Munira’s News: Prioritising mental health support for our children and young people
My family and I were all in Covid isolation last week which, disappointingly, meant I couldn’t meet constituents and visit local organisations in person, nor could I participate in parliamentary debates and votes. I watched the Prime Minister’s statement on the Sue Gray report with dismay from home. You can read my reaction to the report here. I’m very glad to be fully back in action this week!
Following the Chancellor’s statement on energy bills last week, I’m sure debates will continue in Parliament over the coming weeks as energy bills soar and many people struggle with the cost of living crisis. Energy bills for homeowners in Richmond are forecast to rise by an estimated £651 per household in April. While the Prime Minister fights for his political career, families are feeling the pain in their wallets. You can find out more about the Liberal Democrats’ cost of living rescue plan here.
This week is also Children’s Mental Health Week – an issue that has been one of my biggest priorities since becoming MP. From the moment I was elected in 2019, I was struck by the number of parents getting in touch with me to ask for help in accessing support for their children’s mental health.
Recent conversations I’ve had with Twickenham secondary schools and local charities like Off the Record have brought home the scale of the crisis. I’m calling for several actions at the national level to address this and will be talking about it in Parliament this week. Learn more here, and scroll down to learn about Off the Record’s telephone support service for parents and guardians of young people.
Local meetings, events and news
Teddington Police Station: Sign my petition and read my letter to the Mayor
Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, and I have written to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, calling for the site of the former Teddington Police Station to be retained for community use. I have also launched a petition which you can sign. Specifically, there is an opportunity to re-house a local doctor’s surgery, and to ensure more affordable housing for local key workers and young people who have been priced out of the housing market in our area.
The site is currently being advertised for sale on the open market. As many of you know, I fought against the closure of Teddington Police Station. Now that it is for sale, we must ensure that we maximise the social and community benefit of the site– not just sell to the highest bidder. Read the letter and sign my petition.
Access Off the Record’s telephone support service for parents
Last week I met (virtually!) with the lovely team from Off the Record, which provides weekly appointment-based and drop-in counselling for young people aged 11-24 in Twickenham. Off the Record is now offering a telephone support service for parents and guardians. Their counsellors will provide up to an hour on the phone to discuss whatever challenges you’re experiencing, offer support and listen. This can be particularly helpful when the child/young person is unsure about – or doesn’t want – counselling. For more information, please contact Off the Record on 020 8744 1644 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit their parents’ support page here.
Virtual Visit with St Edmund’s School
I was so disappointed that being in Covid isolation meant that I couldn’t visit St Edmund’s Primary School in Whitton in person. But chatting over Zoom didn’t dampen the children’s enthusiasm in the least. The student council asked so many perceptive questions – including how I find out what issues are important to people, what the hot topics are in our local area (trains!), and how I raise concerns in Parliament. Thanks to the council for their questions, and to Mrs. Moreland and the other staff for inviting me.
All 11 secondary schools in Richmond rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’
I was so pleased to see the news that all secondary schools in Richmond have been rated as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’. We also have some of the best performing primary schools in the country.
Three of the schools that have moved up in their Ofsted ratings – Teddington School, Twickenham School and Hampton High – are all part of the Bourne Education Trust. I met with staff from the Trust recently, and was so impressed with all the work their inspirational heads and teachers have done to turn the schools around. Learn more about the secondary school ratings in the Nub News article here.
Whitton Safer Neighbourhoods Team clear-up and weapons sweep
A huge thank you to the Whitton Safer Neighbourhoods Team (SNT) for organising the clear-up and weapons sweep at the end of last week. They were helped by local residents, Richmond Council, Richmond patrol services, Rugby Football Union and the London Fire Brigade. Numerous weapons, including a knife and a screwdriver, were recovered. I was so sorry not to be able to join due to Covid, and am extremely grateful for all their hard work. Learn more here.
Learning about people’s experiences of benefits assessments
I met with the disability equality charity, Scope, to discuss people’s experiences of benefits assessments and how these could be improved. It’s clear that claimants should be able to request an assessor who understands their specific condition in order to receive the support, without having to withstand a stressful appeals process.
In the media: Munira speaks to Radio Jackie and Riverside Radio
Listen to my interview with Radio Jackie, where I spoke about South Western Railway services, air purifiers in classrooms and the closure of Teddington Police Station. I also spoke with Riverside Radio about train services.
Register to attend Munira’s next Business Forum
I recently held my second Business Forum, where local businesses including The Happy Ocean Company and Carbon-Zero shared some of the challenges they face. A big theme was environmental sustainability planning and the need for clearer regulation from the Government. We also discussed the difficulties of claiming VAT rebates on goods and services exported to the EU.
I’m hosting my next Business Forum on 20 May. Please sign up here if you’d like to attend.
Standing up for you in Parliament
Urging the Government to make early years provision a priority
I spoke in Parliament to raise the issue of how childcare providers are unable to cover their costs with the meagre support they receive from the Government for the so-called “free” hours of childcare. As a mother of two young children, I understand how exceptionally hard childcare providers and their staff work to care for and educate our children.
These staff provide essential care and education on very low wages, often with limited access to adequate training. In fact, the Education Policy Institute found that 40% of early years staff did not have access to training for speech and language. This is fundamental, especially in the context of the pandemic’s increasing attainment gap. See the video clips on my Twitter here.
Sign my petition: Stop Levelling Down London’s Transport
In the past few years, London’s transport users have been hit by one piece of bad news after another. The Government has slashed investment in London and run down its transport system. South Western Railway has dramatically reduced services through many local stations. Transport for London (TfL) is facing bankruptcy and London has been explicitly excluded from a recently announced transport fund.
If you believe in a fair deal for London transport and want to stop the levelling down of our city, sign the petition here.
To book your free rapid lateral flow COVID-19 test or find your nearest take-home testing kits collection point, visit: https://maps.test-and-trace.nhs.uk/. These tests are for people who are NOT experiencing symptoms. If you have any of the main Covid-19 symptoms you should arrange a PCR test here.
Walk-in and pop-up vaccination clinics
The nearest walk-in clinics for vaccinations are Boots and Kew Retail Park. Details of which vaccines are being offered and eligibility criteria are available here. West Middlesex University Hospital Vaccination hub is open 7 days a week and appointments can be booked here.