Updated: Mar 31
ISOLATION TIPS FROM BRITAIN'S FIRST ASTRONAUT
I was thrilled to meet Helen Sharman recently, at the opening of The Kingston Academy. Helen was the first British person in space and has been one of my heroes since I was at school. She is a local resident and got in touch today to share the insights she gained on life in isolation while working in space. You can see her excellent tips and advice on the blog post I published about it today here: https://www.saraholneymp.org.uk/post/tips-on-surviving-isolation-from-britain-s-first-astronaut
Having heard from many constituents that they are concerned about falling through the cracks in the support packages announced by the Chancellor, I have written to him to urge him to address the gaps.These include:
Workers who previously worked under short term PAYE contracts
Self-employed people who were paid via dividends from their Ltd companies
Zero-hours workers whose employers have not been given guidance on how to calculate their wages under the job retention scheme
Self-employed people who had profits over the £50,0000 cliff edge
All self-employed people who cannot keep themselves going until June
Foreign workers who have lost their jobs and whose immigration status does not give them access to benefits, many of whom are unable to return home
Although some of these workers will be able to apply for Universal Credit, there are serious capacity issues in that department, and it is unclear when that help may arrive.
As a party, the Liberal Democrats are continuing to push for government to implement a Citizen’s Income to ensure that all citizens have a basic income. We are also calling on government to turn day-one Universal Credit loans into grants immediately.
In the meantime, I am pressuring government to close the gaps I mentioned above.
If you are a non-UK national, you may want to look at this page of resources:
I have been contacted today by TfL about the situation on Hammersmith Bridge. On social distancing they have said: "We are implementing the new arrangements on the bridge with a two way system using the available footway and carriageway with cyclists having to push their bikes across. We have four more marshals on the bridge to help push the message on social distancing and two metres which has also has been marked out on the bridge just as it has been done on the Riverwalk."
On the subject of the ongoing bridge repairs they have said: "We are working on the bridge so the South Pedestals will see us start removing the paint today. That will last most of the week. So for Hammersmith Bridge advance work it is business as usual. We have approval from the government and are working under strict conditions. We intend to keep to our programme."
A lot of constituents are unhappy about Richmond Park being closed to cyclists. This step was taken because of crowding at the entrances and some cyclists not observing the social distancing rules. I wrote to Royal Parks about this, and they have assured me that they are continuously reviewing their policies, and share our hope this is a temporary measure.
CHARITIES IN NEED OF SUPPORT
I have heard from a number of local and national charities that they are in real financial trouble due to the closure of their high street shops and the cancellation of their fundraising events. Many of these charities are more needed than ever right now, and are not sure how they will survive. If you are in a financial position to make a donation to an important cause, here are some that we particularly need to keep going:
Mind: support for those suffering from mental illness - mind.org.uk
Age UK: support for older people - ageuk.org.uk
Marie-Curie: support for patients with a terminal illness - mariecurie.org.uk
Refuge: support for women and children suffering domestic violence - refuge.org.uk
Kingston Bereavement Service: https://www.kingstonbereavementservice.org.uk/
Cruse Bereavement Care (Richmond): Support for the bereaved: www.cruse.org.uk
Momentum: support for families whose child has a serious illness https://www.moment-um.org/home/
BLOOD DONORS NEEDED
I have been contacted by NHS Blood and Transplant to say that they still need people to donate blood to keep supply levels healthy. They have put in place exacting hygiene protocols to ensure that donors are kept safe from exposure. Over the next 12 weeks they will send regular updates of where there are unfilled slots in this area. Please go to blood.co.uk and register if you are healthy, able to go out, and willing to donate.
London Early Years Foundation Nurseries (LEYF)
LEYF nurseries are offering childcare to essential workers and vulnerable children during the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis. LEYF is keeping 18 nurseries (out of a total of 39) open across London to provide childcare for key workers and vulnerable children. Visit them at: https://www.leyf.org.uk/
Army delivers protective equipment for Richmond’s social care workers
An emergency supply of masks and aprons were delivered to Richmond Council on Friday 27 March by the British Army. These supplies are now being distributed to care homes and other key workers. Richmond’s social care staff provide support for some of the most vulnerable and frail people in the borough, and I am happy to see that the Council has sourced some protective equipment for them.
Support for businesses, employees and self employed residents of Richmond
· There is specific page of information for self employed residents you can access here.
· A dedicated page for employees can be accessed here.
Kingston Stronger Together wrote to say: "We now have over 1,200 volunteers registered with Kingston Stronger Together - that includes some 690 residents, 480 staff and 110 contractors from Places for Leisure. That is a fantastic response and we’ll be thanking them all today. Our plans for the next few days include contacting people we know are self isolating and vulnerable to check what could help and what they may need. We are expecting to be able to start food deliveries soon."
The council has added: "If you or someone you know needs this support, please fill in this online form and we will contact you. You can complete the online form at any time.
If you do not have online access you can phone 020 8547 5000. If your request is not urgent please try to call us between Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. If your call is urgent, the number will be answered out of these hours but we need to prioritise these times for urgent calls only. Thank you for supporting us to prioritise the most vulnerable."
Thank you to everyone who is reaching out to help someone else today. As Helen Sharman writes in her advice on isolation, I hope that once this is all over we will retain the habits of kindness and care we are developing during this crisis. Stay safe and please do reach out to my office if you need assistance.