FREE SCHOOL MEALS OVER HALF TERM
I am dismayed at the Government's continuing refusal to extend the free school meals scheme over the half term holidays, despite pressure from all sides. Happily, Richmond and Kingston Councils are both taking a more compassionate view and stepping in to provide food vouchers to families eligible for free school meals. Children's services in both boroughs are provided by the same organisation, Achieving for Children. Achieving for Children has put a scheme in place to provide supermarket vouchers to families who are unable to provide children with meals during the school holidays.
Referrals can be made by schools, social workers, family support workers or either Council’s Covid-19 support hub. Eligible families will receive supermarket vouchers of £15 per week per eligible child (for the school holiday period) by email. More information can be found here: https://kr.afcinfo.org.uk/blog_articles/2852-school-holiday-meal-voucher-scheme
If you feel you need help, please contact the hub for your borough:
Kingston Stronger Together Hub Fill in this support form and the hub will contact you. Or phone 020 8547 5000
Richmond Community Hub Email email@example.com Or phone 020 8871 6555
I have also been inspired by the mobilisation of community groups and businesses both here and across the country to ensure children facing poverty do not go hungry during the school holidays. I know that Richmond Rugby Club, for example, has been reaching out to local schools this week to offer meals to those who need them, with assistance from Carluccio's restaurants. Kingston’s community groups and businesses are also providing meals and groceries to local families. I would like to say thank you to all of the people involved in those efforts, on behalf of all my constituents. It is heartening indeed to live in an area with such lively community spirit.
HAVE A SCARY BUT SAFE HALLOWEEN
I think we are all aware that Halloween is going to look different this year for our children. Most people will be rightly concerned about sharing the virus through the surfaces of sweet wrappers and doorbells, and through face-to-face contact at the door. Richmond Council is specifically asking parents not to let their children go door to door trick-or-treating. Kingston Council is reminding parents that we must not meet other households indoors or in groups of more than six outdoors. Given the rise in cases in London I expect many older people who would normally welcome little skeletons and witches to their doorsteps will not feel comfortable opening their doors to them this year.
I have heard lots of good suggestions this week for alternative activities, like setting up a Halloween treasure hunt within your own household, doing a Halloween quiz online or watching a ghostly movie together. You can see some great film suggestions here: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/halloween-ideas/g2661/halloween-movies/
The Neighbourhood Pumpkin Trail is another great idea for this year, encouraging children to go out and spot decorated houses without knocking on the doors. Parents could take a bag of little treats with them and give one to their child when they spot a decorated house.
Richmond Council is organising a pumpkin carving and colouring competition. To share your colouring creations, household decorations or pumpkin carvings and to enter our prize draw, share your pictures online and tag @LBRUT on Twitter or Instagram and use the hashtag #RichmondScares.
To help protect residents who wish not to be disturbed on Halloween night, Richmond Council has produced a printable sign that residents can hang on front doors or in windows to indicate that they are not taking part in this year’s celebrations and do not wish to have their doorbells rung. Download the ‘No Trick or Treaters’ poster.
Halloween has always been a time to showcase invention and creativity. We parents can still make it special for our children with a little extra imagination. I look forward to seeing the results of your artistry on social media!
HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE VIRTUAL PUBLIC MEETING TOMORROW NIGHT
I just wanted to remind residents in the eastern part of my constituency that Richmond Council is hosting a virtual public meeting about Hammersmith Bridge tomorrow night, Wednesday October 28, from 6:30 - 7:30. The Transport Minister will chair the panel, which will also include representatives from Hammersmith and Fulham Council, Transport for London, the Greater London Authority and the Port of London Authority.
You can register to attend the event here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/hammersmith-bridge-taskforce-public-meeting-tickets-126044234699
And if you want to remind yourself of the current situation you can have a look at my information page here: www.saraholneymp.org.uk/hammersmith-bridge
JOIN ME FOR A VIRTUAL COFFEE MORNING ON NOVEMBER 11
My next virtual coffee morning will take place on November 11 at 10:00am. This is a chance to chat with me along with some of your fellow Richmond Park residents about both local and national issues in an informal and friendly format. Please sign up here: www.saraholneymp.org.uk/events
COMMUNITY HEROES AWARDS: NOMINATIONS OPEN
Do you know an inspirational individual, group, or business who deserves recognition for the work they have done in their community? If so, Richmond Council wants to hear from you. Nominations for 2020’s Community Heroes Awards are open now and will close on November 9. By nominating a group or individual you can help the Council to highlight and celebrate the commitment of people and groups living and working in Richmond upon Thames who improve the lives of our communities through their commitment to others and excellence in what they do.
Nominations can be made for work directly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other work not directly linked to the pandemic. All work must have been carried out in a voluntary capacity. For more information or to make a nomination go to: www.richmond.gov.uk/community_heroes
POP UP TESTING CENTRE IN OLD DEER PARK RICHMOND NEXT MONTH
On selected dates in November, residents who think they may have contracted Covid-19 can get tested at a temporary pop-up testing centre in Old Deer Park. These will be antigen tests - they will show if you have Covid-19 on the day of the test, but not if you have had it in the past.
You must book an appointment for a test online before coming to the site. If Richmond is not shown as one of the options when you try to book, please try again later.
Click to find more information on being tested and how to book your test.
KINGSTON COUNCIL ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR A NEW POOL AND LEISURE CENTRE ON THE KINGFISHER SITE
Kingston Council has ambitious plans for a new swimming pool and leisure centre to replace the Kingfisher Leisure Centre on its current site. Kingfisher Leisure Centre was closed at the end of last year after the discovery of structural problems in the roof of the building. Extensive survey work to determine the extent of the problem was initially delayed because of the pandemic but has now been completed. The survey showed that the roof requires complete replacement and that the overall condition of the building is poor. Repairs would cost more than £5 million and would take eighteen months to complete. Instead, the administration wants to invest in the borough’s future and provide a new facility.
The council will be making a recommendation to the Response and Recovery Committee next week for the comprehensive redevelopment of the site to create a much enhanced leisure facility. Councillor Caroline Kerr, Leader of Kingston Council has written to say:
“We know how important the Kingfisher Leisure Centre is to everyone who uses it and we are 100% committed to having a pool on this site. Unfortunately, the current building is coming to the end of its natural life and we didn’t want to spend £5 million only to discover new problems further down the line. We would prefer to invest in a high quality, sustainable leisure centre and swimming pool which looks to the future.”
NEW ELECTRIC VEHICLE FAST CHARGING POINTS
As part of its commitment to tackling climate change and enabling residents and visitors to use sustainable travel options, Kingston Council has installed Source London fast electric vehicle charging points at eleven sites across the borough. Find out more about the chargers and look for a special membership offer for Kingston residents on their website.