Don Foster MP

Don Foster MP - 14/267 - Bath's #1 Supporter

Don Foster welcomes human rights activist back to Bath from the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)

July 30, 2023 by Don Foster MP in Don in Bath, News

Don has welcomed former staff member and human rights activist Steve Hynd back from Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).

Steve with Abed, a contact and taxi driver in Jayyus, the village he was based in for the first three months of his deployment to the West Bank

Steve has just a spent 5 months monitoring the human rights situation in the oPt living in vulnerable communities.

Now back in Bath, Steve is hoping to talk about his experiences to “the widest audience possible”.

Commenting Don said, “I am delighted that Steve is coming back to Bath to talk about the incredibly important work he has been doing in the oPt. I visited myself a few years ago and understand all too well the importance of international human rights monitors”.

He continued, “I will be fascinated to hear all about Steve’s experiences and am sure many people in Bath will be as well”.

Commenting Steve said,

“The last five months have been both inspiring and challenging for me. I have witnessed some terrible human rights abuses but I have also seen ordinary people from both sides of the conflict showing incredible resilience”

He continued, “I am really looking forward to speaking in Bath. The local Amnesty group has been great in offering to host me but I am always looking for more opportunities. If you know of any group who would be interested in hosting me then don’t hesitate in emailing me at stevehynd24@gmail.com”.

Bath MP supports campaign for every child to join their local library and do the Summer Reading Challenge

July 24, 2023 by Don Foster MP in Don in Bath, News

Local MP Don Foster is supporting a campaign run by The Reading Agency to encourage all primary school children to join their local library and take part in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge - the UK’s biggest reading promotion for primary school children.

The Challenge which begins on 14 July is for every child aged 4-11 years to read six books of their choice from their local library during the summer holidays. Children earn stickers along the way and will be given a certificate or “Olympic style” medal when they complete the Challenge. This is the 14th year of the Challenge and this year the theme is “Story Lab” which is set in a city hosting the Olympic Games www.story-lab.org.uk.

Over 20 popular children’s authors are supporting the campaign including children’s laureate Julia Donaldson and fellow award-winning writers Malorie Blackman, Charlie Higson, Anthony Horowitz, Michael Morpurgo, Michael Rosen and Jacqueline Wilson.

Don Foster said; “I hope parents and carers in Bath will take their children to their local library this summer and if they aren’t already members sign up and do the Summer Reading Challenge. It’s free and makes reading fun, a vital ingredient in building literacy. Last year 1639 children in Bath took part in the Challenge. I hope we will beat that figure this year and show local libraries how much we value them.”

This year libraries will be linking the Challenge to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as it is an official project in the London 2012 Festival - the finale of the Cultural Olympiad www.london2012.com/festival. Details of local events are available from local libraries.

Miranda McKearney, Chief Executive of The Reading Agency said;“ With so much pressure on libraries, this year of all years is the time to support the work libraries do to inspire children to enjoy reading. Research shows that children who use libraries are twice as likely to be above average readers and that children who take part in the Challenge go back to school with improved reading skills and a boost to their confidence.“

Justin Tomlinson MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Libraries said; “An international reading and literacy study found that only 40% of English children were keen readers as opposed to 64% of Italians.[1] It’s really important that we tackle this as reading for pleasure is a more important determinant of children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status.[2]

Tony Durcan of the Society of Chief Librarians said; “The Summer Reading Challenge showcases how libraries are modernising the way they support children’s reading. It combines a fun, incentivised challenge with book talking support from library staff and teenage volunteers, lots of live events, and a fantastic website – www.story-lab.org.uk. “

Annie Mauger, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals said: “The Summer Reading Challenge is an incredible initiative and great way of encouraging children and young people to keep reading and using their library over the summer. Knowledgeable, passionate and skilled library staff in schools and public libraries are so important to engage children with exciting books and brilliant writing.”

This year the Challenge is also a Children’s University validated learning activity. Children enrolled in a Children’s University can get their passports stamped at their local library and earn up to ten hours of “Children’s University learning” if they complete the Challenge. They will be able to earn a further four hours if they complete additional activities organised by local libraries. The hours will count towards Children’s University certificates.


Foster welcomes Further Education loans for people aged 24 and above

Don Foster, MP for Bath has welcomed new measures from the Coalition Government that will allow adults to benefit from loans for fees in Further Education.

Available to learners aged 24 and above, they will be called 24+ Advanced Learning Loans and will apply to those starting their course or apprenticeship on or after 1 August 2013.

24+ Advanced Learning Loans will replace government grants for this group, who represent around 10% of learners. The loans will cover the cost of tuition, so learners do not have to pay upfront and will be available from the Student Loans Company, like other student loans.

Commenting, Don Foster said:

“This is great news for people in Bath. 24+ Advanced Learning Loans will enable thousands to benefit from life changing opportunities.

“Liberal Democrats are committed to improving social mobility and evidence shows that people with qualifications at higher levels get greater benefit in the job market.

“We must create a more dynamic society and it is fantastic that more people will now be able to fund Further Education should they choose.”

Councillor Nathan Hartley (Liberal Democrat, Peasedown), B&NES Cabinet Member for Early Years, Children and Youth added:

“It’s pleasing to see that the government is making it easier for adults to access further education. I know many here in Bath and North East Somerset who will really relish the chance to get back into education”

“Part of the Lib Dem vision for B&NES is to create communities where people feel empowered, happy and healthy. More open windows to education will help us achieve this.”