Action Mesothelioma Day 2015 started early in Cardiff on the 1stJuly at a reception at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay, the home of the National Assembly for Wales. It was organised by Asbestos Awareness Support Cymru (AASC) and Mesothelioma UK. The purpose of the reception was to support the Mesothelioma Charter for Wales and to call for long term investment into mesothelioma research.
Today I am privileged to be attending a reception at the Senedd hosted by Asbestos Awareness Support Cymru and Mesothelioma UK for Action Mesothelioma Day 2015. The event is sponsored by Mick Antoniw AM himself a champion of those affected by asbestos. At the reception the Mesothelioma Charter for Wales is to be launched and there will be a call for long term investment into Mesothelioma research.
In May 2014 the Wales TUC unanimously passed the following resolution (proposed by the NASUWT and seconded by the NUT union)
“Removal of asbestos from schools Conference reaffirms the position of the Wales TUC that the only safe option in relation to the control of asbestos in school buildings is to remove and dispose of the risk.
Conference welcomes the clarity provided in the House of Lords on 14 January 2014 that the development of policies for the management and control of asbestos in schools is a matter for the Welsh Government.
Conference, therefore, calls on the Welsh Government to embrace this responsibility and work with local government and the Wales TUC to develop a policy for the progressive, safe and effective removal of asbestos from all schools in Wales."
The petition which attracted 448 votes simply called for transparency on the issue of asbestos in schools.
“We call on the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to put measures in place to ensure that parents and guardians of children across Wales can easily access information about the presence and management of asbestos in all school buildings.
Given the health risks associated with the presence of asbestos in public buildings, we believe parents and guardians across Wales have:
• the right to know if asbestos is located in their school;
• the right to know whether, where asbestos is present, it is being managed in line with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012
• the right to access that information easily online.”
Christmas and New Year are often a time for looking back at the past year before preparing for the year ahead.
Last Wednesday I was invited to update the Joint Union Asbestos Committee on the latest news from the Right to Know Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign, as we continue our attempts to persuade Welsh Government that asbestos in schools is indeed an issue for it to deal with.
It is with great sadness that I learnt of the death of former schoolteacher Carole Hagedorn last week.
Having survived for almost 6 years from pleural mesothelioma Carole finally succumbed to mesothelioma of the peritoneum. Her only known exposure to asbestos was whilst working as a teacher.
The Department for Education in England is carrying out a policy review on the issue of asbestos management in schools. This has included a consultation which closes on the 31st March 2014
So the summer holidays are upon us, and our schools lie empty of our young people, who have escaped from their classrooms to enjoy 6 weeks or so of freedom. It's a time for maintenance work to be carried out in our schools, much needed in some cases.
On the 7th June a committee of leading cancer experts known as the Committee on Carcinogenicity (COC) reported to the Department for Education in England advising the UK government that children were at a greater risk from developing mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos compared to children.
I am delighted to confirm that in the last 2 weeks, both NUT Cymru and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, have confirmed their official support for the Right to Know campaign and we hope to have their logos on the website very shortly.
One of the Right to Know Campaign’s supporters is the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC). As the result of the campaigning work that we have done here in Wales I am now privileged to be invited to JUAC committee meetings as an observer.
Those who know me will be well aware that I am not someone who has necessarily taken easily to social media!
On Friday 26th April I had the privilege of being invited to address the annual conference of UCAC (Undeb Cenedlaethol Athrawon Cymru) in Llandrindod Wells.
The last couple of weeks have truly been busy ones and culminate on Tuesday 30th April with the Right to Know Asbestos in Schools Campaign, hosting a reception at the Senedd (Parliament in Welsh), sponsored by Nick Ramsay AM who is the Chair of the Cross Party Group on Asbestos in the National Assembly of Wales.
As many of you may be aware, on the 13th March the Education Selection Committee at Westminster heard evidence on Asbestos in English schools. Michael Lees who gave evidence to the Committee has compiled a newsletter summarising the meeting.
Over the last year I have been fortunate to spend a lot of time working with Michael Lees the force behind the Asbestos in Schools Campaign. If you want to know more about the issue then there is absolutely no better place to go than to his website http://www.asbestosexposureschools.co.uk/
At Westminster the Education Select Committee will meet on the 13th March to consider the issue of Asbestos in English Schools.
Nothing perhaps illustrates the importance of the Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Campaign better, than what has happened at Cwmcarn High School and how the asbestos issues that have arisen there have been managed. Understandably parents and those working in the school are confused by the conflicting messages that they are receiving.
Merton Council accepts liability for death of teacher who was exposed to asbestos
National Conference Asbestos in Schools: revealing the hidden killer
Revealed: The hundreds of North Wales schools which contain potentially deadly asbestos
Seen but not heard