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


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:


  • 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