Labour Leader Ed Miliband paid a surprise visit to Bedford this morning ahead of the European Elections tomorrow writes Layth Yousif.
The 44-year-old father of two dropped in on Family Groups, at the Raleigh Centre, Ampthill Road, a multi-cultural charitable organisation which aims to reduce isolation and increase the confidence and skills of families in the local community.
The offical Leader of the Opposition Mr Miliband MP, speaking exclusively to bedfordtoday, said: “Childcare is very important to the families of Bedford. The Family Group centre is making a real difference and I want to congratulate everyone involved in it.
“One of our pledges tomorrow is to provde 25 hours of free childcare for all three and four-year-olds which will help 1,500 Bedford famililes.”
The Shadow leader also discussed the importance of Bedford Foodbank and said he would press for the UK to accept the £3m funds allocated to such schemes from the Europe Union.
He said: “Bedford Foodbank is really important - I know there are issues right across Bedford about food poverty and Bedford families really struggling to make ends meet. Our Labour MEP Richard Howitt has worked on securing the money from the EU and I find it incredible that the Conservatives are refusing to spend it.
“There are many concrete changes we can make here in Bedford. We want to make a difference in childcare, and we want to make a difference to the cost of living crisis by raising the minimum wage and freezing energy bills for the people of Bedford.
“Bedford voters should vote for Labour tomorrow because we stand for real change amongst the real discontent in the country.
“UKIP say they want to keep the flame of Thatcherism alive, they say they want bigger cuts than the Conservatives in local services - that is not going to help this nursery here in Bedford, that’s not going to help people of Bedford. UKIP don’t stand for the working values of the people in Bedford.”
Forita Begum, 24, from Kempston, who qualified as childcare assistant with the help of the Family Groups charitable organsiation, and who met Mr Miliband this morning said: “He was very interested in what we had to say. We are studying laws affecting women and it was nice when he read out a speech by Suffragette campaigner Emily Pankhurst that we are learning about.”
Parent Shahna Camilleri from Bedford, who uses their childcare facilities, said: “This place is very important for me and my child because my four-year-old son Gabrielle is disabled and as a mother having him here gives me a little time to myself. Mr Miliband was very interested in us and the centre.”
Charlotte Day, Family Group Training and Development Co-ordinator said: ”This centre is very important to local people. We are a very small local charity and we work with Bedford parents and children. It is really important to us that Mr Miliband and our MEP Richard Howitt have visited us - as without the funding that Mr Howitt helped us access we would not be here today.”
Ms Day also added: “Mr Miliband was very good with the children - you can always tell a parent!”
Mr Miliband also visited the Wells and Youngs Brewery in Bedford this morning.
For more information on Family Groups, Bedford visit http://www.familygroups.org.uk/