I was incredibly moved by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s impassioned address to MPs in the House of Commons last week. His courage and leadership in the face of such horrendous circumstances is inspiring.
Like everyone, I have been shocked by the relentless Russian attacks on innocent civilians, including the airstrike on a maternity hospital in Mariupol – the ultimate act of barbarism in a seemingly endless string of atrocities. With the crisis only escalating, it is crucial that we move further, faster to help the people of Ukraine.
Locally, the generosity of people in our constituency donating time and goods to Prosperity restaurant has been incredible; I hope this generosity will be matched by our Government. I’m pleased that the Government has finally announced a plan that will allow people to host Ukrainians in their homes. But the vast majority of Ukrainian refugees trying to get to the UK are still trapped in bureaucratic limbo. We must go further in allowing Ukrainian refugees to come here without having to apply for a visa beforehand – and in welcoming them with compassion when they arrive.
In local news, I was dismayed to hear that Park Road Surgery’s bid for Teddington Police Station has reportedly been turned down. However, it’s not over until it’s over. Our petition – signed by over 2,100 of you – was handed in to the Mayor of London, and I’ve written to him again to request an urgent meeting. In Parliament, I asked Michael Gove if he would join me in calling on the Mayor to reconsider the decision. You can watch my question and find out more below.
Ukraine: how you can help
Many of you have written to me asking for ways to help the men, women and children in Ukraine who are suffering unimaginable tragedy following Russia’s invasion. Our local Ukrainian restaurant in Twickenham, Prosperity, is collecting donations, which are being taken to Ukraine through a safe corridor in Poland.
I visited Prosperity recently and saw for myself the incredible efforts of Galyna, Alex, their staff and volunteers. I spoke with the team about some of the challenges they face in getting supplies to the people who need them, and will be doing my best to help in any way I can.
Click here for the items that Prosperity is in urgent need of, along with a list of other international organisations you can donate to. The Homes for Ukraine website, where people can register their interest in housing Ukrainian refugees, is now live. Click here for more information.
In the media
I spoke to the Evening Standard about the sale of Teddington Police Station: “Row breaks out over sell-off of another London police station”.
I was quoted in the Financial Times, The Guardian and the Evening Standard about my thoughts on former Education Secretary Gavin Williamson’s knighthood. My comments were also covered in METRO, the Mirror, the Daily Mail, The Independent and The Times.
For International Women’s Day, I shared with 40NowWhat.co “what I wish I had known”. You can read inspirational quotes from women from all walks of life here.
Local meetings, events and news
Playing football for #LetGirls Play
I hadn’t played football in years, so it was great fun to join in with primary and secondary school pupils at Twickenham School, and Trafalgar Infants and Juniors, for #LetGirls Play – an initiative from the Football Association to inspire girls across the country to play football.
Twickenham’s White Ribbon walk
At the end of February I joined the White Ribbon walk in Twickenham, which started in Radnor Gardens and ended on Twickenham Green, to raise awareness of violence against women and girls. Thanks to everyone who came out to show their support.
Jamming with the young musicians at Powerjam Band Project
I was so impressed by the talent I saw at Powerjam Bands at Heatham House, which nurtures young musicians aged 9-18 in Twickenham. Music industry pros help them form bands and even release their songs through Powerjam Recordings. They even let me have a go! See more photos here.
Celebrating a local treasure – the Landmark Arts Centre
At a reception at the Landmark Arts Centre in Teddington, I had the pleasure of joining Jed Mercurio – Line of Duty writer and producer and Landmark patron – to honour all those who have helped keep the Landmark going through the pandemic. Thanks to a crowdfunding campaign, this local treasure was saved from closure.
Talking about democracy with pupils at Jack & Jill pre-prep
The Year 1 and 2 students at Jack & Jill pre-prep school at Nightingale House in Hampton have been studying the difference between democracy and dictatorship. They asked me tough questions about what the Government is doing about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and how we can ask Boris Johnson to make it stop. The school council also told me about their fun run to raise money for Shooting Star Children’s Hospices and the Brain Tumour Charity.
Visiting Twickenham Primary Academy
Thank you to Petra Gollob, Acting Principal of Twickenham Primary Academy, for showing me around. It was my first visit to the school, so I really enjoyed meeting some of the teachers and the pupils!
Standing up for you in Parliament
Called on the Home Secretary to provide greater support for Ukrainian refugees
I was honoured to sign the parliamentary book of solidarity for Ukraine on behalf of my constituents. It was also a privilege to hear President Zelenskyy’s moving address in Parliament.
The Government’s response so far on accepting Ukrainian refugees has been woefully inadequate. Boris Johnson needs to follow the lead of our European neighbours and set up a simple, rapid scheme to resettle Ukrainian refugees in the UK. Anything less would be a failure of moral leadership.
Speaking in the House of Commons, I asked the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, if she would go further and establish a scheme that is open to all those who are fleeing war and persecution from Putin’s forces. Unfortunately, her response did not make much sense. Watch my question here.
Questioned Michael Gove on the future of Teddington Police Station
On 3 March I handed over the Teddington Police Station petition –signed by over 2,100 residents – to Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon, who presented it to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Soon after, we learned that the sale of Teddington Police Station had reportedly been agreed, and that Park Road Surgery’s bid had been turned down.
The Mayor of London has repeatedly maintained that the site must be sold for maximum financial value. Yet, following the debate I led in Parliament on 23 February, the Minister, Neil O’Brien, told me that there is nothing in law or guidance that includes a specific requirement for MOPAC to dispose of land at market value.
I raised this again in Parliament this week, when I asked Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, if he would join me in calling on the Mayor to reconsider the decision, as Teddington residents are demanding. You can watch my question to Gove here. I have also written another letter to the Mayor of London requesting an urgent meeting.
Holding the Schools Minister to account for the Government’s catch-up programme
On Wednesday, I spoke in a debate on the Department for Education’s spending on the national tutoring programme (NTP) and further education. I pointed out many of the failings of the NTP and how we cannot afford to let our children down with this programme, especially the poorest. You can read my speech here.
Supported Fairtrade Fortnight in Parliament
I met Fairtrade UK in Parliament to celebrate Fairtrade Fortnight 2022. 78% of Brits believe that it is important that farmers overseas, who produce staple products imported by the UK, can adapt to climate change. More financial support is needed to support farmers worldwide.
Attended CIPD’s bereavement leave event in Parliament
Last week, I attended an event put on by Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in support of bereavement leave pay. When someone suffers a bereavement, the effects on their mental health and wellbeing can be huge. This must be recognised. Therefore, I support paid bereavement leave and I am backing a Bill in Parliament on this issue.
Met with UK Men’s Shed Association
In Parliament last week, I was pleased to meet UK Men’s Sheds Association for the launch of the Charter for Wellbeing in craft and DIY. This Charter promotes community spaces for men to connect, converse and create. I met local resident Chris Mannington, who founded Sheddington CIC. Find out more about the Charter here.
Joined Liberal Democrats to mark International Women’s Day
The Liberal Democrats were proud to support International Women’s Day 2022. 70% of our MPs are women, and we all introduced Bills on women’s issues to the House of Commons on the day. My Bill aims to make the Government more accountable for tackling progress on reducing the high number of miscarriages and stillbirths among black and Asian women.