Monthly Archives: June 2015


From Left to Right: John Yerkess, Diana Yerkess, Rory Stewart MP

From Left to Right: John Yerkess, Diana Yerkess, Rory Stewart MP

Rory Stewart MP is backing a call for people of Penrith and The Border to consider fostering, and to learn more about fostering during national Foster Care Fortnight, organised by The Fostering Network. The local MP learnt more about how fostering works, and how it can benefit some of the the most vulnerable children in Cumbria, by visiting a local foster family in Penrith together with supervising social worker Jodie Foster from Family Fostercare Cumbria which is a member of the network. John and Diana Yerkess, who welcomed Rory into their home to meet with their foster children, talked to the MP about how they became foster parents, and how meaningful the role is both to them and to the children they have supported.

This year alone 8,370 new foster carers are needed across the UK, to make sure that the rising numbers of children requiring a stable family life are given the best chance of finding a caring foster family, who can crucially help them to build a positive future. There is a particular need for foster carers to look after teenagers, disabled children, and sibling groups. The great national need for foster carers means that many children end up living far from home, separated from their brothers and sisters, and losing touch with family and friends.
Speaking at the home visit, Rory thanked Mr and Mrs Yerkess for the commitment they have made to helping provide a safe and stable home environment to young children, praising them for their dedication and for fostering eight children over the course of six years. He said: “Fostering is something that is so important in our society, and I have learnt a great deal on today’s visit, for which I would like to thank Mr and Mrs Yerkess. We desperately need more people to come forward and open their homes to some very vulnerable young children who might otherwise miss out on something so very important: a carefree childhood. Foster carers like John and Diana are doing a tremendous thing, providing the very best possible start in life where it is needed most. I do hope that other people will consider doing the same, if they have the means and the energy to do so.”
Donna Turner at local Cumbrian fostering agency said: “It was a real pleasure to meet Mr Stewart today and to see our local MP taking an interest in fostering. We hope that his visit will encourage people to consider fostering – it’s one of the most important jobs you can take on, and an incredibly rewarding way to earn a living. If Mr Stewart’s visit helps to encourage even just a handful of people to come forward to find out more then that’s great. As he has seen today by meeting with Mr and Mrs Yerkess, just one foster carer can make a world of difference to scores of children over their career, but there are still a great many children every year in Cumbria who we can’t find foster homes for. When you consider the proven benefits in terms of long-term outcomes that fostering has for children, it’s a tragedy that so many children – especially teenagers, sibling groups and children with disabilities – have to miss out.”
Jackie Sanders of The Fostering Network said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have Rory Stewart MP’s support for this year’s Foster Care Fortnight. It shows that he recognises the need to make sure that the children and young people of Cumbria who most need love, care and support, have it.”
Rory Stewart is encouraging constituents who feel that they have the skills and qualities to foster, to get in touch and by finding out more at
Family Fostercare Cumbria can be followed on Twitter @FFCCumbria and at



Rory Stewart MP has today awarded ten home-educated children from the Penrith area with the John Muir Award, a certificate which acknowledges the work that the young people have undertaken over the course of five weeks spent in the Lake District National Park and learning about how to care for the environment.

As part of the Penrith home educators group, the children, aged 11-15, have undertaken a number of activities for the John Muir Award included visiting Haweswater to explore woodlands and the lake, joining staff from United Utilities to discuss the reasons behind the making of the reservoir, and working with the RSPB to gain a knowledge and understanding of local woodlands. They also took part in litter-clearing and worked with a local artist to produce artwork based on their visits to the woods.

The John Muir Award is an environmental award that encourages people of all backgrounds to connect, enjoy and care for wild places through a structured yet adaptable scheme. The Award is not competitive but should challenge each participant. Taking part will develop an understanding of, and responsibility for, a chosen wild place or places. For some this will offer an opportunity to explore values and spirituality. The John Muir Award encourages them to enjoy and care for our environment and on their final visit to the woods the young people cleared a number of bags of litter.

Rory Stewart MP said: “I am a great admirer of the John Muir Trust, which recognises our link between the conservation of our landscape, and our interaction with it, and personal growth. I am very proud to be able to personally congratulate these young people on the work they have done in obtaining this wonderful certificate, which is a marvellous recognition of our connection to the landscape and its manifold benefits to us all, whether we live in rural or urban areas.”

Graham Watson, manager for the John Muir Award in the Lake District said: “This was a great opportunity for these young people to visit the National Park to learn and understand the different demands on our landscape. The challenge to balance these for both nature and people are very much in the ethos of John Muir. Well done to them all!”


Penrith and The Border MP, Rory Stewart, has welcomed progress in the campaign to compensate victims of the contaminated blood scandal of the 1970s and 1980s, following his question to the Prime Minister in March – after which the Prime Minister issued a full apology – and following the publication of a five-year independent inquiry by Lord Penrose. The local MP welcomed the Prime Minister’s confirmation that £25 million had been made available for affected families, and that the House of Commons could expect a statement on the issue before the Summer recess.

Since 1988, Government has established a number of schemes to provide financial support to people affected by the tragedy. But despite various changes to the system in the intervening years, the families of those infected continue to hold on-going concerns and criticisms. The Penrose Inquiry is the latest investigation into the scandal, but with only three sitting days of parliament remaining before dissolution, government and MPs will not be in a position to fully consider and discuss the report until after the general election.

Rory Stewart said: “Progress is being made on this immensely sad and important issue, and affected families can expect to be strongly supported by this government. I was glad that the Prime Minister this week has reaffirmed his commitment to continuing to support all who have had their lives torn apart as a result of this tragedy, and thank him for his empathy in the matter.”


Rory Stewart MP has today praised and thanked the hundreds of community activists in Penrith and The Border who have supported his long-standing campaign to remove all subsidies on new onshore wind turbines, and to continue to keep his constituency – and north Cumbria – a turbine-free zone. Since election in 2010, Rory has helped to defeat over 70 separate turbine applications, including in Raisgill, Ainstable, Berrier Hill, Whinash Ridge, Hoff Moor, Grize and Lamonby.

The confirmation that the government is ruling out future subsidies on onshore wind farms was confirmed by the Prime Minister this week. His statement follows years of lobbying by local MP Rory, most recently via the Commons Liaison Committee in December, when the Prime Minister confirmed a promise to remove all subsidies to new onshore wind turbines after the general election.

Speaking today Rory said: “This is a great result for Cumbria; our campaigning has directly helped to bring about this ban. Penrith and The Border has fought hard now for years to keep the constituency turbine-free. This is essential for our economy, which is based on the beauty of our landscape. This is a real result after years of campaigning.”

Speaking in Prime Minister’s Questions the Prime Minister confirmed: “There will be no more subsidies for onshore windfarms. It is time to give local people the decisive say.”

There are now enough taxpayer-funded onshore wind farms in the pipeline for the UK to meet its renewable energy commitments., but Penrith and The Border’s MP has said he will continue to support opposition to any applications in his constituency.

“I have campaigned against every wind-turbine proposal in Penrith and The Border and I’ve backed successful campaigns around the region. I also built a community website to help communities organise against wind-turbine construction, which has proved to be a very useful tool. But today we can celebrate, at last, some sensible good news.”



Rory Stewart MP and Minister for Environment and Rural Affairs, has applauded the increase of the government’s Rural Fuel Rebate Scheme which will from yesterday allow 125,000 people living in selected rural areas to benefit from cheaper fuel.

Rory has long advocated and campaigned for an extension of the Rural Fuel Rebate pilot, both as MP for the largest and most sparsely-populated rural constituency in Britain, and as former Treasurer on the APPG for Rural Services. In 2011 he helped push a unanimous back-bench motion calling on government to address rural fuel poverty issues. He has over the course of the last government spoken in numerous debates and met with the Prime Minister to push the case for Cumbria to be included in the scheme which has since 2012 seen a limited number of rural communities benefit from a 5p per litre price cut. Today, seventeen further communities – in parts of Northumberland, Cumbria, North Yorkshire, Devon, the Highlands and Argyll and Bute – will benefit, following a year-long EU approvals process. While the UK’s most rural islands already receive this discount, this is the first time ever that the EU has approved this fuel discount anywhere in mainland Europe.

Speaking today Rory Stewart MP said: “This is a great win for rural communities, and I am pleased that we have been able to expand the scheme in this way. Rural isolation is not just an issue of sparse population; it is about a hollowing-out of communities, and the loss of schools, clinics, and police stations. The loss of petrol pumps and other key services is incredibly important too. Our schoolchildren travel increasing distances to get to school, and we are required to travel ever further to access our most basic services. The solution to rural problems is not to move away; rural communities are our lifeblood. The answer is to help in practical ways – in ways that are felt in people’s pockets, and in their disposable income – and that is why I very much welcome today’s news”
Damian Hinds, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said: “People living in some of the UK’s most rural areas will now benefit from a 5p per litre fuel discount thanks to the Rural Fuel Rebate, which effectively comes into force today. Fuel is often more expensive in very rural areas, even though cars are more of a necessity. However, people in seventeen areas ranging from the Highlands to Devon will now be able to buy cheaper fuel, making travelling to work and school far easier.”


Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and The Border, on Friday 22nd helped to raise a staggering £7,000 for Carlisle and North Lakeland Hospice at Home, in an unusual ‘Meet the Artist’ event and auction at Netherby Hall, Longtown.

The MP presided over proceedings at the event, where five local artists had each donated a work of art each to be auctioned in aid of the charity.

Rory said: “I am always absolutely thrilled to support Hospice at Home, one of our finest Cumbrian charities of which we should all be very proud. Knowing Hospice at Home’s work, and its staff, has helped me in Parliament to fight for a better deal for our charities, resulting in last year’s win for a VAT exemption on the charity. But it is here in Cumbria that the really important hard work is done, by excellent people such as Moira Fisher who has as ever organised a brilliant event. I’d like to thank everyone who took part and helped raise such an incredible amount – in particular our hosts Margo and Gerald Smith; local sponsors Cochranes, Bessietown and Netherby Estate; and all the artists – Emma Tennant, Charles Ackerley, Charlie Dunn, Bea Hasell-McCosh, and Ashley Bloom.”

Rory pledged to continue supporting Cumbria’s hospice charities in Parliament: “I’ll do all I can as your re-elected Member of Parliament to ensure that Hospice at Home and charities like it continue to thrive in what is a time of flux in our health services, and ensure it is held up as a model for the rest of the country.”