Ann Coffey

Monthly Archives: July 2018


Ann’s Stockport Express column, July 2018

When I visit primary schools children often ask questions about recycling and show a great deal of concern about protecting the environment.  World Oceans Day last month reminded me of just one of the issues which children have talked to me about.

Children at Vernon Park Primary school who had been learning about over-fishing of the oceans, and the appalling practice of shark finning wrote very passionate letters to me about protecting our marine habitat. They were very pleased to get a letter from the Minister at the Department of the Environment after I wrote to him about the children’s concerns.

The Women’s Institute, whose Heatons branch celebrates its 10th Birthday this summer, has also campaigned on environmental issues.  The WI is now working to protect our oceans, with a campaign called End Plastic Soup.  This is all about the tiny microplastic fibres which are shed from our clothing in the washing machine and flow into the sewage system and eventually into the ocean.  They form a sort of plastic soup which is gradually clogging up the seas, and the WI want the government and industry to find a solution to the problem.

I think people were amazed and shocked by the extent of marine plastic pollution exposed by the Blue Planet TV series last year.  People of all ages and interests are now campaigning on this issue, which is recognised as one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world.

The government has said that the UK should be in the forefront of world action to eliminate avoidable plastic waste to protect our rivers and seas – although I think their 25 Year Environment Plan could be more ambitious as far as the timescale goes.  What we need is urgent global action to protect the world’s oceans from plastics, protect sharks and other marine creatures through strict international controls and encourage sustainable fishing.  And of course this is a global problem, which needs global solutions.

Meanwhile, I hope people who care in Stockport, children and adults alike, will continue to campaign for action.

Deaths of missing people could be prevented

Thursday July 19 2018

Hundreds of lives are being put at risk each year because adults with mental health problems are ‘found and forgotten’ after going missing, according to a Parliamentary Inquiry.  

Ann Coffey – head of the ‘Inquiry into safeguarding missing adults who have mental health issues’ by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults – said that going missing should be a ‘red flag moment’ which ought to trigger help.

But instead tens of thousands of adults nationally are left alone and isolated with no support on their return home.

There are about 126,000 incidents of adults going missing annually. Up to 600 missing people a year are found dead: the most commonly known cause being suicide.

The inquiry heard that about 80 per cent of adults who go missing are experiencing mental health problems and up to one third go missing again.

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Soroptimist volunteers support vulnerable witnesses in Stockport

Ann Coffey congratulates Soroptimist International of Stockport on their support for vulnerable witnesses and victims

 Stockport MP Ann Coffey visited Greater Manchester Police’s video interview unit in Hazel Grove to see the improvements which have been achieved with the support of Soroptimist International of Stockport.

This is a group of women volunteers from all backgrounds, talents and ages, who work on projects which help women and girls.  In 2018 Soroptimists International of Stockport are celebrating 80 years of service to the local community and beyond.

The Soroptimists’ project with GMP came about when the group became aware that the Hazel Grove unit, where witnesses of serious crime including rape, sexual assault and domestic violence are taken to record witness statements, was in need of refurbishment.

A large number of people use the unit each year, including some 300 victims and as many witnesses, as well as their parents, family, friends and of course the police officers, social workers and doctors who are also involved. Providing this service to vulnerable witnesses and victims is an important link in the evidence chain.

The existing interview rooms, which were quite bare and not user-friendly, especially for children, have been transformed into a welcoming and comfortable space where vulnerable victims and witnesses can begin to relax after their ordeal.  Re-painting, adding cushions, pictures, lamps and small tables have achieved a soothing atmosphere in which vulnerable and often traumatised people can feel safe to take part in the interview process.

The waiting rooms, where friends and family often have to spend lengthy periods, have been brightened up with TVs magazines, children’s toys and colouring books.  Because the unit can be used for interviews on a 24-hour basis, a constant supply of tea and coffee is also assured, so that everyone can get a hot drink, no matter what time of day or night.

Sue Gledhill, President of Soroptimist International of Stockport, said:

Soroptimist International of Stockport is part of an international women’s organisation committed to improving the lives of women and girls.   We are pleased that today’s visit recognises our ongoing partnership with Greater Manchester Police providing support for all those involved in the investigation of abuse.”

Detective Inspector Julia Bowden, of GMP’s Stockport Borough said:

“I would like to thank the Soroptimist International of Stockport for their efforts and hard work on this project. It is always rewarding when we are able to work in partnership with local groups and residents to make improvements to the local community.

DI Bowden continued:

Creating a more comfortable and welcoming atmosphere can make a huge difference to vulnerable victims and witnesses who are bravely supporting our investigations.  With the refurbished unit, we can offer victims and witnesses a safe and private space to give their evidence and make the process easier for them.”

Ann Coffey said:

“I warmly congratulate the Soroptimist International of Stockport  – a group of women who know how to get things done – and the police for working in partnership on this project. I was delighted to see that the refurbished unit now has a relaxed and homely feel, which puts vulnerable witnesses at their ease, and makes it easier for them to give their evidence.”

 To find out more about Soroptimist International of Stockport, go to their website at https://sigbi.org/stockport/

  ENDS

PHOTO

Ann Coffey MP in one of the refurbished interview rooms at Hazel Grove video interview unit with (l to r) Detective Chief Inspector Chris Downey, Sue Gledhill, President, Soroptimist International of Stockport, Ingrid Whiteman, past-President, SIS, Detective Inspector Julia Bowden