Constituency Newsletter for December 2021
Welcome to my December Newsletter – and my last for 2021! I hope that as Christmas approaches you are able to stay safe and healthy and enjoy the festive season in Lewisham.
Over the past month we have seen the celebrations of Bonfire Night, Diwali and Hannukah; we have seen political changes in Labour’s front bench; and we have launched Lewisham as the London Borough of Culture! It was wonderful to be at the official launch party with my fellow Lewisham MPs and our Mayoresses (above)! Next year we will have the amazing opportunity to show London all that Lewisham has to offer in our cultural diversity and strength. Find out more here.
Unfortunately we have also heard concerning developments in a new strain of Coronavirus. Read my updates below, and as ever, please contact me if you need anything.
Covid-19 – Omicron Variant
The Prime Minister announced on 28th November that the UK is experiencing a new strain of the Covid-19 virus called Omicron. This mutation is spreading fast and it is not yet clear if the existing vaccines are effective against it.
In order to avoid another lockdown, we must do all we can to protect ourselves from this virus. That means regular handwashing and always wearing a mask on transport and in shops. Frequent testing is essential, particularly before going into work or attending a gathering.
You must also ensure you are protected with not just two, but three doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. The Government has made it quicker and easier to get a vaccine booster – please register for yours here. You can find details for your nearest walk-in clinic here.
After a fantastic experience as part of the Shadow Justice team, I am delighted to now be joining the Shadow Foreign, Commonwealth and Development team as David Lammy’s PPS!
Key legislation currently being challenged by Labour include the Nationality and Borders Bill and the Judicial Review and Courts Bill. Both discriminate against migrants and refugees – with the Nationality and Borders Bill criminalising them for fleeing to our country, and the JRC Bill removing their right to appeal. This grossly dehumanises these people, who are already so vulnerable, and hurts our economy as we suffer the shortage in many jobs typically filled by migrants. I will be resisting these bills in every way I can along with my Labour colleagues.
I joined local early-risers on a brisk Saturday morning to launch the Catford Parkrun! It was wonderful to join local councillors – particular thanks to Cllr James Royston for coordinating our “takeover”! Parkrun is a free event that happens every Saturday morning at 9am in Mountsfield Park. It is welcoming to people of all abilities and is a great community event.
Taking care of our environment and fighting the climate crisis remains a priority for me in Parliament and in Lewisham East. With the disappointing outcomes of COP26, including a lack of commitment to limiting global warming to 1.5° and phasing out the use of coal, it is clear we have so much further to go in addressing this emergency.
This year marked 100 years of the British Legion, and the centenary of us honouring Remembrance Day. On Remembrance Sunday I attended a service and parade with the Mayor of Lewisham, which was poignant as ever and paid a beautiful tribute to all those we have lost to armed conflict, in the UK and across the Commonwealth.
Women in Prison
An issue I will always care about is the safety and welfare of women in the criminal justice system. The Government’s Female Offenders Strategy pledged to reduce the number of women placed in prison and find more community alternatives for them to spend their sentence – which is particularly crucial if they are mothers. I raised this once again in the Chamber as tragically, self-harm in women’s prisons continues to rise.
Anoosheh (Nazanin debate)
My work continues to seek the release of Anoosheh Ashoori, who is being held hostage in Iran with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. I spoke in Tulip Siddiq MP’s debate to highlight Anoosheh’s ongoing plight and call for serious action from the FCDO. Minister James Cleverley was typically evasive but myself and Anoosheh’s family will not be giving up. It was heartening to see how many cross-party MPs came to support the debate.
Wishing you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New year.
See you in 2022!