January 2024 Newsletter

Dear Friend,

Many thanks for taking the time to look at my latest newsletter for January 2024.

I hope you enjoy this update on some of the work I have been doing in Erith and Thamesmead and in Parliament over the last month.

As ever, if you want to get in touch, don’t hesitate to contact me using the email address: abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk

Abena

 

Happy New Year and Best Wishes for 2024

I hope that everyone in Erith & Thamesmead had a very merry and restful Christmas period and are having a good start to the New Year.

Last year was one of mixed emotions. While there were so many great things going on in our community, there has been far too much pain as a result of the continued cost of living crisis. I don’t need to tell you how difficult the last few years have been and how challenging the situation remains for families across the constituency and the country.

My team and I have been doing all we can to support constituents as they face serious challenges including housing insecurity, financial difficulties, immigration issues and much more. Over the course of the last year, I worked with constituents on almost 12,000 issues and while I know too many still struggle, I’m pleased to have had many successful outcomes supporting those in need.

As you may also be aware, later this year we are expecting a General Election. I look forward to campaigning on how a Labour Government would do things differently and move our country forward if we are privileged to win. In the meantime, I will continue to work hard for our community and hold the Government to account in Parliament.

Norwich Hospital and Mental Health Hub Visits

We know that so much more needs to be done to tackle NHS waiting times and to address the mental health crisis faced by our youth.

This month, I was pleased to join the Labour candidate for Norwich North, Alice Macdonald as we met the hard-working staff at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and also the fantastic team at the Risebrow Mental Health hub in Norwich City centre.

It was really important to hear all the pressing issues they are facing and I was also pleased to share Labour’s plans on how we would do things differently.

My Work in Parliament

This January, I have been active in Parliament raising many constituent’s concerns and challenging the Government in my role as Shadow Minister for Women’s Health and Mental Health.

I began the month by joining the Shadow Health team in highlighting the current crisis in NHS dentistry and the Government’s failure to take action. People across the country are finding it impossible to get an NHS dentist when they need one and the consequences for patients are appalling. Our analysis found that more than half of dental surgeries in England aren’t accepting any new patients – with 8 in 10 refusing to take on adults and 7 in 10 shutting their doors to new child patients. In the Opposition, we believe this is unacceptable and needs to change.

In Parliament, we put forward a new ‘Dentist Recovery Plan’ to provide 700,000 more urgent appointments and new dentists in areas with the greatest needs. Unfortunately, the Government didn’t back our plan and I believe are continuing to fail to take urgent action to address this crisis in dentistry.

I also spoke in a debate this month on Trends in Excess Deaths, where I shared my deepest sympathies with all the families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and why so much more needs to make our NHS fit for the future.

Then in Health and Social Questions, I shared the story of Sandy Simmons, who has waited nearly a year for surgery after a uterine prolapse. I challenged the Government to explain why so many patients are experiencing long delays to get the surgeries and treatment that they desperately need.

This month, I have also been supporting Labour’s plans to get zombie knives off the streets. After seeing the devastating impact knives have had in our constituency, I’m pleased to back these proposals and I’m also pleased to back my colleagues Helen Hayes MP’s bill to make this happen. These horrific weapons have no place on our streets. While I’m pleased the Government have committed to act, I continue to be concerned by the constant delays and urge them to take comprehensive action now.

I also supported Fleur Anderson MP’s bill aimed at creating a mould free Britain. Over 2.5 million people in the UK are renting cold, damp or mouldy homes. This is unacceptable and we need to ensure mould is addressed so children, families and everyone lives in an acceptable and safe environment.

Finally, it was also great to meet a number of constituents who came to Parliament to watch Prime Minister’s Questions this month. It was very nice to meet you all.  

As ever, if you are interested in a Tour of Parliament and live in Erith and Thamesmead then I would be happy to arrange this for you. Please contact me at: abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk.

Local team from YouthBuild Ventures UK visit to Parliament

It was wonderful to meet the local team from YouthBuild UK, who came for a tour of parliament finishing with a Question and Answer session!

I thoroughly enjoyed talking to these young people who asked brilliant questions about the role of an MP, the function of parliament, job prospects and Britain’s economy.

YouthBuild Ventures UK do great work in opening access and career opportunities with construction organisations for disadvantaged young people at risk from social exclusion. It was great to meet the group in parliament and I want to thank them for coming.

Roundtable on Mental Health app ‘Shout’ with Google and Mental Health Innovations

This month, I was also thrilled to host an important roundtable bringing together MPs, Google Experts and Leaders from Mental Health Innovations to discuss and explore how technology and artificial intelligence can support mental health services in the UK.

Mental Health Innovations is a charity pioneering technology to improve the mental health of the UK population. In 2019, they launched the Shout, a text message service providing free, 24/7 mental health support to anyone in the UK.

We were also joined by the parents of a 12-year-old who was a Shout beneficiary, and it was lovely to hear how the service supported their child in their time of need. More information can be found at: https://giveusashout.org/.

My Update on Casework for January

Thank you to everyone who contacted me in the last month and over the course of 2023 to raise the issues you have been facing.

My team and I have been doing all we can to support constituents as they face serious challenges. This month, I noticed a slight increase in immigration-related queries, many of which are a direct result of the significant delays in the Home Office’s processing of cases, including EUSS applications and administrative reviews.

In January, I have referred three constituents to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman who wanted to bring their complaints regarding the issues they had with Student Loan Company, DWP and CAFCASS. I’m also pleased to have arranged another regular surgery to speak to constituents about some more complex issues they are facing.

As always, if you have any concerns or issues that you like to raise with me, please contact my office using the following channels:

Furthermore:

  • Jo Cox Commission Event – It was good to join the launch of the Jo Cox Civility Commission report into tackling abuse and intimidation in British Politics. It’s important we reflect and learn from their findings.
  • MPS Commissioner Meeting – I also joined an important meeting with the Met Commissioner to discuss policing in London, raising important concerns around Met Reform and current strategic operations.
  • Women’s Health Summit Reception- Pleased to join the summit on Women’s Health Strategy 2024. I engaged in discussions with prominent stakeholders towards enhancing and shaping women’s health in the future and drive policies that prioritise a better experience for women in the NHS.
  • Cervical Cancer Prevention Week- It was insightful to attend an important reception by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust to hear experts talk about the success of cervical screening and HPV vaccination programmes, how to tackle inequalities in prevention, and innovations that could help us eliminate cervical cancer.

Sign up to my Coffee Morning

If you are interested in coming along to a future Coffee Morning, I’ve just launched my webpage where you, your family and friends can sign up to register your interest in attending a meeting.

Sign up:  https://www.abenaoppongasare.com/upcoming-events/coffeemorning/

Stay updated on social media

For regular updates on my activities, follow me on Twitter (@abenaopp), Facebook (Abena Oppong-Asare MP, Erith and Thamesmead), and Instagram (abena.oppongasare.mp).

You can also sign up to my digital newsletter at www.abenaoppongasare.com/get_in_touch

 

December 2023 Newsletter

Dear Friend,

Many thanks for taking the time to look at my latest newsletter for December 2023.

I hope you enjoy this update on some of the work I have been doing in Erith and Thamesmead and in Parliament over the last month.

As ever, if you want to get in touch, don’t hesitate to contact me using the email address: abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk

Abena

Happy New Year

I hope that everyone in Erith & Thamesmead had a very merry and restful Christmas period. December was a very busy time in our community with lots of events and activities. You may have also noticed my Christmas Advent Calendar on social media, where I was sharing so many of the great things going on. I was pleased to join a number of these events to celebrate the festive season.

For example, it was lovely to take part in the annual Christmas Tree Festival at Christ Church in Erith and to see all the impressively decorated trees. Along with many local families, charities and businesses, I was glad to decorate my tree to contribute to another successful festival. As well as this, it was nice to see so many at the Christ Church Erith Carol Service hosted by Revd Anthea Harris-Faulkner.

It was also great to attend and do a reading at a number of other carol services across our community including for the All Saints Belvedere Carol Concert and the Carol Service at the Old Royal Naval College Chapel hosted by Greenwich and Bexley Community Hospice.

And it was fantastic to join Santa with the Rotary Club of Erith as they travelled across our local area to raise funds for local charities, as the club has been doing for over 90 years.

And finally, there was no better way to celebrate the Christmas festivities than at Belvedere Community Centre’s community Christmas lunch. Such a great atmosphere and I want to say a huge thanks to the staff, volunteers and supporters of Belvedere Community Centre for bringing us all together and for the amazing food and carols!

I want to thank everyone who hosted events in Erith and Thamesmead throughout the Christmas period and again hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Christmas Card Competition 2023

It was also very nice to hold a constituency competition to design my annual Christmas Card for 2023.

This is where I invite students from across Erith and Thamesmead to submit their artwork to go on my Christmas Card and also to be showcased in the House of Commons by the Speaker of the House. The theme for this year was: ‘What Makes Me Happy in Erith and Thamesmead’ and I’d like to thank all the pupils who took part.

The Winner was Mija Liumpa, aged 10, from Parkway Primary School and you can see her brilliant design below – representing the old Mulberry tree near the Abbey Wood ruins.

If you would like to know more about the competition and the winner you can read my article announcing the winner here.

Thanks also to the local co-sponsors who kindly supported part of this year’s competition – Co-op Belvedere and Manak Solicitors.

My Work in Parliament

This month, I was also working hard to share Labour’s message on the NHS and our Health Care system in Parliament. I’ve also been raising several issues that I know are important to those in our community.

I began the month by challenging new Health Secretary, Victoria Atkins MP on the current state of the NHS after 13 years of Conservative Government. For example, at Health Questions, I highlighted that two-thirds of Maternity services are now rated inadequate or requires improvement and made clear that the problems are only getting worse, leaving more mothers and their babies at risk, receiving care that’s not good enough.

Furthermore, I challenged the Government to address the urgent crises of NHS waiting lists, NHS dentistry services and in Social Care that’s leaving too many across the country without the support they need. In response to these crises, I made clear the Opposition’s plans to tackle these emergencies and shared our mission to make the NHS fit for the future.

In addition to this, I also wrote to the government regarding the concerning events in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo and what steps are being taken to reduce the outbreak of disease and hunger in the region, as a result of ongoing conflict.

It was also great to have a number of constituents come to Parliament to watch Prime Minister’s Questions or go on a Tour of the estate. I was particularly pleased to hear that so many students from Woolwich Polytechnic School were able to come for a Tour.

As ever, if you are interested in a Tour of Parliament and live in Erith and Thamesmead then I would be happy to arrange this for you. Please contact me at: abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk.

New Kitchen at the Javan Coker Foundation

I was also very pleased to join the Javan Coker Foundation (JCF) this month as they celebrated the installation of their newly refurbished kitchen at the JCF centre.

Alongside the Council Leader, Cllr Anthony Okereke, it was lovely to join the team for the opening and hear about all the great work they have been doing to support children and families in need.

If you would like to find out more about the charity and what they are doing in our community, then you can find their website here: https://www.thejavancokerfoundation.org/

My Update on Casework for December

Thank you to everyone who contacted me in the last month and over the course of 2023 to raise the issues you have been facing.

My team and I have been doing all we can to support constituents as they face serious challenges. Unfortunately, it has been another very difficult year as far too many have faced housing insecurity, financial difficulties, immigration issues and much more.

As I mentioned in my last newsletter, this year my team and I have worked on almost 12,000 issues for constituents. While I know too many are still struggling, I’m pleased to have had many successful outcomes and to have made a lot of positive change for many in our community. I will continue to challenge the Government on all these issues as well as working with constituents on many of the personal issues they are facing.

As always, if you have any concerns or issues that you like to raise with me, please contact my office using the following channels:

Finally:

  • St Fidelis Primary School Christmas Singers – I wanted to say that I’m so proud of all our St Fidelis singers who participated in the King’s Christmas Speech with Bexley Music on Christmas Day.

Sign up to my Coffee Morning

If you are interested in coming along to a future Coffee Morning, I’ve just launched my webpage where you, your family and friends can sign up to register your interest in attending a meeting.

Sign up:  https://www.abenaoppongasare.com/upcoming-events/coffeemorning/

Stay updated on social media

For regular updates on my activities, follow me on Twitter (@abenaopp), Facebook (Abena Oppong-Asare MP, Erith and Thamesmead), and Instagram (abena.oppongasare.mp).

You can also sign up to my digital newsletter at www.abenaoppongasare.com/get_in_touch