Parliamentary Friends of 4Children

Launched on Wednesday 15 January 2014 alongside an ambitious new manifesto for the future Making Britain Great for Children and Families, 4Children has established a new “Parliamentary friends” of 4Children group.

This new group brings together members of both the House of Commons and House of Lords who have been long-standing champions for children and families issues and the work of 4Children.

The founding members of the group are: Rushanara Ali MP; Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top; Annette Brooke MP OBE; Sharon Hodgson MP; Baroness Howe of Idlicote CBE; Liz Kendall MP; Baroness King of Bow; Rt Hon. David Lammy MP; Andrea Leadsom MP; Tim Loughton MP; Claire Perry MP; Baroness Tyler; Baroness Walmsley

About the group

The 4Children “Parliamentary Friends" will be invited to attend a regular meeting of group chaired by Anne Longfield OBE, CEO of 4Children and will aim to meet 2-3 times a year, including an annual dinner each summer. The purpose of these meetings being to (a) inform our work (b) share information and ideas.

A champions’ role will be to act as: 

  • Advocates for 4Children within Parliament
  • A sounding board for 4Children’s own activities and campaigns

We believe the group will help strengthen our message to both families and policy makers of the considerable support and feeling dedicated to improving the lives of children, young people and families. We will continue, with input from its members, to develop the activities and outputs of the group over time.

Member biographies

Rushanara Ali MP
Rushanara Ali was elected to Parliament in 2010. She was appointed to Labour's Shadow team in October 2010, when she was given a shadow International Development portfolio. From October 2013 to September 2014 she was Shadow Young People Minister. She is one of the first three Muslim women MPs to be elected to Parliament and the first person of British-Bengali heritage to be elected to Parliament. Before her election she was the Associate Director of the Young Foundation, responsible for research activities and international work. The focus of her recent work had been a series of articles and reports on the concept of ‘social innovation’. She has previously worked at the Home Office, as a researcher to former Bethnal Green MP Oona King, at the Institute for Public Policy Research, and at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top
Baroness Armstrong, Whip was made a life peer in July 2010, having retired from the House of Commons after twenty three years. She is a former social worker and lecturer. She spent four years as Minister for Local Government between 1997 and 2001, and after a number of years as chief whip she was appointed as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, minister for the Cabinet Office and Minister for Social Exclusion in 2006. In May 2012, she was appointed to a newly established Select Committee on Adoption Legislation. 

Annette Brooke

Annette Brooke MP OBE
Annette has vast experience of children and young people’s policy, and has worked extensively on these issues throughout her Parliamentary career.  Following her election as MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole in 2001, Annette served as the Liberal Democrats’ Children, Young People and Families Spokesperson between 2006 and 2010, having previously been the party’s Spokesperson on Education and Skills (2005-06) and Children (2004-05).

Before entering Parliament, Annette had a nineteen year career in teaching, working as both a lecturer for the Open University and a teacher in local schools. She was also a prominent member of Poole Borough Council, and held a variety of positions including Chair of Education and Deputy Leader. In 2013, Annette was awarded an OBE in recognition of her public and political service.

Sharon HodgsonSharon Hodgson MP
Elected as an MP in 2005 (initially for the constituency of Gateshead East and Washington West, which became Washington and Sunderland West in 2010), Sharon has held a variety of prominent education roles throughout her time in Parliament. She was a member of the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee between 2007 and 2010, and was subsequently appointed to Labour’s Shadow Education team by Ed Miliband, serving as Shadow Minister for Children and Families from 2010 to 2013. Sharon is currently Shadow Equalities Minister, as well as Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sure Start Children’s Centres.

Before her election, Sharon worked extensively for the Labour Party in both the North East and London, as well as for the Total Learning Challenge, a charity providing early intervention for children at risk of dropping out of schools and their communities. She also served as Governor of a local school and Treasurer of a Gateshead playgroup.

Baroness Howe of Idlicote CBE
Baroness Howe has enjoyed a long and distinguished executive career. She was Deputy Chair of The Equal Opportunities Commission between 1975 and 1979, and has chaired the Broadcasting Standards Commission (1993-1999) and BOC Foundation for the Environment (1999-2003). In addition, her many voluntary roles have included appointments as a member of the Briggs Committee on the Future of the Nursing Profession, a Council Member and Vice Chair of the Open University, and President of the UK Committee of UNICEF.

Baroness Howe currently serves as President of the National Governor’s Association, and as a member of the National Council of Voluntary Organisation’s Advisory Council. She was awarded a CBE in 1999 for services to the advancement of women, and made a life peer in June 2001.

Liz Kendall Liz Kendall MP
Liz has extensive experience of education and health policy. Following her election as MP for Leicester West in 2010, she served briefly on the Education Select Committee, before being swiftly promoted to Labour’s Shadow Health team. She is currently the Shadow Minister for Care and Older People.

Before being elected to Parliament, Liz gained Whitehall experience as a Special Advisor to both Harriet Harman and Patricia Hewitt during Labour’s time in Government. She has also been Director of both the Ambulance Service Network (an organisation which represents the interests of NHS ambulance services across the country) and the Maternity Alliance (a charity campaigning for improved rights and services for new parents). In addition, Liz has previously worked for two highly influential think-tanks – she was an Associate Director at the Institute for Public Policy Research, where her focus was on Health, Social Care and Early Years, and worked as a researcher for the King’s Fund on their Public Health programme.

Baroness Oona King
First elected MP for Bethnal Green & Bow in May 1997 at the age of 29, Baroness King was only the second black female MP. Sitting as an MP until 2005 King was a passionate advocate of international aid and human rights, serving on the international development select committee. She served as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the Minister for e-commerce. Since leaving the House of Commons Baroness King has had variety of roles, including working for Gordon Brown as an equalities advisor in the Downing Street policy unit. She was inducted as a Labour Life Peer in January 2011 and is currently head of diversity at Channel 4 television. She is shadow Education Minister in the House of Lords.

Rt Hon. David Lammy MP
David is one of Parliament’s most well-respected voices on the issues surrounding families and parenting, and in particular fatherhood. Elected as MP for Tottenham in a by-election in 2000, David was at the time the youngest MP in Parliament. During Labour’s period in Government he held a wide range of Ministerial roles, and at the time of the 2010 General Election was Minister for Higher Education in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Before becoming an MP David worked as a barrister, having studied at Harvard Law School. He was called to the bar in 1994, and was at that point that youngest qualifying barrister in the UK. In 2011, David published “Out of the Ashes”, a book examining the causes and consequences of the London riots. He has also written “Young Dads: Overlooked, undercounted but out there” as part of 4Children’s “Families@30” essay series, and is the founder and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fatherhood.


Andrea Leadsom MP
Elected as MP for South Northamptonshire in 2010, Andrea is one of Parliament’s strongest advocates for the importance of early years, and serves as Chair of both the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sure Start Children’s Centres (for which 4Children provides the secretariat) and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Conception to Age Two. In 2013, Andrea was also appointed to the Conservative Parliamentary Advisory Board, which advises Prime Minister David Cameron.

Prior to her election, Andrea enjoyed a highly successful career in financial services, including as a senior manager at Barclays. Between 2001 and 2009 she was also Chair of Trustees at the Oxford Parent Infant Project (OXPIP), a charity which helps families who are struggling to bond with their new babies. In 2011 Andrea established the Northamptonshire Parent Infant Project (NORPIP) and the following year set up PIP UK, which aims to roll out Parent Infant Partnerships across the country.

Tim LoughtonTim Loughton MP
First elected to Parliament as MP for East Worthing and Shoreham in 1997, Tim was an important part of the Conservative Education team for a number of years. During the party’s time in Opposition, he served as Shadow Children’s Minister for seven years, from 2003 to 2010. Following the 2010 General Election, Tim was appointed Minister for Children and Families, a position he held until 2012. Tim has also been involved with a wide range of relevant All Party Parliamentary Groups, and is currently Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Child Protection.

Prior to becoming an MP Tim had an extensive career in finance, which included eight years as a Director at Fleming Private Asset Management, and has also been a Governor of a primary school and a technical college in Battersea.

Claire PerryClaire Perry MP
Since her election as MP for Devizes in 2010, Claire has been one of Parliament’s most prominent voices in the debate around children’s safety on the internet. She chaired the Independent Parliamentary Inquiry into Online Child Protection, which recommended that internet service providers introduce an opt-in content filtering system for users, and was subsequently appointed as the Prime Minister’s Special Adviser on Preventing the Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood.
Between 2011 and 2013 Claire also served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, and is currently an Assistant Whip. She was a member of the Justice Select Committee from 2010 to 2011. Before being elected to Parliament, Claire enjoyed a successful business career with Bank of America, McKinsey and Company and Credit Suisse, and worked as a Political Advisor to George Osborne between 2007 and 2010. She is also on the Board of Governors of both a local school and an academy.

Baroness TylerBaroness Tyler
Baroness Tyler became a life peer in 2011, and sits in the House of Lords as a Liberal Democrat. She began her career working for the Inner London Education Authority before joining the Civil Service, where she became Head of the Social Exclusion Unit at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, as well as playing an important role in the creation of the Connexions service. After leaving the Civil Service, Baroness Tyler became Chief Executive of relationship support agency Relate between 2007 and 2012.
In the Lords, Baroness Tyler was a member of the Public Service and Demographic Change Committee, which sat from 2012 to 2013, and considered the future of public service provision in light of demographic change. She is currently Chair of the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service, and also serves as President of the National Children’s Bureau and Vice-President of Relate.

Baroness WalmsleyBaroness Walmsley
Baroness Walmsley has played a key role in Liberal Democrat policy-making around education, children and families for many years. Having been made a life peer in 2000, Baroness Walmsley served as the party’s Lords Spokesperson on Early Years Education from 2001 to 2003. After a period as the Lords Spokesperson on Home Affairs, she took on the Education and Children brief from 2004 until 2010.
Prior to becoming a peer, Baroness Walmsley spent seven years working as a teacher before beginning a career in public relations. She is a member of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Policy Committee on Education, Families and Young People. In 2012, she also served on the Adoption Legislation Select Committee, which was appointed to provide post-legislative scrutiny of the statute law on adoption in England and Wales.


Dr Steven Toole
Head of Policy and Advocacy, 4Children

Address: 5 Greenwich View Place, City Reach, London, E14 9NN.
Telephone: 020 7522 6919