Helen speaks in debate on Black maternal healthcare and mortality

Skin colour should have absolutely no correlation with maternal health, yet in the UK, the shocking reality is that Black women are over four times more likely than white women to die during pregnancy or childbirth; women of mixed heritage are three times more likely; and Asian women are twice as likely.
The factors contributing to maternal mortality rates are complex. We know that far too many Black women feel that their concerns during pregnancy are not listened to, whilst low income and insecure work can force some women into unsafe situations. The racial disparity in maternal health must be urgently addressed and the Government must start by listening to the lived experience of Black women, Asian women and women of mixed heritage – not by publishing a report which denies the reality of structural racism. You can see a clip of my recent speech here >>
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Helen speaks in debate on asylum accommodation

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Helen calls on the Minister to support the work of London's Violence Reduction Unit

Under Sadiq Khan’s leadership, the London Violence Reduction Unit, established in 2019, has began important work to reduce violence, including knife and gun crime, in Lambeth and Southwark. This includes funding and supporting inspirational projects and organisations based in Brixton and other parts of my constituency.

Violent crime is preventable, but this can only be achieved by creating positive opportunities for young people and tackling the underlying causes of crime. This will not be quick or easy, and needs a long term strategy. Yet, currently the Government will only fund VRUs one year at a time making it impossible to plan long-term interventions. Last month, I called on the Minister to provide the multi-year sustainable funding needed for the VRU to succeed>>

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Helen speaks in debate on social care reform

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, as a Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Adult Social Care, I have been meeting regularly with a wide range of people who work in social care and rely on social care. Their first-hand experiences have born no relationship to the Government’s statements on social care: there was no protective ring around care homes, and staff and residents were left exposed without PPE or testing, care home residents died in shockingly high numbers as a result.

Social care workers have carried on in desperate circumstances caring diligently for our most frail and vulnerable loved ones. As we emerge from the pandemic, the Government must recognise their sacrifices by delivering the long overdue reform of social care funding, putting care on an equal status with the NHS, and ensuring all care workers are given a real living wage. You can see my speech from last week here >>

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Helen and Sadiq Khan visit Ebony Horse Club

It was fantastic to be back at the amazing Ebony Horse Club yesterday with Mayor Sadiq Khan.  Ebony Horse Club enables young people living in south London to ride horses and learn skills of animal care and equestrianism and it was great to meet some of the young riders and to hear what a hugely positive experience Ebony has provided for them, and to see their riding skills in action. Under Sadiq’s leadership, City Hall has provided vital funding for Ebony Horse Club and other projects supporting young people in Brixton and elsewhere in my constituency.

Yesterday Sadiq announced his pledge to place young people at the centre of London’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic if he is re-elected as Mayor on 6 May, and to keep on investing in positive futures, guaranteeing access to a mentor for every young person in need by 2024 and high quality local youth services.

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Helen leads debate on the conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia

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Helen calls on the Government to introduce police training on misogyny

The events of Saturday night starkly illustrated the need for urgent reforming of how male violence, misogyny and sexual harassment are handled by the police. I am delighted that following years of campaigning, the Government has finally bowed to pressure and accepted that crimes based on a hatred of women should be recorded by the police as hate crime.  But it is appalling that the Government’s Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, a sweeping Bill setting out all of the Tories’ priorities for the criminal justice system, fails to mention women once, and fails to take any action to protect women and girls. This week I asked the Home Secretary to take action on police training on misogyny, so that women in London can have confidence in reporting crime and we can begin to see the change in culture we so urgently need. You can watch my question here >>

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Helen writes to the Home Secretary to urge her to close the Napier Barracks

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Sarah Everard, women’s safety and the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill

The appalling kidnapping and murder of Sarah Everard has devastated women across the country, but particularly so here in south London.  We mourn Sarah as a local resident from Tulse Hill, a young woman whose life was cut short needlessly and far too soon. 

But more than that, we recognise what happened to Sarah was the fulfilment of the worst fears that too many women live with on a daily basis. It seems clear that Sarah Everard had already modified her behaviour in an attempt to stay safe. She had been walking a longer route home, keeping to paths and roads that were busy and well lit, she was talking to her boyfriend on her phone.  And still, and still, the worst thing happened.

There isn’t a woman I know who doesn’t modify her behaviour on a daily basis because of fear of violence and harassment in the public domain.  All of us do as Sarah Everard did, we take the longer route, keep to busy streets, phone or text our friends, walk with our keys between our fingers, make sure we are hyper-aware of who else is walking down the same street, check whether we are being followed by crossing and re-crossing the road, quicken our pace, just in case. 

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NHS Pay Rise

Our local NHS and care staff have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic. Last year, we stood on our doorsteps and clapped every week to express our gratitude for their sacrifice.  If the clapping is to mean anything, action must follow, yet Rishi Sunak’s budget only offered a 1% pay increase to NHS staff and nothing at all for social care workers.

This is shameful. The Tories found £40,000 pay rise for Dominic Cummings but are now giving our keyworkers a real terms cut in their pay.

Keir Starmer was absolutely right to raise this at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday.  The Labour Party will continue to fight for the fair pay deal which our keyworkers deserve. You can watch my short film here (with apologies for the wind tunnel!) >>

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