June 2024: News from Thangam Debbonaire

Running in support of Bristol Refugee Rights and Brigstowe

I am writing this update on the morning after running the Bristol 10k in support of Brigstowe project. Brigstowe supports people living with HIV within Bristol and the surrounding area. Through delivering their vital services they are tackling poverty and unemployment amongst people living with HIV in our community. 

A few weeks ago, I also ran in the London Marathon, finishing with a new personal best. I had run in support of Bristol Refugee Rights who do fantastic work with and for asylum seekers and refugees in Bristol. Thank you to everyone who supported my fundraising campaigns.


Shockingly 860,000 girls are missing out on the joy and health benefits of physical activity. I raised this directly with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in the House of Commons. As a brown woman growing up in the 1970s, I didn’t think sport was for me and missed out on its benefits until later in life. Now, as someone who tries to get out for a run most mornings, I want to make sure every girl in Bristol can enjoy sport and physical activity.

Labour’s plan for better buses

Buses are by far the most used form of public transport in the country, but the government’s broken bus system is failing the millions who depend on them. It is one of the issues people most often raise with me.

Labour has announced the biggest reform to England’s buses in forty years, which would put power back where it belongs: in the hands of the communities who depend on buses the most. 

Labour’s plans mean local leaders will have more control and flexibility over bus funding. It will also remove barriers that currently limit bus franchising powers only to metropolitan mayors and provide more accountability over bus operators.

Support for football fans

I led Labour’s response to the long-awaited Football Governance Bill which I had been calling on the Tories to bring forward for months.  Football is at the heart of cities like Bristol. It was great to get on the terraces recently to see Rovers and meet with the owner and CEO ahead of the new law being debated.

In the debate I called for the new independent football regulator to have the powers it needs to ensure clubs like Bristol Rovers are financially sustainable, for strengthened owners and directors tests and for fans to have a greater say in how their clubs are run.

Opening up access to culture

Speaking at the International Opera Awards I recognised the importance of bursaries for young talented singers and of the joy and jobs opera brings to our country. Whilst the lazy criticism often levelled at opera is that it is elitist, historically opera has had significant interest and involvement from working class people. I’m determined to make opera is for everyone. As Culture Secretary in the next Labour government I’ll revolutionise access to the arts, everyone should have a stake in our world-leading cultural sector.