With many shops and businesses re-opening earlier this month, there is a very gradual feeling of normality returning to our lives. The vaccine rollout has continued apace with much of the focus this month on delivering second jabs to those who received their first dose earlier in the year. I was very grateful to receive my first jab at Acorn Group practice in Twickenham this month. Many thanks to all the NHS staff who are working so hard.

With the sacrifices of lockdown and the successful vaccination programme allowing the domestic economy to slowly reopen, the devastating scenes from India and high case rates in mainland Europe are a warning to us that we cannot rest on our laurels. We must continue to take a very cautious approach in terms of international travel and public health measures at our borders. I urge everyone to stay safe, continue to follow social distancing guidelines and keep the case numbers in our area low. And please take up your vaccination invitation as soon as you are contacted.

Useful Information

Latest Covid Numbers

In the week April 17th – 23rd, there were 39 cases of coronavirus in Richmond upon Thames. This is a roughly 40% reduction on last month. The incidence rate in Richmond is 19.7/100,000, compared to a London-wide incidence of 22.3/100,000 and England-wide rate of 23.6/100,000. All significant reductions over the past month however the rate of decline is levelling off.

Data source: https://www.datarich.info/covid-19/

Covid testing available to all

All residents in the borough are now eligible to book a free rapid COVID-19 test in Twickenham, Hampton & East Sheen. Book now:

In addition, three pharmacies in Twickenham and Teddington are also providing free supervised tests. Full details available online and again, please book in advance.

A free ‘Community Collect’ service – providing take-home testing kits is available at Twickenham Civic Centre and St Mary’s University Broom Road sports campus and selected pharmacies. Find the nearest collection point to you here:

The test is for people NOT experiencing symptoms. If you have any of the main Covid-19 symptoms you should arrange a PCR test here:

Home-Start – Support for struggling families

If you have young children and you feel like you are struggling – there is help available. Home-Start Richmond supports struggling families with children under the age of five through their challenging times. Without support, families can feel alone or isolated – especially during the pandemic. To find out more and to access support, call 020 8487 8500 or email info@homestart-rkh.org.uk.

Watch the Home-Start video here:

Local meetings, events and news

Community bid for Udney Park

I met with representatives of the Udney Park Community Fields Trust who are planning to bid to purchase the site and protect it in perpetuity for amateur sports use. The proposal looks fantastic and has the backing of Hearts of Teddlothian FC, Thamesians RFC, Tennis for Teddington, Teddington RFC and many others. I am delighted to lend my support as well to this exciting bid.

Read more here:

Visit to Hampton High

As restrictions begin to ease, I am so excited to get out and about to visit schools and other organisations around the constituency. Hampton High is a fantastic success story, having been struggling just a few years ago and is now oversubscribed. Rebecca Poole is an inspirational headteacher with a fantastic team and vision for the future. It was a joy to visit the school and meet with members of the school council and speak to Year 10 assembly.

Read more here:

Visit to Touchlight – world leading biotech company working on Covid and cancer vaccines in Hampton

Right here on our doorstep, we are blessed with a world-leader in synthetic DNA research, development and manufacturing. Touchlight, has adapted part of the Hampton water works site on Lower Sunbury Road into state of the art office, laboratory and manufacturing space, and continues to expand and grow to serve a global market. Their synthetic DNA technology offers a completely new approach to medicine. They are working on exciting cancer vaccines and Covid variant vaccines.

Read more here:

Other local visits and meetings:

  • I visited Hearts of Teddlothian’s regular Saturday morning training session at St Mary’s University sports ground in Teddington. I was blown away to hear the club supports some 630+ children to train and play, with over 100 volunteer parent coaches and many more providing admin support.
  • It was a pleasure to attend the collation of the new vicar at All Souls in St Margarets, Rev Joe Sellars. All Souls is a thriving church that does a huge amount in the local community and beyond, not least providing a foodbank to support many families in the Ivybridge estate in Isleworth. Welcome to Joe, Jess and their three sons!

Libraries reopen for browsing

In line with the Government’s easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions libraries reopened for browsing on Monday 12th April. Hampton, Hampton Hill, Twickenham and Whitton libraries are now offering a limited 15-minute browsing and borrowing service.

Unfortunately, Hampton Wick Library is unable to reopen at this time. Due to their size, the buildings cannot support social distancing and therefore are not COVID-19 safe. Teddington Library is closed until early May 2021 for essential repairs to the heritage glass roof.

For full details:

Sports facilities continue to reopen

Sports and fitness centres and indoor pools across the borough started to re-open last week. Teddington Pools and Fitness Centre and the gym and indoor pools at Pools on the Park in Richmond both reopened on 12th April.  Those wanting to use the facilities reminded to book a timed session in advance.

Bookings can be made the LBRUT app and by phone on 020 3772 2999.

Restart Grant Scheme to help local businesses

Businesses in the non-essential retail and hospitality, leisure, accommodation, personal care, gym and sports sectors can now apply for a Restart Grant to help them reopen safely as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Grants of up to £6,000 will be paid to non-essential retail businesses and grants of up to £18,000 will be allocated to hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym businesses.

Grants are available to businesses which pay business rates. The scheme will close to applications on 30 June 2021. For more information or to apply:

Standing up for you

Calling for urgent action on the NHS care backlog

With patients waiting many months and now even years for surgery, I participated in a debate in Parliament last week on the backlog of NHS care that has been made worse by the pandemic. I proposed a range of solutions and highlighted the importance of respite and support for NHS staff who are suffering from severe exhaustion and stress.

Read more here:

Ensuring the right support is in place for every child with a special educational need or disability (SEND)

In a debate on support for children with SEND last week, I thanked the Department for Education for working with Richmond Council and me to address the historic £18m SEND funding gap in the council’s finances. I urged ministers to go further in reviewing financial disincentives in the SEND system and pressed them to provide dedicated Covid recovery support for disabled children.

Read more here:

Better vetting of Covid test providers needed for international travellers

After a number of constituents got in touch with me to raise their concerns about government-approved Covid test providers, I asked Health Matt Hancock to ensure these companies are properly vetted. Many people travelling back to the UK are buying expensive tests as part of the “Test to Release” scheme but not receiving tests or results, or experiencing delays, resulting in concerns about falling foul of the quarantine rules.

See my exchange with the Health Secretary here:

Join my campaign for better air quality

In 2005 the World Health Organization (WHO) put air quality guidelines in place. Over 15 years later, they are still not UK law, causing serious health problems. I’m campaigning for the Government to put stricter rules in place for the sake of our community and will be leading a debate in Parliament on this issue today.

Join my call here: