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Visit to London South East Colleges

It was fantastic to visit the London South East London Colleges Bexley campus this month. I had an insightful discussion with the CEO and Student Union President, as well as a tour of the college’s impressive facilities. 

It is so important that we hear directly from young people on their experiences with mental health, which is why I was very pleased to have been able to have a roundtable discussion with students from the College. 

We know that our child and adolescent mental health services are in a severe state of crisis, with the number of children and young people undergoing treatment or waiting to start care having reached new records. That’s why Labour will recruit thousands more mental health staff to cut waiting lists and ensure more people can access treatment alongside creating an open-access mental health hub for children and young people in every community. 

My visit only reaffirms my commitment to championing our colleges, empowering our teachers, and providing every student with the tools they need to succeed. I look forward to working with the College in future to support the talents and aspirations of the young people in Erith and Thamesmead.

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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.

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Winner of My Christmas Card Competition 2023

I am once again very pleased to announce that I’ve been holding a constituency competition to design my annual Christmas Card for 2023. I invited students from schools across Erith and Thamesmead to take part.

The theme for this year was: ‘What Makes Me Happy in Erith and Thamesmead’. I would like to thank all the pupils who drew and painted a design that showed what they love about places in our constituency. This included the parks or open spaces, local communities, shops, landmarks, animals or even family and friends.

The artwork was assessed by a panel of judges, and the winning design has been used as my Christmas Card and sent to more than 1,000 local people, businesses, and community groups. 

We had a brilliant turnout for this competition with so many excellent designs being sent in. I’d also like to say a massive thank you to all the schools, teachers and parents who helped organise the competition.

Attached is a photo of me meeting with the Speaker of the House to showcase the winning design, he was very impressed by the competition and has put the winning design on display!

Congratulations to this year’s winner, Mija Liumpa, aged 10, from Parkway Primary School. You can see Mija and myself below with her winning design.

To complement the design, Mija wrote a few words:

“I chose to draw this as it reminds me of nature and the mulberry tree of Abbey Wood ruins. It is an amazing place which calms me, and I can meet many dogs there which is also why I chose to draw them. It is one of my favourite places of calmness and my favourite place in Erith.”

It was great to visit the students of Parkway Primary School in person this week, and hand Mija her well-deserved prize as overall winner of the competition.

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

Congratulations again to Mija and I wish a Merry Christmas to all.

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Remembrance Sunday

This November, I was honoured to lay wreaths at Thamesmead War memorial followed by the War memorial at Plumstead Cemetery in remembrance of all those from Erith & Thamesmead who gave their lives to protect our freedom. On Remembrance Sunday, I also went to the Wreath laying at Callender’s Cables Memorial.

Thank you to Thamesmead and Abbey Wood Royal British Legions for arranging the services and for all the work they do throughout the year.

Earlier in the month, I was also honoured to place a poppy in Parliament’s Garden of Remembrance on behalf of the residents of Erith and Thamesmead.

We shall never forget those who bravely served and paid the ultimate sacrifice.

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Launch of The Voice Newspaper’s Black British Voices Report

At the end of September, I was so pleased to chair the launch of the landmark survey on Black British Voices by The Voice Newspaper in the Houses of Parliament.

This ground-breaking report and its findings are shocking but to many they will not be surprising. The report details the results of the largest ever survey of Black Britons – surveying over 10,000 people. It reveals the concerns felt by so many about racism across our country and within our core institutions.

Following this report, I’ve been pleased to share the findings with my colleagues in Parliament and with the Government. I hope that everyone can take on board this vital research and raise awareness of racial injustices wherever it is found.

You can read the full report here.

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Abena’s Summer School 2023

I’ve been delighted last month to hold my third annual Campaign Summer School.

At my jam-packed 3-day event, we had a fantastic group of enthusiastic and inspiring young people who were incredibly engaged in learning about how to make a successful campaign and gain the skills needed to make a real difference in our community.

On the first day, I was excited to share my journey to Parliament and what I do as the MP for Erith and Thamesmead. We were also privileged to be joined by Laura Coryton and Rima Amin, who shared their 5 steps for turning a petition into a successful campaign. Laura founded a campaign against the tampon tax in 2014 and Rima worked with Laura on the campaign when she worked at Change.org. We were also joined by Paul Richards who shared his expertise on writing press releases and Christine Quigley and Nick Smith who introduced the students to the world of finance and public affairs.

“Our campaign lobbied the government into establishing the tampon tax fund, through which almost £100m has been donated to female-focused charities”

Laura Coryton on her campaign against tampon tax

On day two, we were joined by Google, who shared how to navigate and make full use of the new digital age to build on campaign ideas, business ideas, and how to kickstart your career. It was also great to be joined by Kwajo Tweneboa who shared his first-hand experience of going from a concerned citizen to a veteran campaigner on housing issues across the country. We were also pleased to welcome Katie Perrior from iNHouse Communications and media experts from 853 and the Guardian, who shared their important knowledge on how to make a campaign successful.

We started the final day with a presentation about how Parliament works with a special briefing from an expert team at the UK Parliament. It was great to see the students ask so many questions about how our government works and how each of them can personally make a difference. I also want to thank Councillor Anthony Okereke, Leader of Greenwich Council, Martin Angus, from the Local Government Association (LGA), and Councillor Zainab Asumramu for sharing their important personal insights into the role of Local Government and how to get politically active in your local community.

Every year this is such a special week for me. I get to spend lots of time sharing what I know about campaigning and Politics and learning from local young activists across our community who care passionately about a number of critically important issues.

From national issues like Climate Change and the cost-of-living crisis, to local issues like vaping in schools and tackling fly-tipping, it was fantastic to discuss their ideas about what they can do to campaign for change.

I want to send a big thank you to all the speakers who joined during the week, to London South East College team in Erith, who hosted us, and to my team who did a wonderful job making the Summer School work so well. Finally, I also want to send a big thank you to all the students who were so engaged and optimistic and I’m sure will go on to do great things in their careers.

You can follow what happened on my social media or by looking up the hashtag #AbenaSummerSchool2023.

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Pride on the Pier Erith


I was delighted to be a guest at the very first Bexley Pride event in July held on Erith Pier. This event has been a long time coming, and it was truly a historic and heartwarming moment for our community. I would like to extend my thanks to all the stakeholders who worked tirelessly to make this incredible celebration of diversity and inclusion a reality.

It was not only a joyous occasion but also a testament to the power of unity and acceptance. Meeting so many locals, partners, and small businesses that came together to support this event was inspiring. It demonstrated the strength of our community and the shared commitment to fostering a more inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone in Bexley.

I want to express my deepest gratitude to Councillor Nicola Taylor for her exceptional leadership and dedication. Her unwavering support for Bexley Pride has been instrumental in bringing our community together and creating an event that will be remembered for years to come. Additionally, I’d like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to the dedicated volunteers who poured their time and energy into making this event a resounding success. Your hard work and passion truly shone through, and it was evident in every aspect of the event.

Bexley Pride’s inaugural celebration was a powerful reminder that love, acceptance, and unity can overcome any obstacle. I look forward to witnessing this event grow and evolve in the years to come, continuing to celebrate diversity. Thank you once again to everyone who made Bexley Pride a reality.


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My Summer Reception to celebrate Erith and Thamesmead


This July I was pleased to welcome constituents to my first reception in parliament – something that I have been planning since I was first elected.

It was fantastic to see so many volunteers, stakeholders, and Erith and Thamesmead residents in the House of Commons, many of them visiting for the first time. I am passionate about everybody feeling welcome and included in parliament and this was a great chance to show how accessible parliament is.

Everyone had the opportunity to visit both the House of Commons and House of Lords and find out more about the building where I work on your behalf. I would also like to thank the students of Bexley Music Centre for providing beautiful background music.

It was an honour to see that so many of you were so passionate about making positive change. It really shows some of the best of Erith and Thamesmead and makes me proud to represent you in parliament.

If you would like to visit for a Tour of Parliament, please get in touch if you live in Erith and Thamesmead via email at abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk.

If you would like to attend a future summer reception, please email my office also at: abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk.

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Meeting with the Fire Borough Commander and Tour of Erith Fire Station

During my visit to Erith Fire Station in July, I had the privilege of sitting down with Jim Morford, the Fire Borough Commander for Bexley, to learn more about the impressive efforts of the local firefighting team in promoting fire safety within the community. It was great to witness the dedication and passion they exhibited in their mission.

One of the standout highlights of our discussion was the inspiring success story of the Fire Cadets scheme tailored for young people. Jim shared how this program was not only imparting invaluable life skills but also instilling a sense of responsibility and commitment to fire safety in the youth of Bexley. It’s a testament to the station’s proactive approach to community engagement.

We had interesting conversations about increasingly common causes for fire, one of which being the usage of unofficial e-bike and e-scooter chargers. It’s important we work together as a community to increase awareness around fire safety, and what we can do to prevent fires from happening in the first place.

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Abena’s visit to Nepal

At the end of May, I visited Nepal with WaterAid UK and the Coalition for Global Prosperity to see the impact of development projects supporting access to clean water.

It was wonderful to be able to visit the beautiful country of Nepal and meet so many people doing life-saving and transformational work. Visiting some of the programmes that WaterAid is undertaking illuminated the extent of the hardship and poverty that so many in Nepal are facing. It also showed the amazing progress that has been made.

Poor access to Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) presents some serious challenges to vulnerable communities in Nepal. These include the proliferation of water-borne illness, poor sanitation, and restrictions on the opportunities afforded to citizens.

What I found particularly worrying was that these issues disproportionately affect women and young girls. A lack of sanitation has been related to a disproportionately smaller number of girls attending schools, particularly affecting those on their menstrual cycles.

For instance, only 39% of schools have separate, female-friendly toilets, meaning many young girls are left without a safe space to clean themselves and manage the difficulties associated with menstruation. This can discourage girls from attending school altogether, through fear of judgment, embarrassment and even harassment.

It is therefore great to see the outstanding progress that WaterAid have made with their WASH programmes. Citizens in these areas have experienced vastly improved quality of life, with improved access to safe water, better toilets, and improved hygiene.

Young girls have been offered safe spaces, which has succeeded in breaking down some of the barriers that might stop them from receiving an equal education to their male counterparts. It’s a really promising story that I am keen to see continue.