A Liverpool MP has been named as ‘MP of the Year’ at an awards ceremony in Westminster this week.
Ian Byrne, Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby, received the award from the Patchwork Foundation, a charity dedicated to ‘strengthening democracy’ with a focus on underrepresented communities and young people.
The foundation said they chose Mr Byrne for his ‘fantastic work’ combating food insecurity and championing greater access to justice and workers rights during the pandemic.
Mr Byrne said: “As a newly elected MP for Liverpool West Derby in December 2019 I pledged to be a campaigning MP for the constituency and to ‘take my constituents with me’ to Westminster every day I went into work.
“I would like to think that receiving this award is an acknowledgement that I stuck to my word and that the efforts of my team and I have been well-received in the constituency and beyond.”
Right to Food campaign
Mr Byrne launched the Right to Food campaign in November 2020 with the Fans Supporting Foodbanks, a project started seven years ago by Liverpool fan Mr Byrne and two Everton fans to address rising food poverty.
In January last year, Liverpool City Council called for the Right to Food to be incorporated into the National Food Strategy, an independent review commissioned by Government into the UK’s food system.
The Right to Food campaign aims to end the food insecurity faced by 11 million people in the UK.
Mr Byrne has also funded a housing and benefits solicitor to work in his office to help working class communities.
‘Humbled’ by award
The MP received his award from Patchwork Foundation patron and speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP on Wednesday.
Mr Byrne said he was ‘humbled’ to receive the accolade.
The Patchwork Foundation’s annual MP of the Year Awards celebrate MPs who have actively worked with underrepresented and disadvantaged communities across the UK over the previous 12 months.
Mr Byrne said: “I am sincerely humbled and honoured to receive the Patchwork Foundation’s top award of “Overall MP of the Year Award for the year 2021” as nominated by the public and selected by an independent panel.
“I am very fortunate to have a small but incredibly dedicated, committed and capable team working with me - and this honour is certainly a direct reflection of their efforts too. I would like to take this opportunity to send a heartfelt thanks to each member of the team. It is the strength of our collective endeavours which brings us here tonight.
“But we cannot and we will not be sitting back. There is always work to be done in politics and what drove me to enter politics drives me still. We will not stop fighting for a more equal and just society.
“We will continue the fight for a legal Right To Food for everybody and to have education about the Real Truth of Hillsborough and the cover-up taught to schoolchildren up and down the country – these being just two of the campaigns we are currently running.
“I will continue to represent the people of West Derby to the very best of my ability every single day and I would like to place on record my sincere thanks to everyone who has voted for me to receive this honour.”
Metro mayor Steve Rotheram and Labour MP for Walton Dan Carden were among those who offered their congratulations to Mr Byrne.
Labour leader Keir Starmer MP congratulated the Patchwork Foundation’s winners and nominees and said: “Your work to empower young people from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds to engage with politics is crucial.
“Encouraging the next generation to participate in the political system and affect positive change in society is vital for a healthy democracy.”
Imran Sanaullah MBE, CEO, Patchwork Foundation, said: “It’s been a pleasure to be back in Speaker’s House for the first in-person MP of the Year Awards since 2018.
“After a challenging few years, celebrating all the amazing work MPs have been doing across the country to champion, engage and represent underrepresented communities has been enormously uplifting.
“It also demonstrates how important this work is, as we seek to address the divisions in our society and lack of trust in our politics.”