October 2023 Newsletter

Dear Friend,

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


Conflict in Israel, Gaza and the Middle East

Like you and so many across our community, I have been following the recent events in the Middle East and feeling intense distress and horror at what is unfolding.

It goes without saying that I condemn all acts of terrorism unequivocally. Anyone who commits war crimes such as these must be held to account. The murder of innocent Jews will never serve the just cause of Palestinian freedom and statehood.

However, we must also distinguish between the innocent people of Gaza and the terrorists of Hamas. In Gaza, as well as the thousands of innocent civilian casualties, we now see a community forced to live without power, food and water. Hundreds of thousands are fleeing their homes and countless families are living in terror.

I believe the international community has a responsibility to deliver the humanitarian response needed to safeguard innocent lives and to ensure that the civilians of Gaza have access to the food, water, medicines and power which are so desperately needed.

It is also very worrying to hear about the domestic concerns that have arisen as a result of this conflict. I’m sure you will be aware of the rise of Antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents within our country in recent weeks. I hope you will agree that all forms of discrimination and racism are wrong and have no place in our society.

At this time, we must extend a hand of friendship to neighbours and across our faiths. Small gestures, even chatting to a neighbour from a different faith group, will make a big difference at this time, and is something we can all do.

This is a rapidly changing situation, and I can assure you I will continue to follow developments very closely.

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.

My Black History Month Debate in Parliament

Black History Month is an important moment of reflection each year when we celebrate the great achievements of Black Britons. Therefore, this year I was pleased to host a debate in Parliament – the first Black History Month debate in two years – see links below to see what was said.

As you may know, the theme of Black History Month 2023 has been “Saluting our sisters”. In my speech, I was delighted to highlight several Black Britons, and especially Black British women, who for too long have been under-recognised in our national conversation.

You are welcome to read my full speech on the UK Parliament’s website here.

You can also watch my speech here.

Finally, while this is an essential annual event in the UK and worldwide, I spoke about how we must commit to talking about Black history all year round. I thank everyone who celebrated this year and all those continuing to fight for positive change.

My Work in Parliament

This month, I’ve been working hard to share Labour’s message on the NHS and our Health Care system in Parliament. I’ve also been raising several issues that I know are important to those in our community.

Firstly, in my role as Shadow Minister for Women’s Health and Mental Health, I started the month by challenging the Government over their lack of action to tackle rising Suicide rates across England and also their failure to reform the Mental Health Act (MHA). You can see my response here: https://twitter.com/abenaopp/status/1714308914697683406

Suicide rates have been shockingly high for too long and the Opposition has committed to reversing the rise in suicides in England and Wales within five years. I also have been tremendously saddened by the lack of action from this Government to reform the MHA, which even they have agreed is out of date and must change. If nothing does change, we will continue to let down all those suffering with severe Mental Health conditions.

I’ve also been pleased to speak about the important issues of birth trauma, IVF provision and baby loss. Pregnancy, birth and becoming a parent can be a special and rewarding time for many people. But there can sometimes be severe complications that impact the baby, the mother, and the parents. I sympathise with all those affected and in Parliament I challenged the government to do more where possible to provide support.

Furthermore, I was pleased to respond on behalf of the opposition regarding my colleague Carolyn Harris MP’s debate on the Menopause. Women’s health has for too long been a marginalised issue. And when it comes to women’s health, the issue of the menopause is critical. It affects every woman but there is still a lack of support for women experiencing the menopause. I shared how Labour would make important changes if we were elected, like making the workplace more suitable for women going through the menopause.

It was also lovely to meet a number of constituents and activists in Parliament this month. For example, I was pleased to meet Laura and Luciana from the Maternal Mental Health Alliance and it was fantastic that so many students from Woolwich Polytechnic School were able to visit Parliament too. 

As ever, if you are interested in a Tour of Parliament then I would be happy to arrange this for you. Please contact me at: abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk.

Superloop SL3 Consultation Update

You may remember, in the July newsletter, I urged you to take part in the consultation about this new express stop bus service between Thamesmead and Bromley. The results of this consultation were published this month: showing a positive response and TFL have announced that they have decided to proceed with the proposals which will have a positive impact on transport links within the area.

Southeastern Ticket Office Consultation Update

I also wanted to share that the Government has now u-turned on their plans to close Southeastern ticket offices. Thanks to residents and councillors who responded to the campaign to submit consultation comments.

Further information can be found via this web link.

Defibrillator and CPR Training in Parliament

After my Parliamentary debate on increasing public access to Defibrillators in July, awareness is increasing, and more training is now becoming available.

It was great to have so many members of Parliament and staff learning about this lifesaving training and these devices. I hope that we can continue to spread the message of awareness around the whole country and save lives as a result.

This event comes after the good news in September about the new defibrillator at Lesnes Abbey Lodge. A big thank you to Lesnes Abbey Friends who worked so hard to make that happen and for inviting me to see the new device.

Thanks especially to the Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle for hosting the event in Parliament and also to the London Ambulance Service for providing the training.

Let’s continue to push for progress.

Windrush School Visit

It was also great to join pupils from Year 6 at Windrush Primary School in Thamesmead last month. It was really nice to be grilled by them on what I’ve been doing as an MP and hear about why they love living in our local community.

A big thanks to the school for inviting me and I look forward to coming back again soon.  

Cambridge University’s Black History Month Dinner

I was delighted to attend the recent Black History Month Dinner at Cambridge University alongside Naomi Campbell and friends, old and new. 

The dinner was a great celebration of Black Britons and Black British History, and I was so pleased to meet so many inspiring people there.

I want to thank the hosts of this event – Simon Wooley, the Principal of Homerton College and also the President of the Cambridge University African Caribbean Society, Michael Lawson-Falomo for hosting such a fantastic evening.

World Mental Health Day 2023

On Tuesday 10 October we marked World Mental Health Day. On this important day, I shared my thoughts about how we need to do so much more to support those suffering with their mental health.

These are challenging times, after a once in a generation pandemic and a devastating cost of living crisis, and it is important to emphasise that everyone’s mental health matters. Reaching out and sharing experiences must not be a sign of weakness but a testament to our resilience. Together, we can break the stigma and ensure access to quality mental health care for everyone.

In my new role as the Shadow Minister for Women’s Health and Mental Health, I also restated Labour’s commitment to transformational policies that will expand our mental health services and bring support directly into our schools and communities.

I hope that this World Mental Health Day, we were able to take another important step forward and encourage more to join the conversation to make sure no one suffers in silence.

My Update on Casework for October

Thank you to everyone who contacted me in the last month to raise the issues you are facing.

The last few months have been a busy period where I have been contacted by many constituents on many important issues.

As many of you will know, housing continues to be a huge issue in Erith and Thamesmead and is the main concern of many constituents contacting me. I will continue to challenge the Government on this issue as well as working with constituents on many of the personal issues they are facing.

I am also very concerned about the delays in the Home Office’s processing of immigration applications. Some people are waiting for 12 months or even longer for a decision to be made on their applications, during which time they are unable to travel, change jobs, and often struggle to provide for their families.

To reflect the changing cost of living crisis that we are currently facing, I have also recently updated my Cost-of-Living booklet for those who need extra support. If you would like a copy of the booklet or would like my office to share copies of my booklet with local businesses or groups, please email me at: abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk.

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


  • Women in Westminster Article – I was pleased to join the House Magazine team and share my story of how I ended up in politics and Parliament. We discussed what’s good and not so good about being an MP and how there is so much more to do on issues like equality and in my new role in the Shadow Health Team. You can read the article on the Politics Home website here.
  • Rethink Mental Illness Meeting – Nice to meet the Rethink Mental Illness team in Parliament and meet some of those who have suffered as a result of the out-of-date Mental Health Act.
  • Show Racism the Red Card Day – It was important to commemorate ‘Show Racism the Red Card Day’ to make sure we challenge racism, misconceptions, stereotypes and negative attitudes in football and across society.
  • Breast Cancer Awareness Month – October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I urge all women to check themselves, support those in need and raise awareness about the important issue.
  • New Statesman Article on ‘How would a Labour government fix the NHS? – I’m pleased to share the following article that was in the New Statesman last month. It shared the vision of each of the Opposition’s Health Ministers, including myself, about how we would make the NHS fit for the future. Read the article here.

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