Category Archives: Charity of the Month

Charity of the month – Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice

Jo Cox supporting Kirklees's Forget Me Not Children's HospiceJo Cox MP has marked Children’s Hospice Week by nominating Kirklees’s own hospice as her charity of the month.

Mrs Cox, the MP for Batley & Spen, promotes a local charity every month and this month is promoting Forget Me Not.

The children’s hospice, which serves all of Kirklees, is based in Huddersfield and they have a charity shop in Heckmondwike.

Mrs Cox visited the hospice and made a donation. She said:

“It was a very moving visit. The good work they do here is incredibly important. They help so many children who are expected to have a short life, and their families and loved ones. It was an honour to learn more about their work and make a small donation to help that.”

For more information about Forget Me Not please click here. For more information about Children’s Hospice Week please click here.

Newspaper column: Celebrating the work and value of volunteers

Every month Jo Cox writes a column for the Batley News and Spenborough Guardian. This month’s column appeared in this week’s editions.

Earlier this month I met a volunteer from Batley & Spen who spends some of his spare time each week visiting an elderly man. David volunteers as a befriender for the local Royal Voluntary Service. He visits, has a chat, helps out with a few things in the house and takes him out for a cuppa.

Every month I’m supporting or promoting a local charity and this month I wanted to use the Charity of the Month to highlight the wonderful work being done by RVS and organisations like them, especially at this time of year when loneliness and isolation are particularly acute.

The general election campaign brought the scale of the problem home to me, meeting so many people who raised the fact they were lonely. But what is truly startling is that most people affected won’t talk about it.

The Co-operative Group did a survey that found two thirds of people in Yorkshire would be uncomfortable confiding in a friend or relation that they feel lonely. Almost 30 per cent said they knew someone who was lonely and 14 per cent said they were regularly affected by loneliness. It is now ‘highly likely’ that people will experience loneliness at some point in their lives.

National research shows that among over 60s one in five who experience loneliness say they have no one to turn to and there are 2.5m people over 60 who wouldn’t know where to go for help. These are desperately sad statistics.

It is a particular problem among older people, with many fearing they will be a burden on loved ones or local services. The truth is that loneliness causes a burden on the NHS as the symptoms extend beyond mental health and emotional wellbeing and have a detrimental effect on physical health. But actually, young or old, loneliness doesn’t discriminate.

This is why the sort of David is doing is an incredibly valuable way of making a difference. And it is also simple, which means it is something many of us could easily help with. Looking in on a neighbour, visiting an elderly relative or making that call or visit we’ve been promising to a friend we haven’t seen in a long time.

In February the Mayor of Kirklees is sponsoring a civic celebration of volunteers, the unsung heroes making a difference in their community every day of the year. I hope anyone reading this will think about nominating anyone they know who deserves some recognition for the voluntary work they do.

Not only is this a very worthwhile event but it is also a wonderful way of promoting the sort of voluntary work David and thousands of others do right here in Batley & Spen. Sadly, while it’s nice to celebrate, increasingly more and more volunteers are needed to fill gaps in services that once were taken for granted. I hope more people with think about getting involved.

Finally, can I take this opportunity to wish all your readers a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Cleckheaton building society backs Batley Food Bank

Jo Cox is backing a local building society in its bid to support Batley Food Bank as it helps people put the basics on their kitchen table this Christmas.

S20151112_141436taff at the Skipton Building Society in Cleckheaton have launched an appeal for selection boxes and chocolate gifts to be dropped off at their branch in Northgate which they will then pass on
to the food bank in Batley.

Batley Food Bank is Mrs Cox’s charity of the month this month.

Judith Fleming, Cleckheaton branch manager, said: “So many families rely on food banks these days and they provide basic food items to keep families going.  However, the last things these parents will be able to afford this Christmas are chocolates and selection boxes for their children, as they are not seen as essential.

“We thought it would be a good idea to ask our customers and the public in general to donate gifts so we could make Christmas special for these children.

“We had enormous success last year when we did the same and hope we can surprise as many children this year.

“The Society is now acting as a collection station and we are asking customers to buy an extra selection box or chocolate gift and drop it off at our branch. We know they love to help good causes, especially at Christmas.”

October column: Mental health

Jo Cox writes a column every month for the Dewsbury Press. This is the column for October, published today.

I discovered a surprising statistic last week while visiting a local charity: more than 40% of patients visiting their GPs have illnesses that are emotionally based.

In spite of all the injuries, sprains, aches and pains, viruses and infections that lead people to the doctor’s surgery, a large proportion of issues relate in some way to mental wellbeing.

The charity was the Birstall based New Mind Counselling Service. Its staff and counsellors, all of whom are fully trained and accredited (and unpaid), offer almost 900 counselling sessions a year between them.

Tomorrow is World Mental Health Day – a day designed to promote awareness about mental health. I’ve made New Mind my Charity of the Month – throwing the spotlight on this impressive local charity, helping to raise their profile and offer my support for their vital work.

We hear again and again that mental health is a priority.  But it is clear that there is a real issue about how much funding the government provides to the NHS to deal properly with mental health, especially for children and adolescents.

As we all know Government cuts impact massively on the range and breadth of services that can be offered. For Kirklees Council this means libraries have been under threat, grass doesn’t get cut, bins get emptied less often and fewer street lights are lit.

But when it comes to mental health it’s a far more complicated process for assessing and juggling and addressing priorities.

There are real concerns that the whole emphasis of mental health services are now geared towards looking efficient and effective rather than being effective and appropriate. We have seen the emergence of a “tick box mentality” in a field where in reality no two boxes can be ticked in the same way.

Waiting times for adults and children are growing an alarming rate. Many believe the services being offered are spread way too thin to be effective and that the attempts to improve access to psychological therapies is at best cosmetic and not sincere.

There are also very strong concerns that some leading therapies are misused or underused as a treatment – providing little more than superficial attention without being robust enough or sustained enough to address many people’s underlying problems.

Here in Batley & Spen, we have a wonderful voluntary organisation providing a great, professional service, which includes many referrals from GPs, which is why I believe such services should be funded by the NHS. It’s great that GPs can make referrals to New Mind but there should be some recognition of the fact that the NHS is in effect getting its services for free.

Many of the UK’s leading mental health charities focus on getting people talking. New Mind does just that.

If mental health is as important as government ministers tell us then the funding should reflect that.

Labour has just appointed the first ever shadow mental health minister, which I hope will increase awareness about this critical issue that affects so many of us.

Each month I will be promoting a local charity, or a regional or national charity with a strong local link. Anyone with any suggestions for my future Charity of the Month can contact my office on 01924 910 499 or email me on jo.cox.mp@parliament.uk

Supporting better mental health in Batley & Spen

New_Mind_counsellingBatley & Spen MP Jo Cox paid a visit to the New Mind Counselling Service, ahead of World Mental Health Day this week (10 October).

The Birstall-based charity has a team of seven qualified counsellors and offers an affordable and professional counselling service across West Yorkshire.

Mrs Cox spoke to those who run the service and some of the volunteers who offer the counselling – all of whom do so without pay.

The Batley & Spen MP, who has named the charity her inaugural Charity of the Month, said she was very impressed with the set up.

“The counsellors offer 875 counselling sessions a year on average, they’ve had 90 new clients self refer in the last 12 months and they also receive many referrals from GPs,” she said.

“Each of the seven fully trained and unpaid counsellors do an average of 110 hours a year of counselling for New Mind.

“It is an impressive set up and absolutely vital. We need to talk much more about mental health. There are estimates that over 40% of all issues raised with GPs are emotionally based.”

Mrs Cox took on board a series of issues relating to national policy that she will raise with ministers and colleagues in Parliament.

She added: “The Government purports to give mental health parity with physical health but this is not the reality – services are under-funded and there are excessively long waiting times.

“Funding is always an issue and that is something I hope to assist with, so that this service can continue to operate on a means based, affordable basis.”

BACP accredited counsellors Christine Chappelow and Ian Mounsdon said, on behalf of the team: “We were delighted that Mrs Cox visited us and took a great interest in the service which, according to the feedback and outcomes, is highly valued by our clients.”

Every month Mrs Cox will promote one local charity or a national charity where there is a strong local connection or issue.