February 2024 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Many thanks for taking the time to look at my latest newsletter for February 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


DLR to Thamesmead

This month, I was pleased to see TFL’s launch of a consultation to extend the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) to two new stations in Beckton Riverside and Thamesmead. 

Since I was elected in 2019, I have been campaigning for increased transport links for Erith and Thamesmead residents that many others across London already enjoy. My #NextStopThamesmead Campaign aims to bridge the gap that many constituents face in accessing jobs and opportunities across London. 

The TFL proposal to extend the DLR to Thamesmead would be a much-needed improvement, unlocking new homes, helping to boost connectivity and providing more public transport options for the people of Thamesmead. 

TFL are holding a consultation until the 18th of March, allowing you to have your say.  

You can share your comments through the online consultation page here and you can also share your views with me and join my campaign on my website here.

Superloop Expansion

It was also great to see the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan launch the expansion of the Superloop bus service this month, providing more transport options to those who need it.  

The new SL3 express bus route runs between Bromley and Thamesmead providing better links to Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup and other locations in South East London and beyond. It will also provide better bus links for the people of Thamesmead travelling to and from Abbey Wood Station.   

My Work in Parliament

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

At the beginning of the month, I was delighted to mark Children’s Mental Health Week during its 10th year in action. It is organised by Place2Be, which deserves great thanks for all the work that it does to support children’s mental health across Britain.

This year’s theme, “My Voice Matters”, went to the heart of the issue. Every child matters. Each child counts no matter who they are, what their parents do, what their race or religion are, or where they live. Every child must know that their voice matters, and we need a system that listens to every child.

Recent data indicates that the Mental Health crisis amongst our children is worsening, with record numbers of referrals to children and young people’s mental health services. In Parliament, I shared Labour’s commitments to combat this crisis by creating open-access mental health hubs for children and young people in every community, placing specialist support in every school and by cutting waiting lists for those seeking mental health support. 

I also contributed to a recent Guardian article which highlighted the steep rise in Black inpatients injured while being restrained by police in mental health units. There is a pressing need to directly challenge racial disparities in mental health treatment. These figures reveal that the shocking racial inequalities in our mental health services are only widening, and so much more needs to be done to address them.

As you may be aware, this month Parliament passed Labour’s amendment calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza and for a pathway to long-term peace. As your MP, I voted for the Labour amendment which also demanded the release of all hostages, an end to settler violence, Israel complying with the ICJ ruling and the unequivocal need for a political process to work towards a two-state solution. 

Unfortunately, these important votes and the wider debate was overshadowed by arguments over parliamentary procedure. Since entering the House of Commons in 2019, this is the worst I have seen it. It was especially disheartening to see party political game-playing at a time when our debate on this issue should be deeply serious.

In the House of Commons, I also challenged the Government on their UNWRA funding position, asking for assurances over a timeframe for bringing back the funding. The need for aid in Gaza has reached a critical position, and it’s vital that the Government gives clarity on this issue. You can see my intervention here

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.

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.

Visit to Cornerstone School with London Sport

I also visited Cornerstone School in Belvedere, who provide a foundation of learning, tailored to pupils aged 11 – 19 who have a primary diagnosis of autism, and Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs, to join a sport session supported by London Sport. 

London Sport, a charity focussed on tackling inequality and inactivity in London, is distributing £5.7m of funding to schools in London over a three-year period. Thanks to this funding, Cornerstone School has been able to run projects for its students with new equipment and increased accessibility.

It was amazing to see the students showcasing their sports skills and competitiveness at the gym, table tennis and trampolining. I was particularly impressed with the leadership and dedication of the headteacher and her team. It was clear how passionate all the teachers were to make sure the students had a nurturing, friendly and supportive environment.

UNISON’S National Women’s Conference

I was delighted to be invited to give a keynote speech at UNISON’s National Women Conference, where one of its key focuses was on women’s health at work. 

The discussions revolved around needs of women workers with respect to endometriosis, menopause and menstruation and how they hamper workplace wellbeing, especially when not taken into consideration by employers. An important motion passed was on improving maternity care for Black women who face a higher risk of losing a child to miscarriage or losing their life during childbirth. 

In my speech, I highlighted racism faced by women of colour while accessing healthcare services and I spoke about the importance of employers’ recognising and understanding menopause in women. 

I made clear that women’s health must be a priority for the Government, yet too often women’s needs have been ignored. 

Instead of continuing to sideline women’s health, I shared Labour’s mission to build the NHS fit for the future, tackling inequalities, rooting out racism and creating systems which recognise women’s health needs.

It is time to restore our National Health Service, free at the point of use, available to all. 

You can read more about the conference and my speech here: Women’s health at work is a UNISON priority says conference | Article, News | News | UNISON National

ITV’s Late Debate

It was a pleasure to be on the panel of The Late Debate with ITV News and discuss a number of important issues including the safety of public officials, tax incentives for London tourists and the upcoming Mayoral election. 

In particular, I raised my concerns about the current climate of abuse against people in public life, with people of colour and women often being more at risk. In my role as Chair for Labour’s Women Network, I have worked hard to train women to build resilience towards the abuse they are subjected to, and best practices towards tackling it.  

People in public life should not be scared or intimidated while carrying out their responsibilities and I hope to see more progress in changing the current climate. 

Visit to the Opening of Orleans Woodland Walk

Last month, I was pleased to visit the Oxleas Goldie Leigh site and officially open the new Woodland Walk. I was very impressed with this new development and excited to hear how it will support the wellbeing of staff, patients and visitors.

It was great to meet with those involved and hear about their vision for the future of Goldie Leigh. I was particularly impressed with the plans for the Health and Wellbeing Centre, which will be an excellent asset to the community.

Visit to Alexander McLeod Primary School

Last month, I also visited Alexander McLeod Primary to hear from students about their Black History Month project on the Windrush scandal.

I was so impressed with the student’s knowledge of the Windrush generation and their ability to communicate this important story that impacted so many people’s lives. 

I was also interested to hear about the student’s investigation into the different demographics of people who live in Abbey Wood and how this has changed over the years. 

Engaging with young students and seeing them so interested in politics is inspiring and truly one of the best parts of being an MP.  The enthusiasm and dedication of all the teachers and support staff at the school was evident to see. 

Update on Casework for February

Thank you to everyone who has contacted me throughout February to raise the issues that you have been facing.

Unfortunately, we are seeing an increase in constituents struggling with the increasing living costs and the strain this is placing on families. My team and I have been and will continue to support the most vulnerable as they face these challenges.

This month, delays in the Home Office processing immigration applications continue. Several IT errors have been cited, preventing the Home Office from making decisions on applications and causing further delays.

While I know the struggles that too many in Erith and Thamesmead are still facing, I was pleased to see successful outcomes on a variety of cases. I will continue to support constituents on the issues that they are facing as we move into March.

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


  • Holocaust Memorial Day at Woolwich Town Hall – I was also pleased to attend this important service of remembrance marking Holocaust Memorial Day in Greenwich. 
  • Lord Bob Kerslake Celebration of Life Memorial – Pleased to attend the memorial for Lord Kerslake, who was an inspirational champion of improving our cities, towns and villages through its positions in local and national government.
  • Dinner with the Royal College of Psychiatrists – It was lovely to meet Dr Lade Smith CBE and other members at the Royal College to discuss the current mental health crisis and what more needs to be done. 

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