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Remembering Jacob Billauer on Yom HaShoah

IMG_0292Some years ago I was approached to become a “Guardian of the Memory”. Established by Yad Vashem, the world centre for Holocaust research, the idea is both simple and powerful.

There were 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. 1.5 million of them were children. The Guardian of the Memory project recognises that each one one of those who died has a right to be remembered by someone to ensure they will never be forgotten nor their existence denied.

Like me, Jacob Billauer was an MP. He was born in Warsaw and his father’s name was Moises. We know Jacob was married but we don’t know the name of his wife. We do know that, prior to and during World War Two, he lived in Lodz, Poland. Jacob Billauer was murdered. He was one of the six million.

We know about him because his niece, Ida Karpel, lodged a page of testimony with Yad Vashem. Every year I remember Jacob Billauer on Yom HaShoah, the annual Jewish Remembrance Day for those who died during the Holocaust.

Today is Yom HaShoah and today I remember Jacob Billauer.

You can also become a guardian of the memory of one person who died in the Holocaust. Find out how here http://guardianofthememory.org/

Statement on sentencing of Kandyce Downer

So the trial is now over. Kandyce Downer has be convicted of the brutal murder of toddler Shi-Anne “Keegan” Downer and sentenced to life with a minimum term of 18 years.

It is now vital that the Serious Case Review set up by the Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board gets to the bottom of what happened in the months leading up to Shi-Anne’s tragic death. Were any warning signs missed? Was there anything not done that could reasonably have been done that might have prevented what happened? Nothing can bring back Shi-Anne but what lessons can be learned to help keep other vulnerable children safe in the future?

The Government also needs to look again at how Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs) work. Kandyce Downer was trusted with Shi-Anne’s care under an SGO. The vast majority those who take on responsibility for children under Special Guardianship Orders do so with love, care and commitment to the children they look after. They often do so without the rights and support from the state that they and the children deserve. Their call for this to be recognised better needs to be addressed.

The Government must also address concerns that have been expressed nationally about whether the assessments made before Guardianship Orders are awarded are always as thorough as they should be. About whether some Special Guardians do not have a strong enough bond with the child. About whether the understandable desire of the authorities to complete care arrangements quickly and within target times might sometimes lead to inappropriate choices being made. New guidelines on SGOs were brought in this year and Birmingham is one place where procedures have been reviewed to reflect the new regulations. But it is important that the issue continues to be scrutinised – in the interest of guardians and, most of all, in the interests of children.

You can follow the sentencing here: http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/kandyce-downer-sentenced-live-updates-11280819

What is wrong with friends speaking frankly to each other?

uk-us-flagsLeave campaigners have been trying to tell us for months that if we leave the EU, everything will carry on as normal and there will be nothing but sunshine. When visiting the UK last week, US President Barack Obama told us it isn’t as simple as that. No surprise then that the same Leave campaigners went into overdrive about the US bullying us and that this was an unreasonable intervention.

Anybody who actually listens to what Obama was saying will know that he came to visit as a friend and spoke as such, doing so frankly and with honesty. No threats, no bullying, just frank advice. This is absolutely a question for the British people to decide on. But are we really saying that an international public figure can’t express honest opinions and share advice with a close friend and ally?

The core of the argument the President was making, though, is that we can make a lot more out of our relationship with the US and the rest of the world if we are part of the EU. That advice, through all the fuss and frustration, is thought-provoking. If we have confidence in ourselves as a country, as indeed we should have, why can’t we be the leaders in Europe rather than constantly trying to get out and losing influence as a result? We can’t continually engage halfheartedly while expecting the perfection and benefits of full engagement.

Listen to my short interview from 8.27 onwards on BBC WM Radio here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03qdz9f

#Toryporkies in Northfield 2016

#Toryporkies in Northfield 2016 – have a look at this scare story being peddled in Conservative leaflet going out in Northfield at the moment and then read on for the truth.

Anyone in the Northfield area remember Conservative campaign here during the General Election last year?

Remember the candidate who spent a fortune claiming to have made Kings Norton her home and how much she loved the area – but who was not seen for dust afterwards?

Remember the stories which the Conservatives put around trying to scare people into believing that Northfield was going to lose its swimming pool – when in reality Northfield was going to get a new pool built?
Remember the Tory scare stories telling you that the Council was going to switch off street lights in Longbridge when it was simply not true? Read more

South Birmingham has lowest bowel cancer testing rates across West Mids

South Birmingham has the lowest bowel cancer screening uptake in the West Midlands with just a 45.98% uptake rate. In fact, I haven’t taken part in bowel cancer screening yet, something which this campaign has prompted me to do.

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