shed load!
Just to demonstrate the variety in an MPs life – I then went onto a community event put on by MTO Shahmaghsuoudi, School of Islamic Sufism. This temple in the heart of Crouch End is a school of Sufism and is attended every Thursday by people from all over this part of England who come to study with their Masters.
When I arrived they were in the middle of Sufi chanting, which goes on for about fifteen minutes. Then we were broken up into four groups and taken around the temple and we had explained to us the meanings of the art works of many types, the calligraphy, the decoration and the genealogy and traditions of Islamic Sufism. Then they brought out a buffet of lovely food and refreshments.
The opening of doors to the local community by such groups I always think is a brilliant idea – as most of us know relatively little and knowing what goes on behind the doors and engaging in the local community is part of being in the community.
I spent some time chatting to one young woman (from Oxford) who had been of no religion until she encountered Sufism – and she said it had changed her life completely. I didn’t understand all that was said – but one thing I heartily approved of was the idea that women and men were entirely equal and that spirituality has no gender!