ADDITIONAL MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES FOR NEW, EXPECTANT AND BEREAVED MOTHERS
After months of campaigning for better perinatal mental health services, I am delighted that NHS England has released plans for 26 dedicated maternal mental health hubs to be set up across the country. The hubs will bring together maternity services, reproductive health and psychological therapy under one roof as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Mothers will receive care for a wide range of mental health issues, including bereavement counselling and and treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder after giving birth. Ten sites will be up and running within months with the remainder opening by April 2022. Help will be available from before conception until two years after the birth.
Pregnancy, birth and motherhood affect different women in different ways. Many of us need support to cope with additional strains on our mental health that may come from a difficult birth, bereavement, life and relationship changes, post-natal depression, etc. Online help is not sufficient to get new mothers through this period of vulnerability. I am delighted that the NHS is taking these bold steps to ensure that all women who need it get specialist maternal mental health care quickly.
FREE RAPID COVID-19 TESTS FOR BUSINESSES AVAILABLE FROM TODAY
I would like to encourage all business owners and managers in the constituency to sign up to the Government’s new home testing programme, enabling employers with more than ten employees to offer their staff free rapid COVID-19 tests that can be taken at home.
As of today, any business with more than ten employees can join the national workplace testing programme and order home test kits online to distribute to their employees. Catching asymptomatic cases means that those who test positive can isolate immediately, breaking the chain of transmission.
Businesses with fewer than 10 employees can encourage staff to attend a community test site regularly. Appointments are pre-booked only and take around 15 minutes. Self-employed people and sole traders can also visit these sites.
On-site community tests are free and available to book online at the below locations:
Sheen Lane Centre (East Sheen)
Forward Pharmacy (Barnes)
In addition, households and bubbles of pupils and staff at schools, nurseries and colleges (including childcare and related occupations) can pick up home self-test kits without an appointment from Sheen Lane Centre in East Sheen or the Civic Centre in Twickenham. These two sites will both be open for collections from 9am – 4.30pm on weekdays only. Or the Hawker Centre on Lower Ham Road in Ham and the former Causeway site in New Malden are both open 2:30 - 8:00, 7 days a week.
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.
ROYAL MAIL STAMP DESIGN COMPETITION: HEROES OF THE PANDEMIC
Royal Mail is launching a design competition for UK schoolchildren to honour people who have done great things to help the country through the pandemic.
The competition gives children aged four to fourteen years the opportunity to design one of eight special Royal Mail stamps to honour the heroes of the pandemic. As well as NHS or social care staff children may want to illustrate volunteers in their community, refuse collectors, cleaning staff, teachers, supermarket workers, public transport staff, delivery drivers, perhaps even the scientists who created the vaccines.
A panel of judges will determine the eight winning designs from 120 regional finalists. As with all stamps issued by Royal Mail, the final eight designs will be sent to Her Majesty The Queen for approval before being printed. This is only the fifth time that Royal Mail has held a competition like this, and it will be the first non-Christmas stamp competition.
The competition is now open and children have until 28th May to submit their entries. Schools may organise entries from their pupils, but parents can also support their children to make independent submissions. You can find all the forms and details here.
CULTURE RECOVERY FUND GRANTS
I am pleased to let residents know that a number of institutions in the constituency have been granted funding in the second round of Culture Recovery Fund grants, on top of any grants they may have received in Round 1. I strongly hope this will enable these local treasures to reopen when they are permitted to do so.
The Culture Recovery Fund has provided a vital financial lifeline to arts organisations across England at a critical time when they have been forced to close due to the pandemic. These venues help stimulate the local economy and play important social and employment roles in their communities.
Some of the local institutions that will receive the support are:
Olympic Studios Cinema, Barnes
OSO Arts Centre, Barnes
Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond
VIRTUAL EVENTS FOR RICHMOND BUSINESSES
Richmond Council has also asked me to let local business owners know that there is still space available at a series of virtual business events. These live events have been planned to support businesses in the lead up to the 12 April reopening of personal care, hospitality and non-essential retail businesses. For more information on how to register click here.
HEALTHWATCH KINGSTON OPEN MEETING
Kingston residents are invited to join Healthwatch Kingston's open meeting via Zoom on Tuesday 13 April, to find out more about their priorities for 2021/22, maternity services, becoming a new parent during the pandemic and much more. Find out more here.
COUNCIL MOVES TO CASHLESS PARKING
From this month, cash will no longer be accepted at council car parks or on-street pay and display machines, with the exception of the pay machines at the Rose, Bittoms and Cattle Market car parks.
People will be encouraged to use the RingGo system to pay by phone or via the Ringo app, but payments by card will be retained at all machines. Cash payments for any parking location can also be made at PayPoints found in many convenience stores. You can read more on their website.