For those unaware, latest Government guidance states that those with a serious mental health illness are now eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.
Serious mental health illnesses include those such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. However, this list is not exhaustive and anyone who is severely affected by a mental health problem is encouraged to contact their GP if they have not yet been invited to receive the vaccine.
If you are a carer for a person with a severe mental illness, you could also be eligible. Click here for more information on eligibility or contact your GP. If you are eligible, to book or manage an existing vaccination appointment, click here.
The inability to afford everyday hygiene and personal grooming essentials is sadly a growing problem.
With people and families hit hard by the ongoing pandemic, hygiene poverty is a bigger problem than ever before - many are struggling to afford essential products like soap, shampoo, toothpaste, period products, and hand sanitiser.
Here in Wandsworth, a new hygiene bank has opened to tackle this growing problem and alleviate the issue of hygiene poverty in our local area. As a volunteer-run project, all the money raised by the hygiene bank goes directly towards providing much-needed essentials for local residents, with all donated products distributed to local frontline organisations in the borough.
To find out more about the Hygiene Bank Wandsworth, or to make a donation, see here.
The issue of litter in our local area is not a new problem. Indeed, back in 2019 I provided Wandsworth Council with a number of solutions to this issue, which were not acknowledged or enacted upon.
I have recently been inundated with complaints from residents who have received Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs). As you may know, FPNs cannot be appealed, and I am concerned about the lack of oversight and accountability this procedure affords.
It is clear from the litter on our streets that fining residents for putting out their household waste is not defeating the issue of fly-tipping. Fly-tipping fines need to be issued to the right people, for the right reasons – to deter genuine incidences of fly-tipping.
Instead of being a deterrent, I am concerned that these fly-tipping fines are being misused as a Council cash-grab – making money from hardworking residents under the guise of keeping our streets clean.
I have written to Paul Martin, Chief Executive at Wandsworth Council, and Paul Chadwick, Director of Environment and Community Services, to ask what action they will take to address these concerns.
Keep an eye out for updates here.
When the water has been turned off, the water flow can disturb sediment in the pipes, which can then cause the water to appear to be dark in colour. I have been in contact with Thames Water regarding this and they have assured me that it is not harmful.
With the colder weather, Thames Water have also advised the following to help prevent water leaks:
• Check pipes – thaw frozen pipes with a hot water bottle or a towel soaked in water
• Bleed the radiators – use a radiator key to open the valve and release trapped air
• Look after your central heating – get your boiler serviced often and keep the heating on low when not at home
• Find your stop tap – these are usually found under the kitchen sink. Turn right to tighten and left to loosen
• Keep a plumber on hand – keep details of a reputable plumber on hand and make sure to check home insurance cover
In the instance that you see a leak, you can report it to Thames Water here, then phone a plumber immediately.
Please do keep an eye on my Twitter, where I am posting updates on the water issues as they arise.
The end of 2020 brought the news that we’d been waiting for - the first vaccine was approved for use in the UK.
I’m hugely grateful to all the scientists who have made this happen. Around the world they’ve been working non-stop – just like our frontline healthcare professionals and key workers - to put a stop to this virus and allow us to get on with life as normal.
Now another milestone in the vaccination programme is happening on our doorstep.
St George’s is one of four sites participating in a new study to assess the safety and immune response of the Oxford-AstraZenaca jab in healthy children aged 6-17 years old.
Building on previous trials of the vaccine, which have shown that it is safe, produces strong immune system responses, and has high efficacy in all adults, this trial will assess if children and young adults make a good immune response with the vaccine.
I recognise that some have concerns about the vaccine, and dangerous myths circulate on social media – it’s simply not good enough to just ignore them and hope they go away. Labour has offered to work with ministers to tackle online harms. And we can all play our part in putting friends and family members at ease by reminding them that we can trust the NHS to take care of us in these difficult times.
If the vaccine is good enough for scientists and the regulator, it’s good enough for my family and I. Indeed, I have joined together with a cross-party group of MPs, encouraging everyone to take up the vaccine. The video can be viewed here.
We won’t see changes overnight and we still need to look out for our communities. Let's regain the spirit of coming together like we did in the first days of the pandemic and work to eradicate this virus.
Teachers and school teams are doing a phenomenal job, and I know that digital poverty is a real worry for them, as well as for families across Tooting. Early on in the pandemic, Labour called for a set of measures that would see a mass roll-out of devices and internet access to students currently struggling to learn online, alongside steps such as ‘zero-rating’ of educational websites to ensure data charges are not putting barriers on access to education during lockdown.
The digital divide risks failing a generation. I am so pleased to have been able to help close this gap.
I know that the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill is one of interest to many people here in Tooting.
On 9th February, the CEE Bill was debated in a thirty-minute adjournment debate. Adjournment debates are spaces at the end of the Parliamentary day when MPs can debate a specific topic.
As you may know, the CEE Bill is a Private Members Bill (Presentation Bill), meaning that it does not involve a debate or a vote in Parliament, but rather it is a way of drawing attention to an issue. I support the principles of this Bill and will therefore continue to support Parliamentary measures that seek to implement many of the principles laid out in the Bill.
Indeed, I have already supported several amendments to the Environment Bill in order to improve it, such as Clause 2 for environmental targets on particulate matter and Clause 7 for Environmental Improvement Plans.
I will absolutely continue to support strong and effective amendments to the Environment Bill when it returns to the House of Commons in due course.
The climate crisis is an imminent threat to current and future generations. Please know that I am committed to holding the Government to account on their approach to climate change.
As puppy prices soar across the UK, I am aware of concerns with the recent rise of dog thefts in our community, with incidents taking place particularly on and around Tooting Common.
Perpetrators have been using a number of tactics, including snatching leads from dog owners’ hands, using dog whistles to attract dogs roaming off-lead, and impersonating RSPCA employees to gain access to dogs. One strategy involves approaching people walking their dogs and informing them that their dog resembles an animal that has been reported lost, before asking to scan the dog’s microchip in their van. Once near the van, dogs are being separated from their unsuspecting owners before driving away.
The RSPCA reminds that their officers will always be wearing uniforms bearing the charity’s logo and will be carrying identification, and asks that any member of the public who believes someone is impersonating an officer report the incident to the RSPCA and to local police.
Suspicious activity – including being approached with questions about your dog, asking for photographs to be taken of your dog – should also be reported.
I have written to Inspector Barrie Capper, Head of Wandsworth Neighbourhood Policing Team, asking them to take action to protect our pets and tackle this awful crime.
In the meantime, Blue Cross have provided a helpful list of actions you can take to help keep your dog safe.
Click here for more information.
Local residents living or passing through Rackham Mews in Furzedown may have seen the large fly-tip that occurred earlier in the week.
Understandably, this is very unpleasant for those who live near this area and I have therefore written to Paul Chadwick, Director of Environment and Community Services at Wandsworth Council, as well as notifying the local councillors of the issue in the hope that this can be rectified as soon as possible. Please be assured that I will keep local resident updated of the progress on this.
Furzedown Police are currently appealing for witnesses, so if you have any information about this fly-tip, please do email firstname.lastname@example.org or message them via Twitter.
As you will know, a South African variant of Covid-19 has arrived in the UK. This new Covid variant has now been detected in CR4 (Merton).
Residents in CR4 are no different to us in neighbouring Tooting (SW16 and SW17). We use the same shops, the same hospital, and the same parks, so if it’s there, it could very easily be here. This will be the same across all affected areas.
As a matter of urgency, the Government needs to launch widespread testing in neighbouring postcodes. This is the only way to see how widespread these new variants are.
I have written to the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock MP, the Director of Public Health at Wandsworth Council, Shannon Katiyo, and the Chief Executive of Wandsworth Council, Paul Martin, to ask about plans to launch testing in neighbouring postcodes.
While I press for action on this, we need to make sure we’re all doing everything we can to keep ourselves and each other safe. It’s absolutely vital that we minimise our social contact to prevent the spread of this new variant within our community.
Please think twice before leaving home, and when you do leave, please continue to adhere to social distancing. Together, we will get through this.