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Passport Office Delays

Abena Oppong-Asare MP calls on Minister to get a grip of Passport Office delays

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Visit to St. Fidelis Primary School

Abena Oppong-Asare MP visits local school with Shadow Schools Minister

Erith and Thamesmead MP Abena Oppong-Asare today brought Labour’s Shadow Schools Minister, Stephen Morgan MP, to Erith to visit St. Fidelis Primary School in her constituency.

Abena and Stephen met staff and pupils at the school to hear about the challenges they faced during the coronavirus pandemic.

They discussed issues such as ventilation, staffing issues, and action to help pupils catch up from lost learning.

Abena also presented the winner of her annual Christmas card competition with a prize, as well as presenting certificates to the pupils who took part.

 

 

 

Abena Oppong-Asare MP said:

“The teachers and support staff at St. Fidelis Primary School are doing an excellent job to ensure that pupils receive a well-rounded education.

“They have faced challenges over the last two years, but like schools across our area they have responded amazingly.

“They deserve more support from the Government to ensure that children and staff are safe in school and receive all the help they need.”

Stephen Morgan MP, Shadow Schools Minister, said:

“Labour wants children to be in school, learning together and playing together.

“I pay tribute to all the staff working right across our country’s schools, whose commitment, dedication, and hard work makes that possible.

“Every day missed from school is a day they do not get back.

“Last term alone, children in England missed over ten million school days for Covid-related reasons. Over a million children have left secondary school since the pandemic began. Almost two million of our youngest children have never known a normal school year.

“That is why Labour has set out a clear, costed, and ambitious Children’s Recovery Plan that would support our children where they have missed out with after school activities, breakfast clubs, and small group tutoring.

“It was a pleasure to visit a school in Erith and Thamesmead today with local MP Abena Oppong-Asare MP who is a tireless champion for schools in her community and is speaking up for children that are too often an afterthought by this Government”.

  

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Holocaust Memorial Day

Holocaust Memorial Day is a day for us all to remember the millions of people murdered in the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution, and in the genocides which followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.I attended Greenwich’s commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day at Woolwich Town Hall, which included students from Discovery School. I also signed the Holocaust Educational Trust memorial book with a message that we must never forget the past horrors. Racism shouldn’t be tolerated & we all have a responsibility to make sure rising hate is eradicated. I will continue to play my part in tacking racism and anti-Semitism wherever I see it.

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Debate On Humanitarian Situation in Ethiopia

I recently took part in a debate on the dire humanitarian situation in parts of Ethiopia as a result of the ongoing conflict, which I know many constituents are concerned about.

 The reports of human rights violations and abuses – the killing of civilians, sexual and gender-based violence, indiscriminate shelling and the forced displacement of residents of Tigray and Eritrean refugees – are incredibly shocking. Those responsible for such abuses should be held to account. All sides must exercise restraint: there must an end to violence, full humanitarian and media access, and protection of civilians. I am deeply worried by worsening food insecurity and shortages of water and medicine. Up to seven million people are now in dire need of food aid across Tigray and neighbouring Afar and Amhara. Hundreds of thousands of people are experiencing famine-like conditions – more than the rest of the world combined. I called on the UK Government to use all its diplomatic tools to ensure access to aid for those affected.

You can watch my contribution here.

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Next Stop Thamsmead – My campaign to bring the DLR to Thamesmead

For too long people in Thamesmead have suffered from poor transport links – making it harder to access jobs and opportunities across London. It is time for the government to negotiate a fair funding settlement and bring the DLR to Thamesmead.

Last week I went on BBC Politics London to discuss my campaign to bring the DLR to Thamesmead and the Government’s refusal to negotiate a fair funding settlement for TfL.

For too long people in Thamesmead have suffered from poor transport links – making it harder to access jobs and opportunities across London. There is now substantial development happening in Thamesmead – with tens of thousands of homes planned over coming years. It is essential that this development is accompanied by proper infrastructure – to benefit people already living in Thamesmead and surrounding areas, and those who will be moving here in the future.

In the coming months I will be leading a series of meetings and events in my constituency to understand the needs of the local community. I will also be working with the local councils, Peabody and the developers to ensure this project continues to progress.

For projects like this to be successful, we need the Government to stop playing politics with TfL finances. Today is the last day for an agreement to be reached and so I urge you to make it clear to the Government that they must give TfL a fair deal.Watch me on BBC Politics London here.

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Visit to Abbey Wood Crossrail station

This week I visited the Abbey Wood Crossrail station to see first-hand the progress that has been made on completing the station and beginning services on the Elizabeth line.

 

This week I visited the Abbey Wood Crossrail station to see first-hand the progress that has been made on completing the station and beginning services on the Elizabeth line.

It was great to see the progress that has been made in finishing the station before Elizabeth line trains are due to start running in the first half of 2022. When this happens, Abbey Wood will be less that half-an-hour away from Paddington.

I am also calling for TfL, local councils and the Government to work together to ensure that residents in Erith and Thamesmead feel the full benefits of Crossrail by improving local bus links from Abbey Wood station.

I met with staff who have been working hard to ensure it is ready for passengers. I also heard about the challenges they have faced over the last year and the work they are doing to ensure it is operational as soon as possible. As always on these visits, I raised local concerns and received reassurances they are being addressed.

I am determined that as many local people as possible benefit from this new line, and therefore I am calling for better bus links from Abbey Wood to other places in the constituency. I will be working with local partners to ensure that this happens.

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Meeting Constituents in West Heath

On Saturday morning I had the pleasure of speaking directly with some of my wonderful constituents in West Heath about the issues that matter to them. 

The week prior I had hundreds of posters delivered to several streets in West Heath and invited those who wanted to speak to me to put one up in their window. Then, my team and I went and visited the houses that had a poster up. The reception was great, and I was able to have some really insightful conversations on the doorstep.

This was the first of my ‘listening canvass’ sessions. As lockdown restrictions continue to ease, I intend to hold these sessions throughout the summer and beyond. Eventually, I hope to give every household in Erith and Thamesmead the opportunity to speak with me face-to-face in this manner.

The pandemic has of course made it harder to have these kinds of face-to-face interactions with constituents. However, they are vital for making sure that I continue to hear from a broad range of local people. The conversations I had on Saturday will inform my work as your representative in Parliament.

I imagine it will take many months to get all around the constituency, but I am really looking forward to meeting more constituents and hearing from you. In the meantime, if you live in Erith and Thamesmead and you have an issue you’d like to raise with me, please don’t hesitate to email my office at: abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk

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New Campaigning Summer School to Empower Young People

Are you 16 to 21? Do you want to learn how to create change? Click Here to Apply.

I’m delighted to announce that applications are open for my new online Campaigning Summer School which will be taking place this August.

At this jam-packed 3-day summer school, young people aged between 16 and 21 will have the opportunity to gain the skills needed to make a real difference in our community.

This won’t be a series of dry lectures: it’ll be a hands-on, first-hand insight into the exciting world of political and social campaigning – bringing together the expertise of veteran political activists and partner organisations.

I know from my own experience that whether you’re dealing with environmental issues, crime, or education, effective campaigning is the key to influencing and challenging those in power. So, I am determined to do all I can to empower our young people to be the change they want to see in the world.

Over the course of 3 days, attendees will design their very own local campaigns. What’s more – I will personally help action the best ideas into real campaigns to benefit our residents.

For attendees, this will be a unique opportunity to see their ideas turned into action and to learn how they can make their voice heard in our democracy.

The school itself will be held online from Monday 16th August to Wednesday 18th August.

If you’re interested, then please don’t hesitate to apply, and do share this with anyone who you think might benefit from this programme.

To apply just fill in the sign-up form here before Saturday 7th August. Applications are welcomed from anyone aged between 16 and 21, though priority will be given to those who live or go to school in the constituency of Erith and Thamesmead.

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Roundtable with Minister and local disabled advocacy groups

This week I brought together a group of local disability advocacy and support groups to raise concerns about the operation of the benefits system on people with disabilities with Justin Tomlinson, the Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health.

Earlier this year I met with the Minister to raise concerns about how the pandemic had affected people with disabilities and the failure of the DWP to meet the needs of disabled people.

The Minister agreed to take part in a roundtable with local organisations working on the frontline with disabled people.

I have raised a number of these issues in Parliament during a recent debate on the impact of the pandemic on people with disabilities. In that debate I called for the Government to bring forward a national strategy for disabled people as soon as possible.

Key issues raised at the roundtable included a failure to provide accessible information to disabled people, the problems people with learning difficulties face accessing PIP, the impact of benefit assessments on claimants mental health, and the lack of appropriate training for assessors.

Participants also raised problems with disabled people accessing Universal Credit and the problems some people face due to the increasingly online-only system.

The roundtable discussion will feed into the Green Paper on health and disability which is due to be published shortly.

I urge local organisations and individuals to contribute to the consultation process once it is open.

I am determined that nobody is left behind in Erith and Thamesmead, and this means that disabled people need better treatment from the Government.

I hope the Government will listen to the concerns and bring forward concrete proposals to improve the benefits system for disabled people.

Kara Lee from Bexley Mencap said: “It was fantastic to be involved in such an important conversation to share the experiences and views of people with learning disabilities about the benefit system and how it could be improved.  Thank you for organising the meeting to give small organisations, and more importantly the people they represent, a voice about such an important topic.”

Alan Kerr from Metro GAD said: “I really valued the opportunity to speak directly with the Minister of Disabled People to express our very real concerns about the benefits system and the impact it has on their lives.”

Press coverage of the event: https://london-post.co.uk/abena-oppong-asare-mp-holds-roundtable-with-government-minister-and-local-advocacy-groups-to-discuss-concerns-about-the-treatment-of-disabled-people/

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Speaking up for hard-hit local hospitality businesses in Parliament

Hospitality businesses in Erith and Thamesmead have had an enormously difficult year. On Wednesday 24 March, the House of Commons held a debate to consider support for the hospitality industry during this pandemic.

I spoke at the debate, highlighting the enormous difficulties our local businesses have faced. Not only have they been closed for many months, but when they have been allowed to open, they have faced a constantly changing set of rules and regulations. Many have not received the financial support they needed from the Government, and many are fearful for the future.

In my speech I raised the concerns of several local pubs – including the Abbey Arms in Abbey Wood which I visited in December as part of Small Business Saturday. Pubs that have reached out to me like The Duchess of Kent in Erith and The Victoria in Belvedere are centres of our communities and they need assurances from the Government that they will provided with support not just to reopen but thrive.

The wedding and events sector has also been extremely hard hit as nearly all their usual business disappeared. Especially worrying is the fact that many businesses in the events sector have been repeatedly refused grant funding by Bexley council – who cite the Government’s tight criteria.

If it is properly supported, the hospitality industry can and will play a vital role in reviving our economy after this most difficult year. But we need action from the Government right now to ensure this happens.

You can watch my speech below: