I have received a lot of positive feedback from constituents who are seeing increased awareness of and respect for the government's social distancing and stay at home guidance. Thank you to everyone who is making sacrifices to help reduce pressure on the NHS. I am especially happy to report that joggers and cyclists are getting into the habit of giving people two meters of space when passing them.
There are still some people insisting on continuing with their usual activities, though, which is a source of anxiety to many as well as a physical risk to all of us. The police are authorised to respond to those who are not complying, so if you are worried about a particularly egregious breach of the government's instructions, you can report it to the Met Police by phoning 101, sending the Met Police a direct message on Twitter using @metcc or by using their special reporting tool online at https://www.met.police.uk/tua/tell-us-about/c19/tell-us-about-possible-breach-coronavirus-measures/
With Easter weekend coming up, I would like to remind everyone that the government has instructed those people who have a holiday home not to go there for the long weekend. Second homes are often in locations that are not equipped to handle an influx of visitors under current circumstances, so please stay at home this weekend.
Following the government's instructions is going to be hard for all of us, but especially hard for certain groups of people. Here are some resources for people who may be especially worried right now:
Maternity advice related to covid-19, especially job-related advice, is available from Maternity Action here: https://maternityaction.org.uk/covidmaternityfaqs/
People supporting someone with a terminal illness
Marie Curie's dedicated Support Line is now open 7 days a week to assist you on the phone at 0800 090 2309 or via web chat: https://bit.ly/2Urs5nu"
People living with cancer
MacMillan's latest guidance and advice on treatment, home isolation, financial matters and wellbeing can follow them on Twitter using @macmillancancer or see their website at https://www.macmillan.org.uk/coronavirus
The Kennel Club have updated their website with information and guidance for dog owners that is being constantly developed in line with the latest government guidance. If you are concerned about the impact this lockdown is having on your dog, please go to https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/. Please remember that everyone is being asked to keep dogs on leads in the parks and open spaces in this constituency.
Richmond Mind has published some great advice for young people who are feeling overwhelmed by the changes to their lives. Find it here: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/for-children-and-young-people/coronavirus/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/
All residents of any age
For parents, and local residents of any age, Southwest London has opened a new mental health emergency department on Monday 30 March to support patients who need urgent mental health care.
The Orchid Mental Health Emergency Department is a dedicated crisis centre which will enable patients of any age, including children, to attend a dedicated mental health emergency service set up specifically for this purpose. It will help protect patients and service users against the virus by reducing the need to attend acute hospitals.
Those who need mental health support should call South West London and St. George’s NHS Trust’s mental health support line on 0800 028 8000.
If you would like to access guidance yourself, please see the NHS mental health and wellbeing advice website for self-assessment, audio guides and practical tools. Every Mind Matters also provides simple tips and advice to start taking better care of your mental health.
The Liberal Democrats have been fighting for a better resourced, better supported mental health service for years. Isolation will only increase the need for people to access good mental health services in a timely manner, so this fight is more important now than ever.
That's why my Lib Dem colleagues joined over 40 MPs from across the political spectrum to sign a letter to government last week highlighting the inextricable link between mental and physical health. We are urging the Government to:
launch a publicity campaign signposting the mental health support available during the coronavirus crisis.
send public health leaflets, which include advice on looking after mental health and signposts to organisations that can offer support during the crisis, to all homes.
increase the level of funding for mental health charities offering support during the coronavirus crisis, to reduce pressure on the NHS.
We hope the government will take on board this urgent need and respond immediately.
Kingston Stronger Together
Kingston Stronger Together has contacted directly around 1,800 of the most vulnerable people in Kingston - these include people over 70 who live alone and people who are on the NHS list of extremely vulnerable people. GPs are also producing lists of people who they think might be vulnerable. They will be cross checking these to ensure no one falls through the gaps.
We expect the need for support to increase substantially from now on. The kind of support that we are providing via Kingston Stronger Together ranges from deliveries of food and medicines to specialist, intense care and support for people living alone, people with physical and mental health needs and those who are at risk from harm.
For children of key workers and children with social work involvement, all state-funded schools in Kingston will either be open during the Easter holidays or have worked collaboratively to make 'hub' arrangements available for those children.
Richmond waste collections
Earlier this year Richmond Council announced that a new waste and recycling collection contract had been awarded to Serco, commencing on the 30 March 2020. Despite the challenges facing the provider due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Serco started delivering the service on Monday. They have been working hard over the past month to ensure that they were ready for the new contract. However, like the start of any new contract there have been initial ‘teething’ problems. Measures are being put in place to address the issues that occurred last week.
Coronavirus Business Support Grants arrive for Richmond businesses
Following the Government announcement regarding the launch of the business support package, Richmond Council wrote to all those in the borough they believe are eligible for the funding, inviting them to apply online. Over 1,600 businesses have now applied for one of the grants – around 62% of those written to -- and the grants have started to arrive in their bank accounts already, ahead of government distribution targets.
Thank you to everyone who has been reaching out to my office with news, information and ideas. We appreciate all of your thoughts, which enable us to get a good picture of how my constituents are doing and what they are thinking about. If you need any assistance, please contact my office and we will be happy to help you.