Category Archives: Visits

MP opens Hightown’s new learning and community hub

Tracey Daniel, Children's Centre Manager; Karen Summers, Headteacher High Bank School and Russell Ingleby Headteacher Hightown School and Jo Cox MP

Tracey Daniel, Children’s Centre Manager; Karen Summers, Headteacher High Bank School and Russell Ingleby Headteacher Hightown School and Jo Cox MP

Batley & Spen MP Jo Cox has been in Hightown to officially open the new Windybank Learning and Community Hub.

The hub brings together  two primary schools – High Bank and Hightown – as well as the Liversedge children’s centre and Central Avenue Community Playgroup , in an initiative which aims to give families the best start in life.

As part of the scheme, High Bank School has taken over the children’s centre building which was on its site, and has recently completed work to link the two buildings. It now provides much needed extra classrooms for its early years children and rooms have been created to accommodate community events.

The playgroup, which used to meet there, has moved into the Windybank Community Centre, while Hightown School has also seen improvements with a new nursery, learning hub and library.

Children’s centre services will now be delivered across each site to provide a more flexible delivery for parents and children.

Speaking at the official launch, which was held at High Bank on Thursday December 10, Mrs Cox said it was a “brilliant” initiative.

She said: “I am a big fan of getting early intervention for 0-5 year olds. It’s about making sure children are getting the best start in life and giving support to parents. The hub brings together the schools, playgroup and children’s centre to create a brilliant space for families to come, learn and share.”

Windybank was chosen by Kirklees Council to pilot the scheme which could be introduced in other areas of the authority. Its priorities will be to boost child and family health, prepare children for nursery and school, and give families quick access to services.

High Bank headteacher Karen Summers said: “It’s the council’s aim to re-shape services so local communities are much more involved in schools.

“It means that school is the hub for different services such as health, school nurses, social services and family workers who can come in and work with children and families in a familiar environment.

“We are pleased to be a pilot for this initiative – there is still a lot to be done and we are only a little way on our journey, but we were delighted that Mrs Cox came along and helped us to celebrate all that has been achieved so far.”

Jo opens new Wakefield Acoustics facility

Wakefield Acoustics

Wakefield Acoustics managing director Lee Nicholson with Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox and the Mayor of Kirklees Clr Paul Kane with the plaque marking the official opening of Wakefield Acoustic’s new Heckmondwike premises

Published by the Huddersfield Examiner today.

Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox officially opened the new premises of Wakefield Acoustics at Flush Mills, Heckmondwike.

A company making noise control equipment has opened a state-of-the-art facility.

Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox unveiled a plaque at the new premises of Wakefield Acoustics, at Flush Mills, Heckmondwike, before joining Kirklees Mayor Clr Paul Kane and other guests on a tour of the building.

The new facility has a modern 40,000sq ft manufacturing plant as well as offices.

Wakefield Acoustics said the move from Cleckheaton to larger premises will give the company the capacity to continue to serve its growing international customer base. It has also enabled the business to take on seven new staff from the local area.

Lee Nicholson, managing director, said: “We are very proud to have officially opened our new facility, which signifies a substantial step forward for the company.

“The new premises will allow us to continue to serve our customer base, which has seen significant growth in recent years, as well as continue to hire more staff from the local area.”

Wakefield Acoustics recently announced a 50% increase in turnover since 2012 and has plans to double turnover by 2018.

It said activity had increased in a number of core markets, with orders growing across the board. The firm continued to make progress in overseas markets.

The company works with many of the world’s leading blue chip companies – with experience across sectors such as oil and gas, petrochemicals, power generation, water and waste, recycling and general industry and infrastructure.

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.

MP presented with art work for new Batley office

Hollybank_artBatley and Spen MP Jo Cox is almost ready to move into her new constituency office in Batley.

And when Mrs Cox mentioned the news while on a visit to the Hollybank Trust in Hartshead last week she was presented with a piece of art by one of their adult residents for the wall of the new office!

Batley Boys Enterprise College has also offered Mrs Cox art for her new Batley office.

“The lease has been signed, we’re very close,” said Mrs Cox. “It has been a long and drawn out process but I wanted my office to be in Batley, I made no secret of that.

“But finding a suitable place wasn’t easy so we’ve had to make sure we didn’t do anything to jeopardise the one we did find. After a lot of negotiations the end is now in sight.”

The office will be on Branch Road in the town centre and be home to her constituency team, which has been operating from a temporary office in Cleckheaton since hours after the general election result.

She added: “It’s been very frustrating at times but we’ve done very well making sure we’ve not allowed any of this to impact on local people. The staff have worked very hard since the general election to ensure it has been business as usual.

“The priority has been offering a service and making a difference. We have already dealt with hundreds and hundreds of cases and letters and helped local people with a wide range of issues. It’s testament to just how hard the team is working.”

Mrs Cox’s office telephone number – 01924 910499 – will not change. Alternatively constituents can email jo.cox.mp@parliament.uk

Mrs Cox is pictured thanking Pam King, the chief executive of Hollybank Trust, for the artwork donated by the school and residential home for the wall of her new office.