I took part in a historic first remote Parliamentary vote today. The motion put forward was “This House prefers spring to autumn” and I voted Aye on behalf of my constituents, from the safety of my own home. I am eager to see whether today’s test was successful. I am looking forward to having this facility so we can do everything we have been elected to do at this critical time. Procedures for speaking and asking questions are not quite perfected yet; I am not able to get onto the lists to represent your views and interests as often as I would like. But I am still submitting written questions to government and am hopeful that opportunities will increase as the remote system beds in.
PROTECTION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGNERS
Earlier this week I joined a group of cross-party MPs to sign a letter from International Human Rights Watch urging the Prime Minister and the Government to redouble its efforts to protect human rights campaigners and activists in the Middle East and beyond.
If you are interested in learning more about this issue, the letter and the issues around it were well covered in the Independent this week. A copy of the article can be found here https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/coronavirus-human-rights-uk-china-saudi-arabia-uae-hungary-activists-a9481616.html
I have been contacted by a number of constituents who were awaiting visa renewals from the Home Office before Covid-19 struck. The Home Office is now short-staffed and their applications have not been processed, leaving these residents in immigration limbo. Some of them are unsure if they can work, unable to leave and ineligible for public benefits. To ease their situation, I am joining my Liberal Democrat colleagues in calling on the Government to automatically extend all visas beyond the end of May.
We are also calling on the Government to give all foreign-national NHS and social care workers indefinite leave to remain. We feel that giving them the right to stay as long as they choose is the least we can do to thank them for their service during this time.
Lastly, I am concerned about the risks of Covid-19 outbreaks in immigration detention centres. As the borders are closed and there are no deportations taking place, we are calling on the Home Secretary to release all detainees to prevent a health crisis there.
RICHMOND LIBRARIES HOME DELIVERY SERVICE
Richmond upon Thames Libraries offer a home delivery service for residents unable to leave their home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meet the team who deliver hundreds of books, CDs and DVDs every month to residents across the borough by watching their video about it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bdDVX3K3AE&feature=youtu.be
AGE UK RICHMOND IN NEED OF DONATIONS
Over the past few weeks Age UK Richmond has responded to the coronavirus crisis in an unprecedented way, offering vital practical support to older residents, including emergency food parcels for the many vulnerable older people who have no other way to get food without leaving the house. They are determined to continue this work, but their fundraising income has suffered drastically. If you are able to help them raise the £10,000 they need please click here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/SupportAgeUKRichmond
Ian Thomas, chair of Kingston and Richmond Safeguarding Children Partnership has written to thank all the people caring for children in Kingston and Richmond in different ways. They have launched new volunteer guides to make sure everyone doing a volunteer role, including delivering food and medicine, can contribute to the effort to keep children safe. You can find Ian's advice and the new volunteer guide here: https://www.richmond.gov.uk/council/news/partner_comment_spot/working_together_to_keep_childrens_safety_and_wellbeing_at_the_heart_of_everything_we_do
DELIVERING MEDICATION TO SELF-ISOLATING RESIDENTS
As part of Kingston Stronger Together, the Council’s Neighbourhood Rangers and Cycle Instructors have teamed up with volunteers from Good Gym and the wider community to collect and deliver 170 prescriptions for residents across the borough. If you would like help or support, the easiest way to access the Hub is via the online form or you can call 020 8547 5000.
Since the COVID-19 crisis began, Kingston Council has been working with Connected Kingston to make sure that residents have the information they need to to help take care of themselves while staying at home. Information ranges from local food delivery options if you can’t get a slot with your local supermarket, to how to look after your mental health. Connected Kingston has been updated to include the most relevant information based on what residents are most frequently asking us. Check it out here: www.connectedkingston.uk
Information in available on:
Staying mentally well
Keeping physically fit
Finance and employment
Support after bereavement