Category Archives: Children

MP Pledges her Support for Engineering

Following complaints from local oil and gas companies about the lack of engineers, MP for Aberdeen South, Dame Anne Begg pledged her support to help fix the engineering skills shortage in Aberdeen, and the rest of the UK, by highlighting to young people the many exciting careers available in engineering and technology.

Dame Anne has signed up to the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) pledge to support engineering in their constituency.

Dame Anne said: “Demand for engineers in the UK remains high and nowhere is it higher than in Aberdeen. Employers in Aberdeen involved in oil and gas and the supply chain often raise the shortage of engineers with me as a problem for their business and, with an ageing workforce, there is a pressing need to promote STEM to young people to develop the engineers of tomorrow.

“Further, we continue to see more women than men attending university but the level of female students studying STEM remains low.

“Having signed the IET Skills Pledge as part of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, I will continue to promote STEM to both boys and girls when I go into local schools.”

The motivation for the pledge comes in response to findings from the IET’s 2014 Engineering and Technology Skills and Demand in Industry survey, which indicate that 53 per cent of employers believe they should get more involved with schools, colleges and universities to help change the perception of engineering among young people.

MP Celebrates School Support Staff and Calls for Their Work to be Better Rewarded

Aberdeen South MP, Dame Anne Begg, has sponsored a motion in Parliament welcoming the Stars in Our School campaign organised by UNISON and celebrating the crucial role of school support staff in helping children learn.

Stars in Our Schools day will be celebrated across the UK on 28th November with schools holding awards ceremonies, putting on special assemblies and even dressing up as super heroes to celebrate their support staff.

School support staff help children learn, keep children safe and healthy and make sure schools run smoothly. They are the caterers, the admin staff, the finance officers, the teaching assistants, the librarians, the ICT technicians, the parent support advisers, and more, all of whom are represented by UNISON.

Supporting the campaign, Dame Anne said: “From my own experience working as a teacher, I know that it takes a whole team to make a school a safe and happy place for children to learn.

“School support staff are vital to the effective running of a school, but they are usually tucked away behind the scenes. They are the unsung heroes of our children’s education.

“That’s why I am supporting the Stars in Our Schools campaign and I am calling for more to be done to ensure that school support staff are better rewarded for the work they do, with proper career structures and better pay, terms and conditions.”

Karen Davidson, Branch Secretary at UNISON added: “We have organised this celebration of school support staff to show our appreciation of the excellent job they do. We know the input they have with the pupils is valued and schools would not run as effectively without these dedicated staff. Unison is proud to represent school support staff and they are all stars in our schools.”

You can read the full text of the motion here.

Whizz-Kidz urges disabled people to rate and review wheelchair services, in ‘world first’ website

In a world first, a pioneering new facility dubbed ‘TripAdvisor for wheelchair services’ aiming to give disabled people a voice to rate and review their experiences, is being backed by national disability charity Whizz-Kidz.

Disabled people unhappy with the wheelchair service they get, who have had to endure lengthy waits, or those wanting to praise a service that’s helped them can now do just that – anonymously – on patient experience website

Whizz-Kidz is proud to support and encourage users to engage with the new service, with CEO Ruth Owen OBE claiming it will paint a true picture of the experiences of wheelchair users across the UK:

‘Whizz-Kidz knows from listening to the young people and their families who have to turn to us, that in many areas wheelchair users have lengthy waits and often aren’t given appropriate equipment by their local NHS wheelchair service,’ she said.

‘We believe affords us all – including me as a wheelchair user – an opportunity to reflect the reality of wheelchair services across the UK, and affect lasting change by having our voices heard and concerns acted upon.’

The site already provides a platform for feedback on other aspects of healthcare including doctors, hospitals and pharmacies, the latest service is aimed at giving a voice to wheelchair users. Already a number of users have documented their experiences, with claims of a postcode lottery of services, and unsuitable equipment for young people.

Others have commended their local service for putting the user at the centre of the consultation for a new chair and keeping them informed throughout the process. site founder Neil Bacon said: ‘It’s time to listen to the previously unheard voices of wheelchair users and their families.’

Wheelchair user Dame Anne Begg – MP for Aberdeen South, and Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee – said: ‘This is a really important step in giving a voice to wheelchair users across the UK.  As a wheelchair user myself and an MP representing wheelchair users and their families in my constituency, I am really excited by this development which, for the first time, will give wheelchair users the opportunity to rate and review the services they receive. I hope we will see improved services and better outcomes for wheelchair users as a result.’

To rate your service visit

Whizz-Kidz estimates there are still over 70,000 children in the UK waiting for the right equipment to fit their young lives. The right wheelchair and mobility equipment is not automatically provided on the NHS. Whizz-Kidz aims to work where possible with local NHS services, and aims to ensure that much-needed improvements are made in delivering wheelchair services for children in the UK.

MP Criticises Lack of Action Over Child Poverty in Aberdeen

Dame Anne criticises lack of action over child poverty in Aberdeen as recent figures show 18% of children in Aberdeen grow up in poverty.

Aberdeen South MP, Dame Anne Begg, says that only Labour’s plans to tackle the cost of living will help reduce child poverty in Aberdeen.

The release of the child poverty map by the Campaign to End Child Poverty showed that 18 per cent of children in Aberdeen are living in poverty after meeting housing costs. This is on the back of recent news that unemployment in Aberdeen South is 1 per cent.

Commenting on the report Dame Anne said: “Despite unemployment in Aberdeen South sitting at one percent, children are still living in poverty. We have an acute housing shortage, energy bills soaring, and jobs aren’t paying enough.

“We face the biggest housing crisis in a generation and both Tories in Westminster and Nationalists in Holyrood are letting children down.

“The Tories always say work is the best route out of poverty, but we can see in Aberdeen that simply isn’t the case.”

Dame Anne went onto criticise the Scottish Government: “The SNP have failed to use the measures open to them to mitigate the impact of Tory policies like the bedroom tax.  The SNP have refused to use all the Scottish Welfare fund and the fuel poverty budget, at a time when 900,000 households are in fuel poverty.

“Labour has endorsed the comprehensive plan set out by Sir Michael Lyons Housing Review, the first of its kind in a generation, which shows how Labour will meet their commitment of building 200,000 homes a year by 2020 and sets a course for doubling the number of first-time buyers by 2025. Labour will also increase the minimum wage, and freeze energy bills.

“Only Labour has a plan to tackle the cost of living crisis and help lift children out of poverty in Aberdeen.”

International Day of the Girl 

Dame Anne Begg MP is today supporting International Day of the Girl, a UN-led campaign to raise awareness of gender inequalities and abuse suffered by girls around the world and this year’s theme is “Empowering adolescent girls: Ending the cycle of violence”.

The Labour Party has made stopping violence against women and girls a key priority for their programme for Government. Earlier this year, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper MP announced that a Labour Government would bring in new legislation to give better support to victims of violence and bring perpetrators to justice. And in the summer the Party appointed Seema Malhotra MP as the first ever Shadow Minister for Preventing Violence against Women and Girls.

The Labour Party has committed to:

  • Introducing a new Commissioner of Domestic and Sexual Violence to sit at the heart of Government and ensure victims voices are being heard
  • New national standards for policing to drive up performance across the board
  • Introducing compulsory sex & relationship education in all state-funded schools, so young people are taught that no form of violence in relationships is acceptable
  • A new £3million annual fund for refuges supporting victims of domestic violence
  • New FGM Protection Orders to stop children suspected of being at risk of FGM from being taken abroad

Dame Anne said: “I want girls in Aberdeen South growing up knowing they won’t face discrimination because of their gender and never fearing violence will be used against them. That is why it is important that we continue to fight for gender equality and continue speaking out against violence and discrimination – in our local area, but also across the country and internationally too.

“This is an incredibly important cause and that’s why a Labour Government – and a Labour MP in Aberdeen South – will make it a priority.”

Seema Malhotra MP, Shadow Minister for Preventing Violence Against Women and Girls said: “The global level of violence girls in our country is horrific. All too often rape and violence are used as weapons of war and in many countries discrimination against girls is deeply embedded in the national culture. International Day of the Girl is an important moment where we can stand side-by-side with women and girls across the world and say: ‘we will not stand for this. We want change.’

“And we need change in our country too. Teenage girls and young women are now the most likely group to be victims of domestic violence, thousands of girls are at risk of FGM and NUS report a growing number of sexual assaults at university.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to this growing violence. That is why Labour is putting this issue centre stage in our plans for Government.”

You can find out more about the UN International Day of the Girl at:

MP Visits Home-Start Aberdeen

Anne visited Home-Start Aberdeen with her colleague Richard Baker MSP on Monday 6th October to mark Home-Start’s manifesto which was launched in Westminster in July.

Home-Start aims to support families under stress offering friendship together with emotional and practical support and the manifesto highlights the issues that Home-Start families are facing.

In Aberdeen, each year around 100 Home-Start volunteers work with approximately 200 families including over 500 children. Home-Start Aberdeen also manages the Recipe for Life project to provide practical assistance to prepare nutritious food and runs a charity chop at 101 George Street.

    Home Start Aberdeen with Anne and Richard2

During the visit, Scheme Manager Georgette Cobban spoke about the variety of families they support across the city and the many reasons why families are referred to them. She also spoke about their recent initiative to recruit 50 volunteers over 50 weeks to allow them to meet the demand for their service.

For more information about Home-Start Aberdeen, go to

The manifesto can be read in full at

Aberdeen South Celebrates Competition Winners

A film nominated by Anne for a national film competition has collected first place.

Anne was delighted to see a group of her constituents from Ferryhill School and other school children from Sunny Bank and Skene Square Primaries won the under 19 award in the Parliament sponsored competition, ‘Film the House’.

Working with the Belmont Cinema and North East Scotland College, the school children aged between 8 and 12 developed a film about ghost bullies. The children wrote and starred in the film, and developed the film as part of the National Youth Festival of 2013.

Anne welcomed two of the young filmmakers to Parliament
Anne welcomed two of the young filmmakers to Parliament

The film can be viewed here –

Sainsbury’s Active Kids Initiative

Sainsbury's - Dame A Begg

Dame Anne was delighted to meet with Ellie Simmonds as part of Sainsbury’s Active Kids for All Inclusive PE Training programme, an initiative designed to improve the quality of PE provision for young disabled people in mainstream schools in the UK.

As part of their 2012 Paralympic Games legacy, Sainsbury’s developed Active Kids for All Inclusive PE training to give teachers the confidence and skills to provide high quality PE for all young people. Sainsbury’s will be investing £1 million over four years in Active Kids For All training courses that will ensure over 500,000 young disabled children will lead healthier and more active lifestyles.

Dame Anne said “I know what an important part many of my constituents have played in collecting Active Kids vouchers, which is helping young children understand cooking and healthy eating from a young age. With the ‘Active Kids for All’ teaching programme it’s great to see how well the scheme is developing and the important part it plays in today’s educational society. I hope schools, groups and clubs across Aberdeen have fun collecting over the next few months and I hope even more will join this great scheme”

Disabled Kids’ Achievements Celebrated at Star-studded Ceremony

Dame Anne Begg joined the disabled children’s charity Whizz-Kidz at a star-studded awards ceremony to celebrate the achievements of young disabled people from across the UK.

The Kidz Unlimited Awards, held in the House of Commons, and hosted by Channel 4’s Rick Edwards, showcased the talent and achievements of Whizz-Kidz Ambassadors from across the UK.Image

The Aberdeen South MP met with young Ambassadors from the charity to congratulate them on their achievements and talk about their aspirations.

Dame Anne said: “It was fantastic to meet the Whizz-Kidz Ambassadors at the Kidz Unlimited Awards – they really are an inspirational group of young people.

“Whizz-Kidz do great work locally providing disabled children and young people with wheelchairs and with life skills through their work placements programme and wheelchair skills training

“I’m very proud to be one of the charity’s Parliamentary Champions and to support their work in Aberdeen and across the UK.”

For more information about Whizz-Kidz’s work providing disabled children and young people a chance of a childhood and the skills for a bright future, visit

World School Milk Day

Anne was delighted to visit Cove Bay Kindergarten to celebrate this year’s World School Milk Day.

World School Milk Day is organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and it promotes the importance of drinking milk to children in a fun and educational way.Cove Bay Kindergarten 16 09 13 photo 6

Following the visit, Dame Anne said: “I am always delighted to have the opportunity to support World School Milk Day and raise awareness of the importance of the school milk scheme.

“The social and health benefits to children are extensive. As well as boosting social interaction and teaching the children to share, the scheme also ensures that children benefit from the nutritional qualities of milk aiding their physical development.

“I loved drinking milk as a child and I still do!”Cove Bay Kindergarten 16 09 13 photo 12