All Party, All Bingo

Bingo Life meets the new Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Bingo, Anna Turley MP

Anna Turley is the Labour and Co-operative MP for Redcar. The constituency is a diverse community, stretching to include a range of other towns and villages, including Eston, South Bank, Normanby, Marske-by-the-Sea, New Marske, Ormesby and Grangetown. It has a proud industrial history, with steel forged in Redcar helping to build the modern world from Canary Wharf to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. A lively seaside town, with miles of golden sandy beaches, Redcar also offers donkey rides, amusement arcades, a boating lake, racecourse and the world’s oldest-surviving lifeboat.

Passionate about making a difference, Anna has worked for over 10 years as a public servant, seeking to tackle social exclusion, poverty and unemployment. Anna has also campaigned for better local government through building the national Co-operative Councils Network, which promotes more power to be devolved from London to the regions. Living in Redcar where she is an active, and visible MP, Anna campaigns on local issues. As current Chair of the APPG on Bingo, Bingo Life wanted to know a more about her views on and her connection to bingo.

We were fortunate to secure some time in Anna’s busy schedule when in Westminster and put some questions to her:

Can we ask made you want to become Chair of the APPG on Bingo?

“Bingo is a really important leisure activity. It helps bring people together and tackles social isolation in communities by giving people, especially older women, the chance to get out of the house and socialise. I wanted to be Chair of the APPG on Bingo to help highlight and promote the social importance of Bingo so that more people can benefit from it.”

How do you see your role as Chair of the APPG on Bingo?

“I think the most important part of my role as Chair is to ensure issues in the Bingo industry are brought to the attention of Government and to help raise the profile of Bingo across the country so that more people can realise the social and community benefits it can bring.”

Over 70 MPs visited their local bingo club last October and over 25 attended The Bingo Association’s Parliamentary Reception this year – why do you think bingo enjoys such high levels of support by MPs?

“MPs are supposed to be normal people who represent communities, so I would hope they enjoy a bit of bingo! I think it reflects the popularity of Bingo with our constituents across the country and is recognition of its importance to many of our communities.”

You called the numbers at The Bingo Association’s Parliamentary Reception this year – how did you find it?

“It was a fantastic event with support from people from right across the country, which was great to see. As I said at the time - parliament belongs to the people so I was glad so many bingo players got to come and enjoy a drink or two here! I especially enjoyed meeting Angela Rippon - it was really good of her to come along and support the reception.”

Why did you want to become an MP?

“I have always been interested in public service and in my younger days I really wanted to join the police. I decided to stand for election to become an MP, after working in the civil service, because I thought that was where I could make the most impact. Rather than being stuck in an office shuffling paper around, this job is all about people and solving problems.”

What is the most exciting thing that has happened to you since becoming MP for Redcar?

“It has been a really mixed 18 months since I was elected, with some good moments and some really difficult challenges, especially fighting to save Redcar steelworks. The exciting moments have been the abseil I did from the roof of the Great North Children’s Hospital to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust (although that was quite scary too!) and helping out at the Christmas light switch on in Redcar last year.”

The Bingo Association partners with Variety, the Children’s Charity. Are there any charities or charitable issues close to your heart?

“My new Charity of the Year is The Junction, a local organisation in my constituency that supports vulnerable children, young people and their families. They work with people who are struggling to cope with issues like mental health problems, homelessness, unemployment and caring responsibilities. Like Bingo, they help to give people a feeling of belonging. The thing that is especially good is that they work with people to build up their resilience so that they can cope with other challenges that come their way.”

Originally published December 2016 Bingo Life Winter edition