Spring is a time of renewal and celebration - most especially this year. With a long weekend in front of us and social gatherings allowed again, I know we will all be wanting to enjoy the rejuvenating company of friends and family. Please remember that we are only permitted to gather in groups of no more than six people or two households, and that gatherings must take place outside.
Many of us will be enjoying outdoor sports again, and visiting parks and open spaces we haven't been able to get to during the recent lockdown. I am asking my constituents to please be aware of other users of these environments by following a few simple rules: Dispose of any waste you have - especially dog waste - responsibly. Don't try to stuff rubbish into a full bin or leave it lying on or around the bin. Don't crowd other people - there are still people who are or feel vulnerable to Covid-19. Cycle or run considerately, leaving plenty of space for pedestrians. And please keep dogs firmly under control.
TIMES RADIO INTERVIEW ABOUT HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE - TODAY AT 11:30!
This morning I’ll be on Times Radio alongside two constituents who’ve been badly impacted by the closure of Hammersmith Bridge. Michelle and Geera both have school-age children and have experienced severe disruption as a result of not having access to Hammersmith. It’s my hope that we can use today’s platform to highlight just how far-reaching the consequences of the stalemate are for thousands of people. It is hugely inconvenient and, most importantly, quite unsafe for children to have their journeys rerouted to the extent that they have been.
MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH
I was grateful for the opportunity to write an article for Independent Voices on the issue of maternal mental health. This is an area that has seen a lot of problems during the pandemic, leaving many new and expectant mothers battling mental illness amidst a backdrop of poor investment and over-stretched services. Put simply, it is something which must be addressed immediately. To read it in full, click here.
RICHMOND PARK CYCLISTS CODE OF CONDUCT
The Richmond Park Cyclists group has produced an excellent new Code of Conduct for people cycling in the park. The Code was produced by the group in conjunction with Royal Parks, the Park police, the Friends of Richmond Park and their own members.
I encourage cycling of all kinds in Richmond Park, whether for leisure, exercise or just getting from A to B. Cycling in the Park has become even more popular recently, so any measure to improve relations between different categories of park users is to be commended. I am therefore delighted to endorse and promote the new Code of Conduct prepared by Richmond Park Cyclists.
HOW PARLIAMENT WORKS: EVENTS FOR CONSTITUENTS
Parliament is in recess at the moment after a busy spring session, and I am taking the opportunity to do more work on local projects, including preparing for my education event on April 12, (see bottom of page,) local issue campaigns, meetings with constituents and visits to local businesses.
If you would like to learn more about what MPs will be doing in Parliament when we resume sessions after Easter recess, you might like to sign up for one of the free online tours Parliament offers to the public. At these live sessions you can find out how Parliament makes laws, debates the issues of the day, and challenges the work of Government. Questions are encouraged! You can sign up for a How UK Parliament Works session here.
STRESS AWARENESS MONTH
This month is Stress Awareness Month, with lots of resources available to help us all try to manage our stress levels better. There is a comprehensive list of tips, resources and further help at hand on the Stress Management Society website , or in the NHS’s Every Mind Matters guidance.
You can check out Kingston council’s Health and Wellbeing section on their website, or you can listen to the latest Talk Richmond episode for a realistic approach to wellbeing and stress management by clicking here, or searching for Talk Richmond on your podcast app. The guest on this week’s podcast episode is Jason Moore – a local advocate, speaker and trainer for wellbeing who is also the Governor for Wellbeing at the Queen’s School, Kew.
Additionally, Good Thinking is a free digital wellbeing service provided by Thrive London, Public Health England and the NHS. It promotes proactive self-care for the four most common mental health conditions: anxiety, low mood, sleeping difficulties and stress.
If you need support in a crisis, you can call the South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust 24/7 Mental Health Support Line on 0800 028 8000. The Mental Health Support Line offers emotional support and advice to people who are affected by urgent mental health issues, at any time of the day or night. It is open to everyone: both children and adults of all ages, and to people who haven’t previously accessed mental health services.
REGISTER TO VOTE
If you are not registered to vote in the upcoming London elections, you have until Monday 19 April to register here.
I am recommending postal voting to those who are not already registered for this. Postal voting will help protect everyone involved in the election process. Residents who are registered to vote and would like a postal vote or a proxy vote are being advised that they must submit applications by 5pm on Tuesday 20 April. For more information Richmond residents should visit www.richmond.gov.uk/elections and Kingston residents can go to www.kingston.gov.uk/postal-voting
ROTARY VOLUNTEER EXPO 7-8 MAY
Here in Britain 12.4 million volunteers helped others during the Covid-19 pandemic, 4.6 million of them volunteering for the first time. Volunteering helped us all get through this year together.
Rotary Great Britain and Ireland will be hosting a free Volunteer Expo Online on May 7 and 8, to give you a chance to discover how charities and not-for-profits have been instrumental in keeping society moving, and what role you can play in their future.
Whatever causes or areas you’re passionate about, Volunteer Expo Online will have something for you. A free ticket will allow you to meet new organisations, enjoy presentations with celebrity campaigners, sector leaders and volunteer heroes, participate in interactive live workshops and chat with exhibitors and other visitors. You can book your place here.
HAM PARADE MARKET OPEN THIS SATURDAY
Ham Parade Market is once again running from 10am - 2pm on the first Saturday of the month, excluding January, selling fresh and handmade food. Visit them tomorrow to buy your Sunday feast! Find them at Ham Parade KT2 5PU - easily accessible by foot, bike and buses 65 and 371. More information here.
SELF-TEST COVID-19 KITS AVAILABLE TO PARENTS AND CHILDCARE WORKERS FROM NEW LOCATIONS
One of the best ways that parents can help prevent outbreaks of Covid-19 in schools is by testing themselves and other household/bubble members. Free home lateral flow test kits are available for parents and carers to collect from locations in both Richmond and Kingston boroughs. I encourage all my constituents who have or care for children to pick some up.
As of next Tuesday, April 6, home self-test kits will be available for collection by households or bubbles of schoolchildren and those working in childcare and related occupations from Sheen Lane Centre in East Sheen and Civic Centre in Twickenham. No appointment is necessary and they are open 9:30 - 4:00 on weekdays.
My constituents in Kew might find it more convenient to pick up their kits at Twickenham Stadium (North Car Park, 2:30 - 8:00pm, 7 days a week.) And my constituents in North Kingston, Ham and Petersham might like to know there is also a collection point at the Hawker Centre on Lower Ham Road (also 2:30pm - 8:00pm, 7 days a week.)
For my Coombe constituents there is a collection site at the Former Causeway Site in New Malden (2:30pm - 8:00pm, 7 days) and for anyone who regularly passes through Kingston town centre there is a site at Surrey County Hall Car Park, (2:30pm - 8:00pm, 7 days.)
RICHMOND AND KINGSTON DISABILITY AWARENESS CARDS FOR CHILDREN
Achieving for Children maintains Kingston and Richmond boroughs' voluntary Special Educational Needs and Disability register.
They offer children and young people on the register a Disability Awareness Card.
The purpose of the card is to provide an easy, accessible way for families to provide proof of their child/young person’s disability or additional needs. Families find this especially useful if a child or young person has a disability that is not visible.
The card is not linked with any specific concession. However, many local businesses offer concessions and discounts for people with disabilities, and holders can use it as a way of identification at these businesses.
I would like to encourage all business owners in the constituency to familiarise their staff with the card and use it to support accessibility.
JOIN ME FOR A PANEL DISCUSSION ON THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION ON APRIL 13 On April 13 at 7:00pm I will be joined by Daisy Cooper MP, the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Education, and Ian Dodds, Director of Children's Services for Richmond and Kingston boroughs, for a panel discussion on the future of education after Covid-19.
I plan to talk to Daisy and Ian about the ways the landscape of education will be permanently changed by the pandemic. What positives will come out of this experience, and what lessons do we need to learn from it? How will schools cope with future challenges, and what can we do to support our children in their education going forward? The panel will also answer questions from attendees, submitted both in advance and on the night.
You can sign up for this exciting event here.