Last week I had the pleasure of taking my small and dedicated team into Parliament, where we talked about our priorities for the coming year: namely, how we can best help our constituents, and make sure their voices are heard in Parliament on the issues that matter to them. As Education Spokesperson, it’s especially important to me to represent the voice of children in Parliament.
While Parliament is now officially in recess, my team and I will continue our constituency work throughout the summer. I will be holding surgeries and visiting people and organisations in the community, and my team will be helping constituents with their issues. I’m also looking forward to spending some quality time with my family during the school holidays.
I won’t be sending out a newsletter in August, so the next one will be when Parliament returns at the beginning of September. In the meantime, to those of you who are able to have a break over the coming weeks, have a lovely holiday.
In the media
On 11 July I joined Gloria De Piero on GB News to discuss my Kinship Care Bill, which I had introduced in Parliament the week before. Thousands of relatives and family friends step up for a child in crisis; I believe these heroes deserve the same level of support as foster carers. Find out more about my Kinship Care Bill here.
On the education front, I spoke to various media outlets about the Government’s announcement that schools will only get a 1.9% hike in per-pupil funding next year, even though it’s predicted that inflation will hit double digits this autumn – leaving schools billions of pounds worse off in real terms. Read my comments in Schools Week and the Independent. I also commented on this in the Guardian, where I again pointed out that increasing free school meals funding by just £10 per head a year will not stop schools from choosing between cutting quality or putting up prices for other struggling families.
I also spoke with the Independent about a report, ‘Stopping the Spiral’, by leading children’s charities, which found that huge cuts in funding for early support for children have meant thousands more young people going into care and needing crisis help. I told the Independent that the Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to give local authorities more support to help children before they end up in dangerous situations. Read the article here.
Local meetings, events and news
Twickenham rocks! Soaking up the atmosphere at the High Tide Festival
Eel Pie Records’ High Tide Festival is a true highlight of the summer season. It’s such a great opportunity to celebrate amazing and diverse talent, and enjoy food and drink from Twickenham’s wonderful cafes, pubs and restaurants. A few highlights were the talented young bands from Richmond Music Trust and Powerjam Bands; the emotional performance of the Ukrainian dance troupe; and enjoying Pimms and samosas while listening to jazz in Jubilee Gardens. I’m so grateful to the organisers, sponsors, volunteers and musicians of High Tide for putting on this amazing event for our community.
Celebrating young musical talent from Richmond Music Trust
In other music news, I enjoyed a wonderful evening at The Exchange Twickenham watching a showcase of extraordinary young talent from across the borough, nurtured by this amazing and dedicated team at Richmond Music Trust.
Ukraine social hub at The Vineyard Community Centre
Many thanks to Fiona and Sue from The Vineyard Community Centre and Refugees Welcome in Richmond for inviting me to the Ukraine social hub, which takes place every Friday from 1pm – 3pm at The Vineyard. I joined volunteers in The Vineyard’s cafe, where newly arrived Ukrainians can connect with a supportive community over tea and cake. It was an honour to meet this group of women and hear their stories. For more information, or to sign up or volunteer, please visit The Vineyard Community Centre and Refugees Welcome in Richmond. Read more here.
Launch of “Strawberry Hill: A history of the neighbourhood”
I was so pleased to attend the Launch of “Strawberry Hill: A history of the neighbourhood”, published by the Strawberry Hill Residents’ Association. I had some lovely conversations in the beautiful surroundings of Strawberry Hill House.
Writing talent on show at Buckingham primary school
On a visit to Buckingham primary school, I was shown some incredible writing from talented Year 6 pupils, and then tried my best to answer some insightful questions from the school council!
Opening of Carlisle Infant School’s Sports Day
It was an honour to officially open Carlisle Infant School’s Sports Day – the first in three years because of Covid. I was impressed by the great sportsmanship and athleticism on display, particularly given the hot weather!
Faith direct day with Waldegrave, Twickenham and Richmond upon Thames Schools
It was a pleasure to join pupils from Waldegrave, Twickenham and Richmond upon Thames Schools for faith direct day, where a variety of speakers enriched student learning about faith and beliefs systems.
Summer fete at Bishop Perrin primary school
I got absolutely drenched at an impromptu session of “sponge the MP” at the Bishop Perrin summer fete. All for a good cause!
Summer fun at Marble Hill Playcentres
My daughter and I had great fun on the swings at the Marble Hill Playcentres Summer Fun Day. The playcentres and their dedicated staff provide such a fun and stimulating environment for the children in our community.
Water safety event at Teddington Lock
The drownings that we saw across the country during the heatwave are a terrible tragedy, and my thoughts go out to the friends and loved ones of the young people who’ve sadly lost their lives – including, tragically, a young man who drowned in Hampton.
It’s so important that we do everything we can as a community to make sure that everyone is aware of the dangers of swimming in lakes and rivers, including the Thames. I was so grateful to the Council, Teddington Lifeboat Water Safety Team and London Fire Brigade for organising the recent water safety event at Teddington Lock to teach people about the dangers and demonstrate water safety practises.
South Western Railway – New RMT strike dates announced
The RMT union has announced that strike action will take place on Wednesday 27 July 2022. There will also be knock on impacts on the following day, Thursday 28th July. Details will be published here.
Standing up for you in Parliament
Secured meeting with Minister to discuss my Kinship Care Bill
I was delighted to have secured a meeting with Chloe Smith, the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work at the Department for Work and Pensions, to discuss my Kinship Care Bill. The Minister gave me a short but positive response! So many friends and relatives take in a child in crisis when they are already struggling themselves; these families need and deserve support.
Previously in Parliament, I had joined kinship carers John and Cath, along with Kinship and the Family Rights Group, at the launch of my Kinship Care Bill. I’ve been really touched by all of the kinship carers who emailed me after the debate. I pledged to continue my campaign to step up for kinship carers. Learn more about my Kinship Care Bill here.
Asked new Health Secretary for more investment in women’s health research
One in 100 women experience recurrent miscarriages, but all too often their grief and loss are mixed with the anguish of not knowing what causes them. Investment in women’s health research must be a priority. Glad the new Health Secretary agrees – now we need that funding delivered.
Called on Minister to invest now to lower household emissions
An ambitious, nationwide insulation programme is essential for meeting our net-zero target, creating jobs and cutting bills. In the wake of damaging rhetoric on the climate crisis from Tory leadership hopefuls, I called on the Energy Minister to invest now to lower household emissions.
Supported Zero Hour’s campaign for a Climate and Ecology Bill
I am one of 150 Parliamentarians supporting Zero Hour’s campaign for a Climate and Ecology Bill, tackling the nature and climate crises with policies backed by science. You can learn more and show your support here.
Spoke out in Parliament to protect BTECs
Recently I intervened on the Government’s reckless plan to defund BTECs. The benefits of BTECs are clear: 1 in 4 students at English universities hold BTECs; 60% of students with BTECs graduate with a 2:1 or higher; and many others progress to skilled, fulfilling work.
For one Twickenham resident, Lucas, studying a BTEC in Music was a vocational lifeline that prevented him from dropping out of his A-levels altogether. Now he works as a teaching assistant supporting SEND students, and he’s worried about what scrapping BTECs will mean for them.
I was astounded by the Minister’s response regarding student choice and BTEC outcomes.
Ahead of the debate, I joined the #ProtectStudentChoice campaign. Over 330 Twickenham residents signed the e-petition to protect BTECs and the fantastic opportunities they offer to students.
Tabled Written Question around the banning of cages for laying hens
I welcome news that the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs plans to launch a consultation on banning cages for laying hens. Animals are sentient beings who can feel fear and pain, so this must go ahead without delay. I tabled a Written Question to find out when it will be delivered.
Celebrated 50 years of the important work of Rethink Mental Illness
It was a pleasure to join Rethink Mental Illness to celebrate 50 years of their important work supporting those affected by mental ill health and their carers. I signed their pledge wall to continue championing mental health awareness in Parliament, as I have done every month since becoming an MP.
Joined Vodafone UK News to celebrate women in the workplace
I was pleased to join Vodafone UK News to celebrate women in the workplace. Before becoming an MP, I set up a Women in Leadership programme at Merck to champion women in business. I believe we need culture changes both at work and in the home so women can flourish. Read more here.
Backed calls to ban trophy hunting
This month marks seven years since the tragic killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe. I was pleased to join the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Banning Trophy Hunting and former President of Botswana, Seretse Khama Ian Khama, to speak out against this cruel practice in Parliament. The Government must honour its promise to ban trophy hunting.
Supported Versus Arthritis in its calls for more support for people on elective waiting lists
For people with arthritis, joint replacement surgeries can ease pain, improve mobility and restore independence. They are operations that radically change lives. I was pleased to join Versus Arthritis to hear their calls to support people with arthritis on elective waiting lists.