Charities who can make a real difference

West Ham MP Lyn Brown returns this week with her winter s tales It was back to Parliament with a vengeance last week, after two weeks of Christmas festivities, fun, family, running and reading. I came back to Westminster and an attempted coup, which, had

West Ham MP Lyn Brown returns this week with her winter's tales

It was back to Parliament with a vengeance last week, after two weeks of Christmas festivities, fun, family, running and reading. I came back to Westminster and an attempted coup, which, had it not been potentially damaging, would have been laughable due to its ineptitude.

But, it is not just Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt feeling the icy winds of winter. There's been snow and the ice and then more snow and more ice. It has made my marathon training impossible.

When I leave or return to my home, I worry, as many people do, about falling: afraid I might break something that will put me out of action. How much worse is this fear for our older community; I know my mum and dad have been loathe to venture out in this icy weather, afraid of the treacherous conditions of the roads and pavements.


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Thankfully, they are less concerned about heating bills than they once were. Winter fuel payments are making it easier for our older community to cope with heating bills. On top of this, as the bitingly cold weather continues our older and vulnerable people will get increased cold weather payments. These payments are automatic so everyone entitled will get them.

It is not just the elderly, though, who worry about turning on the heating and the cost of staying warm. Help is on hand for all households from the Home Heat Helpline. This is a charity that gives information on keeping warm and provides sound advice, if bills or heating costs are unaffordable. They can also assist eligible customers to get free home insulation grants.

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At this time of year, making ends meet on a low income can be particularly hard. Many families have accumulated debts during the festive celebrations. So, as we move into 2010, the start of a new decade, it's a good time to reflect on the progress made towards ending child poverty and to look to the future of initiatives to continue this work.

That's why I was really pleased to be approached by 4in10: The End Child Poverty London Project works with over 160 London organisations, 47 of which are based here in Newham. That network supports campaigns and works with charities to identify action that could have a positive impact on children's lives.

As an MP, I regularly get asked for meetings with organisations, agencies, companies, lobbyists and individuals. I could spend my whole week in meetings like these and, sadly, have little good come from them. Once in a while I meet people or charities who may make a real, lasting and positive difference to living standards here and I want to help.

4in10 wants to campaign for more resources for education for our young people; to make school uniforms more affordable and to ensure that private sector housing is of good quality. 4in10 is one of my campaigns for the year - why don't you join me?

If you know anyone who is in need of help to keep their home warm, please, make sure they know about the help that is out there. To learn more about grants for heating and insulation, call freephone 0800 3166014; or call the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 336699. To join our child poverty campaign www.4in10.org.uk/takeaction or call the campaigns team on (020) 7278 6676.

You can write to me at Lyn Brown MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA, ring my office on (020) 7219 6999 or e-mail at brownl@parliament.uk

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