Crisis in Afghanistan

I am grateful to the hundreds of constituents who have contacted me in recent days about the appalling events unfolding in Afghanistan. 

An urgent priority for me and my small team is, and will continue to be, supporting constituents who are stuck in Afghanistan or desperately worried about family and friends who are there.  If you or a family member needs help, please email [email protected] and I will do everything I can to support you.

I was in the House of Commons Chamber yesterday for the full seven hours of debate on Afghanistan.  I had hoped to speak, but the debate was oversubscribed, and I was very disappointed not to be called.  I have therefore set out below my thoughts on the current situation and the issues on which I will continue to press the government in the coming weeks and months.

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Exam results 2021

Today students across the country will receive their A-Level results whilst GCSE results will be released later this week. These students have faced an incredibly difficult time and significant disruption to their education during two important school years because of the pandemic. 

I am proud of all of the young people in my constituency who have worked so hard, despite the disruption. Congratulations to everyone who has received the results you hoped for in these difficult circumstances.  If you haven’t received the results you hoped for, please understand that these exam results will not be the single thing that defines you, and there will be other opportunities to pursue your goals and plans.

This year the Government replaced the disastrous algorithm used to calculate last year’s results, with a system based on teacher assessment, moderated by exam boards. If you are unhappy with your grades, it is important to speak with your school or college as soon as possible to begin the appeals process.

Good luck to everyone receiving results this week!

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Helen’s response to the Boundary Commission for England Consultation on new Parliamentary Constituency Boundaries

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Have your say on new Parliamentary constituency boundaries

The Boundary Commission for England has published its initial proposals for new Parliamentary constituency boundaries and there is an important opportunity to have your say. You can find out more here: BCE Consultation Portal (bcereviews.org.uk)

What is the Boundary Commission for England and what does it do?

The Boundary Commission for England is an independent body established by Parliament to review Parliamentary constituency boundaries periodically.  The main purpose of the review is to even out the number of electors living in each constituency in England so that each MP represents similar numbers of residents.

This review is long overdue, as a result of a plan by the Government to reduce the overall number of constituencies which was abandoned at the last stage before implementation.  The review needs to happen, and the new constituencies will be implemented in July 2023.  General elections held after this date will be held with the new constituency boundaries in place.

What do the Boundary Commission’s proposals mean for Dulwich and West Norwood?

The current Boundary Commission proposals are bad for our area.  They abolish the Dulwich and West Norwood constituency, and split our area between four separate new Parliamentary constituencies.  This breaks long-held community ties, would result in several local communities being divided between different Parliamentary constituencies and could reduce the quality of parliamentary representation some communities have in the future.

Specifically, the proposals are as follows:

The Dulwich wards of Dulwich Village, Dulwich Wood, Dulwich Hill and Goose Green would join a new ‘Dulwich and Sydenham’ constituency, the rest of which is in the London Borough of Lewisham.

Herne Hill and Coldharbour wards would join a new ‘Clapham and Brixton’ constituency.

Thurlow Park ward would join a newly configured Streatham constituency.

Knight’s Hill and Gipsy Hill wards would join a new ‘Norwood’ constituency, the rest of which is in the London Borough of Croydon.

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Borders and Nationality Bill Second Reading

This evening I will be voting against the Tories’ shameful Nationality and Border’s Bill. The bill betrays the UK’s long tradition of welcoming and providing a safe haven to some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Globally, 82.4 million people have been forced to flee their homes and are currently displaced. In this face of this unprecedented refugee crisis, this Tory Government has decided to cut international aid, to close down safe routes for refugees to travel to the UK including the Dubs scheme, and place asylum seekers in appalling, illegal conditions in Napier and Penally Barracks.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has taken the unprecedented step of saying that this Bill ‘…will undermine the 1951 Refugee Convention and international protection system, not only in the UK but globally’.  In this afternoon’s debate, I urged the Minister to withdraw this damaging bill and instead look at ways to support communities to resettle refugees in their area and to reopen safe routes like the Dubs Scheme. You can watch my speech here>>

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Helen speaks in debate on the 10th anniversary of the Winterbourne View scandal and the transforming care programme

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Helen challenges the Minister on the Serious Violence Taskforce and knife crime

Since 2013, knife crime has been increasing in every area of the country.  As we emerge from lockdown, we are once again seeing young people being killed and seriously injured on our streets. I have been contacted by many families tragically affected by knife crime and know how anxious many of my constituents are to keep our young people safe this summer. There is fantastic work being done by local organisations, our local councils and the Mayor of London’s Violence Reduction Unit to support young people but we need this to be supported by an effective plan and resources from national government.

The government’s Serious Violence Taskforce was set up in 2018 to bring together Ministers, experts and young people to develop a long term strategy to end serious violence and knife crime. The Taskforce has not met since 2019 and the Government refuses to explain why its important work has been abandoned. Instead we have seen paltry, piecemeal funding announcements which just aren’t enough to address the root causes of violence. Earlier this week, I called on the Minister to explain why the Taskforce has been disbanded and to take the action needed to stop knife crime >>

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Health and Care Bill Second Reading

Today I will be voting against the Government’s Health and Care Bill. 

We owe our NHS and social care staff an enormous debt of gratitude for all that they have done during these past 16 months of the Covid-19 pandemic.  They have worked at the frontline of this terrible disease, often putting their own health at risk to provide treatment and care to those in need.  The burden of the Government’s failure to prepare for a pandemic fell on them, as has the impact of more than a decade of austerity.

Our NHS and care staff need more than clapping, they need this government to step up and deliver the resources and investment to fund properly a reformed NHS and care sector, starting with a decent pay rise ensuring that every staff member is paid at least the real living wage.

They need buildings fit for the future of care, not crumbling and leaking relics of yesterday, they need investment in equipment, and they need a credible workforce strategy that helps to deliver the next generations of highly skilled well paid staff to fill the huge gaps in recruitment and problems with retention they have to deal with each week.

Staff need these things so that they can focus on the top priority of bringing waiting times down and delivering the best possible treatment, care and support to everyone who needs it.

But what they categorically don’t need - and no doctor, nurse or carer has ever asked me for - is this Bill. They do not need a Bill which will deliver a top down reorganisation of the NHS, and which bypasses the reform and sustainable funding of social care completely.

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Helen urges the Minister to support renewable community energy

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Helen leads debate to mark Windrush Day 2021

I am proud to represent a constituency with a very direct connection to the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush in 1948. Around 200 of the Windrush passengers found temporary accommodation in the Clapham Common deep shelter, and from there came to find work at the Labour Exchange on Coldharbour Lane and settled in the surrounding area working in our NHS, for London Transport, in the rebuilding of post-war London and setting up shops and businesses helping to build the Brixton we know today. On Windrush Day, 22 June, we celebrate the enduring contribution of this remarkable generation.  After 15 months of the coronavirus pandemic, we cannot mark this year’s Windrush Day without remembering the significant role that the Windrush generation played in the founding of our NHS, and the extraordinary service of all those who have come from overseas to serve in our NHS and social care, and who have given so much during this very difficult time.  We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

Yet, as we mark the contribution of Windrush citizens we must also remember the appalling injustice suffered by the victims of the Windrush Scandal. The Home Secretary has promised to right the wrong of the Scandal, but the Windrush Compensation Scheme is not working. Tragically, 21 victims of the Windrush Scandal have died waiting to receive their compensation.

The Windrush Compensation Scheme must urgently be taken over by an independent body. It is also important that the Windrush Scandal leads to cultural change in our country which must start with listening to the lived experience of Black people, rather than – as the Government has done – denying that structural racism exists.  This morning I led a debate in Parliament to mark Windrush Day 2021. You can see a clip of my speech below >>

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