Labour’s Pink Bus rolls into town

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Labour’s much talked about “Pink Bus” rolled into Burnley as part of the party’s nationwide “Woman to Woman” tour.

Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue accompanied the bus which stopped at Burnley Women’s Centre in Nicholas Street.

The MP and Labour’s parliamentary candidate Julie Cooper chatted to workers at the centre and representatives of other women’s organisations about their work.

Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman kicked off the Labour campaign to attract women voters with the pink bus, which has attracted criticism from some quarters for being “patronising”.

Mrs Fovargue said: “I think the Pink Bus has been a good idea. It’s a very visible way of attracting women to become involved in politics.

“It gives women a focus where they can tell us what their ideas and what they would like a Labour government to do for them.

“Some of the main issues that are coming to us are around childcare, family finances and payday lenders.”

Burnley Women’s Centre offers a range of support services for women from all works of life.

Debbie Berry, gateway co-ordinator, said: “We offer therapy, counselling, courses and generally help to build women’s self-esteem.

“We can also organise education and training. The women’s centres, which are across Lancashire, are a sort of one-stop shop.”

Tracey McMahon, the founder of the SHE (Support and Housing in East Lancashire) Project in Burnley, also attended.

Her own mother, Mary, became homeless after suffering health difficulties, and she hopes such projects will help other women in Burnley suffering the same fate.

Tracey said: “We focus on community-based habilitation for women at risk of offending.

“It’s about helping women re-bond with communities, children, and families, and encourage a brighter future without having to resort to crime.

“When women are sent to prison it can throw the whole family into chaos. The dynamics of the effect on a family is complex. We help women coming out of prison to find accommodation, and in doing so promote the family unit.”

Coun. Julie Cooper said: “The pink bus has attracted a lot of debate but I think it’s important that we continue to give women a voice in politics.

“We have to make sure that issues which are important to women form part of our manifesto.”