There’s been some worrying news this week as Caerphilly became the first county in Wales to go into local lockdown following a spike in coronavirus cases. No one will be allowed to leave the county without good reason, family and friends living apart will no longer be able to meet indoors, stay overnight, or form extended households, and everyone over the age of 11 must wear a face covering in shops. The Welsh Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething, said that the spike was largely due to a breakdown in social distancing and people not following the guidelines. It’s a stark reminder that the pandemic is not behind us, and we must continue to protect ourselves, others, and the NHS by washing our hands frequently, wearing a face covering where we can, and following the social distancing guidelines.
We’ve had some good developments in the campaign to act on the shameful behaviour of the predatory gambling industry over the past few months, with Swansea City dropping a gambling company from shirt sponsorship and growing awareness of the appalling tactics of the industry in targeting vulnerable people. I had a meeting this week with the officers of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm to plan how we move forward. We’ve seen the terrible impact of lockdown on some of those who struggle to control their gambling and the UK Government must do more to curb the predatory behaviour of this industry.
I was very pleased to meet Russ Rook (virtually, of course,) who is a founding partner of the Good Faith Partnership this week. While the pandemic has had a terrible impact on people’s lives across the country, I am so pleased to have seen the incredible efforts of communities who have pulled together to support one another during this crisis. The Good Faith Partnership have developed YourNeighbour.org, working with more than 1300 churches to support the vulnerable during the pandemic. They are now calling on churches to help feed children during the summer holidays. Holiday hunger is a truly shameful thing in 21st Century Britain and I will continue to call on the UK Government to do more to address the income inequalities that result in children and families going hungry. Thank you to all those wonderful people in the Good Faith Partnership who work tirelessly in their communities to support one another.
I had hoped to be called to speak in the Opposition Day debate on jobs and the furlough scheme, but unfortunately I was not high enough on the list to speak on the day. I wanted to comment on the lack of support, the undervaluing of, and the disrespect shown to the beauty industry in recent months. The beauty industry contributes £28.4 billion a year to the UK economy – compare this with the £18.6 billion of the car industry. In a matter of weeks, the furlough scheme will come to an end and many businesses will be forced to make tough decisions. Without financial support and with public health advice preventing them from fully reopening, many beauty businesses will struggle to survive and too many will have to close their doors. Businesses that have been built up over years of hard work, businesses that employ large numbers of women, businesses that keep people coming onto our high streets – they, and all the benefits they bring, will be gone.
On Wednesday we marked Emergency Services Day. These last six months have shown us just how important the men and women that work in the Emergency Services are to all of us and how much we truly appreciate them and the work that they do. This day is for the emergency responders, not only in the police, ambulance, and fire services, but also the volunteers of the special constables, retained firefighters, the NHS community responders, St John Ambulance, RNLI, search and rescue and coastguard volunteers. All of them work to preserve life and put their safety on the line for others. We will not forget the incredible efforts of our emergency services during the pandemic and we thank you all.
You can keep up to date with Welsh Government announcements and information on their dedicated coronavirus page. As always, if you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org – my team and I are here to help. And remember – observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe!