July 2023 Newsletter

Dear Friend,

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


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.

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.

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.

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.

My Westminster Hall Debate on Public Access to Defibrillators

We all know having access to life-saving defibrillators saves lives. The issue is not their design but their location and public awareness about what they are and how to use them.

In a Westminster Hall debate that I secured, I spoke about the lack of life-saving Defibrillators in Erith and Thamesmead and across the UK. This issue was brought to my attention by my constituent Bonnie McGhee. Bonnie sadly lost her dad to cardiac arrest and has since raised funds for a defibrillator in his memory.

Research from the Resuscitation Council UK shows that access to defibrillators, or AEDs, is not fairly distributed across England. Each year, there are 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK, with less than one in ten surviving. Whilst immediate CPR and defibrillation can more than double the chances of survival, defibrillators are used in less than one in ten cases. If you have a cardiac arrest and have access to a defibrillator within a minute, have a 90% chance of survival.

In my Westminster Hall debate, I said that “knowing where a defibrillator is and how to use one, saves lives. Learning simple resuscitation skills can make all the difference in an emergency. Today, I’m calling on Ministers to listen and help save lives.”

I was pleased to hear some encouraging signs from the Minister for Health and Secondary Care, Will Quince MP, who responded to my speech. However, we all know that so much more needs to be done. I will be continuing to work hard on this vital issue.

After the debate, I wrote an article on my website. You can find the article here: https://www.abenaoppongasare.com/equal-access-to-defibrillators-can-save-lives-says-abena-oppong-asare-mp/.

My work in Parliament

This July in Parliament I have raised a number of issues I know are important to people in Erith and Thamesmead.

Firstly, in my role as Shadow Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, I spoke at the start of July on the e-petition debate on Mileage Rates. The Mileage rate is an essential resource for millions across the country, working hard for their families, businesses and communities, to make sure they are not out of pocket for the extra miles they do in their private vehicles. In my response to the Government, I challenged the Treasury to listen to the concerns of millions who are facing a cost-of-living crisis and a Government showing a lack of much needed leadership.

Furthermore, on behalf of the Opposition, I scrutinised the Government’s legislation amending the Consumer Rights Act and the Postal Packets Regulations.

On Thursday, 6th July, I also spoke in Parliament during the Grenfell General Debate. We all know the tragic circumstances of that night and the appalling response in the aftermath to all affected. I spoke to mark six years since the tragedy and to remember all the lives lost that terrible night.

Finally, I also spoke during the Westminster Hall debate on the Metropolitan Police investigation in the murder of Stephen Lawrence, sponsored by Clive Efford MP. Those of us who were growing up in South East London at the time of Stephen’s murder know we have come a long way. However, we all know that we have so much further still to go. It is so important that the Metropolitan Police and the Government are held to account for what they are doing to introduce meaningful and lasting change. It was also great to speak to a number of important stakeholders in Parliament last month like the CEO of the UK Infrastructure Bank, John Flint.

Ticket Office Closures

As I’m sure many across the community are aware, it has recently been announced that there are plans to close rail ticket offices across the country including in our area of Erith and Thamesmead.

Last month, I wrote to both the Government and the CEO of Southeastern to express my concerns about the consequences of these closures, especially for the many elderly and disabled passengers who rely on these offices for travel. Currently, the plans would affect both Erith and Belvedere stations in our community.

I also raised this with the Minister for Transport in the House of Commons. The Minister must assure the public over these plans. I will continue to monitor these issues and the concerns that constituents have raised with me on this issue.

The consultation for these proposals closes on 1st September 2023 and I urge all constituents to continue to express their views by contacting Southeastern on their website and by emailing London Travelwatch here: Southeastern.Consultation@Londontravelwatch.org.uk. Please also email me if you would like to share your thoughts on this important issue. Email me at abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk.

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 I would like to thank all the stakeholders who worked so hard to make this happen. It was lovely to meet so many locals, partners, and small businesses.

Thank you to Councillor Nicola Taylor and the volunteers that made this event happen.

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

This July, I was also pleased to visit Erith Fire Station and meet with the Fire Borough Commander for Bexley, Jim Morford, to discuss all the great work the local team are doing to raise awareness of fire safety. It was also great to learn about their successful Fire Cadets scheme for young people.

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 and tackle the cost of living.

TFL Loop Consultation

Transport for London (TfL) is inviting people to have their say on proposals for the latest bus routes that would form part of the proposed Superloop bus network.

The new SL3 (Thamesmead to Bromley) should provide additional bus capacity in busy locations and encourage more sustainable journeys. Proposals for route SL3 mean that the service would increase frequency of buses between Thamesmead and Bexleyheath and Bexleyheath and Bromley.

The consultation is now open at https://haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk/sl3-superloop until 4 September and I encourage everyone to share their views on these proposals.

My Update on Casework for July

Thank you to everyone who contacted me to raise the problems you are facing.

Housing continues to be a huge issue in Erith and Thamesmead, and I have serious concerns over the unprecedented housing crisis this Government is overseeing. The building of new social homes is at record lows, and more and more people are stuck in the private rented sector when they should either own their own home or have a council house to rent.

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee’s 2020 report, ‘Building more social housing’, called for around 90,000 additional social homes to be built a year. Last month, when I asked the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, whether his department has a target for building new social homes, I was told that since 2010 they have delivered over 162,800 homes for social rent.

I am worried that if housing targets are not met soon, the housing crisis will continue to grow over the next few years. In the coming months, I will be continuing to raise awareness about the terrible housing issues of so many and calling on the Government to take action. I will post any updates in future newsletters and on my website.

You can also access my Cost-of-Living booklet if you need extra support. The link to the booklet is here: https://www.abenaoppongasare.com/cost-of-living/.

I held another surgery last month to discuss issues with constituents face to face. If you would like to attend my next surgery, please contact my office to be added to the waiting list.


  • Age UK Summer Reception – Thank you to everyone from Erith and Thamesmead who contacted me about attending Age UK’s Summer Reception and the important issue of the state of healthcare for older people. I’m pleased to say that I attended their July event and I was able to speak to many members of the Age UK team, their policy experts and elderly people struggling with long waiting lists and a lack of support. You can see my post from the event here: https://twitter.com/abenaopp/status/1679159735918944256 
  • Meeting with John Lewis, Executive Director at Peabody – It was good to catch up with John Lewis from Peabody to discuss issues regarding housing and infrastructure in Thamesmead and across the constituency.
  • Mansion House Dinner – On Monday 10th July, I attended the City of London Financial & Professional Services Dinner to listen to the Chancellor and the Bank of England on how they plan to manage the economic challenges we are currently facing. It was good to share our plans as the Opposition with stakeholders and businesses.
  • Seniors in Touch Group visit to Parliament – I was pleased to work with the Seniors in Touch (SIT) Group to organise their Tour of Parliament in late July. I’m glad to hear that their tour was a success.
  • Unison Windrush Reception – It was nice to attend Unison’s reception and to hear from those passionately against the discrimination that the Windrush generation faced, and that Black Workers continue to face today.
  • 75th Anniversary of the NHS – On the 75th anniversary of our NHS, I am immensely humbled by the unwavering dedication of all NHS staff across Britain. In the aftermath of the pandemic, the entire nation joins in expressing its pride and gratitude for our great NHS. Thank you and happy anniversary.
  • Remembering Baroness Margaret McDonagh – I also wanted to remember my friend Margaret. Not only was she a lovely person but she was a brilliant activist and campaigner.
  • Remembering Lord Bob Kerslake – Finally, I wanted to remember Lord Bob Kerslake, an activist who many in our community will have known. Bob was an instrumental figure in Local Government and in the Lords and it was a privilege to have known him.

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