Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

Update From Catherine Bearder – Member of the European Parliament for South East England

I’ve been able to get around to lots of areas in the South East this month meeting lots of interesting people, which is one of the most rewarding part of my job.  I attended a youth conference at a school in West Sussex at the beginning of the month and was able to talk to the young people about one of the issues closet to my heart, human trafficking. You can read more here.

This week I visited the Diamond Light Source in Oxfordshire.  It’s a national scientific institute called a synchrotron light source and it has led to major breakthroughs in health, environment and engineering.  They really are doing amazing things at the speed of light and you can read more here.

This weekend is the South Central Regional conference.  As always, it’ll be a great opportunity to catch up with old friends as well as debate some serious issues.  Both Sharon and I will be speaking as well as Paul Burstow MP and I look forward to seeing a lot of you there.  You can find out more information and look at last minute registration here.

Apprenticeship boost for the South East

It was National Apprenticeships week this month and I took the opportunity to visit a training event for pupils from Oxfordshire and Berkshire to show them the benefits of apprenticeships, in the case in the energy sector.  I am a huge fan of apprenticeships, I know more than most that the traditional educational path isn’t for everyone! 

Before I visited the energy firm SSE’s training centre in Thatcham it was announced that there has been a 49 per cent increase in the number of apprenticeships across the South East since 2009, to almost 60,000 in 2011.

I was interested to hear that many of their senior staff began their careers as apprentices.  Employers benefit from Government support for the costs of training their apprentices and they offer a fantastic opportunity for people to get on the job training that can lead to a fulfilling career.

Vince Cable also recently announced a new scheme of incentives for small employers to take on their first young apprentice. To encourage small firms to take on a young apprentice aged 16 to 24, the Government will offer companies with up to 50 employees an incentive payment of up to £1,500.

All apprenticeships with SSE will start in August 2012 and applicants have until 18 March to apply for the programme which usually attracts thousands of applications. Anyone interested in applying should visit www.sse-apprentices.co.uk.

Bite the Ballot rallies EU support

I’ve spoken in previous newsletters about a group that I’ve been involved with called Bite the Ballot.  They’re a campaign group aimed at encouraging young people to get involved in politics and this month I invited them to take their message to Europe.

The group begin in Dartford when a local teacher Michael Sani spearheaded the scheme in 2010 after his own pupils told him they were not interested in politics.

Michael brought a team of youngsters from Bite the Ballot to Brussels this month in a bid to forge links with other European countries.  The meeting attracted MEPs from six countries, who were keen to learn how they could to encourage higher voter turnout amongst young people.

I’m a patron of Bite the Ballot, (along with Nick Clegg and Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson so I’m in illustrious company!) and I invited Mike and his team to the parliament because it is a cause that needs supporting. It is vital we engage more young people in politics and let them know their votes count and they can have an impact on big decisions in their communities. I often visit schools to speak about my work because I know that we politicians aren’t doing enough to engage with young people.

O’Leary and Co urged to tackle human trafficking

This month I’ve urged European low-cost airlines to take a stand against human trafficking.

Ryanair and Easyjet are among a number of carriers I’ve written to asking them to help put a stop to the vile trade in human beings.  Airlines are on the frontline to tackle trafficking and I want to know what steps they are taking to deal with the problem.

The Olympics and the European Football Championships will undoubtedly be great events, and the airlines will be major players in ferrying thousands of people across Europe during the summer.

In 2007, the Home Office UK Action Plan on tackling human trafficking, said many victims arrive into Britain on flights operated by low cost airlines, particularly those serving Eastern and Southern Europe and I want to find out what the companies are doing to make life as difficult as possible for the gangs behind this horrific crime.

Next month I’m going to see the work being done by Virgin Atlantic who have offered all of its 3,500 cabin crew the opportunity to undertake training to spot the tell-tale signs.

They believe human traffickers work hard to put on a false front when they check in, but the true relationship between passengers can become clear during a long flight. A hotline has also been set up allowing UK Border Agency staff to take reports and meet a flight and question people concerned.  There is no reason why other airlines can’t follow Virgin’s example and I’ll let you know what responses I get.

Is your project entitled to a European Grant?

The European Cultural Foundation has started receiving applications for Collaboration Grants, do you know of an organisation that could be entitled?

The Collaboration Grant scheme provides funding for cross-border cultural activities for organisations working with partners across wider Europe on multidisciplinary artistic projects. Partner applicants can work in sectors outside the cultural field. ECF regard the ideal ‘collaboration’ as one that brings a renewed understanding of Europe to people of all backgrounds, and inspires them to regard the world’s future as a shared enterprise. The average award funded is €15,000 with the maximum being €30,000.

The call for applications opened at 09.30 (CET) on 20 February and closes at 17.00 (CET) on 2 May 2012. This year, ECF is issuing just one call for Collaboration Grants instead of two – so start planning your application now!
You can apply online until 2 May 2012… Good luck!

For more on how to apply, to access the how to applyPDF booklet and the application form, click here.

This Month’s Euromyth

Last month an article appeared in The Express that can be read here.

“EU BRAINWASH OUR CHILDREN”

The article raised concerns over “EU activities in British schools, including the handing out of brightly coloured EU-branded pencil cases”.

The idea that giving teachers pencil cases and brochures, at their own request, is “brainwashing” by the EU is, of course, nonsense. The article also points to a video showing teachers and Commission staff talking about the materials with a suggestion that this confirms the “conspiracy”.  Sadly, there is a great deal of misinformation about the EU in the UK, though I tend to avoid hyperbolic terms like “brainwashing”. But it does not come from the European Commission. The Euromyths website, where the Express features frequently, provides many examples.

For more myth-busting, have a look at the Euromyth section on my website. Hopefully our responses to these myths will help all of you if you’re challenged about them in a heated European debate!

The 112 number which could save your life… wherever you are!

Don’t know how to call the police in Bulgaria? Wouldn’t know which number to use for the fire brigade in France?

I and other MEPs took the opportunity this month to remind people they only need to remember one number when travelling in the EU.

The free emergency number 112 is common to all 27 member states – including the UK – and connects to ambulance, fire or police.

It has been in use for 20 years, but research has shown only one in four people knows about the number. Every year 150 million people travel around the EU, they should all know about 112. We can get children to remember it too by saying: one mouth, one nose and two eyes.

I will be keeping these newsletters coming out regularly to keep you all up to date with my work in the European parliament and the region but if there’s anything you want to see in these pages or any issues or problems you feel I should be looking at then don’t hesitate to contact me at catherine@bearder.eu.  My Lib Dem colleague in the European Parliament, Sharon Bowles has now started her own monthly newsletter and you can sign up by visiting her website at www.sharonbowles.org.uk.

With best wishes,

Catherine Bearder

Member of the European Parliament for South East England