Victoria Groulef

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HSBC's plan to close its branch on 17th April makes them one more in a number of banks to close their doors in the area.

Victoria Groulef has written urgently to HSBC to call on its banking chief executives to change their minds before the branch closure is felt in the local community.

Victoria said, "If HSBC cashes its last cheque on 17 April, a lot of people will effectively be cut off from banking. There are some who will not be connected online. Many will face real difficulty getting to the nearest branch. Although there will still be a Lloyds in the village, many have built a relationship with HSBC and for them changing bank is simply not an option.

"Nobody expects a bank to act as a charity, but HSBC have a responsibility to look at more than just the bottom line. Integrating with other businesses or services, and working with local people, would be an innovative way of ensuring basic banking doesn't disappear in local communities."

"Banks talk about the convenience of banking online, but the people affected by this closure tell me that they like to see the same friendly faces, talk to them and pay in their money over the counter."

Victoria continued, "Having set up and run small businesses in the Thames Valley, I know first-hand the importance of having a reliable branch to quickly pay in and withdraw large quantities of money. Time being money, especially for small businesses, owners like that a bank that they know and are used to locally, for many, branches in Tilehurst and central Reading will be far less convenient."

With so little time to go until the closure of the branch, Victoria has also voiced unhappiness that HSBC did not consult locally before making their announcement.

Victoria has written to Lloyds TSB - who would become the last remaining bank with a branch in the village - for assurances that it will go on providing basic banks for all. In October Lloyds ditched a promise not to close a branch if it was the only one in town and announced plans for a net shrinkage of 150 branches.

HSBC Pangbourne Branch to close

HSBC's plan to close its branch on 17th April makes them one more in a number of banks to close their doors in the area.

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Victoria Groulef has today welcomed a debate in the House of Lords on the relatively unheard of medical condition Neurofibromatosis 1.

Victoria said, "I became aware of Neurofibromatosis 1 when a mum from West Berkshire got in touch to tell me about her son who has the condition. There are more people suffering with Neurofibromatosis 1 in the UK than those with Cystic Fibrosis and Motor Neurone Disease combined yet many people haven't heard of it."

"There is very little support for patients and their families. I was delighted that Labour's Lord Bassam and Lord Hunt called a debate in the Lords this week to raise awareness of the issue and to hopefully get the ball rolling on securing better support for sufferers."

NF1 is a genetic medical condition which grows tumours  along nerves inside the body and on the skin across a person's lifetime. The tumours can be disfiguring, painful, debilitating and may turn cancerous. There is no cure.

Many people with Neurofibromatosis have ongoing hospital visits with numerous consultants and multiple operations. In addition to this, they often have problems with social skills, inattention and impulsivity, coordination and learning.

Nicola who lives locally and has a son with NF1 said, "If there were more specialist centres and ones which my son would be eligible to attend, it would at least take some of the worry out of the picture. I am delighted that Lord Philip Hunt and Lord Steve Bassam organised a parliamentary debate on Neurofibromatosis 1. It is such a huge breakthrough and could change the lives of the 25,000 people living with the condition in the UK."

Victoria echoed Lord Bassam's calls for Government to develop a national strategy to assist NF1 sufferers. Specialist conditions such as cystic fibrosis and motor neurone disease affect 10,000 sufferers and 5,000 people in the UK, respectively, and attract high levels of research, support, specialist advice and training development. UK NF1 patients are 25,000 in number, yet the NHS gives less research and care support. The Government could review how support is given to NF1 sufferers and the organisations caring for them to ensure they and their families do not feel ignored.

More information on NF1 can be found at http://www.nfauk.org/what-is-neurofibromatosis/nf-type-1.

Nicola and Victoria were mentioned in the Lords debate of 13 January, 2015, which you can find in Column GC174 of that day's http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldhansrd/text/150113-gc0001.htm#15011359000199

Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab): "The problem with the lack of awareness is that it leads to a lack of understanding from health, education and public service professionals - the very people who need to know how to respond to those needing help and support...A Reading parent, Nicky told me that her son was not diagnosed until he was eight. By that age, most of the disadvantages that my noble friend referred to and NF1 sufferers confront have already become entrenched...As very determined parents of NF1 sufferers, Nicky and Vanessa have usefully found advocates in Vicky Groulef, in Reading, and Sarah Owen, in Hastings and Rye."

Debate on Neurofibromatosis 1

Victoria Groulef has today welcomed a debate in the House of Lords on the relatively unheard of medical condition Neurofibromatosis 1.

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Victoria Groulef is backing Labour's plan for older workers that would provide the chance to learn new skills, find work and continue contribute.

This week Rachel Reeves, Labour's Shadow Work and Pensions secretary, and Stephen Timms, Labour's Shadow Employment minister, set out the five-point plan which a Labour government would introduce. It would give older people the support they need with the chance to learn new skills, find work and contribute. On a visit to Reading Stephen outlined that a Labour government will:

1. Introduce a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee.
2. Reform the failing Work Programme.
3. Help more older workers save for a pension.
4. Cut red tape for older workers who are self-employed.
5. Bring in a higher rate of Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) for older workers who have contributed

New figures from the House of Commons library (published 8 January 2015) have shown 68,000 older people would benefit from Labour's Compulsory Jobs Guarantee. Around 55 of them live in the Reading West constituency.

Victoria said, "Long-term unemployment comes at a huge cost for older workers and their families and a huge cost for taxpayers. Labour will give older people who want to do the right thing, work and contribute the chance to learn new skills and find a job through our Compulsory Jobs Guarantee."

Labour’s Jobs Guarantee

Victoria Groulef is backing Labour's plan for older workers that would provide the chance to learn new skills, find work and continue contribute.

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Local social action leaders joined Victoria Groulef and Stephen Timms MP for a round table discussion about the work of faith groups.

Stephen, who chairs the group Christians on the Left, shared some of his personal experiences with a wide variety of faith leaders, including business owners, social action groups and charitable organisations, who highlighted their own enormous contributions to our community.

Victoria said "It is so important that we celebrate the increasing role faith groups play in our communities including running food banks, supporting people in need, running play groups as well as being the backbone of our voluntary sector. I'm keen that we do more to ensure that their views and experiences are shared and that we recognise the vital role that they play."

Faith groups making a difference

Local social action leaders joined Victoria Groulef and Stephen Timms MP for a round table discussion about the work of faith groups.


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