Nick Smith MP

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Nick Smith MP did his bit to recognise the unsung stars who help in our schools as part of a special celebration day.

UNISON’s Stars in Our Schools campaign is aiming to draw attention to support staff across the country who work to give children help to achieve their potential.

Penycwm School joined Ebbw Fawr Learning Community in recognising their support staff with a celebration day full of events and presents.

Staff were presented with goodie bags while pupils got the chance to write their own personal ‘thank you’ on boards around the school.

Blaenau Gwent MP Nick Smith, who went to Penycwm on the day to see the hard work going on at the school, said it was a great way to make sure support staff didn’t go unnoticed.

“UNISON’s campaign is a fantastic idea for a group of people who are sometimes forgotten in the scrabble over school results and curriculums.

“School support staff have an incredibly important role in making sure our schools run smoothly and I’m proud to celebrate their work as part of this year’s national Stars in our schools day.

“I encourage all my constituents to support this fantastic campaign.”

Jo Pritchard, UNISON representative at Penycwm, said support staff made a massive difference every day.

“Stars in Our Schools is a way of showing that we care. We all make a difference and this is saying we achieve together and go forward together”, she said.

“Support staff are the biggest team here at Penycwm. It’s important to be able to say well done to them, and the children have been saying thank you as well.

“It recognises support staff make a real difference to the school and children here and that everyone cares and notices that.”

For more information visit http://www.starsinourschools.uk/

Support staff are stars in Blaenau Gwent schools, says MP

Nick Smith MP did his bit to recognise the unsung stars who help in our schools as part of a special celebration day.

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Nick Smith, MP for Blaenau Gwent, is lending his support to an NSPCC campaign to make it a crime for an adult to send a sexual message to a child.

The former campaign manager for the charity is backing the Flaw in the Law campaign, which is calling on the Government to introduce a new offence so that it is always illegal for an adult to intentionally send a sexual message to a child.    

The campaign is seeking an amendment to the Serious Crime Bill, which is soon due to receive its Second Reading in the Commons.

Speaking as the charity called for more people to sign the petition at www.nspcc.org.uk/flaw, the Blaenau Gwent MP said the law just hadn’t kept up with the way abusers used the internet.

“From my time at the NSPCC I am all too aware of the horrible abuse children can suffer at the hands of adults”, he said.

“At the moment online grooming, where sex abusers can fish for victims on social networks, chat rooms and in gaming, doesn’t come under the law if there is no intention for the abuser to meet a child.

“But if it was a crime, the police could step in far earlier in the process and prevent grooming before it escalates.

“I urge everyone to sign the petition and send the Government a message that it should always be illegal for an adult to send a sexual message to a child.”

The NSPCC’s campaign comes as ChildLine, a service run by the NSPCC, saw a 168% increase in the number of children counselled about online sexual abuse last year.

NSPCC national head of service for Wales, Des Mannion, said: “We are very grateful to Nick for supporting the Flaw in the Law campaign. We want legislation to keep up with technology and offender behaviour in order to properly protect children.

“We shouldn't have to wait for an offender to meet a child before the law steps in.  Without clarity in the law, vital opportunities to stop abusers grooming young people online are being missed and in many cases the police and powerless to act.”

“The Serious Crime Bill now being debated in Parliament provides a timely opportunity to introduce a new offence to better protect children online and we hope MPs and the public will back the campaign calling on the Government to do this.”

Anyone looking for advice about keeping children safe online, or concerned about the safety and welfare of a child, can contact the NSPCC’s 24-hour helpline on 0808 800 5000 or email help@nspcc.org.uk

Children worried about online safety or any other problem can call the free, 24-hour helpline on 0800 1111 or get help online at www.childline.org.uk

Nick Smith MP backs campaign to stop online grooming in its tracks

Nick Smith, MP for Blaenau Gwent, is lending his support to an NSPCC campaign to make it a crime for an adult to send a sexual message to a child....

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Nick Smith MP has celebrated the news that the vital electrification of the Valleys line will give Blaenau Gwent a real chance to thrive for years to come.

The UK Government had cast doubt over the development after denying in March 2014 that they had made any promise to pay for the scheme.

But after negotiations with the Welsh Government they will now put £125m towards the scheme, putting it firmly back on track.

The Blaenau Gwent MP has been campaigning since his election for constant improvements to the Ebbw Vale to Cardiff route.

His Move On Up campaign had previously pushed for electrification in 2012, quizzing hundreds of passengers on the line and taking their views to ministers in Wales and Westminster.

Speaking after the announcement, Mr Smith said the Welsh Government had done the borough proud by fighting to hold the UK Government to their commitments.

“I’m so glad to see the Welsh and UK governments have recognised the importance of new electrified railways for the Ebbw Vale to Cardiff line”, he said.

“This hugely successful link is a life line from the Valleys to good jobs on the coast, so it's important the service is modernised. 

“The next challenge for the Move On Up campaign is to now take real advantage of these improvements. Every year I’ve run it, I’ve always been struck by how many youngsters are on the line going to University or work.

“I campaigned for electrification and campaigned for the passing loop, which are both being realised. Now we need to get that line humming with more trains more often and take advantage of the line’s success.”

Mr Smith challenged the Secretary of State for Wales on the funding issues as recently as October, and pushed for the passing loop – set to be completed by March 2016 - as part of the 2013 campaign.

“The story across the country is you build a good infrastructure that’s attractive to commuters going out and businesses coming in and those areas thrive”, he said.

“Our former industrial bedrocks are no longer there, but areas such as the Valleys haven’t been given the chance to compete once more.

“This is a real shot in the arm – but there’s still a lot of work left to do.”

Blaenau Gwent given chance to Move On Up after electrification funding secured

Nick Smith MP has celebrated the news that the vital electrification of the Valleys line will give Blaenau Gwent a real chance to thrive for years to come. The UK...


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