Helen visits Auschwitz-Birkenau with local schools

On 21 March I travelled to the former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland with the Holocaust Education Trust and a group of young people from Dulwich and West Norwood and South London.

I learned about the Holocaust as a teenager at school in the North-West of England, every year in January I commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, and I have met and spoken to a number of Holocaust survivors. Yet nothing quite prepared me for visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau. The museum which has been created at the sites of the two camps which formed Auschwitz-Birkenau communicates very powerfully the horrific scale of the mass persecution and killing which took place there, but the displays of personal belongings stolen from the prisoners – a handmade child’s dress, a decorated cup and bowl, thousands of pairs of shoes – also remind us that each and every person who was murdered by the Nazis was an individual with their own story, their loved ones, their talents, their struggles and their hopes.

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Helen leads debate in Parliament on Dulwich Hamlet FC

I recently led a debate in Parliament on Dulwich Hamlet Football Club. The club was locked out of its Champion Hill ground last month by its landlord Meadow Residential LLP.

I have received countless emails, letters and messages from my constituents who are deeply concerned about the Dulwich Hamlet FC’s future. DHFC has deep roots in our community and it is loved for its charitable and community work as much as for the inclusive approach to football, family atmosphere at its home games and its recent strong performance in the Bostik League. I was delighted to join around a thousand fans at the protest and rally the day after the debate support of the club.

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Helen delivers letter to Royal Mail opposing delivery office closures

I have been fighting Royal Mail’s proposed closure of the SE27 delivery office in West Norwood and SE22 delivery office in East Dulwich since these plans first came to light.  The plans would see residents in SE27 having to travel to Penge to collect parcels and registered post on a journey which can take up to an hour in each direction, and residents in SE22 having to travel to Peckham to an area with no on-street parking.

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Helen tables Early Day Motion on mental health

I’ve tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament to highlight the pressures faced by mental health services in my constituency and across South London. Despite the Government’s tough talk on mental health, the reality is that under the Tories half of all Clinical Commission Groups say they plan to reduce the proportion of their budget spent on mental health.

My Early Day Motion calls on the Government to review current NHS spending standards for mental health and to ensure future funding for mental health is properly ring-fenced.

It’s great to have support for the EDM from MPs across South London. I will continue to press for mental health services to be properly resourced and to receive the priority that they deserve.  You can read my EDM here: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2017-19/895

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Helen leads debate in Parliament on the pressures at King’s

Yesterday I led a debate in Parliament on the financial pressures at King’s College Hospital.

I gave birth to my two children at King’s and my mum worked there for ten years until she retired. The situation at King’s is as personal and as important to me and my family as it is to tens of thousands of my constituents, and it is very concerning to see the current financial difficulties the Trust is facing.

King’s has been on a journey over the past twenty years. Back in 1998, when I was an in-patient, it was a struggling, failing hospital. Years of investment under the last Labour government transformed King’s so that by 2010 it was meeting all of its main clinical targets and consistently achieving a small annual financial surplus.

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Helen's response to Boundary Commission proposals

The Boundary Commission for England has recently published its latest set of proposals for new constituency boundaries, for consultation.  The proposals are based the requirement to reduce the number of Parliamentary constituencies from 650 to 600, an initiative of the Coalition government, in order to reduce the costs of our democracy.  

At a time when the UK population is increasing, I believe that this reduction is profoundly undemocratic, and that cost savings should be achieved by reforming the House of Lords into a modern, democratically elected Chamber, with fewer than the current 800 Peers.  The current Boundary Commission proposals would split Dulwich and West Norwood constituency into four different new constituencies, and I believe that this would be very damaging for our communities.  I have set out the reasons for this in my response to the Boundary Commission consultation, the full text of which is pasted below.

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More money to pay for Brexit than to fund our NHS

The Chancellor delivered a Budget last week which exposed the extent to which Theresa May’s Tory government is mired in its own divisions, unable to articulate a vision for the country, negotiate Brexit effectively, deliver a strong economy or invest in our public services.

Before delivering his announcements, the Chancellor set out an extraordinarily weak context – our economy is flat lining, and wages stagnating, underpinned by poor productivity.  Theresa May fought the general election in June based on the promise of a strong economy.  She has abjectly failed to deliver it.

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EU (Withdrawal) Bill update from Helen

The detailed debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill has now started – over eight full days of debate, MPs will discuss every aspect of the Bill during its ‘committee stage’.

This Bill is deeply flawed, damaging and not fit for purpose. It gives carte blanche to a small number of government ministers to water down regulations, rights and protections which come from the EU without Parliamentary scrutiny; it fails to make any provision for our laws to keep pace with future changes in EU law on important issues like the regulation of toxic chemicals; and it denies Parliament a meaningful vote on the proposed Brexit deal.

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Helen’s fight for supported housing continues as government plans come up short

Earlier this month the government’s plans for supported housing were announced in response to the inquiry into supported housing that I co-chaired in Parliament.

Whilst there are certainly aspects to be welcomed – in particular the designation of a new “sheltered rent” for housing for older people – there are significant disappointments and concerns too.

 

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Helen calls for proper schools funding ahead of Budget

I have been campaigning with parents, teachers and head teachers in Dulwich and West Norwood against the government’s damaging cuts to our schools.

We have excellent local schools, but the Tories are putting them at risk, forcing our schools to consider cutting teacher and teaching assistant posts, extra curricular activities and additional support for children who need it.

That’s why I’ve written to the Chancellor ahead of next week’s Budget urging him to reverse the cuts to schools in my constituency and to ensure they are properly funded in the future.

The government’s own modelling shows that under the revised School Funding Formula every school in my constituency faces a real terms cut in funding every year going forward.

I will continue to stand up on behalf of my constituents on this issue and to press for the action on funding our schools so desperately need.

 

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